THE short period between the resignation of Nicola Sturgeon and election of Humza Yousaf has seen much overblown rhetoric on the state of Scottish politics and the SNP in Scotland.

The SNP – according to many scribes – are in danger of imminent collapse, the Union has been saved, and Scottish Labour are on the march and about to storm the inevitably titled “Tartan Wall”.

Across the political spectrum – left to right, self-proclaimed revolutionary to insider class – there is common ground. There is a stress on “the return to normalcy” from the latter and views that “an era of political disruption has ended” from the former.

We are at the end of something. One of these eras is the calling of time on a certain SNP politics, style and assumed automatic dominance with little substantive opposition from the other parties in the Scottish Parliament.

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Fundamentals remain missing from many instant takes. The SNP have a significant base of members and voters to call on. They are trusted to stand up for Scotland’s interests, however these are defined. The independence question means that a “Big Tent” politics can still call on a breadth of support.

Add to this the nature of the British state, its broken political system and dysfunctional, zombie capitalism. This means that “the Scottish Question” is not only constitutional but has an economic, social and democratic dimension.

This was a poor leadership contest and big questions received scant attention. The endemic nature of poverty, for example. Apparently Kate Forbes had a plan but it was short on detail. The fact that child poverty was 24% in 2007 and is still 24% went with little mention until just before the announcement when Yousaf announced plans for an anti-poverty summit.

READ MORE: One in four Scottish children in poverty – but UK-wide it's even worse, data shows

The state of local government passed with mood music from all three candidates but little substance. This matters in a party in office for 16 years, with a record to defend, now policy-lite (having implemented many of the popular big-ticket items), and at the top there is exhaustion.

In recent weeks, I have been speaking up and down the country on my book Scotland Rising: The Case For Independence, including to several SNP branches – organised before Sturgeon resigned. SNP members were nervous, anxious, yet still hopeful. They had a real need for reassurance and for the party leadership to listen and respect them.

At one meeting, a lifelong older member asked me: “Do you like the SNP?”. Upon reflection, I could have imagined a similar question at a Labour Party branch meeting 20 years ago – a party a bit disorientated and looking for a bit of understanding.

Questions of party, government and the future of Scotland are interconnected. They require deep thinking, strategies and an awareness of the importance of temporal concerns. Independence is the raison d’etre of the party but has to have a relationship with the here and now and a connection to the future.

Independence only becomes live when it speaks to other issues; when it connects the principle and vision to the present and a future Scotland that people can imagine and see how we get there.

Independence has no meaning to most folk if it remains an abstract. It has to be a means to an end, something lived and relevant to the everyday. Independence has less appeal to a large part of its popular support unless it speaks and acts in a progressive voice.

Independence is diminished if the issue of democracy is just about the transfer of powers from Westminster to Holyrood, and does not address our own home-grown democratic deficit.

Independence has to be about empowering Scottish citizens, not just the Scottish Parliament.

It has to give meaning to the phrase “sovereign will of the Scottish people” rather than a sovereign parliament.

The politics of the future SNP and independence has to involve depth, substance, generosity and openness – qualities missing in large part post-2014. There has to be a reframing of how Scotland, voters and change are understood. No longer two tribes, fixed identities and Yes and No; instead a Scotland of diversity and pluralism, identifying what unites us.

The National: Holyrood chamber interior

Here are five suggestions for action.

First, start thinking about policy. Scottish politics, despite 24 years of the Parliament and hundreds of laws, is policy-lite. Many parliamentary acts are tidying up exercises undertaken by a civil service mindset. Thinking about policy which addresses the big stuff – child poverty, early years and renovating local government – would be a good start.

Second, policy is not everything, and delivery and practice matters – something politicians and many academic specialists ignore. Delivery and practice is how real, sustainable change happens and is often fuzzy and messy. The Sistema Big Noise Orchestras, the work of the Violence Reduction Unit, the spaces where local champions bring people together and make a difference, often despite, not because of, the system.

Third, there has to be a focus on the “missing Scotland” – those marginalised, forgotten and let down by the official narrative that our country is getting fairer and more equal. One major scandal and scar on the complacent story of Scotland is our drug death total – the highest anywhere in Europe per head – aided by cuts to frontline services.

Fourth, Scotland’s policy community is poorly supported and hence ill-equipped to contribute as constructively as it could.

There are too few places of expertise which aid deep thinking, go beyond silos and bring together people beyond those whose self-interest and status is interwoven with official narratives of devolved Scotland. Independence needs a pro-independence research body and think tank but so too does Scotland’s centre-left constituency; indeed, we need a plethora of such initiatives.

Fifth, a culture of cooperation, culturally, in attitudes and politically, has to be fostered to build up the capacity and confidence of Scotland to make real the ideal of self-government.

In this, an Independence Convention pushed by Ash Regan (below) and Alex Salmond is the wrong model. It is no accident such a convention exists as a shell under Robin McAlpine and Common Weal and is ineffectual.

The National: SNP leadership candidate Ash Regan

A proper Independence Convention would formally contain SNP, Greens, Scottish Socialists and Alba, and is a non-starter pointing in the wrong way. Instead, there should be a pro-independence grassroots entity which has a barrier against the fringes and instead points towards the centre – Labour and LibDem and no party – and the unconvinced.

In the next couple of years, a cross-party national set of deliberations on the state of Scotland is needed which could take the form of a Scottish Constitutional Convention including all parties with elected national representatives (which might be boycotted by the Tories).

It could include trade unions, churches and civil society bodies, and look at how we advance self-government. It would draw on the example of the previous convention which drew up the plan for a parliament, invoking a Claim of Right and popular sovereignty.

The five above suggestions are all not about the immediate, but medium-term change. They have at their core the view that far-reaching political change is something which involves setting down roots, direction and patience.

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They entail building trust beyond your immediate political base; a sense of timing because creating such trust doesn’t happen overnight; and getting the tone and language of politics right – speaking beyond your base and own echo chambers.

There never were easy answers or escape routes to independence. Pretending that there were was the common conceit from the “don’t rock the boat, trust Nicola” brigade and the opposing rhetorical radicals who said in 2014 things like “doing social justice is easy” – ignoring homegrown lessons from Scotland and everywhere in the world.

There has to be a Next Generation Independence which learns from 2014 and understands the road not travelled post-2014.

It must listen to those who are marginalised, pushed aside and who don’t conform to the complacent official narratives the SNP bought into.

The National: EDINBURGH, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 09:  Alex Salmond SNP leader and his deputy Nicola Sturgeon stands with SNP's 47 newly elected MSP's after taking their oath in a swearing in ceremony at the Scottish Parliament May 9, 2007 in Edinburgh, Scotland.

This would aid the growth of the next generation of political leaders and voices, and finally abandon “the cult of the leader” which mesmerised some under Salmond and Sturgeon, but left many feeling cheated and empty (in very different ways).

The campaign to create a new Scotland should start now with a new first minister who accepts the status quo is not good enough, that we fail too many in Scotland too often and that devolution and the SNP have not redistributed power and still listen in government to the same narrow bandwidth of vested interests.

Independence is about change from the zombie capitalism and zombie politics which dominate UK politics. It has to be about more than Keir Starmer’s “business as usual” and safety-first politics if UK Labour wins in 2024. But that does not happen just by rhetoric or osmosis.

The road not travelled since 2014 has to be laid and the Next Generation Independence created.

Humza Yousaf should be but one part of that.