IN amongst the mundane ordinariness of daily Scottish political goings on (of which we now have fond memories) questions about just how independence might be achieved continue to be of importance.

Kathleen Byron asked one which it has taken me a while to get to, for which I apologise. She asked:

“So how do we get a government working against us to give up the powers you suggest?”

I am going to interpret that as the power to govern, or to agree to independence, if you like.

I am not going to suggest I have much experience in negotiating the separation of countries. But then, nor has anyone else. I do, however, have experience negotiating changes in international tax, having taken part in many such discussions internationally at the OECD [Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development] at one time. I have, therefore, done international political economy, which is what this question is all about – because political economy is all about relationships of power.

The National: Palace of Westminster

I have three straightforward suggestions to make on how Scotland and its politicians should behave if they wish the UK Government to give up power over it.

Firstly, and most importantly, Scotland must behave as if it is an independent country. In other words, the government in Scotland should look as if it is a national authority, concerning itself with all the issues that such a government should address, even if they are outside the current range of issues over which it has power.

That is partly because this demonstrates its competence. It is also because this demonstrates its confidence. And it is because this demonstrates its readiness to govern. Without those three things, then the government in Westminster can always say that Scotland is not ready for independence.

The damage to those three issues is also why the current problems in the SNP are so harmful.

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Second, the government in Scotland must prepare itself for power. If it wants to demonstrate that it can take over the role of a full government then it must have demonstrated its ability to put the appropriate structures to manage that power in place.

This is why, for example, Dr Tim Rideout and the Scottish Currency Group ( which I advise) are absolutely right to suggest that Scotland should begin planning for its own central bank and currency now. Until it is apparent that Scotland not only thinks it should have power, but is actually preparing for it, then no one is going to give it the power it wants.

Third, and quite crucially, Scotland has to go out of its way to win friends in the international arena. This is why it is important that the Scottish Government does have an international agenda and that it has set up offices abroad. It is also why it is vital that Scottish leaders are seen to be working with the leaders of other European countries in particular.

But it is also critical that Scotland wins support in the USA. The role of the US in Ireland has been very apparent during the celebrations of the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement. Just as Ireland has an enormous diaspora in the US, so has Scotland. Scotland really does need to build on this to create the support for independence in America that will be vital if successful pressure is to be brought to bear on the UK.

Each of these suggestions is important. They all require long, slow, careful and diligent groundwork of the highest order if they are to succeed. There are no overnight solutions to this issue. That is one reason why the tipping point for independence has yet to be achieved.

But, to be slightly more encouraging, the fact that the required tipping point has not been achieved sets the current problems in the SNP into context. No one can pretend that they help the independence cause. But, if they are successfully managed, they will in the long term just be a minor detour on the way to a greater goal.

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My concern is not with those current distractions. It has for some time, instead, been that the mindset of independence that is the precondition for winning the negotiation with the UK has not appeared to exist within the SNP.

I admit to having been one of those who felt that Nicola Sturgeon was far too comfortable with devolution. Unless and until the Scottish Government at Holyrood is led by those who loathe the devolution settlement and want to be rid of it, and spend all their time seeking to achieve that goal, then independence will not come.

If the outcome of current problems in the SNP is the emergence of a leadership that sees the current political settlement as transitory, at best, then in the long term the current problems may well prove to be a benefit. But, time alone will tell if this will happen.