SINCE I’m just back from a week visiting friends in France – weather gey dreich throughout – it seems appropriate to kick off with one of my favourite French sayings which roughly translates as “the more things change, the more they remain the same.”

That more or less sums up my feelings on returning to the circular debate about ­independence, conventions, referenda, ­elections general and other and the usual social media mix of trollers, conspiracy ­theorists, and time-served hecklers.

The more things change, the more they remain the same right enough. Though let’s hope that never becomes an epitaph for ­independence dreams.

I see that those of us who have long been impatient with indy life in the slow lane have now been labelled frustrated ­radicals by one of my colleagues. Frankly my dears, at my age and stage that’s no mean ­compliment.

Though I prefer to think of us as ­pragmatists: if you find you are banging on a firmly locked, barred and bolted door, maybe it’s time to check out other exits.

That’s why I wonder about the terms of reference for next month’s SNP convention which seem to perpetuate the fantasy that after these many years of fruitless search, a “legally binding” solution will pop out of the woodwork. Or cuddly ol’ ­Westminster will have a Damascene conversion to basic democracy.

I get that political entities are perfectly entitled to talk to their own members to the exclusion of other interested parties in terms of a very specific, policy ­determining, gathering. But maybe it ought not to be to the exclusion of other route maps on its agenda.

Neither do I resile from the view that while all those committed to ­Scottish ­independence (as opposed to the ­fair-weather variety) need to be part of the solution, it’s also true that the main party favouring independence still has the ­numerical ­parliamentary clout which is also a prerequisite of success.

Alba has yet to win a seat under its own colours, and whether or not you agree with its policy positions – I do on GRR for ­instance – it is in no danger of becoming the largest single player at Holyrood any time soon. Or, more likely, ever.

As for Scottish Labour, it can barely ­contain it’s excitement given the latest polling predictions. It’s desperate to woo back defectors from the SNP and its game plan is to try and unite the anti Tories ­under a Labour banner.

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I fear it speaks with forked tongue. Whilst many certainly crossed the floor to the SNP because of Labour’s anti-independence, anti-referendum stance, some of the leavers also looked at the modern Labour party and wondered where it had mislaid its soul.

It’s not so much that Labour have ­become Red Tories as the sloganising has it, but that it has abandoned its own founding principles. A people’s party which scorns the people.

Many of the UK Labour leader’s ­pledges when a candidate for the top job have met a nasty end in the shredder. And, to be fair, the landscape has changed out of ­recognition in the intervening years, so some re-configuration is not ­automatically out of order.

That might excuse a U-turn on higher taxes for the very wealthy, but it’s hardly an alibi for refusing to quantify and rail against the damage done by Brexit, not least to our own indigenous fishing and seafood industries. Both Starmer and his shadow chancellor are wont to intone that Brexit is yesterday’s news, done and dusted, and the game plan is now to make it work.

Precisely how you make a ­castastrophic act of self harm into a glowing ­opportunity is a fantasy worthy of Farage himself, though even that multi party demagogue has recanted, Which leaves the Labour front bench as the only team still ­believing in a healthy life after Brexit.

Meanwhile, instead of nationalising some public utilities as promised, we now have “regulating the market”. That’ll work for sure! Instead of supporting ­union ­demands for fair pay and ­conditions, there’s a ban on shadow cabinet members being caught within a country mile of a picket line.

And where is the outrage over the basic right of protest being binned by an out-of-control Home Secretary?

Where is the pushback on migration policy? Some statements from the ­Labour front bench seem more concerned that the government aren’t getting numbers down fast enough rather than being ­vocally appalled at unspeakable ­initiatives like Rwandan deportations.

Why has the proposed abolition of ­universal credit morphed into “reform of”. Weasily, meaningless terminology.

Unlike some colleagues, I’m not party to the Jeremy Corbyn nostalgiafest. I thought him a decent man with many ­decent qualities who had as much chance of being voted Prime Minister as I have of becoming the Kirk Moderator.

It is certainly true that Sir Keir needs all the MPs he can muster to get rid of an utterly corrupt and malign Tory ­administration. It is also true that any new Scottish Labour MP’s will have signed up to an anti-independence programme. They will not be on our side, folks.

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Worse still they will be charged with ­re-inforcing and protecting the Union.

Plus, as another columnist pointed out last week, only four times in the last 105 years has Scotland got the UK ­Government it voted for. And now, with our population decline and England’s expanding one, our representation in the Commons is ever more impotent.

In which regard we might also ponder that a smaller number of SNP MPs in the Commons will have even less clout than the current incumbents, which is not ­saying very much at all really.

When I suggest that many of their tribe would be rather more usefully deployed north of the border, the usual riposte is that “yes but they are there to represent all their constituents”.

Maybe so, but there will have been gey few Unionist votes in their pile at the count. And the pro-Indy voters didn’t ­dispatch them to the Commons because they liked the colour of their eyes.

We have missed many tipping points where more, dare I say radical, action would have garnered more ­concessions. We have failed to mount a proper ­attack on the internal market act which was ­specifically designed to empower ­Westminster further and destabilise the already shoogly foundations of the ­devolution settlement.

We have been altogether too quiescent when naked bribery was used to bypass Holyrood and, frankly, too bloody forelock touching altogether – which is a clever anatomical trick when you are being simultaneously booted up the backside.

The Smith commission, which many Labour-supporting scribes are fond of flagging up as supposed evidence of ­Labour largesse to Scotland, specifically says that none of the Smithsonian clauses prevent Scotland seceding if the people so will it.

Cast an eye towards Ireland where unification seems a prospect nearer than ever. Where the UK Government says any poll to determine that end can be held every seven years. What you might call a political generation!

Ireland, where the northern dinosaurs are being successively drubbed as the electorate want their ba’ back. Where the current UK Prime Minister had the gall to suggest in public that Northern Ireland with access to the EU and the UK had “the best of both worlds”!

Ireland, which itself faced many ­teething problems post-independence but ­contrived latterly to re-invent itself as a ­socially progressive, economically sound, serious player on the world stage. ­Bolstered by the constant support of its EU partners. The ones the UK ­abandoned. The ones we voted to hang on to.

Let’s wake up and smell the future.