POLITICS is frequently a short-term business. For the participants, that is. For the populace, the impact can be a prolonged sense of truculent hurt or puzzled gratitude.

I recall the story told me by an ardent, experienced canvasser who was being berated on the doorstep by an irate senior citizen.

After a lengthy harangue, it emerged that the proclaimed hurt had been felt some 20 years previously. Our canvasser demurred gently, only to be told: “Aye, but it still coonts!”

It does indeed. However, more generally, the political convoy is too busy racing to the next caravanserai.

Perhaps our elected tribunes have a Parliamentary vote to survive; a contradictory speech to deliver; or a party conference to surmount.

There is a palpable degree of disquiet, let me put it no higher, among a section of the SNP membership, currently conferring. They ponder and fret as to whether the defining aim of independence is being pursued with sufficient vigour.

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I discussed indyref2 with Keith Brown, the party’s able and amiable deputy leader, in a Herald Podcast. He played down talk of internal discontent. Nevertheless, his own speech obliquely and deftly addressed the issue.

While exhorting his fellow nationalists to greater endeavour, he also reminded them that others did not share their burning enthusiasm for independence; that the SNP had to convince hesitant fellow Scots by the power of positive arguments. A plea, in short, for patient unity.

Back to political timing. Perhaps it is the apocalyptic nature of these pandemic times, perhaps it is Brexit or the independence offer, but, right now, there is longer term thinking on display.

Nicola Sturgeon essayed that in her Programme for Government. It was variously derided by opponents as limp and insubstantial, with an unwanted focus upon independence.

The First Minister appeared unmoved, buoyed by her fellow SNP MSPs. Plus, of course, her new Green chums.

The Programme itself features reforms which will be contentious but might be characterised as elemental and thus long term. The prospect of removing Scotland’s third verdict in criminal trials. The revived plan to alter the Gender Recognition law.

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Further, it is designed to set out a pattern for the entirety of this newly elected Parliament, not just a raft of Bills for the current year. I must confess I tend to discount such promises. Politics, being mostly short term, moves on apace with the passage of weeks, never mind years.

However, there were three discernible big ideas, of lengthy duration, in the FM’s address. Each, I would suggest, will land her with a peck of troubles.

She confirmed plans to pursue a just transition for the North Sea oil and gas industry while Scotland, as a whole, moves to decarbonise energy generation, transport and the broad economy.

In my view, Scotland has yet to wake up to the enormity of what is proposed. Replacing domestic gas boilers. Constraining car use in favour of “active travel” or public transport. Urging a rethink over North Sea production licences.

However, unions representing North Sea workers are well up to speed. And they are less than happy. They point to problems with some endeavours to create a Green energy sector. Others stress the potential.

Right now though, the SNP, which once proclaimed “It’s Scotland’s Oil” and which partly founded an offer of independence upon the black gold, is about to steer a path away from reliance upon North Sea output.

It is a big deal and Nicola Sturgeon knows that. You could see it in her demeanour, you could hear it in her words.

During her weekly question session, she insisted that we could not escape the “moral and economic responsibility” of swerving away from oil.

Equally, though, she noted that her own upbringing in Ayrshire had imbued her with an inbuilt loathing of unmodulated deindustrialisation. She does not want, in short, to be the Thatcher of the North Sea.

The Greens, who look at oil production and say “leave the stuff in the ground”, may have to develop yet more patience.

Then there is the proposal to develop a new economic strategy, designed to last 10 years. This is partly driven by the need to revive our economy post-Covid and partly by our sluggish record on growth and productivity.

That search for big, long-term ideas probably explains their relative absence in recent speeches by the First Minister and the Finance Secretary Kate Forbes.

Yes, there are initiatives aplenty with regard to helping companies and mitigating the impact of this hideous plague. All welcomed by business.

But, as yet, not much in the way of guiding principles on the economy. Are they in favour of fostering enterprise? With fiscal measures? With a bonfire of red tape?

To be fair, there are structural constraints. One, their over-arching strategy is a work in progress. Two, they have devolved powers, not full fiscal autonomy. And, three, the SNP’s Green partners favour a different economic approach, not reliant upon GDP growth.

To be fair for a second time (a new record), both the FM and Kate Forbes have stated that their aim is to grow the economy. The Finance Secretary declared: “We are a pro-jobs, pro-business and pro-prosperity government”.

And the third Big Idea? Why, independence, of course. Most particularly, the initiative to task civil servants with producing a new prospectus, a new White Paper to upgrade the document generated in advance of the 2014 referendum.

Political opponents say it is futile and wrong to occupy officials with indy-planning while Scotland slouches grimly towards a post-pandemic world.

Nationalists say that independence is the answer, not the problem. But they also know that those officials, and others contemplating the topic, will not have their challenges to seek.

Those are linked to the other big questions. Does Scotland have an inflated structural deficit or could that be resolved by light-footed independent endeavour? If so, what sort of endeavour?

The currency of an independent Scotland? Initially sterling? For how long?

And, if an independent Scotland were to rejoin the EU, what about the border with non-EU England? Ireland writ large? Or is there a solution?

Sometimes, one can understand why politics is commonly a short-term game.