LOOKING at the current state of Scottish politics I sometimes get a shiver of deja vu. Half a century ago I studied Scottish church history at Edinburgh University, and the bitter arcane religious divisions over several centuries – Burghers against Anti-Burghers, Auld Lichts against New Lichts and civil war amongst not just various shades of Christianity but also within various shades of Calvinism – not only bear an uncanny resemblance to today’s shenanigans, but also seem headed for the same outcome of divide and rule by those who only have their own, as opposed to the nation’s, best interests at heart.

Let’s start with splits. It has been clear for a while that there is a strain of nationalism that is passionately anti-Green. This week we have seen that the opposite also exists – greens who are strongly opposed to indy – though it should have been no surprise that my friend Robin Harper is one of them.

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All sorts of issues go to make up the current toxic mix of over-the-top anti-Green rhetoric but the sneering commentary about a perfectly sensible Scottish Government plan for heat pumps to help as part of a much wider emissions reduction strategy has revealed a nasty and ultimately self-harming streak of climate sceptic populism even within the Yes tent.

We need to be straight about this. Lesley Riddoch was right to comment in this paper on Thursday that the times we live in demand a more ambitious, visionary and exciting approach to tackling the increasingly severe global climate and biodiversity crisis.

We must also however simultaneously call out those who attempt to get away with the utterly dishonest spin that you can claim to be taking effective action whilst actually ridiculing and rejecting measures that would demand even the smallest of changes in lifestyle.

Of course we need much more than the smallest of changes and even if the public didn’t want to hear that message, it would have to be told.

The National: Hundreds of young people gathered in Merrion Square in Dublin city centre on Friday as part of a global climate strike on March 25, 2022

However, the polls indicate that the majority actually accept the need for action and therefore if politicians were to work together, instead of trying to gain an advantage by what is essentially climate change denial, then we might have a fighting chance of saving something of this world worth handing on to our children.

Of course, polls also indicate that support for independence has not diminished since the first indyref and commands the support of around 50% of voters.

So it doesn’t take a political genius to work out that if the two ideas are brought together – if the reality of man-made environmental destruction can be met by a confident, robust and united policy response from Scotland whilst it is being strongly and loudly informed and enlightened about the need and benefits of independence – then the two birds might soar together.

There’s the challenge but every day we fail to measure up to it is another day in which the advantage goes to those who profit from the Scotland they have, over generations, made in their image and solely for their own selfish benefit.

The National: Alister Jack

Chief cheerleader amongst them at the moment is Alister Jack (above). When first appointed four years ago his arrogant patrician manner seemed naive and out of touch but in fact it hides a calculating mind and a real contempt for the country he is meant to be representing at the UK Cabinet table.

His sense of entitled superiority – his impertinent letter to Humza this week about independence spending is ample evidence – knows no bounds and his enthusiasm for Brexit simply adds insult to the injury he is imposing on us all, by very deliberately sabotaging Scottish governance as much as he can with the clear aim of delegitimising the very idea of independence.

He has already said he is not standing again (the House of Lords awaits) and whilst I suspect that not even he thinks he can finish off devolution entirely in his remaining period in office, he does intend to do the maximum damage possible to the Scottish Parliament and a Scottish Government in the interests of those like himself who regard themselves as born to rule from Westminster and nowhere else.

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This is the very essence of the Brexit philosophy (taking back control also means not allowing anyone else to have it) and he will ram it home, bending the rules to his and Westminster’s benefit.

He is already doing so to the cheers of his Tory colleagues (north and south of the Border) and with the connivance of much of the media whilst trampling into dust the aspirations, hopes and plans of several generators of his fellow countrymen and women.

It goes without saying, as he indicated on Tuesday by standing alongside the Prime Minister at Peterhead, that he has a similar contempt for the urgent necessity of taking action to save the planet.

The curse of Scottish ecclesiastical history was, as the playwright Joan Ure once observed, that what Scots really wanted was not freedom of religion, but the freedom to persecute others.

We have spent too many years divided and as a result ruled by those – like Jack – who take advantage of that self-defeating stance. If we don’t understand that lesson from our past then we will simply go on repeating it.

We are faced with the existential threat of climate change, and the democratic threat of Jack and his cronies.

That war is intensifying on both fronts and the puny paper tigers of Labour and the LidDems will do nothing to defend us.

Can we avoid the fate of our disputatious, unco guid ancestors?

Can we – before it is too late because the clock is already ticking loudly – find the vision and the actions that unite the independence forces and inspires our fellow citizens to embrace essential change?

I actually don’t know. But, as the Scotland the What team used to say, even now, I’m “aye hopin”.