There will be an Indyref2, but in 2023? I hope not. Never was an independence movement (except Catalonia’s) so ill prepared to win. Delusion rules Holyrood, where an absence of intellectual rigour applied to crucial issues, leaves the independence movement lacking the material needed for a Yes victory.

Brexit created a new paradigm. Scotland’s relations with England (of which Wales is a Province), and European states, cannot be now what they once were. Nicola Sturgeon’s refusal to see that, evidenced by her foolish idea of gluing independence to an automatic EU re-entry application, severely restricts the flexibility on external policy the movement needs. The almost six years since 2016 have been wasted ones. That stricture does not apply to people in the Westminster arena.

Our First Minister has made two relevant announcements: preparing legislation for a second referendum; and that her government is working on a new White Paper.

There are two worries there: she thinks, wrongly, that she is the only key mover in this constitutional “game of high stakes”; and are we to believe this government, a combination of ministerial and civil service mediocrity, which has brought us to a condition of stasis, can produce a White Paper that projects a dynamic, innovative, ambitious, society capable of creating an all-embracing prosperity we have never experienced?

Is this lot, who think £700 million is a good dividend from wind farm development, who cannot deliver two ferries, don’t know what to do with an airport, and has failed to deliver a good education to every child, be the great engine of change that will sweep us to independence? I doubt it.

Do those going around telling us to “wheesht for indy” not realise they are admitting to the crass incompetence of the SNP Scottish Government, and that a price is being paid, by people, families, children, for the silence on incompetence they are seeking to impose? That is cause for shame.

In the six wasted years, filled with Indyref2 promises, they have been thinking down south about better ways to save the union than repetition of project fear. That has produced two schools of thought: more union down the Scottish throat with the UK Government projects, or go for devo max. The first is being tried now but likely to fail, the fatuous idea of a bridge from Stranraer to Larne is an example. The second is what the independence movement should worry about, and prepare for.

Back in 2018, in England, devo max started to be formed in a substantial way. Lord Lisvane, former Chief Clerk of the House of Commons, on behalf of the Constitutional Reform Group, tabled an Act of Union Bill in the Lords, as a spur to discussion on a devo max solution.

Ben Thomson published, in 2020, Scottish Home Rule as the devo max answer to independence, setting out in detail how it would work. Only a few in Scotland, like Professor James Mitchell, have seen it coming, and so it is only now that the devo max option is trickling into the mind of the independence movement, only to be scorned as just another version of the deceitful Vow. Mistake.

Once “more union” is accepted as failure, that other key player, the British state, armed with greater powers than Holyrood, will unite behind devo max presented as “Independence within the UK”, to quote David Martin, a senior Labour figure.

Gordon Brown’s group will soon produce the template for all to unite on. Schedule 5 of the 1998 Scotland Act gives the UK Government the ability to organise a legal referendum, not the ersatz version from Holyrood open to questions of legality with its political legitimacy in the hands of unionists, who just need to abstain to make it farcical.

The recent statements by Michael Gove and Alastair Jack, setting a 60 per cent mark, show that the British state knows there will have to be a referendum some time, because the Scottish question needs a final definitive decision. How well prepared is the SNP if they get a message one day that “yes, you can have a referendum on terms – independence v devo max?”

It is wakey- wakey time. Devo max is seductive: no border, same currency, state pension secure, travel freely, and a stack of extra powers with only monetary policy, defence and foreign affairs staying in London.

Sovereignty, real independence, has to win against devo max. That requires thinking, research, papers, discussion, debate – now. Sovereignty is far superior, but we shall need to prove it.

What also requires thinking about, is what will immediately follow a Yes victory. Just as the UK did not exit the EU on the morning after the Brexit vote, Scotland will remain part of the union until a treaty is negotiated and signed between us and England, setting out exit date, length of a transition, mutual market access, professional qualifications, technical, food and animal health standards, fishing rights, the status of the Trident base, and the crucial division of debt liability and assets, such as our share of foreign currency reserves, something that will affect how we transit from sterling to a Scottish currency.

Scotland is five million people, England 60 million. Identifying our strengths and weaknesses, and what are theirs; and what might be their positions, is an essential brief for Scottish negotiators on which work should be started now, and constantly updated as time goes on.

Scots for indy should learn from Brexit, where exit negotiations were in a sour punitive atmosphere, caused by what was said before and during the campaign. We should aim for as much goodwill as possible with those south of the Border long before final victory, to pave the way for good tempered negotiations. In short, abandon the nonsensical claims of Scotland as an oppressed colony (were we not enthusiastic colonisers? What was the aim of Darien? A colony).

Above all, no more manufactured grudge and grievance. The case for independence doesn’t need it, and is ill served by it.

Jim Sillars is a former SNP deputy leader.