WHAT’S been the fundamental problem at the heart of our failed politics these last cursed years? Not just in Scotland or Britain, not just in the west, but across the entire developed world.

The outstanding canker - the sore, the lesion, the plague-spot - is surely our stubborn refusal to listen to the "other side".

Many of us became fundamentalist in our political beliefs, partly radicalised by social media, partly drawn into the orbit of dangerous, charismatic politicians, on all sides, who puppeteered the people, making voters dance to their tune.

That tune had few notes: their own petty obsessions, and the divisions they could rile up in order to keep themselves in power. We’ve seen it everywhere, from Washington to Paris, London to Warsaw, Rome to Edinburgh.

Read more: SNP has a week to save itself. Here's what it must do

Many of us dug slit-trenches and climbed inside. It was "my way or the highway". But look where the highway took us: straight to hell.

Somewhere along the line we made a grave mistake. We just stopped listening to political opponents. In many ways, it’s understandable. When there’s a Conservative government which splits its time between enriching its backers, strip-mining the nation, and stomping on the weakest in society, it’s not surprising many found the notion of any compromise with such a cruel bunch of useless lying chancers just morally wrong. America lived this too.

In Britain, however, times seem to be a-changing. There isn’t just an opportunity to open our ears, perhaps there’s a duty. The Labour Party will likely form the next UK government. In Scotland, that forces the Yes movement to ask itself how it responds.

Does the Yes movement stick its fingers in its ears, pretending none of this is happening, or does it behave in a responsible fashion, adapting to changing circumstances?

For, regardless of his weak-as-water agenda when it comes to policies of the left, Keir Starmer does offer at least hope of change. He is not a Tory. It’s been easy, though, to fall back on that old "Red Tory" sneer, as he dumped progressive promises, like not scraping the child benefit cap and a host of other pledges, shifting the party firmly to the centre ground. However, the truth remains: a Tory he ain’t.

His conference speech, while unlikely to bring a tear to socialist eyes - unless they’re weeping at its Blairism, of course - was rooted in the notion of change for the better. It was about rebuilding and healing. Yes, it was light on policy, but it was heavy on hope. Clearly, it’s just words, but in comparison to Conservatives, that’s rain in the desert.

So should independence supporters trust Starmer? Well, clearly, already some Yessers seem to be tentatively either moving or thinking of moving their votes towards Labour. Polls hint at that. No deal is sealed, but minds are opening somewhat.

However, this isn’t about anyone shifting politics from Yes to No, or even switching votes from SNP to Labour. It’s simply about allowing the other side a fair hearing. Are Yes voters - including me - willing to see if Starmer really can change Britain?

First let’s be clear: not all Yes voters, by any stretch, are nationalists, and so therefore don’t hold their opinion in a fundamentalist fashion.

I’m certainly no nationalist. I can’t stand nationalism of any stripe - British, Scottish, whatever. My position has always been that throughout my life Westminster has shown itself to be thoroughly irredeemable, and so independence offers the best hope - though by no means a sure hope - of seeing a fairer society created. That’s it. That’s what underlies my Yes vote.

Read more: Rutherglen and Hamilton West: Only populism can save SNP now

However, if Westminster could be truly redeemed, if the British government could be genuinely turned towards the interests of ordinary people, then I’d likely reconsider independence. That’s always been the case.

The current state of play matters too. Today, there’s neither a "road map" to independence, nor enough support to ensure winning any referendum, even if one could be called. The Yes movement is check-mated for the foreseeable future.

My position has always been: get support to 60% through good government at Holyrood and no Prime Minister can refuse another vote. The SNP’s abject failure to govern well has prevented that happening. The SNP also appears incapable of governing well enough to make that rise ever happen.

So surely any half-reasonable person, inclined towards independence, would, in these circumstances, pause and think: "okay, let’s see what Starmer does".

Now, my honest opinion is that Starmer won’t change Westminster. He’ll disappoint. As a naive 20-something I once thought Tony Blair would change Britain. Within a few years, I saw Blair as one of the most dangerous politicians of my lifetime. So, my natural default position is that Starmer will fail.

However, does that mean I shouldn’t at least give him a chance to show what he might do? Maybe - just maybe - he’ll turn politics around.

If he doesn’t, well, it’s time to take independence down off the shelf again. In fact, if Starmer blows it, that may well be the very impetus needed to push independence support over the 60% line.

Read more: SNP's latest indy offering is shabby, threadbare and mad

If we endure 13 years of Tory misrule, only for Labour to continue the same chaos and decline then, for pity’s sake, I’d genuinely expect a flood of soft Nos to the Yes side. Surely, if Starmer fails, only the most bitterly British nationalists - who have much more in common with bitterly Scottish nationalists than either like to admit - would stick by the belief that the union is good for them?

Independence is parked, whether Yes voters like it or not. It’s going nowhere. The SNP could well be on its way out at Holyrood, and severely reduced at Westminster. The Yes movement hasn’t been in such a dire state for years.

Equally, the Tories are done. They’re out of office for 10 years minimum. Starmer is on his way in. There’s time here to pause. Yes voters who aren’t fundamentalists - of whom there are many - have an opportunity now to draw breath, watch what happens, and give the ‘other side’ a chance to show what they really stand for.

If Labour succeeds, well, that’s a good thing, right? If they fail, then strike up the band once more.