SMEDDUM. A fine old Scots word but, sadly, not much evidence of it being a fine contemporary virtue in Scotland right now.

It stands for having spirit and determination. A bit of backbone.

The indy army wish fervently for a bit more of it being visible in the electorate. The Unionist army wish fervently that they’d shut up and address folks’ real ­concerns.

The seemingly intractable dividing line between these opinions is that for the ­Independenistas, there cannot be a ­significant change in the material condition of the Scottish people until and unless they are able to legislate for themselves.

In the next General Election, we will ­technically have a choice between being run by one of two London-based parties. Like all the London-based parties before them, they will pursue policy courses which best reflect the interests and needs of the South East of England.

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Keir Starmer (above) would quibble with that. He suggests that with a blueprint supplied by Gordon Brown, a Labour government would embark on wide-ranging reforms ­devolving power ever downwards. This is an auld sang we have heard sung many times before.

And, already, many months before the ballot boxes are summonsed, it’s been made clear that Mr Brown’s vision has slipped off Sir Keir’s priority to do list. This is not much of a shock to the Scots body politic. Fool me once, and all that.

Not that it is the only casualty of a ­Labour government in waiting, which is using its time in the queue to shred every last vestige of anything smacking of the

S word. ­Socialism is well out of fashion, don’t ya know?

So the billions promised for the green revolution have been shoved into the ­sometime, maybe slot. The promises to ­restore workers’ lost rights, ditto. The two-child cap on benefits – once derided as “­heinous’ – will stay. As will the bedroom tax.

The all-purpose alibi is that there is ­nothing more important than being ­elected and that means not frightening any of the important horses in banking, financial ­services and board rooms.

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And it’s true that without power, you are reduced to screaming impotently from the sidelines.

As many of us observe about Scotland, not at all incidentally.

We have done a fair bit with limited room to manoeuvre, shilpit borrowing powers and an iron-clad ban on busting the budget. Though shedloads of dosh has gone on trying to improve the lot of ­people serially hammered by Tory policies.

How many people in England actually know that we have a £25 child payment to help address poverty and free bus travel for both the elderly AND the young? No tuition fees, no prescription charges, free personal care, grants for young carers. All done within the strict confines of having to balance the books.

Meanwhile, those bean counters at the Treasury in London have run up £2.5 ­trillion of national debt – more than 100% of the UK’s GDP. Yet we are ­constantly labelled whingeing Jocks; ­ingrates who don’t thank the Chancellor for his ­largesse.

Bottom line – the Scottish Government has direct control over 32.4% of our taxes and the rest goes to the treasury for, they would doubtless argue, many central ­services enjoyed by all of the UK.

They might just omit the fact that we also pay a huge share of the cost of things we don’t actually want, like Trident. Or things from which we will never benefit like the money pit which is HS2.

They might conveniently forget the promises made of the London ­Olympics dividend – which cost £9.3 billion, a 76% over-run on the original budget, and proved the most expensive summer ­Olympics ever.

As the annual farce of the GERS budget continues to prove, Westminster is just awfy good at pochling the figures to show them in the most flattering light and the rest of us as fushionless chancers. They even get us to produce the GERS figures which bear sod all relationship to an ­independent Scotland’s likely priority spending.

A five-part series on the “Troubles”, Once Upon A Time In Northern Ireland, is an utterly fascinating take on Northern Ireland’s seemingly entrenched divisions. And there is no way any sensible Scot would advocate a constitutional course involving violence and innocent deaths. Nor would they want to replicate the civil war.

Nevertheless, because the series ­listens to ordinary voices – ordinary ­citizens ­rather than political tribesmen and ­women – it also shows us how seeming ­intransigence can morph into honest ­regret about ancient prejudices.

Now, of course, NI is in the enviable place of having trade relations with the EU through Eire, and the UK too. Or, as that nice Rishi Sunak (below) somewhat ­infelicitously put it, “the best of both worlds”. We heard you Rishi. We will not forget that quote in a hurry,

So what to do to advance the cause? Lesley Riddoch, who has studied the ­Nordic countries at length, thinks they have much to teach us about their own conscious uncoupling from earlier ­incarnations and borders once thought immutable. I recommend her new book Thrive as an excellent primer.

The National: Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has told people ‘we will get through this’, as he backed the latest increase in interest rates (Victoria Jones/PA)

And then we have the thoughts of ­Professor Robert McCorquodale, who has concluded that the Supreme Court got it wrong in their judgment over Scottish self-determination. Now given that he was commissioned by Neale Hanvey of Alba you might suppose that his conclusions were unlikely to be unfavourable to that party.

Yet McCorquodale is nobody’s patsy. An international expert on human rights and self-determination, he was appointed by the United Nations last year to its five-strong team on global rights in many different fields.

His view was that our Supreme Court – surely emblematic of the UK ­establishment – was wrong on ­several counts, not least when it looked at ­previous secessions like Kosova from ­Serbia, and ­previous ­referenda like ­Quebec and Canada. ­Importantly, his conclusions were in no way sugar-coated.

He recognised the case for self -determination in international law and concluded that UK Government ­submissions to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) were not necessarily the most ­objective source of opinion.

However, he cautioned that legal routes to self-determination were likely to be challenging “but by no means ­impossible”. Getting an advisory opinion from the ICJ would need a majority vote in favour at the UN General Assembly of all the states, plus persuading one of them to act on our behalf.

THE other often argued route of declaring a Unilateral Declaration of Independence could not be done by the Scottish parliament, he argues, since it is subject to UK law.

Instead, he suggests there would need to be a convention of elected and diverse ­representatives from all over Scotland which indicated a clear majority in ­favour.

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Which brings the ball firmly back into the public court. We do need to ramp up pro-independence sentiment by every available means, and that can only be done by hard graft, serious research and a widespread campaign of solid ­information and comparators.

When you think of some of the current EU members, such as Malta and Cyprus, you might well wonder why Scotland could even be considered too small to succeed.

There is no shortage of precedents from which we could usefully learn. No shortage of velvet divorces either. And let’s remember that when ­Czechoslovakia became two countries, it managed the ­division of assets and differing routes on currency with a remarkable degree of ­harmony.

It would be a dewy-eyed optimist who believed independence will be achieved without hard work and many hurdles. But a pessimist utterly lacking in vision who couldn’t see the immeasurable long-term benefits.

Scottish independence is unfinished business which needs to be translated into our settled will. It will take ­smeddum.