SCOTLAND is fast becoming the place where ideas go to die; a graveyard of ambition; a country content to languish in the swamp of the status quo.

Last week, we’d the SNP and its nationalist cheerleaders dismissing out of hand the idea that Devo Max is even worth discussing. The ill-fated proposal presented a hope of moving the country forward politically – but heaven forbid someone has an idea in Scotland. To even raise the issue was seen as quisling treachery. More proof, if needed, that nationalism is a degenerative neurological disorder.

This week, Labour is at it – stomping all over the idea that the party might allow pro-independence candidates to stand at elections. The haste to beat the discussion to death, before it even got going, was founded on the same principle as the SNP’s dismissal of Devo Max: nationalism. Labour is trapped in a British nationalist paradigm and thus going nowhere. As with Scottish nationalism, British nationalism is very bad for your brain.

No sooner had the idea been floated, than Labour shot it down. It’s particularly egregious that the party doesn’t even have the intellectual ambition to discuss the matter given Gordon Brown is working on the Commission on the Future of the UK.

READ MORE: SNP double-dealing

So here we are as a country: held hostage by politicians across the spectrum who intend to keep us exactly where they want us. They won’t budge, so we cannot move, and must put up with this sketch-show that masquerades as politics: a nothingness, where the SNP pretends it’ll move forward on a referendum – whilst knowing full well it cannot; and an opposition incapable of finding the brains to change the course of politics.

This is what happens when British and Scottish nationalism dominate the political arena: all else must bend, because nationalism, of whatever stripe, will never bend. There’s no compromise with nationalism – which is the key engine of both its cruelty and stupidity.

The reason why politically Scotland is going nowhere is simple: the country is basically split over the constitution. With Alba just a dark, obsessive joke, and the Greens still a minority sport, the SNP has full domain over what amounts to half the electorate: those who favour independence and a second referendum.

Cleary, with unionist opposition a three-way split, there’s no chance of a pro-UK party breaking the SNP’s hold on power.

So this is it, folks. This is what we’ve got ad infinitum, ad nauseam. Now, we can’t really moan too much; this is democracy in action, and one can only congratulate the SNP for being canny enough to read the political landscape and game it to perfection.

READ MORE: Why does Sturgeon's SNP hate journalism

However, the status quo is taking this country nowhere. The SNP is a tired, stale administration lacking in ambition; centrist and pedestrian to the point of becoming a form of administrative Tramadol. It’s a government which tries to play to all sides, and by doing so achieves little or nothing, except an ever greater count of failures.

The only way of breaking this era of dull domination is for Labour to change. The notion of change doesn’t have to be a wholesale volte face with the party swinging behind independence. But that baby-step of allowing pro-independence candidates to stand could well set a course for renewal.

Obviously, the Tories are never going to change – and that’s fine and good for them. Likewise, the LibDems. Labour cannot ‘out union’ either. They’re both parties of true believers in the union.

Labour is different, though. The party has plenty of moderate independence supporters, and more who’d have no problem with a second referendum.

I count myself a moderate Yes voter, and if it weren’t for the Iraq War (which itself fuelled independence support), I’d still most likely back Labour. Like millions, Labour left me – not the other way around. I could one day find myself again voting Labour, but only if I felt the party was fair and open-minded on the Scottish constitution.

Labour has always been an internationalist movement, so I understand why it detests the narrow nationalism of the SNP. However, the notion of independence doesn’t have to be left to the SNP alone. That’s the great failing of Scotland as a polity. We’ve allowed the most crucial question about the future of this country to be dominated by one nationalist party.

Independence and nationalism aren’t the same thing. For me, independence is about building a progressive, fairer, more equal nation – primarily constructed upon the values which every member of the Labour Party cherishes: social democracy and justice.

Independence, to voters like me – and there’s many of us, by the way, not all independence supporters are marching in lockstep with the SNP – is a rejection of Westminster, not a howl of identity. Westminster is a grotesquerie: a symbol of failure, cruelty, stupidity, elitism. I want rid of it – as I don’t believe it can reform. If Westminster could reform – or if some political party proved to me there was real, willing intention to reform it – then I’d think twice about voting Yes. What matters to me is change, not the vehicle of change.

As it stands, though, nobody is giving any hope of change at Westminster so I look to independence to bring change, and with it the possibility of a fairer future.

If Labour could reshape the discussion around independence, the party would give me pause for thought. If the leadership said it understood voter disgust with Westminster and so accepted the idea of candidates standing – with a progressive leftwing vision of independence – I’d very much consider casting my vote once again for Labour.

Extend this notion further: why can’t Labour likewise discuss leaving it to its individual members over how they’d campaign in any future referendum, and as a party remain neutral? Pro-indy Labour MSPs would count as part of any ‘Yes majority’ at Holyrood. Is debating ideas so bad?

That the party cannot even find within itself the good sense to engage in this conversation, tells me that, as I suspected, Scottish Labour is dead but just doesn’t have the good sense or grace to get into its coffin.

Our columns are a platform for writers to express their opinions. They do not necessarily represent the views of The Herald