Both sides of the left on the issue of Scottish independence face considerable challenges over the next two years, now that it has been agreed by both Holyrood and Westminster governments that the referendum will take place.
With the starting gun well and truly fired, the first challenge is not to denigrate the other side with the cheap shots of respectively being nationalist and separatists or unionists and imperialists.
Both sides have to remember they are part of the left and that the common enemy is not each other.
No longer will it be enough for some on the left to take the rather agnostic position of saying that the goals of the left on the opposing sides are the same and it's is merely a matter of agreeing on these and trying to ignore the differences about how to go about achieving this.
Neither will it be feasible any longer for some on the left to merely ask the mainstream pro- and anti-independence campaigns and parties questions about how they will (or will not) deliver social justice based on their different visions and agendas for Scotland.
The second challenge for the respective lefts is how to get their messages across given their meagre size and resources.
But, as John Foster pointed out a few weeks ago in the Star, probably the main challenge for both the pro- and anti-independence left is how to lay out a roadmap to social justice. This is crucial because neither an independent Scotland nor one remaining part of Britain will necessarily and of themselves deliver social justice.
In the case of a vote for independence the government in Scotland will be dominated for some time to come by the SNP - certainly after the 2016 Scottish elections. While the SNP has a number of social democratic tinges to it, it is dominated by neoliberal economics - specifically the trickle-down economics where giving business a free rein is believed to create the tax receipts to fund social provision.
Staying within Britain offers - from the three mainstream parties - a menu of cuts, cuts and more cuts. The only differences are when, where and how much. Miliband's "one nation" labourism is not a clever rhetorical device for the re-emergence of social democracy and neither was his promotion of "pre-distribution" plan to introduce wealth redistribution through the back door.
Whether together or apart, the left in Scotland faces a dilemma of how to get traction for its ideas at a time when it is in a depleted state.
The Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) - without having representatives in parliament - faces a Herculean struggle to influence the course of Scottish history in the way it wishes. Without a groundswell of activity and support outside parliament, it will not regain that necessary public platform which it needs to do this. For it to make any progress it must gain MSPs in the 2016 election.
The issue of the assumed break-up of the SNP after independence will not necessarily lead to the formation of a new left party with the SSP. This is because the SSP may not be credible if it has no MSPs and because the SNP left may decided to stay in and try to influence things from within the SNP.
For the anti-independence left, represented by the Campaign for Socialism and the Communist Party of Britain, the prospects for achieving success are equally daunting. Not only is there the domination of the Labour Party by the two Eds but their rightward trajectory is shared by the leader of the Labour Party in Scotland, Johann Lamont.
Even with the support of a number of the left-led unions in Scotland, these anti-independence forces will find it hard to make an impression on the mainstream anti-independence campaign.
The two lefts urgently need to turn their attention to the pressing issue of what they stand for and how it can convincingly presented before the referendum.
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