WILL independence campaigners be left with egg on our collective faces when the Supreme Court rules on Holyrood’s planned advisory independence referendum this Wednesday?

The speed with which they’ve reached a decision, after suggesting 8000 pages of evidence would take months to consider, has prompted legal experts to conclude a no score draw could be the most likely outcome. According to Dr Nick McKerrell, senior law lecturer at Glasgow Caledonian University the judges may well decide it’s too early to rule on a Scottish independence referendum bill which hasn’t yet been passed by the Scottish Parliament.

Of course, independence supporters would rather have an explicit thumbs-up for the lawfulness of the October 23rd ballot whilst unionists would rather have an explicit thumbs-down. And it’s still possible one of those options will win the day. But actually, all outcomes are a result if you agree with the majority of Scots that a referendum’s needed to clear the political air in Scotland and let us all move on.

If the judges decide the Scottish Government’s proposed referendum bill doesn’t relate to reserved matters, a second referendum can proceed as planned by Nicola Sturgeon next year and the campaign effectively begins on Wednesday night.

If they decide the bill does relate to reserved matters, it means “the world’s most powerfully devolved parliament” cannot legislate even for a consultative referendum without Westminster’s consent, and Scotland is effectively trapped within a “voluntary union” it cannot lawfully exit. If the judges’ ruling highlights that democratically unacceptable reality for all to see, that is also a result.

If the court can’t decide – declining the reference from the Lord Advocate – Yes activists will urge the Scottish Government to proceed with the actual bill, even if that means some re-timetabling of Scottish Parliament, synthetic fury from Douglas Ross and a legal challenge from the Westminster Government further down the legislative road.

Getting the “right” result isn’t why independence supporters including myself have organised an unprecedented 13 rallies around Scotland for Wednesday teatime. Unlike recent Tory leaders we don’t regard judges as “enemies of the people” – whatever they decide. Folk are turning out to show anyone in doubt – international media, fellow Scots or even the SNP leadership – that Yessers still care, still want a second referendum and still think urgent constitutional action’s needed to escape a Westminster system that’s patently and dangerously broken.

Not everyone agrees – that’s true. Though the latest poll shows a dead heat between the union and independence as the best economic bet for Scotland with 43% backing each side. But the media super-serves negativity about independence and it’s hard for the positive 50 per cent to have their say. Covid and the lengthy lockdown disrupted the large, upbeat (and trouble-free) All Under One Banner marches, which also went largely unreported.

But the Supreme Court decision is a moment when the eyes of the world will be on Scotland – breaking news notwithstanding. Even if Conservative and Labour leaders are united in trying to frame this democratic impasse as a little local difficulty fit only for brushing under the carpet, international opinion disagrees.

Scotland’s future is a real story. Not because politicians and voters from other countries side with Nicola Sturgeon – though she’s as popular across Europe as she is across Britain – but because they are democrats who expect clear parliamentary mandates to be respected. They are also Europeans who know Scots got it right in 2016 when we voted to remain in the EU, but got hauled out anyway.

As the catastrophic failure of Brexit becomes more and more apparent – an embarrassing poll for the Euro-sceptic GB News suggests 55% of voters across the whole UK would now rejoin – so too does the distinctive and instinctively pro-European political outlook of Scots. Brexit made the case for Scottish independence to the watching world in a way no argument in 2014 ever could.

So independence is on the map and the Supreme Court verdict is in media diaries because it will impact hugely on the Scottish Government’s plans for a second referendum – plans the rest of the world regards as entirely unsurprising given Westminster’s credibility meltdown and, thanks to repeated election results, democratically legitimate.

But what people around the world don’t know – cannot know – is how much independence supporters actually care. Sure, opinion polls show the tally continues to bob around the 50 per cent mark. But what does that mean in human terms?

A recent online event organised by Europe for Scotland featured heartfelt pledges of support from citizens of 19 EU countries. One Italian said he would make the case for another Scottish referendum in the Italian media, as soon as the new campaign is declared. “I’m ready to work,” he said. “But are you? We don’t see energy or passion about independence coming out of Scotland.”

Now fair play. Italian passion is a high bar to reach, never mind surpass. But he’s right. The Yes movement has become invisible, partly because of Covid, partly because of fatigue and partly through waiting for an SNP signal to get active.

Why wait? A movement has the great advantage of not running the country and not having constituents or a “day job” but simply making sure the cause of independence remains visible. The Yes movement – that ungovernable, distributed, diverse and hardy charabanc of a thing – is not designed to be a carbon copy of any political party or government.

So why wait for their strategies instead of devising our own? That’s what the 13 (latest total) Time for Scotland rallies on Wednesday are all about. Visibility, activism, reclaiming agency as citizens and showing others – but principally ourselves – that Yessers want a second referendum enough to get it over the line.

So, if the Supreme Court decides it can’t decide on Wednesday, that won’t feel like egg on the face to me. But if independence supporters decide not to turn out, that will be an embarrassment and disappointment. The stakes are high. But that’s fine.

Read more by Lesley Riddoch: