I WILL be in Belfast on Wednesday, speaking at a meeting arranged by the civic body Ireland’s Future, so unfortunately I won’t be at any of the events organised by Lesley Riddoch and others across the country to mark the release of the Supreme Court’s judgment.

There is huge interest across Ireland in the constitutional situation in Scotland, Wales and – for that matter – England. Consequently being there on the next significant day in our national journey towards independence will be interesting, though I would have liked to have been outside our own Parliament, as I was on the day we left the EU.

I have, of course no prior, knowledge about the outcome of the Supreme Court case on whether the Scottish Parliament has the power to hold an independence referendum.

I hope for good news but if it the opinion is negative, we should remember that will not be the fault of the judges, but of the current law as passed by Westminster.

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Of course, any such legal fault could also be corrected by Westminster if the Tories, Labour and the LibDems so wished, not least because basic democratic practice demands that the Scottish people should have the right, long recognised in international law and confirmed in the Claim of Right passed by both Holyrood and the House of Commons , to “choose the form of government best suited to our needs”.

A simple bill passing that right back to the Scottish Parliament would be all that it would take to honour Donald Dewar’s promise that there would be no formal “glass ceiling” on Scotland’s constitutional ambitions without which the SNP could not have supported the original Scotland Bill either in the 1997 referendum or in the House of Commons thereafter.

However, if there is an adverse verdict based on an uncorrected wrongful law, then there will have to be a plebiscite election of some sort. Discussing precisely how that will work will need to be done with speed and I hope that the positive Yes forces in Scotland can come together in a spirit of mutual respect and without recrimination to make it happen.

It is easier, however, to predict Unionist reaction. Indeed we have seen it gearing up in recent weeks as the issue has made its way through the Supreme Court.

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Some of it – like the current obsession with SNP Bad stories in the London Times – is now merely risible, with its branch manager, aka the Scottish editor, hysterically retweeting as much negative material as he can get into his paper.

The various Unionist newspapers have retreated to their core readership but that is a declining market. So in a strange echo of the dogfight for Unionist votes that has convulsed the Tories, Labour and LibDems in recent elections, they are locked into a bizarre form of competitive warfare against the country they report on, outdoing each other in trying to prove – with banner headlines – what a dreadful place they serve.

That is why they have been so keen to latch on to the assertion that Scotland has exaggerated its potential for wind energy.

In 2014, we were told again and again that there was, essentially, no oil or gas left in the North Sea. Lo and behold this year, when the UK suddenly needs energy, there is a bonanza which allegedly will continue for generations.

THE same approach is now being taken to renewables. Once the wind energy capital of Europe, now we are told we live becalmed, with scarcely a breath of wind, or a flicker of power, for ourselves or our neighbours.

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Unionists lied about oil and they are now lying about renewables. Put simply, their game plan is to talk Scotland down, making it out to be a benighted wee place, too poor and too devoid of resources and talent to survive without being propped up by the strong and stable UK – even though it is plain for all to see that the Brexited Tory UK is actually an unstable, near-bankrupt thing, declining in the world and impoverishing its own people .

The same economical attitude to the truth lies behind the warship orders – one set ordered as a bribe in 2014 but then partially withdrawn, yet the same three-card trick trotted out anew in 2022 with the threat that such largesse will be taken away if the natives dare to speak for themselves.

And just to cap it all, the economists who pronounced on the impossibility of Scotland using the pound after independence are now equally dismissive about there being the potential for a distinctive Scottish solution to the matter.

Presumably even cowrie shells for barter will be in short supply, with Scotland the only nation on the planet that is unable to have a currency of any sort.

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Many of us believed in 2014 that publicly responding to such attacks simply drew attention to them. It was better, we thought, to put our own case than always to react to the criticisms of others. Whether or not that was the right response then, it is certainly no longer true. Now we must rebut and refute every piece of nonsense starting with these lies.

We should be inclusive and positive in our message and never afraid to debate but we should not allow those with the clearest of vested interests to hide their enmity and contempt for democracy behind falsehoods wrapped in a fake cloak of impartiality.

I don’t think independence will all be plain sailing. We will all have to work at it, so that it can work for all of us. But one of the truisms of politics is that you cant frighten people twice with the same deceits.

The anti-indy playbook is back in use but it’s an old version that hasn’t been updated for the reality of a UK which is on its uppers.

No matter the judgment announced on Wednesday, the independence show is on the road, and it wont be deflected by the bullying, bluster and bogus British boasts we are, once again, hearing everyday.