IT'S coming yet for all that. Hopes are rising among nationalists that the cost of living crisis could be the last gasp for the Union.

Scotland is a cold country and energy costs are of acute interest to Scottish voters – not least because Scotland is an energy-rich nation sitting in an ocean of hydrocarbons and renewables. Yet bills of £4,000, £5000 – pick a number and double it – are about to plunge more than half the working population into fuel poverty, according to Scottish Power. A “humanitarian disaster” is what Energy Action Scotland calls it.

Okay, there is never not a crisis in the view of campaign groups like EAS, but this time their alarmism is justified. The consequences, not just for those on benefits, but for the vast majority of working families in Scotland are so extreme that no one has yet taken it seriously. Surely something will be done.

Yet the only people who can sort this crisis out, the UK government, are fiddling while Scotland prepares to freeze.

No one is in charge while elderly Conservative Party members choose our next prime minister. After Boris Johnson, a politician loathed by Scottish voters, his likely replacement looks to be even worse. Indeed, if Liz Truss were trying to deliver Scotland to the independence cause she could hardly do better.

Dismissing Nicola Sturgeon as an “attention seeker” was normal political knockabout, but her ruminations on the energy crisis, and her intention to address hardship through tax cuts rather than “handouts”, is almost guaranteed to revive bitter memories of Margaret Thatcher. Her headstrong, free market policies destroyed the Conservative Party in Scotland; her successor's could destroy the UK.

It's not as if Labour is offering much alternative. Sir Keir Starmer is missing in action, on holiday, having said nothing of significance about the crisis and how to tackle it. Gordon Brown has had to step into the breach and call for the freezing of the energy price cap, tax rises and nationalisation of energy suppliers who cannot or will not keep prices affordable.

Brown's scheme seems modelled on the 2008 financial crisis, after which he received widespread acclaim for organising a G20 financial stimulus and for nationalising delinquent UK banks like Royal Bank of Scotland. There has been no response from Mr Starmer, possibly because Brown's remark that “time and tide wait for no one” is seen as an oblique dig at the current Labour leader's idleness.

As for Mr Starmer's deputy, Angela Rayner, at the Edinburgh Festival – she appeared to have nothing much to say about the crisis either, preferring to scold Scots for not voting Labour and condemning the UK to “perpetual Tory rule”. The irony of saying that in Scotland obviously escaped her.

So, there is what can only be described as a crisis of leadership in UK politics on the eve of what promises to be a winter, not just of discontent but cold fury. People are taking matters into their own hands. Non payment campaigns are proliferating. Commentators like the ubiquitous Martin Lewis of MoneySupermarket are warning of “civil unrest” on the scale of the poll tax riots in the early 1990s. There will be demonstrations outside power companies, Enough is Enough marches and civil disobedience.

In times of trouble people are prepared to look for radical solutions. Perhaps this will finally convince Scottish voters that the UK is sinking fast and that it's time to take to the lifeboats.

Look at comparable nations like Norway with its massive oil wealth safely tucked away in its sovereign wealth fund. Norway is now paying 80% of the excess cost of energy bills for its citizens. Scotland has prodigious resources of oil and gas and yet is powerless to do anything.

Indeed, the latest conspiracy theory has it that England is already seizing Scottish renewable energy. It is claimed that 40% of the energy from the immense Berwick Bank Wind Farm, when it is completed later this decade, will be funnelled direct to Blyth England. It's Scotland's oil all over again.

This is clearly fertile ground for an independence campaign. But it would require a leader who is capable of making Scots look beyond the immediate problems of disengagement from the UK – pensions, deficits, currency, borders – and see the sunny uplands as a Nordic powerhouse like Denmark or Norway.

And it has to be said that Nicola Sturgeon doesn't sound like a revolutionary leader on the brink of achieving national liberation. Last week, she was again caught ruminating over her own destiny rather than her nation's.

The First Minister told an Edinburgh Fringe event that she wasn't sure she would even lead the SNP into the next Scottish parliament elections. She said she was still “up for the challenge”, but it's a funny way of motivating the troops.

Ms Sturgeon has repeatedly said that, at the age of 52, she is looking for another big job after being First Minister, though she has never specified what that might be. Is she intending to fit the task of independence somewhere neatly into her career path?

Well, she'd better get a move on. The SNP has failed to answer the big questions which everyone knows will dominate the independence campaign if and when it happens.

Unlike in 2014, there will have to be a hard border with England since the UK is now out of the European Union. The whole policy of “Independence in Europe” was premised on Scotland and England remaining in the single market.

The project of a common currency with the rest of the UK needs radical revision. Scotland's nominal deficit of around 8% has not been addressed. Nor indeed, Scotland's future in Europe. Should Scotland wait five years or so to be admitted to the European Union, or opt to join EFTA like Norway?

In 2014 Scots had the benefit of the 2013 Independence White Paper – a 670 page manual for independence which raised and tried to answer all these questions. There is no such comprehensive document now.

Instead we get Uriah Swinney on GMS, day by day, droning on about how Scotland needs more money from the UK to pay for public sector pay claims and social support packages. Scotland already receives 20% more spending per head than in England, and the Scottish government has its own tax-raising powers. But somehow it is always dependent on Westminster’s largesse .

This is not the way to inspire a nation to stand on its own two feet. Where is the vision, the self confidence. Where is the campaign?

We are expected to believe that there will be an independence referendum next year, Supreme Court permitting, in the midst of runaway inflation, war in Europe and the worst energy crisis since the 1970s. It strains the credulity of all but the most committed Sturgeon fans to think she means it.

The Scottish Government seems to hope that a wave of revulsion at the conduct of the next Tory leader, plus the vacuum in the UK opposition, will automatically convert Scots to the cause of independence. It won't.

Independence is a revolutionary project and needs revolutionary leadership. History doesn't just happen, it has to be made.