Politicians frequently achieve the most when they upset the very people who are their natural supporters. Think of Tony Blair. Bizarrely the Labour Party hates him but he is the only Labour Prime Minister to win a General Election since 1974 and therefore actually in a position to do something, precisely because he upset the left of his party.

For Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP the equivalent would mean having the courage to say full separation from the UK is not in the interests of the people of Scotland. Instead of the ceaseless quest to find fault with Westminster and difference with the English they should broaden their support in Scotland by reaching out to the UK Government and saying we want to work with you as part of the United Kingdom.

That is not to say the SNP should suddenly exclaim everything is fine but how much harder it would be for the UK Government to resist an agenda which really had a decisive mandate in Scotland.

At the moment if you asked Scots – both those who live inside and outside Scotland – the real question, not “Do you want Scotland to be independent?” but “Do you want Scotland to leave the UK?” you might get 40 per cent in favour, quite possibly less. The idea that the clear and settled will of the Scottish people is to chug off on our own is just a nationalist fantasy.

The people of Scotland are actually far more pragmatic than the SNP would wish. They know it is better to have the whole UK rather than just Scotland stand behind their pension. They know a real currency when they see one. They are none too keen on the punishment beatings the EU is trying to hand out to the UK. They understand that for them and their children the reality is we can have better healthcare and education if the money from the UK to Scotland continues rather than stops. They know the British Navy orders aircraft carriers from Scottish yards and a Scottish Navy might order a tugboat or two. They know it was the UK not the Scottish Government which obtained the Covid vaccines.

And yet, it is not only the diehard Scottish nationalist who feels too much power is centred in London, who thinks more decisions about what happens in Scotland could perhaps be made in Scotland.

Actually a lot is decided in Scotland – health, transport, education, many taxes. More could be decided here in time – but not if the Scottish Government continues to behave as it does.

The Scottish Government’s actions create division and uncertainty rather than cohesion and stability. Everything they do is looked at through the lens of whether it does or doesn’t aid their quest for full separation. Sensing that agenda the UK Government is not pre-disposed to co-operate and why should they?

For businesses in Scotland, the SNP’s “kick them in the shins” approach to the UK is a hindrance which reduces investment and job creation. Businesses invest where there is stability and consensus, not conflict and uncertainty.

It does not have to be this way. How much more the SNP could achieve if they told the truth, which is that being part of the UK can and does benefit Scotland. Why don’t they try to work with the UK Government in a co-operative way to get the best of both worlds – growing freedom of action in day-to-day matters for Scotland but maintaining stability, the single UK market, common standards and the pound sterling as our currency by remaining a committed part of the UK.

There are many voters who would warm to this approach. The screaming and stamping which is the SNP’s current style does not work and actually enables Westminster to say, ‘No’. If the SNP had the courage to say that Scotland should remain part of the UK and press for greater autonomy within that framework, they would be much harder to resist.

Too much to wish for? Sadly almost certainly the SNP’s blinkered view will remain until the leadership changes. Hopefully not too long now.

Guy Stenhouse is a Scottish financial sector veteran who wrote formerly as Pinstripe