IN the 18th century, to accuse a clergyman of enthusiasm was to suggest that he was a ranting fundamentalist. Many in polite society aspired to moderation in religion. In our rather more secular society, we can see much the same division within the Yes movement.

Rather as in matters of religion, I feel drawn to what would once have been called the popular party or, more dismissively, the wild party. Even as I recognise the skill with which the moderate party, in government, has steered Scotland to the point of being able to hold a second independence referendum.

In the last week, stumbling across some small pieces of evidence, all too obscure for The National to turn into a news story, it has once again seemed possible that there will be a referendum next year. It could be that the collective moderate mind directing the SNP was focused on navigating past the local elections without encouraging any enthusiasm among the opponents of independence.

The gentle decline in support for the truly Unionist party, and the modest progress of the SNP and the Greens, seems to have been enough to change the direction of the discussion about whether there will be a referendum. Increasingly, it just seems a matter of setting a date.

To the extent that I am of the wild party, this is cheering. But looking at this prospect with the all too moderate gaze of a professional economist, I can only feel anxiety. Never mind the practicalities of how legislation will be introduced, and possibly tested in the courts. After that has happened, the real test of will begins: persuading two million Scottish voters to answer, Yes to the question: should Scotland be an independent country?

The question on my mind is not about how to win those votes, but rather how to deserve them. Suggesting a few weeks ago that the impact of independence might be to shrink the Scottish economy by 5%, below the line commenters more or less said that was a price well worth paying.

It’s much the same size of effect as the UK experienced when it left the EU, so not too bad. We may end up having to frame the shrinking of the economy as a down payment on building a better society. In other words, a little more poverty would be the immediate price of freedom.

Maybe there could be a better time to suggest to people that they will need to tighten their belts. In the last 20 years we’ve had Gordon Brown telling us that he had banished boom and bust, only to get hit hard by them both as soon as he became prime minister; Alex Salmond calling up Fred Goodwin to ask if there was anything he could do to help as RBS did the banking equivalent of going over the Niagara Falls.

We’ve all been in it together with the coalition, which stretched out austerity, as David Cameron tried to build a Big Society. People, mostly in England, were persuaded that leaving the European Union would be taking back control, except that we found out that we don’t have control over a new virus. And now, Europe faces major challenges in addressing the problems of energy security, which it had ducked for many years. Independence could easily seem like just one more thing.

Given all that, I wonder for whom Scotland will become independent. Perhaps it will be parents with young children, struggling to afford childcare, and in paid employment less than they would like? Or pensioners on fixed incomes, who are going to get poorer if Scotland stays in the UK? Or people from other countries, who think that they could share in the prosperity that we take for granted in Europe? Or graduates who cannot find employment using the skills which they have built up?

If independence is to change Scotland, then it should be for people who have all too often been overlooked in the way that the United Kingdom is set up with its bias in favour of business, and of international finance.

In the reports of the Sustainable Growth Commission, and the Social Justice Commission, the SNP have given us two glimpses of what it believes Scotland might look like after independence. Faced with the suggestion that they are contradictory, I suggest that they address the two sides of economic relations. The Growth Commission has addressed the problem of how to increase the capacity of the economy. The Social Justice Commission has shown how that capacity can best be used.

In trickle-down economics we are asked to believe that the surplus of wealth creators will percolate through society. People who make wealth are also the best people to decide how to distribute it. We are left trusting that what are effectively accidents of birth, will make economic opportunities available to some people – and at the same time give them the humility to realise the extent of their good fortune, and share their wealth with others.

If only that were so. Then the Growth Commission would be all that we needed to guide us, because people would naturally share their good fortune with others. This is where we need a bit of religious enthusiasm, recognising that it is natural for people to be grasping and acquisitive, so that we can cheerfully deploy taxation in seeking justice for all.