From my Daily Record column
OLD generals are apt to fight the last war, not the next one. Sometimes it felt that way as Alistair Darling and Ruth Davidson warned against the potency of nationalism.
Darling was clear the battleground remains the economy.
"If people believe the Union is not delivering for them, the argument for breaking away will only gather strength," he told a conference in Westminster, where few nationalists were present and none made presentations.
Davidson regretted how the lessons of 2014 had not been learned for the EU referendum campaign, neglecting how the lessons were very well learned by her opponents on the Leave side.
Boris Johnson and Michael Gove simply picked up the baton where Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon left it and neutralised the negatives of Project Fear II, amplified claims tenfold and repeated their version of baloney with more conviction.
Remainers think it was foolish of Leave to paint the "£350 million a week for the NHS" slogan on the side of a bus.
This overlooks how Leave won, like Donald Trump won, by riding aboard a big red lie and surfing on emotion, not economics.
As the Brexit result came in, SNP strategists were kicking the family dog wondering if they had made even bolder independence claims they might have caught the anti-politics surge which brought Brexit to shore.
There's always another wave and this week's new claim, independence will make every family £4100 better off, might look good on the side of a bus too.
On one issue Darling and Davidson were agreed, people are weary of debating independence and of referenda. They might be but again this neglects how wearing down the opposition is a long game strategy. It is why former senior SNP advisers have gone into industry and lobbying firms, like Jesuit missionaries, spending years in the business jungle persuading the wealth creators who were so opposed last time.
It is why the subtext of SNP messaging on the Wilson Growth Commission, launched without the razzmatazz of flash bulbs so it does not crash on takeoff, is to simply give this new case for independence a reasonable hearing.
Levering extraordinary ideas to parity with common sense and then presenting the two as reasonable options is an old political trick.
Darling noted on Monday the longer the independence campaign went on, the more embedded the fantasy economics became. So, sure, some experts will be found to back the idea of a separate Scottish currency, with or without a central bank, and other experts will disagree.
You, the voter, then decide between two "reasonable" ideas circulating in the political bloodstream for some time.
It is to deny the economics of independence a foothold on reasoned ground that UK Ministers will show the Growth Commission the same regard most people have for the Alex Salmond Show, and simply ignore it.
That, of course, would be a mistake as the weary generals of Unionism must accept. Darling redeemed himself by spelling out his Labour counter to nationalism, it is social justice.
In both Brexit and Indy campaigns it was easy to encounter people who felt they were losing out to another group because of the way politics is run.
"Unless we sort out the economics of inequality, particularly outside big cities, that cause the rise of nationalism we are storing up problems for ourselves," said Darling, emphasising how this is not a passing phase.
"It may not manifest itself in a vote on Europe but something else will come along and someone will say, 'You're living like this and it is someone else's fault'."
"The only right thing to do is fix the lack of opportunity, to let people know they are cared about, or the same problems will manifest themselves again."