THE independent burgh of Pollokshields had a brief, but glorious, existence in the 15 years up until 1891, when that proud community was formally absorbed into the city of Glasgow.

In the twilight of its independent local government life, the burgh had as its magnificent headquarters, the newly built Pollokshields Burgh Halls. It had been gifted to the community by Sir William Stirling-Maxwell, who was then on the cusp of becoming Tory MP for the Glasgow College division, which he held for a couple of elections until ousted in the Liberal landslide of 1906. Sir William’s daughter continued the family tradition of philanthropy in the 1960s by donating Pollock House (albeit in lieu of death duties) with a view to the hosting of the Burrell Collection.

The halls are now run, and run well, by an independent trust and equipped as a prestigious wedding and community venue. Indeed, part of my own wedding was held there – although that was the bit that, in line with Pakistani tradition, the bride does not get to attend!

The Burgh Halls have also been the focal point for some cracking political meetings over the years, although in its early days the theme was more likely to be masonic than militant.

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However, of all the political debates held over all the years, perhaps none was more significant than the one on Friday night, when Pollokshields was the venue for the launch of the Wee Alba Book on independence.

This was the first indy town hall meeting I have chaired since the glorious summer of 2014, and the atmosphere on Friday was very reminiscent of these heady times.

The world has changed since 2014, and not for the better, and the independence case must change with it and for the better. People can judge the Wee Alba Book on its merits, but at a minimum, it addresses some of these key changes – Europe, borders, currency and pensions, to name but four.

The importance of this cannot be overestimated. For example, if the SNP leadership had been given the benefit of consulting the Wee Alba Book, then perhaps they could have avoided the intensely damaging fankle they blundered into on pensions, just a month or so back.

But it’s not just the SNP leadership who lack match practice on the key independence issues. Even the most enthusiastic indy activist will have encountered doubts on how to deploy the new arguments in this changed world of Brexit and borders, compared to our previous life of the European Union and no borders.

It is deplorable that such good people have been left in limbo for so long, starved of information and debate. However, it does therefore make all the more welcome the Wee Alba Book, which now takes its place in the pantheon of key independence literature.

It’s most immediate parallel is the Wee Blue Book, which dazzled the crowds as the peoples campaign emerged in the summer of 2014.

However, there are differences. The Blue book was polemical. The Alba book is more conversational. But then we are at different stages in the debate. The first was designed to commit people to a vote. The Alba book is designed to engage an interest.

They have two things in common. Neither is a party political manifesto. They are designed to promote the fundamental cause of independence and both are aimed as key information to provide the ammunition for informed debate around the town halls of Scotland.

This brings us back to Pollokshields and Friday’s first spin on the Alba Book roundabout. The crowd were enthused, the debate was sparkling and the questions were intelligent. The hall-keeper was greatly impressed. It was a good place for the fiery cross to be lit. It will be interesting to see if the Wee Book now catches fire.

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There is one innovation which is worth a mention. Throughout the Wee Alba Book there are QR codes on some of the key topics. Scan them and a variety of notables offer you a more detailed video exposition. As you would expect, they are all eloquent expositions and it is great fun to access them.

If I had the invidious task to pick my own favourite from these luminaries, then it would be fellow The National columnist Professor Richard Murphy. There is no one better to provide common sense explanation of finance and economics, and his in-person interview graces the Alba book.

For me, after Friday in Pollokshields, it was off to Hampden Park and a weekend of Alba conference activity. At close of play on Saturday, I was talking to one of our more experienced delegates and reflecting on the day’s proceedings – he had been a steward for many years at the gatherings of another party.

“You know,” he sighed as we parted, “this reminds me of SNP conferences back in the day.” He paused and came back for another word. “Of which no praise could be higher.”