THE MARCHING Season is upon us. Glasgow, Galashiels, Oban, Ayr, Campbeltown, Abderden, Perth and Edinburgh. Between May 4 and October 5, the All Under One Banner group expects hundreds of thousands of people to turn out at its events in support of independence.

They’re predicting they will be so popular, there’s already a capacity problem. AUOB reckon 100,000 could show up in Glasgow for the first parade and rally. The police say it could be too much to handle and want time and route changes, but the organisers won’t budge.

As a solution, perhaps all the marches should take place on the same day at Arthur’s Seat. That way everyone could trudge around endlessly in a circle.

Besides looking great from a drone, it would symbolise the holding pattern the Yes movement has become stuck in, tramping round and round, uphill and downhill, waiting for a date of a second referendum to be confirmed.

The calendar remains eerily blank.

Nicola Sturgeon tried to pencil one in two years ago, demanding the power to hold another vote, but was derailed by the 2017 election and Theresa May’s unyielding “now is not the time” line.

Next week, when MSPs return from Easter break, the FM is expected to say something more on the subject. I suspect the marchers will be disappointed.

Ms Sturgeon originally promised a “view on the precise timescale for offering people a choice over the country’s future” by last autumn, when the terms of Brexit were due to be clear.

She then put if off because of Brexit chaos. Lack of clarity meant her update was always “a matter of weeks” away.

Now she is hinting that she will say something after all. It cannot be because she has clarity. No one yet knows how, or even if, Brexit will happen.

More unpredictable manias will sweep the Tory government when the results of the English local and EU elections drop in the coming weeks. A People’s Vote, a general election or both are perfectly possible soon. A People’s Vote, remember, which could remove the basis for Indyref2 by stopping Brexit.

However it is a week until SNP conference, and Ms Sturgeon has to say something to her members. It was in the same week before conference in 2017, when the party was in a fever of anticipation, that she announced the first push for a referendum.

Time is also running out to hold a referendum in the current parliament, given the months required for legislation and campaigning. So if Ms Sturgeon is to give at least the impression of being serious about another vote, she has to start banging the Downing Street table again for a Section 30 Order to hold it.

Mrs May, or her successor, will refuse. But the FM can make a conspicuous effort to move things along, then cite the refusal at the Holyrood election as more reason for Scotland to go it alone.

Those dusting off their marching togs in the hope of concrete plan, a firm date or Calatan-style wildcat vote can forget it. You’d be better off waiting for Godot.

This will be largely performative politics. Another decaffeinated bit of process looks as spicy as it will get.

For one thing, Ms Sturgeon cannot launch a full-throated independence campaign in the middle of the European elections. Think of 2014, when the EU and referendum campaigns inevitably fused. The SNP’s goal then was to pick up a third MEP and demonstrate momentum for independence.

The election was “a fantastic opportunity to stand on the SNP’s positive message of an independent Scotland playing a constructive role at the heart of Europe,” the party said.

The problem was that the SNP’s opponents did the same thing, using the election to “send a message” on the Union. The Tories even arranged to appear on the ballot as “Scottish Conservatives - No to Independence”.

When the SNP failed to pick up that third MEP - albeit thanks to a bump for Ukip and a slump for the LibDems - it was a definite blow to the Yes campaign. It deflated morale and was taken as an ill-omen (rightly, as it turned out).

Ms Sturgeon’s aim in this EU election is also to pick up a third MEP. If, having launched a referendum campaign, she were to fail, it would be a terrible start in her search for momentum. She would be accused of having jumped the gun.

The jitters could set in.

Polls suggest it’s too close to call on the SNP getting a third MEP. Some of the 1m Scots who voted Leave may well elect a Brexit Party candidate instead.

Going big on independence would also throw a lifeline to Ruth Davidson, who returns from maternity leave in a fortnight. She comes back to a tortured Tory hellscape of Brexit betrayal, a leprous Prime Minister, and a chaotic breakdown in discipline at Westminster.

Ms Davidson is contractually obliged to mention independence in the EU elections to some extent. But if the First Minister fired the starting gun, it would give the Scottish Tories a boost just when they needed it. Ms Davidson would be right back in her comfort zone, bashing Nats to avoid talking Brexit.

For another thing, the SNP doesn’t yet have a plan to show the country. Its Growth Commission has dragged on almost as long as Brexit. Announced in September 2016, published last May, and then given a good kicking by party members, it is only now due to go to a vote on becoming policy at conference. This is really not a party in a hurry.

Nor is it a party in agreement. The Commission has generated a fierce debate over which currency to use and when in the event of independence.

It’s not just the economic stuff either. Commission chair Andrew Wilson this week wrote about the detailed, time-consuming work to be done building an “inclusive case” for Yes, and mapping out future Scotland-rUK relations.

In arguing for more homework and less feverishness, Mr Wilson is surely helping to deflate the tyres on the Indy bandwagon on Ms Sturgeon’s behalf. An “excellent” article, she tweeted tellingly.

So expect the FM, as she did at the last conference, to appeal to “pragmatism and patience”. Better to wait and plan than dash for the polls and lose. Her troops should know the tune by now, even if it’s not much to march to.