If you didn’t know better, it would be easy to think you had just stepped out of Doc Brown’s DeLorean to the same place you were two weeks ago, before you popped your paper in the ballot box. The election came and went as expected. With the exception of a new face here or a seat changed there, we’re back to square one. Time has stood still.

And just like Sisyphus’s endless struggle up and down the hill, the two boulders of modern Scotland weigh as heavy as ever. Shaped by the prospect of independence, the first stone warns of a nation doomed to eternal purgatory, a helpless arid land lost and alone in the North Sea. The second promises a fantastical Garden of Eden, free to prosper in its new-found confidence with friends across the water.

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OK, I exaggerate, but the essential truth it highlights still stands – we, the voters, deserve better. If we are ever going to make an informed decision on our future, we need a break from the repetitive narrative of either doom or boom, nightmare or Narnia. Based on the democratic precepts laid down by the Yes majority in Parliament, Indyref2 should go ahead. But before it does, the standard of debate has to improve.

For diehard Bravehearts or John Bulls the road ahead is clear, but for others, those in Gordon Brown’s “middle Scotland”, independence may be seen as a means to an end. A better Scotland is what they want, and they aren’t too fussed if it’s wrapped up in a Saltire or Union Jack. National identity matters less than putting food on the table. In a battle for hearts and minds, it is the latter that holds sway here.

But while it’s fair game for unionists to ask what happens to the pound, pensions, borders, trade, tax and benefits, surely they must realise the Armageddon card has been played too often. If it hasn’t convinced many in the centre this far down the line, then surely it’s time for a new strategy. Something is broken and ignoring the root cause just won’t work. So instead of scare stories, shouldn’t the focus be on how life might be improved under the Union? The status quo simply isn’t enough.

For the Yes camp the opposite is true. Instead of dodging difficult questions, isn’t it time to face them head on? Tone down the rhetoric and ramp up the realism, even if it risks a few clouds on the sunny uplands of independence. Voters aren’t children – they can handle a little rain. Admit there would be economic pain and explain how this will be tackled. Just as Brexit has shown, there will be losers. How will they be protected? Create an independence transition fund for those who lose their jobs? Would hardcore nationalists be willing to contribute?

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Sadly, such ideas are pie in the sky when the default setting is obfuscation and a stubborn refusal to play anything other than the same old tune. When Project Fear and Project Fairy Tales stalk the land there is little hope of choosing between two versions of a better Scotland. Two roads ahead – one unionist or one independent – both different, but both united in honesty and vision.


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