LAST week, in the gathering debris of the Edinburgh Festival, I had the immense pleasure of interviewing the impersonator, Jon Culshaw, star of the radio comedy series Dead Ringers.

At times it felt like a whirlwind tour of modern celebrity as Culshaw took on the personae of Andy Murray, Ricky Gervais and an ageing, self-obsessed Tony Blair.

It was a virtuoso performance by a man who has the uncanny ability to screw up his face and metamorphosise into someone from the prime-time telly or the menagerie of Westminster politics.

What is frustrating about impersonators, and indeed some stand-up comedians, is that they use their skills to deflect from the real person behind the comedy mask.

I remember interviewing Norman ­Wisdom about his life and barely managed to penetrate the outer skin of his madcap act. I left feeling alienated, knowing even less about him than when the interview started. His comedy was both an act and a mask, a performance used in part to ward off enquiry.

The National: Jon Culshaw made his name in satirical sketch comedy shows such as Dead RingersJon Culshaw made his name in satirical sketch comedy shows such as Dead Ringers

It was nearly the same experience again with Culshaw. He never seemed to ­answer for himself and always answered in the guise of someone else, ­preferably a pop star or a politician. Ask him about ­Scottish politics and he became a ­bumbling Gordon Brown or a huffy Alex Ferguson, ask him about Scottish comedy and he effortlessly transformed into Billy Connolly.

Culshaw’s major admission was that he had struggled to perfect the former Tory leader David Cameron, who he said had no discernible personality and retreated into sounding like a Vicar in Chipping Norton.

Then for one sublime moment Culshaw let the mask slip and talked openly about the current cultural crisis in ­comedy, where stand-up comedians walk an ­unpredictable tightrope, unsure whether they will still have a career at the end of the night or not.

We talked about Jerry Sadowitz, ­Frankie Boyle, and Janey Godley and how each in turn had fallen foul of ­cancellation. ­Sadowitz is now selling tickets like hot cakes because of The Pleasance having cancelled his act. Being cancelled has ­energised interest in his shows elsewhere.

Culshaw had much to say about ­social media and its role in manufacturing ­controversy out of conflict. Whilst ­describing the anxiety and ­animosity currently coursing through the comedy circuit, he talked of social media as ­being like “a murmuration of opinions” ­scouring the skyline like starlings.

It was a beautifully accurate ­description of the way that the politics of Scottish ­independence swoops and swirls too, coming together as a flock, and then ­scattering into different agitations.

It is an image that has helped me come to terms with the many different ­sub-groups that make up the wider Yes movement.

I used to hate reading independence supporters arguing with each other ­online, believing it was handing an ­advantage to unionists. Now I am more inclined to ­follow the arguments, and their idiosyncrasies, as they swoop the skies learning and doubting on the way.

Firstly, there is the marked ­differences between the parties that support ­independence, the SNP and the Greens who share the government of devolved matters differ profoundly about how quickly we can decarbonise Scotland.

Both differ again from the Alba Party who want “independence as a priority for the here and now, not the hereafter” and are less enamoured by the new politics of identity.

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Alba have made a virtue of ­undermining First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, in part ­because of tacit support for Alex ­Salmond, but more importantly they prefer urgency to caution. As Sturgeon navigates the tricky shoreline of devolution and the rocks that have been placed in her way, whilst Alba followers are full steam ahead throwing caution to the wind.

Then there are the sovereigntists who have no desire to return to the EU and wish Scottish sovereignty to be ­absolute. It is an argument that has ­constitutional ­purity but struggles in the face of ­mounting economic evidence that Brexit and the departure from Europe was a ­catastrophic mistake, enabled, if my memory serves me well, by a Vicar from Chipping Norton.

Add to that the various pressure groups that advocate the historic Claim of Right and the politics of unilateral declaration of independence, and the murmuration is a gigantic flow of ideas and attitudes which whilst measurably different, and sometimes conflicting, all coalesce around the focal point of an independent Scotland.

A simplistic view of all these various species of independence has led some to the romantic idea that difference needs to be put aside, until a Yes vote is comfortably over the line. I profoundly disagree.

All the many variants of independence including the tens of thousands who do not group themselves under any party banner, should be encouraged to argue the toss all the way to the ballot box, and then take a role in shaping the new ­parties and formulations that will inevitably rise in the early days of this better nation.

This whole journey is about ­democracy and self-determination, about policy ­disagreements, about hard choices in challenging times and about profound ­differences. It is not about the right to skip merrily into the future, like ­Morecambe and Wise as the credits roll.

Nor is every dispute coursing through Scotland a binary hate-fest either. The ­gender reassignment issue, which for many is the most sparky and emotional threat to the flock, has deeply divided many people and reached up to the ­highest ranks of the governing SNP and into the very soul of feminism.

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The partisan exchanges online are in a very clear sense about competing rights, the right to signify a different gender and the right to protect women’s’ spaces, but they also reflect the way that online ­exchanges play out too.

Every time I happen on a dispute about gender reassignment or climate change, I find myself carried back to ­university when I studied Hegelian theories of ­tragedy.

Stay with me, it’s not nearly as ­pretentious as it sounds.

According to the German philosopher, “Tragedy arises, when a hero ­courageously asserts a substantial and just position, but in doing so ­simultaneously violates a contrary and likewise just position and so falls prey to a one-sidedness that is ­defined at one and the same time by ­greatness and by guilt.”

For example, in the politics of ­Extinction Rebellion, an activist vanguard is determined to save the planet and yet the woman in the electric car who wants to get to work on time must be trapped. It is a clash of ethical imperatives both are right, at least in the terms of their own ­legitimate visions.

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Creating division and trying to break up the flock is an age-old political ­strategy which social media enables. Twitter in particular works according to ­complex algorithms that cultivate division, ­encouraging binary disputes and cultural rivalries, for many the divisions on the Yes front can lead to a sense of despair that time and energy is wasted “fighting among ourselves”.

That is only true if you see politics like a football team and worry about dressing-room disharmony and players turning on the manager.

A murmuration is not so simplistic, it ­allows the competing factions, to ­seemingly part and follow each other ­often at odd and obtuse angles then to flock together for mutual benefit.

If I’ve time next week I plan to set up a Starlings for Yes group – I feel sure you’ll flock in whichever direction it takes.