THE political firmament we know is breaking up, in the US and in the UK. Scot nats need to understand this.

The SNP is holding a special conference next month to discuss independence strategy. Personally, I think the party risks talking to itself. We actually need a national convention of the whole indy movement, not just the SNP.

But that aside, I fear much of the independence debate has become backward looking.

We are not grasping the fact that our opponents are changing rapidly. In short, we face new enemies and new dangers on the road to self-determination.

Thirteen years ago, the Tories came to power led by smiley David Cameron and George Osborne.

This was a new Tory Party formed in the image of Blairism. Cameron and Osborne were social liberals and globalists.

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True, they espoused a Thatcherite emphasis on fiscal austerity in the wake of the 2008 banking disaster, but after a couple of years of economic stagnation they reversed ferret and turned on the spending taps.

Behind Cameron and his compliant LibDem coalition allies was a financial establishment anxious to shake off the recent crisis and make the City of London into a global banking hub to rival Wall Street. Chancellor Osborne duly jetted off to China to offer to turn London into a financial outpost of Shanghai.

Almost as an afterthought, Cameron agreed to a Scottish independence referendum, partly because he thought he could win it easily, and partly because it would see off the pesky Nats.

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But the Cameron experiment crashed and burned. It was an aberration rather than the true face of Toryism. It was the last hurrah of neoliberal Blairism, not a resurgent Thatcherism as we thought in Scotland.

Cameron, Osborne and the superfluous Nick Clegg (remember him?) were consigned to the dustbin of history by the 2016 Brexit referendum. As with Scotland, Cameron (a former PR man for British Airways) was arrogant enough to think he could win the vote easily and so see off his right-wing critics in the Conservative Party. It would be a minor detour on the road to globalisation.

But Cameron no longer faced only loony Tory back benchers. Thatcherism had created a new social strata of financial asset strippers and hedge fund cowboys at the same time as it dismantled British heavy industry.

These Del Boy capitalists (such as Farage and Arron Banks, who bankrolled Brexit) were convinced anti-globalists.

They also built a political constituency among those thrown on to the scrapheap by globalisation – the decaying northern and seaside towns of England; the millions of English working-class men made permanently unemployed by the transfer of jobs to Asia then forced to live off disability benefit, OAPs eking an existence on a meagre state pension.

Cameron, Osborne and Clegg paid the price of this neglect and disappeared from the political stage as fast as they had first appeared. Clegg went off to work for Meta while Osborne became the mouthpiece for a Russian oligarch.

It should have been curtains too for the traditional Tory Party. But the Tory machine is durable, if nothing else. After the brief Theresa May interlude, the party turned populist and (to a degree) anti-globalist, recruiting Boris Johnson as front man to see off the Faragists and a newly Corbynite Labour.

The National: Boris Johnson speaking at the launch of the Conservative Party’s General Election campaign in Birmingham

Lo and behold, the Red Wall was stormed and the LibDems humiliated. The Brexiteers had finally occupied Downing Street.

The revolution was complete.

Except it wasn’t. Boris in office proved as flaky and self-indulgent as ever and was soon booted out on his ear. Partly this was the revenge of the few remaining globalists among the Tory MPs. But it also indicates that Johnson himself was too soft to be a Trump, too lazy to wield the factional knife and too ideologically vacuous to fight a culture war.

In short, the post-Brexit Tories still lack a champion. The hapless Liz Truss was quickly defenestrated by the City financial oligarchy only to be replaced by a technocratic former banker. As the recent English local elections proved, Rishi Sunak is not going to win next year’s General Election, even against the equally technocratic Keir Starmer.

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Result: an ideological ferment inside traditional Conservatism. This past week saw the crystallisation inside Tory ranks of two new ideological currents – the Conservative Democratic Organisation (CDO) and the National Conservatives (the NatCons).

Both represent a clear and present danger to Scotland.

The CDO held its first national gathering in Bournemouth. It is a grassroots organisation of Boris supporters who want the party’s 172,000 members (but how many in Scotland, Mr Ross?) to have more power, especially over MPs. They also want a return to “traditional Conservatism” meaning lower taxes.

The CDO faces two impediments. First, Boris is a busted flush, so it has no obvious leader. Second, Sunak’s political base lies with the coterie of chancers who made a fortune out of government Covid contracts when he was chancellor.

This bunch actually wants more state spending, not less. I expect the future of the CDO is to act as a bridge to some rapprochement with Richard Tice’s Reform Party (the old Brexit Party) which managed a creditable 6 per cent average in the seats it fought in the English local elections. Regardless, the CDO will act as a brake on any Tory government agreeing a second indyref, so forget asking for one.

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The NatCons are a different kettle of political fish. Their London conference was organised by an American right-wing think tank. They represent the emergence in Anglo-Tory politics of US-style cultural warriors.

The politics here is socially conservative (small “c”) – religious, anti-trans, anti-abortion, “family values”. The “national” bit refers to their anti-globalism and emphasis on protecting the domestic British economy. The latter explains their financing from local hedge funds who want to escape European and international regulation.

The NatCon gathering was addressed by our ambitious Home Secretary Suella Braverman (who fortunately did not have far to drive) and right-wing commentator Douglas Murray, who urged attendees to embrace the label of “nationalists” despite the Nazis having “mucked up” the name in the past.

Is there a place for “nationalist” culture warriors in British politics? You bet there is. And where you get culture wars you get authoritarianism.

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The NatCons smack of the social-authoritarian turn of Viktor Orban’s Hungary and Giorgia Meloni’s Italy. Traditional Toryism was Brit nationalist too but appealed to the Crown and Second World War patriotism as a unifying badge.

NatCons are openly socially divisive – their nationalism is based on identifying and being hostile to minorities. Expect Scotland to figure in their sights. Expect a NatCon Westminster government to roll back devolution.

None of this suggests a rerun of the Cameron years. There will be no second referendum. If Scotland truly wants independence, then it will simply have to take it.

By all means seek yet another popular mandate through a Holyrood or General Election.

But this has nothing to do with convincing London because London does not want to be convinced. Rather, it has everything to do with giving Scots self-confidence to shape their own destiny.

That should begin by opposing – indeed ignoring – attempts by any future NatCon Westminster administration to undermine our elected Scottish Parliament.