THE UK Supreme Court ruling against Holyrood having the right to run its own referendum on independence is certainly a clarifier.

In response to the Scottish Government’s tricksy case – that an advisory indyref should be within Holyrood’s competence because it doesn’t automatically lead to the break-up of Britain – the Supreme Court was brutally decisive.

Such a process, said its president, Lord Reed, “would possess the authority, in a constitution and political culture founded upon democracy, of a democratic expression of the view of the Scottish electorate … This would strengthen or weaken the democratic legitimacy of the Union, depending on which view prevailed, and support or undermine the democratic credentials of the independence movement.”

As the brilliant young Scottish political historian Rory Scothorne noted the other day, this is quite an admission: that the expressed political will of the Scottish people on independence, on its own terms and beyond legal shenanigans, really matters.

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And because it does, Westminster has every right to legally deny its expression, whatever plebiscitary form it takes, says the Supreme Court. Because even an advisory plebiscite is “practical” and “consequential” to the Union. (Remembering, of course, that Brexit’s advisory referendum was regarded as “consequential” to the UK’s membership of the European Union).

“This admission presents an opportunity to conjure up spirits of resistance, old and new,” says Scothorne. “And put them to work for one last heave.” Holyrood hasn’t incorporated Scotland more securely into the Union, as intended, but has given the people of Scotland a way to profoundly challenge its legitimacy. In a backhanded way, the Supreme Court has made a deeply Nationalist point, concludes Scothorne.

That is made clearer by the Supreme Court’s rejection of the UK Government’s case – which was that it is not proper for the Court to even consider whether the Scottish Parliament can do this. No, said the robed ones, the expressed will of the Scottish people has tangible effects. Maybe too many.

So the focus now shifts to the other ways that will can be expressed – the most prominent being a Westminster election taken as a “de facto” referendum on independence. It’s easy to quote Lord Reed’s own words here. Wouldn’t such an event “possess the authority” in a “democratic culture” of the “expression of a view of the Scottish electorate”?

However, I’m baffled by the attack line from pundits and Unionists. They hold that the UK General Election, taken as an indyref, would be a disaster for the independence parties. They anticipate that the SNP and Greens would be portrayed as playing only a single tune, while all the other parties grapple oh-so-sensibly with a wide range of bread-and-butter issues.

I regard it somewhat differently. Like 2012-14, isn’t this another two-year opportunity to make independence relevant to every issue that concerns Scottish citizens, workers and residents?

That’s why, initially, I’m a little wary of shifting the overall rhetoric towards this being a “democracy denial” than an “independence denial” – 24 months of banging on about the process of getting to independence will just drive people nuts. However, 24 months of debate and exploration of what independence will do for people in their daily lives and for future generations has a chance of attaining a solid head-count majority for independence-supporting parties.

But only a chance. I have a lot of reflections and anxieties, borne out of the pain of being on the Yes Scotland board in 2014, about how the worth of Scottish independence can land with voters in the 2020s.

The biggest might be the challenge between immediate relief and long-term strengthening in Scotland’s society and economy.

Our nerves are shot to pieces. By the “shock doctrines” of hyper-capitalism, deeply generating division and chaos and then finding ways to pose as their solution. By a convulsing biosphere that is the legacy of our own industrial modernity, and which asks us to change the fundamentals of our work, consumption and lifestyle. And by technological innovation, which advances like an irregular tide on human competence itself.

That’s more than enough future shock, thanks very much. Add to that the recent spectacle of the “global markets” disciplining Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng’s psychotic capitalism. Faced with all this, it would be entirely understandable for voters across these islands to vote for whatever “stability” and “security” is most credibly offered.

THAT’S obviously the Starmer-Labour strategy. The current holdingslogans spell it out: “Security: everyone will feel safe in their community. Prosperity: everyone will have the opportunity to thrive. Respect: everyone will be valued.” This is about not making it any worse, and leaning towards a little better.

The neuroscientist Antonio Damasio would call this condition “homeodynamics”. It’s where an organism – or community, or society – would want its basic integrity and boundaries to be strong and defended. Yet it also keeps some energy in reserve for exploring and advancing in its niche because that helps “thrival” as well as “survival”.

This is Starmer’s mainlesson from Brexit. It wasn’t “take control”, but “take back control”. Slow that tumult of “everything [and with immigration, everyone], all at once”.

We have to be candid and admit that this has partly been the appeal of successive SNP administrations and representatives. “The golden thread of competence” (as a now disgraced minister once put it to me) weaving through all policies enacted by a Nationalist government. The aim being the steady building of Scots’ confidence in their ability to self-rule.

It’s time, I think, to cash this confidence in. Here’s a metaphor: we should presume that citizens who primarily identify with the Scottish Parliament are willing to negotiate the big stones in the burn, rather than wait around for a solid-enough bridge to be built, in order to get across.

The waters are messy and inconvenient rather than scarily deep. The crowd watches to see how the more adept do it first before copying them and enjoying their prowess as they do so.

That’s essentially what Common Weal – on whose board I’m proud to serve – is launching a week today, with its new book Sorted: A Handbook For A Better Scotland.

It’s a compendium of all the best ideas it has proposed as a think tank over the last ten years, so there are no great revelations in the text itself.

But as the title suggests, it proceeds from the assumption that there is an appetite for a vision of how the people of Scotland can build their own future rather than recoil from the prospect.

The combination of decades of constitutional activism, and further decades of devolutionary delivery, might well have created a proper “citizenry” up here. One ready for challenges at the macro level (how do we establish our currency, make the best of climate breakdown, educate ourselves for an accelerating future?) that can also be comprehended at an everyday level (who do I act in common with? Where do I put my precious time and energies for the best?).

I’m starting a conversation here, to which I invite you all. But my lesson from 2014 – as a top-down campaign, saw communities strengthen themselves and find their speech and agency, from below and the sides – was that bravery against the siren voices of doom was eminently possible.

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It would be the gravest mistake to assume that the Scottish electorate was so battered about by the 21st century that they were only looking to be delivered into safety and security by whoever seems most likely to.

Try Common Weal’s toolbag of options, but also search widely, think freely and forge your own. We need an even bigger “butterfly rebellion”, as Robin McAlpine put it, than we had the last time.

We need to cross that burn (as behind us is a howling forest we can be pulled back into). The big steps are obvious, but we need to feel the power and skill rise in ourselves in order to take them. Let our independence campaigning over the next two years focus on that feeling most of all.

To reserve a ticket for the live, in-person launch of Sorted: A Handbook For A Better Scotland, 2pm-5pm on Saturday, December 3 at Drygate Brewing Co, 85 Drygate, Glasgow, visit Eventbrite. click here (