Columnists should never make predictions so here’s one: the verdict in the Alex Salmond trial will make things better for all of us. What I mean by that is it’s likely that the trial will lead to a re-tuning of the justice system, the way we work, and the debate about Scotland’s future. I say “it’s likely”. What I mean is: I hope it’s likely.

First, the justice system. Here’s what we know: Alex Salmond was accused of sexual assault and attempted rape and the jury returned not guilty verdicts on 12 of the sexual assault charges, including one of attempted rape, and ruled not proven on a charge of sexual assault with intent to rape. Here’s what we don’t know: the identities of the women who accused him.

That cannot be fair. Historically, the process of investigation, prosecution, and defence has been guided by a balance between complainants and the accused. But in recent years the balance has come under strain and we know why: the Savile scandal led to a principle that “all victims should be believed and protected”. And “protected” meant anonymity whatever happens.

Accused people, as we’ve seen, do not have similar rights, and the consequences can be horrendous. Read Harvey Proctor’s memoir Credible and True if you want to know more. The former MP was one of the targets of Scotland Yard’s investigation into claims of a paedophile ring. The claims were untrue but Mr Proctor’s reputation was traduced and trashed. We’ve seen the same with Mr Salmond.

The answer is anonymity for accused people in all cases where the accuser has anonymity. Both parties should have the right to identify themselves if they want to, but they should not have the right to identify the other party. In fact, we should go further: it should be a criminal offence for a complainant to reveal the identity of the accused. Cases like Mr Salmond’s add to the pressure for such a change to happen and, in the end, I think it will.

A change along those lines would be good for all of us for a simple reason: it would restore the historical balance between the two parties and protect citizens no matter which side of a court case they’re on. And it’s based on a simple principle of fairness and equality: it wasn’t fair that Mr Salmond’s name was made public while the names of his accusers weren’t and the unfairness was darkly underlined by the fact that the jury did not believe the accusers.

The same changes should be made to the quasi-judicial processes in workplaces because the same problems occur. Any member of staff accused of impropriety should know the facts, the people involved, they should be given a proper chance to defend themselves, and the investigation should be impartial. The Scottish Government failed on all of those counts and I fear other workplaces would too for the same reason – “all victims should be believed and protected”.

I’m not asking you to feel sorry for Alex Salmond here – all I’m saying is that making our procedures fairer would be good for all of us. I’m also hoping the end of the trial might signal a bit of re-tuning in politics too. There were some who hoped the court case would damage the SNP, and it may still do so if the fall-out lands on the First Minister. But the private travails of Mr Salmond are unlikely to change many minds on the issue of how we govern Scotland, and quite right too. My hope now is we can stick to the point.

Much more interesting is what Mr Salmond, the politician, does next. We know the SNP is divided, but because of the trial the Salmond camp hasn’t been able to marshal itself yet. The verdict changes that and I’m intrigued, and a bit worried, about where that will take us, because I remember 2014. Unionists sat back and said “support for independence is in the 30s, it’s fine”. A few months later they sat up and said “support for independence is in the high 40s! What are we going to do?”, and it was largely Alex Salmond who did that.

Despite everything that’s happened, I think Mr Salmond still has that capacity to inject kineticism, risk and wrath into the debate. If he targets it at the SNP in the short term, it’ll be nasty, but in the longer term if he and his allies regain control of the independence cause, we shouldn’t underestimate the effect it could have. Yes, Mr Salmond is damaged and reduced, but he still has the warrior’s flourish and flair. Yes, the bear is bleeding, but he is still a bear.