THE most successful theme of the 2014 referendum campaign was the message “Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands”

It was the simple empowering concept which kicked off the campaign in 2012, it was brilliantly displayed in the referendum poster showing a child’s hand cupped in that of a parent and it was the theme of the last broadcast of the campaign projecting the potential life of Kirsty, a child born on September 18, 2014.

It was the right strategic message as it exemplified everything that Scottish independence should represent – forward-looking, confident and hopeful – the essential message of self-determination, 2014 style.

I cannot reconcile that message with the tactic of going to the UK Supreme Court and asking for their leave to hold a further national ballot on Scotland’s future.

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Real parliaments don’t ask for permission to fulfil their mandate from the people.

Of course, you might end up in court – any parliamentary act can be challenged – but if that was the case then it would be the courts attempting to overturn a democratic decision, a course of action which even the poshest of judges are often leery of taking. By the time this article appears, the verdict will be coming in, and it is foolhardy to predict with certainty any court decision, even one where we have allowed the deck of cards to be stacked against Scotland.

By this, I mean that it is normal in the circumstances of a court hearing for each side to have an advocate convincingly argue their case.

In the Supreme Court hearing, only one side turned up -– Scotland’s claim of right as a nation to the universally agreed concept of self-determination was not an argument that the Lord Advocate chose to make.

Instead, she relied entirely on the narrow grounds that since any referendum was non-binding – that it would have no necessary effect – it therefore did not transgress the provisions and reservations in the Scotland Act.

Thus the expectations of today’s decision are understandably not high and today’s Time for Scotland rallies around Scotland have not been organised with the expectation of celebrating a famous victory. It is, of course, an excellent thing that people are moved to popular action and if it takes a Supreme Court rebuff to light the political heather, then so be it.

However, Scotland’s future depends on effective strategy as well as a grassroots initiative, and that means the national movement must quickly recapture the high ground of self-determination.

Back in 2014, we had an agreed referendum with Westminster, but that poll was negotiated because of Scotland’s initiative. It was the overwhelming mandate of the 2011 election, the system-breaking absolute majority in a proportional parliament which gave Scotland the opportunity, and it was the threat of independent action if there was no agreement which forced Cameron to the negotiating table.

For a quarter of a century, the national movement has had a consistent and simple strategy – gain a majority in the Scottish Parliament, hold a referendum and then win it. That strategy has been brilliantly successful. It brought the SNP from the fringe to become the dominating force in Scottish politics.

NOW that entire strategy is in doubt. The message of 2014 was not Scotland’s future in the Supreme Court’s hands or Scotland’s future in Westminster’s hands. We are in the gravest of danger of moving to a position of accepting a London veto on Scotland’s national rights.

So what is to be done?

Regardless of today’s result, promises have been made and they should be kept. Referendum day has been set for October 19 next year. An act of parliament should be passed to honour that commitment. If the Lord Advocate won’t sanction it then find a new Lord Advocate. If the Scottish Government won’t introduce it then let it be a nationalist backbencher. If the Supreme Court knocks down the proposed question then ask the people another – for example, their opinion on Scotland’s right of self-determination.

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Whatever is done, let it be born in Scotland backed by parliamentary intervention, popular agitation and an independence convention to proclaim Scotland’s national rights to the world. That should be the initiative taken by Scotland.

And if the agreed move of such a convention is to a “plebiscite election”, then make it a real one – not just a groundhog appeal for yet another referendum mandate to be ignored by yet another British prime minister.

And certainly not one fought on a conventional party ticket where the SNP will be marooned in a torrid defensive campaign about ferries which fail to sail and a health service which fails to heal.

Fight it rather as a Scotland united on the single platform of independence, that this is the point of decision and that a resulting majority of independence-backing MPs will actually mean what it says on the democratic tin – taking Scotland’s future into Scotland’s hands.