WELL, that was quite a week, wasn’t it? Another indyref has been trailed, the law courts beckon and endless intrigue waits around the corner.

So why when the big political story was being unveiled at Holyrood was I ­distracted by a square-go at the battered bus shelter of social media?

For those that have memories dating back to 2012, the Twitter wars have never fully subsided. Now they are back in earnest, ­every statement contradicted, and every thesis squashed with a meme or a put-down.

The question is can complexity of debate survive the squabbling banalities and thrive this time round?

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The fight I want to bring to your ­attention had two combatants. They clearly knew each other of old and may well have been harbouring bad blood from previous ­meetings, but that was not what I took from their battle.

Strangely, neither party won and there were no earth-shattering observations, but unlike so many passing Twitter spats it stayed with me for two or three days, fleeting and inconsequential but strangely relevant to Scotland and its future.

The fight was about Sauchiehall Street – that furry old artery through Glasgow. Never has a street suffered so badly from arteriosclerosis.

The battle started in earnest when ­Lawrence Donegan, a former pop ­musician with Lloyd Cole and the ­Commotions, now resident in California, returned home to Scotland.

His comments were not kind to the buckled old boulevard of his past.

“Back in Glasgow,” he announced. “Went for a walk up Sauchiehall Street. What a bang-up job the SNP ­council has done of turning one of Scotland’s most ­famous streets into a filthy, ­derelict ­wasteland. Onwards to a ­glorious ­independent Scotland with these ­incompetent cos-play Tories in charge.”

Sauchiehall Street is a mess and, in that respect, Donegan’s disappointment has merit, but as with so many issues we will face in the years to come, while simplicity comes easy, resolving complexity is a very ­different skill.

First, let’s dispense with a damning touch of nostalgia we are all prone to about our younger days. Lawrence grew up in post-punk Glasgow where a mere block stretching down from the Art School, past the Variety Bar, was Nico’s Brasserie, where, shock-horror, you could buy a cappuccino and drink beer from the bottle – it was an important cultural space in Glasgow.

Nico’s was the gathering place of ­London A&R men sent north to discover new bands and so was easy pickings for those that wanted a night out courtesy of a record company corporate credit card. I share Lawrence’s nostalgia for that era when the Art School had not been burned to the ground and Glasgow reeked of youthful creativity. Today that once vital block is a sad ­travesty of its former self.

That said, the decline of Sauchiehall Street has a much longer history only ­hastened by Covid lockdown. Many of the shops and bars that have been ­shuttered are not under the direct influence of ­local government – irrespective of who holds a majority.

Chain-store capitalism has been a cruel contributor to many cities, and a checklist of now dilapidated streets would stretch from Aberdeen to Brighton. There is not a council across the UK that is not worried about its high streets and no municipality that has the perfect answer.

Complexity runs deep. The rise of ­online shopping and the move to suburban shopping malls has delivered a brutal blow to high-street shopping. More ­people visit Braehead and the Forge Shopping Centre in a day than walk down ­Sauchiehall Street in a week.

Nor is it entirely fair to say that the SNP-led council have done nothing and are the sorcerers of a putrid ­decline. ­Sauchiehall Street now has more ­pedestrian spaces, more cycle lanes and more outdoor ­spaces for cafes and bars than ever ­before, but lockdown rendered them near redundant.

Another factor in all of this is local ­entrepreneurship. As Sauchiehall Street has declined so Glasgow’s “neighbourhood villages” have thrived. The West End and ­Finnieston, Strathbungo on the Southside and Dennistoun to the east have all seen noticeable shifts in retail, with cafes, craft shops, Turkish barbers, pop-up shops and artisan bakeries.

While I would not blame the SNP-led council, I cannot truthfully ascribe this notable success to the administration ­either – it is more a by-product of ­cheaper rents, shorter leases and a just-do-it ­entrepreneurship led largely by the young, who have shown a recognisable desire for personal independence in employment.

Another reason why Sauchiehall Street look so bad is that it has one of the worst entrances to any major street in Europe – the carbuncle building that sits astride the motorway and the busy intersection at Charing Cross is hazardous, ugly and ­an affront to the public realm.

For many Glaswegians, the ­destruction of the old Charing Cross was an ­unforgivable act of urban vandalism, only the spectacular mansions building reaching up through six stories of red sandstone to two magisterial turrets has survived.

For all the many things that people may choose to blame on Glasgow’s SNP-led council, building the M8 motorway through the city is not one of them.

Nor in the spirit of understanding ­complexity is it entirely fair to blame Labour Party domination either. If you return to the immediate post-war ­period, two major factors were dominating ­urban ­planning, in the western world – the ­interstate ­highway system in America which was a corollary of the ­rising sales of family cars, and the civic ambition to build better housing for ­ordinary people.

WE can be clever with hindsight now, but at the time there were few dissenters. I have studied the building of Interstate I-375, one of the major arteries through Detroit. It has remarkable similarities with what was about to happen to Glasgow. Access to the road required the destruction of “Black Bottom”, an African-American community whose residents were displaced to either new-build council housing or peripheral communities.

In Glasgow, access and feeder roads changed Kinning Park, the Gorbals and Charing Cross forever, cutting Argyle Street in two and destroying the grand ­entrance to Sauchiehall Street. To walk the length of Argyle Street from Trongate to the Kelvin, you must first navigate a chicane of pedestrian bridges that deposit you in Anderston, where the global glory of the Hilton Hotel chain enjoys greater access to the city.

It is easy to mock now but the Labour-led council of the time were driven by improved transportation, slum clearance, the urgent need for new housing stock and the ideological grip that Americanisation had on public discourse.

Back then, very few warned of the ­dangers to the public realm and the ­culture of preservation, we increasingly value now, and such was the power of ­Labour’s working-class vote that utilitarian social provision would almost certainly have triumphed over heritage.

The problem with holding fast and hard views on any subject is that as values and attitudes change, life can pull a curtain over complexity, and so stifle progress.

So much still has to be fought for – a ­solution to drug deaths, greater support for mental health and re-aligning our ­National Health Service free where it can be at the point of need. None of this is simple or solved by slogans.

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I am convinced in my views that ­Scotland should and will become an ­independent country but that alone does not iron the creases out of the challenges we face. Many unanswered questions remain unanswered, whether they are about change or the preservation of a ­failing status quo that Labour of all ­parties should be raging against.

Online disputes will be a prominent feature of the campaigning yet to come but social media, by its very nature, is best suited to certainties, to slogans, to put-downs and to glib generalisations.

That is why the more honest and testing debates will be in the public meetings, in the village and town halls, in civic society conversations and in the long drunken nights that lie ahead.

Let complexity lead us forward and let simplicity be our mortal enemy.