We are however in very peculiar circumstance. The Country is in the middle of a pandemic and virtually the only voice heard is that of the First Minister. The new leader of the Scottish Tories remains a largely unknown quantity while although their best known politician is back on stage it is only for a farewell tour. The leadership of the Scottish. Labour Party, is execrable. We also have an exceptionally unpopular UK Government not only pursuing, it appears, the exceptionally unpopular (in Scotland) goal of a no deal Brexit but also led by a man who epitomises all that can be worst in the traditional English ruling classes. Despite that, hobbled by the legacy of Corbynism, we seem a very long way from being likely to elect an alternative Labour Administration at Westminster. On any view, the perception (if not the reality) is that the Coronavirus crisis is being handled more competently by the Scottish than the UK Government. Few would argue that Sturgeon is a more accomplished media performer than Johnson in at least giving the impression she knows what she is doing. Finally, Independence is for the moment being allowed to be whatever you want it to be with no regard to the massive contradictions within that whatever is, let alone any serious consideration of how all this might be paid for.
So, in some ways it is no surprise that in the midst of this perfect storm, support for the union has drifted away. Indeed if the separatists couldn't secure a temporary poll lead in these circumstances, it is difficult to see when they ever might.
But, in common with much of the self interested commentary we see in the press that I have referred to here before, people are being invited to draw precisely the wrong conclusion from these polls. The fact that the separatists might win a referendum is not a reason for the UK Government to allow one. It is precisely the reason they would not. That is the fundamental misunderstanding on the nationalist side
So let's move forward not to the 2021 Holyrood election (if there even is such an event) but to the 2024 Westminster one. Let's assume, not least thanks to Johnson's performance today, the red wall has been rebuilt and fresh parts of England won over. The Nats still dominate Scotland however, so despite our best efforts, at close of poll the Tories retain a plurality but not a majority of seats. Their support would give a Labour Government a commons majority. What happens then? The SNP MPs would become government lobby fodder. Their current social democratic positioning would force them to say they would never support a Tory Government. So they would have no leverage at all. They could certainly "say" they wouldn't vote for a Labour Queen's speech but in truth, not doing so has only one logical outcome. Supporting a successful Tory defeat of a potential Labour Government. Leading to a second election where the only way to get a Labour Government would be to vote Labour. Good luck to the Nats in going back to the polls on that basis.. And, anyway, why would a Labour Government destabilise itself, while discrediting it with the very "British" voters it lost to the Tories over Brexit and could easily lose again, all to permit an event the outcome of which could be the loss of its Commons majority?
The logic of this seems to me incontestable.
There is no way any UK Government allows a second referendum. At least for a true lifetime.
Over to you Nicola.