THE National gathers together reports on local campaigning under the heading Yes DIY. It’s a name which should really encompass all work for independence.

No-one is going to do this for us. We can’t expect the UK Government to suddenly send its best civil servants to the First Minister, so she can start planning independence. The civil service in Scotland does not have the resources to run a large policy unit. There is no queue of philanthropists lining up to support detailed planning for independence. The best of us are happy amateurs, working out in small groups how best to build a new country.

We should not be looking to the SNP to take the lead. It is the party of government. Its skill is in finding a position which commands broad support among the electorate, so that it can win election after election. Its leader, the First Minister, has the hard-won authority to decide upon the strategy for holding a referendum on independence.

Some leading economists, following the lead of the Nobel Prize-winner Robert Shiller, have started to explore the importance of narrative. This is economics as storytelling, helping us to understand what is going on as we navigate our way through deeply uncertain events.

The National: First Minister Nicola Sturgeon gestures as she speaks at the relaunch of Glasgow Queen Street station in Glasgow. Picture date: Monday October 4, 2021. PA Photo. Photo credit should read: Russell Cheyne/PA Wire.

This has always been a part of the art of the economist, surveying events, and telling a story about them. And, like journalists writing the first draft of history, the story will have mistakes in it. But good stories will have their own truth – indeed, may even make their own truth.

Politicians need to be change-making storytellers. The First Minister’s current story is that Scotland will be better after independence and that there will be a referendum during this parliament, ideally within two years. That was her election-winning story.

Now, the compelling force of popular opinion comes up against the obduracy of a UK Government. To it, Scotland is little more than a collection of grouse moors. There is deep uncertainty about how to resolve.

Put that to one side and assume there will be a referendum. There will need to be an independence-winning story. A simple, optimistic story which will embolden the uncertain, and the uncommitted, to vote positively. It will trust voters to make good decisions, both at the referendum and afterwards in electing Scotland’s government.

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Think of Barack Obama’s “Yes, we can,” or even Mr Attlee’s “Let us face the future,” which for many first-time voters in 1945, who had been children of the Depression, became even more simply “never again”. If you must, think of the delusional, “take back control”.

NOW, if I could write a referendum-winning story here, I would. In the Scotland which I want to see, there will be a citizens’ economy, designed to promote human flourishing.

My starting point is a young woman, who, during her first pregnancy, will be able to rely on health and social care professionals to support her physical and mental wellbeing. After the baby – a new citizen – is born, the social support network will provide high-quality childcare, enabling her or his parents to balance caring and other responsibilities.

The deployment of a citizens’ income, a critical element of a unified tax and benefits system, will give people a degree of certainty, perhaps enabling them to consider self-employment or to develop their creativity. The attainment of

a four-day week would be seen as restarting the systematic reduction of working hours.

Education will no longer be directed purely towards academic achievement and preparation for work, but will enable children and young people to pursue a much broader range of capabilities.

Technical and vocational education will become available to everyone. Apprenticeships might be the standard route into employment. Participation in full-time tertiary education will increasingly be spread over the whole of adult life.

In old age, health and care services will support people so they can live as independently as possible as they become frailer.

All this is the easy part. These aspirations are so general that, except for a citizens’ income, probably every mainstream political party in Scotland could agree with them. Many politicians would even concur that these should be entitlements for every citizen, taking the form of universal services, and so free of user charges. Crabbit Unionists might want to argue that these are all policies which the Scottish Government could adopt now. Without the broad shoulders of the British government and the sharing of resources, they will claim, Scotland would be unable to afford any of this.

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They are prisoners of their own minds, content in their captivity. As the doors of their cells swing open on independence day, they will remain where they are, aghast that shafts of light have penetrated the customary gloom.

With freedom will come new responsibilities. The Scottish citizens’ economy will come with a large price tag, and that will mean – horror of horrors for tight-fisted Conservatives – higher taxes.

That will almost certainly mean much higher taxes on land, which are difficult to avoid, especially when all ownership of land has registered.

No-one can simply claim that their land is part of the UK, to avoid paying Scottish taxes. Lastly, by making the tax virtuously progressive, it will be a powerful tool, underpinning the land reform needed for the flourishing of the whole country.