POLITICS is back. For those, like me, who follow the business of politics for a living, the 11 days of public mourning following the death of Queen Elizabeth seem an increasingly distant memory.

The UK Government, in particular, is ready to move on. Although such a sentiment will never see the light of day, the brutal truth is that the death of the Queen came at a terrible time for the two-day Prime Minister, Liz Truss, whose defining moment – the announcement of a freeze on energy prices – was torpedoed by this biggest of all news stories.

They want their ball back, for they have a game to play. That game will restart today with the much vaunted ‘fiscal event’. The 2024 General Election campaign effectively starts with today’s announcement, with Ms Truss in a race against time, hoping that her change of direction will encourage an uplift in the economy in time to sow the seeds of doubt in the minds of those who could never countenance voting for Jeremy Corbyn, but who are willing to take a chance on Sir Keir Starmer.

It seems highly unlikely that the monumental events of the last couple of weeks will have a meaningful or enduring impact on the UK political debate. Nobody will be thinking about Her Majesty when their gas bill drops through the letterbox.

But what about here in Scotland? Well, now, that is much more interesting and, whilst they may not choose to admit it, many politicians and strategists on both sides of Scotland’s constitutional divide will spend this weekend pondering where they go from here.

Constitutional divides

It is fair to say that many on the unionist side are fairly chipper. The outpouring of grief, of sympathy, of monarchism, of Britishness, has filled their tanks with fuel. Their views are not without merit. Anyone who tells you that they expected this reaction to the death of the Queen, in Scotland, is probably having you on. It is difficult to argue against the notion that Scotland has played a central role in the last fortnight.

And so, the unionist side of the debate returns to normal business, revelling in what they see as a nationalist humiliation. The SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford choosing to pledge his allegiance to King Charles III. Deputy First Minister John Swinney clarifying that he wants the King to be the head of state of an independent Scotland. And, in what unionists’ dreams are made of, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon singing God Save The King.

Were an independence referendum to be held today, these chipper unionists may be quite justified in their glee. Emotions are running high. There is a real sense of British national spirit and togetherness.

However, an independence referendum is not being held today. And, hardly for the first time, the unionist fraternity has failed to understand that there are two sides to this coin.

Understanding that other side means understanding their target market. Let us presume, as most polling will confirm, that there are around 80 per cent of Scotland’s voters who have made up their mind about independence, with no prospect of anyone or anything changing it.

Unionists are not appealing to those people who have spent the last fortnight with their Union flag at half mast, asking Alexa to play God Save The King on loop. They are going to vote No, come what may. You already have them, chaps, just as the nationalist side already has every person who has spent the last couple of weeks telling their twitter followers that they will never be a subject of an English king.

On the contrary, the target market for both sides is that elusive 20-or-so per cent in the middle, who are not particularly nationalistic, and who could be persuaded to vote in either direction based on the available evidence of the day.

Scottishness and Britishness

The majority of those people voted No in 2014. However, in the last two weeks, they have seen an SNP leadership in Edinburgh which is every bit as monarchist as the Tory leadership in London. They have seen the sort of civic nationalism of which the SNP often speak, but which we do not always see. They have seen independence de-risked: vote Yes and you’ll still be British, but with decisions made a little closer to you.

I do not doubt the sincerity of Ms Sturgeon, Mr Swinney and Mr Blackford. All are eminently decent people; they did not need to feign empathy, because they felt it every bit as much as their peers in Whitehall.

Nonetheless, however unintended, their response to the death of The Queen has been very good politics.

We should avoid overplaying the enduring impact, especially in the immediate aftermath of such an enormous event. There will be No voters out there who become Yes voters because they think they can have the best of both worlds (please don’t tweet me; I understand the irony of the phrase!). Conversely there will be Yes voters out there who, on reflection, think that leaving the UK means leaving behind many, many pillars of British life which they actually rather like. However, the smart money is on them cancelling each other out.

In all probability, then, this is an enduring boost neither to nationalism nor to unionism, not least because there is highly unlikely to be a referendum to test the theory.

Instead, perhaps, if there is to be a Scottish constitutional legacy as a result of the death of the Queen, it may occur amongst the currently small groups of people on both sides of the debate who are beginning to seek a way out of our constitutional hole which prevents the need for another referendum to be held.

Perhaps that is the real lesson from the last fortnight – that the coexistence of Scottishness and Britishness is in fact far easier and more natural than those people who have spent the last 15 years in the trenches of Scotland’s constitutional debate have been able to understand.

The crowds who thronged to the Royal Mile, and who snaked through the Meadows, were not all No voters. They were constitutionally mixed, but brought together by a common cause. Who is to say that this new, welcome harmony cannot be harnessed to create a new Scotland that we can all believe in?