How strange that the independence movement in Scotland is so silent on the coming expansion of the European Union. You’d think there’d be a little more breaking of hearts.

After all, if the SNP had got its act together nearly a decade ago, in the wake of the 2014 referendum, Scotland might now be back in the EU, or at least at the head of the queue.

The chirruping of crickets seems to be the only response to the mammoth report issued by the European Commission on future enlargement. It recommends formal negotiations begin with Ukraine and Moldova for EU membership. European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, described it as “the call of history”. It’s a call that Scotland has well and truly missed. History seems to have left us behind.

The report also recommends opening accession talks with Bosnia, and giving candidate status to Georgia. We’re looking at the biggest EU expansion since 2004 when 10 nations joined, including Poland and the Baltic states.

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How different matters might now be if, in 2014, Nicola Sturgeon had got down to the hard task of governing Scotland to the very best of her abilities, slowly building a broad consensus for independence. If her Government had strained every sinew to show it was capable of real ambition and lasting achievement, despite devolution’s limitations, then independence support could have settled above 50%.

That was always the only way to achieve independence: governing so well that the Yes vote solidified at over 50% permanently. Nothing else would ever move Westminster’s hand.

No referendum, no independence. No independence, no EU return. That’s always been the equation.

Instead, Ms Sturgeon’s Government cynically played the divide and conquer game, using the constitution as an endless wedge issue. The SNP knew there were enough independence supporters to keep it in power. So the mantra "Indy Is Coming!" was rolled out ad nauseam, ad infinitum.

It worked for a long time. But the strategy is now dead. In fact, it’s backfiring. Once the cost of living crisis bit, many pro-indy voters realised that promises don’t butter bread. It was also clear that the SNP had failed repeatedly over policy.

The SNP is a party with one tune: independence. It plays that tune to the detriment of all else: health, education, policing, the environment. Yet the SNP doesn’t even know how its own tune ends. It has no strategy for independence, just empty positioning: nonsensical claims like "de facto referenda".

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So, if the SNP was really a party of government, rather than the single-issue party it so clearly is, Scotland might have seen another referendum. That referendum might have been won, and today, as the EU prepares to expand, Scotland would be ready for re-entry.

To underscore how pitiful this is, Humza Yousaf is about to issue yet another government independence paper … this time on Europe. The irony bites deep. On Friday, he will “set out an alternative future for Scotland - a future where we’re back in the EU, but crucially for the very first time as a state in our own right”.

The rhetoric is risible, a tiring insult to everyone’s intelligence. How, Humza, will you get Scotland back in Europe? A return to Europe is dependent upon independence. So tell us how Scotland will become “a state in our own right”? There is no strategy.

The SNP will, at best, lose seats at the next Westminster and Holyrood elections. Keir Starmer will likely have a thumping majority, and won’t give a damn about nationalists. A worst-case scenario for the SNP is Labour taking Holyrood.

So how, Humza, will you achieve these great and wondrous marvels? Through the power of dreams?

Here’s the question Yes voters must ask themselves: what happens to the independence movement when its political leadership is in tatters, when the party which led the movement is headed for the dustbin?

No other party can assume leadership. Alba is absurd. The Greens a minority sport. It’s the SNP or nothing when it comes to carrying the indy torch.

There is - perhaps - some silver lining. Unless you’re a rabid nationalist, independence isn’t something which must happen tomorrow. Independence should only happen under two conditions: when it’s clear what independence really means, and when support is heavily and consistently on the far side of 50%.

Neither of those conditions has been met. The SNP has no idea what independence means, and support, at best, touches 50% and falls back. So perhaps the Scottish Government’s failures allow some time for intellectual regrouping.

Look to Ireland for a possible answer. There’s talk of a Citizens Assembly taking on the issue of Irish unity. Ireland has made great use of this bottom-up method of consultation on divisive issues like abortion. Ireland’s Citizen Assemblies have been hailed as pretty much an all-round success.

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Wouldn’t the constitution be safer in the hands of a bunch of average Scottish citizens than slippery nationalist or unionist politicians? Evidently, ordinary citizens on these assemblies have a battalion of civil servants to help them navigate complex issues, and the power to call expert witnesses. They also have the luxury of time, to slowly digest their findings and issue unpartisan reports giving their advice to the nation.

A Scottish Citizens Assembly could establish just what independence would really mean for borders, currency, the armed forces and intelligence services, and membership of the EU and Nato. I’d certainly trust the findings of ordinary people more than the words of doctrinaire nationalists or unionists sitting in Holyrood or Westminster.

Evidently, a nation requires a brave government - a government which trusts the people - to hand an issue like independence to a Citizens Assembly. Now, I ask you, look at the SNP and tell me that’s going to happen.

The problem is this: if independence is left solely in the SNP’s hands, then its fate is tied to the fortunes of a political party. The writing is on the wall for the SNP. That means unless the party has the honour to give independence somewhere safe to shelter as it declines, the very cause which gives the SNP purpose will fade with it. That’s surely the definition of tragedy.