WE do things differently in Scotland. In England, the Westminster government chucks dauds of red meat to its more extreme opponents to keep them onside. Our way is more novel; we shoot ourselves in the foot, rather than devolving the task to hostile sources.

Some troops who broke away from the SNP on account of the latter’s perceived lack of smeddum and urgency, amuse themselves by using the kind of language about their own government such as would give the most hardline Unionists pause.

Now we have a novel variant on this self-harming virus. The London division of the Scottish Government itself offers up ammo to the opposing camp.

Step forward Ian Blackford who, to quote the blessed Theresa May, either hadn’t read the rules on pensions or didn’t understand them. How else to explain his insistence that post-independence Scottish pensions would be paid by the UK Government?

Cue a raft of Unionist commentators who could hardly believe the post-Christmas gift which had turned up in their laps. Not only did they rubbish the claim from a lofty height, they put their assorted columns on the subject on repeat. They didn’t so much make a meal of this pensions saga, as a seven-course banquet.

I do not, myself, pretend to have a full grasp of the fiscal niceties; then again I’m not the Commons leader of the Scottish National Party. So I asked pensions guru Dr Tim Rideout to give me a warts-and-all explanation of who would pay what and to whom. My gratitude for his patience!

The short-form version is that, as before, the National Insurance (NI) contributions of today’s workforce pay today’s pensioners. In order to calculate what an independent Scotland could afford, Mr Rideout turned to the GERS figures – so beloved by those who cling to Mr Johnson’s disreputable apron strings.

This, he says, shows that we would collect almost £3 billion more in NI than we would pay out in pensions. Most of the surplus would be used to pay other entitlements derived from national insurance.

The only pensions continuing to be paid by rUK would be those of former UK Government employees, or English pensioners who flee to Scotland post-independence. Rather like those who decamp to the Costa del Sol and continue their diet of baked beans and chocolate digestive biscuits with a side order of ketchup.

Conversely, Scottish pensioners who flit to England would still have their pensions paid by the new Scottish Government.

Far from being super complex, he says: “The only thing that counts is what your National Insurance pension entitlement is on Independence Day and whether you are on that day domiciled in Scotland or not. Where and when you paid any National Insurance before that date is not relevant as it all went into the same HM Treasury account and it all got spent on entitlements at the time.”

What this latest stushie underlines, though, is that while Unionist commentators not only sing from the same hymn sheet, they have long been practising their auld sangs in unison.

Where I share the frustrations of some indy supporters is that Better Together has never gone away and is, as we speak, girding its loins for the battles ahead. In contrast, those of us in the Yes camp sometimes seem to be too busy knocking lumps out of each other to sit down and cohere around a serious strategy.

As an aside, it is hilarious why all the selfsame chaps who say there absolutely won’t be another referendum in the proposed timetable, spend their entire laptop hours writing about it. It isnae gonna happen peeps, but here’s why you have to vote No when it does.

The National: Ian Murray during the Labour leadership hustings at the SEC centre, Glasgow..

And it was hollow laughter time when Ian Murray (above), solitary Westminster standard bearer for Scottish Labour, complained about 11 civil servants working on the referendum campaign. We don’t need a wee platoon, we need a bloody great battalion. Now that we have rather fewer public health protections in place, it’s time to get the tacketies on.

One of the other charges levelled by the amalgamated union of Better Together scribblers, is that those of us who have long supported independence are incapable of criticising the performance of our own government. Not so.

I believe most of us recognise that it is not sufficient to observe that the PM is a dangerous bampot running a largely corrupt regime. Scots rightly want to ensure they are not leaping out of that tacky frying pan into a poorly managed fire.

So the campaign to win support will gain respect from being upfront about post Indy challenges, as well as the bonus of being out from under a truly appalling government.

It will need to argue coherently about the border and currency issues and every other perceived roadblock that will surely be put in our path. What we don’t need to argue about is pensions however – all retired folks want to know is that they have security of income.

It would be idle to pretend that we will extricate ourselves from the corrosive effects of a UK government intent on removing the very building blocks of healthy democracy, and stroll effortlessly into a land of plenty. Sunlit uplands are strictly for the Brexit birds.

If you examine the fortunes of nations which fought for and gained their independence, you will find that after predictable early stumbles, they fashioned a national skin in which they were comfortable. The paths they chose were many and varied, but not a one of them ever attempted to hand back the hard won freedom to choose their own future.

We can’t therefore future proof Scotland in the early days of its incarnation as a fully fledged nation state. What we can do is as many of the hard yards in advance as is possible. We do not lack the talent to do this in Scotland, but too often we prefer disputation to determination.

The other thing to remember is that while the ballot box determines who is at the helm in Holyrood, the holy grail of independence can only by won by the whole Scottish crew.

Everyone who believes in this country having its own destiny has to ask themselves if not me who? If not now when? Everyone has a useful role to play, from those who crunch the numbers to those who chat up their neighbours.

We have had a lot of tipping points these last few years, the Brexit bourach being the most obvious. As own goals go, that was a spectacular overhead kick with bells on. And now we are approaching a few weeks and months where those with the narrowest shoulders will be asked to bear the most crushing burdens.

We are in territory where the inequities are ever more glaring; a time when the very rich get even richer, whilst the poor quite literally wonder when and where their next meal is coming from.

In 2022 this is nothing short of scandalous.

On behalf of the have-nots we have to ask ourselves some big questions, not least why we would want to continue to be joined at the hip to an administration which quite obviously doesn’t give a damn about the poor and is indifferent to the huddled masses drowning at its gate.

And yes we have to ask our own Scottish Government the same question we pose ourselves: If not you, then who? If not now then when? The argument that we should not risk a referendum in case we lose is hardly the clarion call of the confident; hardly a rallying call to the undecided. The bigger the prize, the greater the need for courage.

He who hesitates is indeed usually lost. Scotland the nation cannot afford much more hesitation.