SO. We wait long years; we beg, we plead, we warn of defections from the independence ranks, and then, when we get an announcement about indyref2, even a putative date, the reactions from some camps is nothing if not baffling.

They ranged from the announcement not being enough fun (eh?) to it not being made after enough consultation, to it being ­legally dubious, politically undeliverable in the timescale, and the now customary chorus of the FM not wanting it to happen anyway.

Ironically the most positive posting came from that kenspeckle indy fan, Tory MSP Murdo Fraser, who helpfully posted a wee video telling his English mates what they stood to lose if Scotland left the Union, and listing Scottish assets and resources.

Cheers, Murdo.

Now we await Tuesday’s much trailed ­announcement from the First Minister about which next steps she proposes, ­having indicated that the referendum will happen with or without the “sacred” ­section 30 order – supposed key to the much quoted “gold standard” of polls.

We also await news of when the oven-ready legislation on Scottish referenda will be placed before parliament, and whether that vote will take place before Holyrood goes on its hols. So you won’t have to, I ­re-read the original bill, and the wording – doubtless after much deliberation – does ­indeed say that it applies to matters which are deemed within the competence of ­devolved government.

To the cynical and the conspiracy ­theorists, that’s nothing more or less than a deliberate get-out clause. To most folk it’s merely a statement of the legally obvious.

It seems what the Presiding Officer ­believes is not what concerned the drafters so much as what the Lord Advocate would advise the government to be her view. My learned colleague, Andrew Tickell, ­helpfully laid out all the possible scenarios last weekend.

Yet it is equally possible to argue even the Lord Advocate cannot issue tablets of stone on a course of action which is technically only advisory. The Brexit referendum for instance was just that, and even introduced as such when presented to the Commons.

You could rage against the fates which ­allowed that advisory poll, sold with the kind of downright lies which would make the average snake oil salesman blush, to morph into the sacred will of the British people. Total mince.

It was a very tiny majority who voted Leave after all manner of chicanery was deployed. A tiny minority which has since had widespread buyers’ remorse when the pup they were sold bore no ­relation to the advert.

This week we had the absurd ­spectacle of the minister for oxymorons, AKA ­Brexit “opportunities”, stand at the ­dispatch box to hail the wondrous ­freedom to use a UK phone charger which will be ­useless ­anywhere else in mainland Europe ­following their sensible standardisation.

There is now a healthy anti-Brexit ­majority throughout these isles, as there always was in Scotland, Northern Ireland and London. Not that anyone felt that mattered in the corridors of Westminster power.

It’s instructive that Northern ­Ireland’s business community and most of its ­politicians are very content with still ­having access to the single European ­market and no land border with the ­Republic. (The only folk still bleating about the protocol are those still trapped in 1690.)

Back in the Scottish political dimension, I would argue for the promised position papers to be launched without undue delay. Not just for the aid of independence campaigners on the ground, but to draw all the predictable fire from the Unionists and their many friends in the media.

For too long we’ve allowed the latter to make the running, and then react to their jibes and warned over negativity rather than getting on the front foot ourselves. Scotland has a good tale to tell about ­herself – just ask Murdo – and it’s time to accentuate the many positives rather than frittering away precious time responding to someone else’s agenda.

The National: All Under Banner march for independence, Perth...  Photograph by Colin Mearns.7 September 2019..

It is an odd facet of this long ­running ­independence debate that some of the most hostile commentary stems from those bloggers who purport to be ­members of the Yes community. I have news for them. Amongst their most avid readers are the Unionist commentariat who are only too happy to be in receipt of fresh ammunition from an unexpected source.

I imagine this is a conundrum with which pro-indy politicians also ­wrestle. For instance I have sympathy with those who felt they needed timely warning of the FM’s decision to announce a ­second referendum. Equally, I have ­sympathy with an FM who knows that what ­constitutes proper consultation for one camp, merely serves as an early strategic warning for the other.

Every word on the subject is ­examined forensically by those implacably ­opposed to indyref2, in the hope they can mine some piece of text which will serve them well in print or at First Minister’s ­questions. It’s important to remember here that what we are talking about is basic democracy: being opposed to ­independence is ­legitimate, being ­opposed to asking the public for their opinion on their own future assuredly is not.

I suspect that is why some in ­Scottish Labour have recognised that setting their face against sampling the views of voters after eight years in which the ­political landscape has changed beyond ­recognition, is not just undemocratic but inimical to their own party cause.

Anas Sarwar proved last week that he had the bottle to ignore his boss’s ­instruction not to join a picket line. So if he continues to sign up to the Starmer block on a referendum then we may ­conclude that his own Unionism is very real.

Yet I do wonder how comfortable he and his Scottish colleagues are with a Labour leader who refuses to commit to unpicking the most unpalatable Tory policies on everything from the right to protest to the right to asylum. And wraps himself in the Union flag all the while.

There will be a lot of erstwhile Labour voters who will vote Yes this time round in the hope that post independence they might get their party back again. The one which instinctively knew which side of the fence morally to be on.

There will be a lot of erstwhile LibDems who still wonder why the party which, like Labour, once favoured home rule for Scotland, should now be content to cosy up to the Conservatives on that and sundry other matters.

There will be a number of Tories who, like the voters in Tiverton and Honiton, can’t believe that their party is now led by a known chancer, a malign Home ­Secretary, an ignorant Foreign Secretary, a risible Culture Secretary, and a Justice minister intent on dismantling natural justice.

I am indebted to former Tory Chair Lord Patten for the observation that ­Nadine Dorries and culture should never be found in the same sentence. Ditto Dominic Raab and ­justice, or Priti Patel and compassion.

There will be a number of them too, in Scotland, who wonder how their MPs can vote no confidence in the Prime ­Minister, yet still expect to attract support at the ballot box next time.

Ah, the ballot box. There is a school of thought which says that if the ­gordian knot of a legal referendum can’t be ­untied, then the next Scottish general election must be essentially a plebiscite on independence. There are many flaws in that argument in terms of losing sight of other issues. But as a backstop on the rocky road to full independence, a roll of the dice if other routes are blocked, it’s not difficult to discern the attraction.

There are folk in my demographic who cling to Unionism. There are plenty ­others who want the chance to live what’s left of their lives in a fully powered ­Scottish ­nation state.