by Colin Campbell

WHERE do they go from here?

Maybe nationalists will try and turn the May council elections into a “plebiscite on independence”.

If the SNP has the largest number of local worthies elected with the support of their families and friends in their neighbourhoods that will be the edge-tipping mandate which will see us plunge towards independence.

Desperate times, and no, it’s just not going to happen.

In the end, the Prime Minister did not need any great oratorical flourish to deliver a hammer blow to those who want to see the UK ripped apart.

“it’s just not going to happen,” he said on his visit to the Tory conference in Aberdeen.

Simple, straightforward and all the more powerful because it had a resounding ring of truth.

There will be no section 30 order granted by Westminster for a legal referendum if and when Nicola Sturgeon requests one.

And while her multitude of nationalist critics accuse her of failing to press forward strongly enough on the road to “freedom”, what options does she have without one?

Any appeal to the courts would be rejected. If she and her Green acolytes try and foment a wildcat referendum by passing legislation at Holyrood it would be an illegal, widely boycotted farce. And it’s highly unlikely most councils would agree to have a working role in setting up polling stations and counting votes before plans ever got off the ground.

There was the usual futile jeering and mockery of Boris Johnson from the likes of Ian Blackford, who appeared to think he would gain plaudits for claiming for the 1,000th time that Johnson is “the best recruit for independence we have”.

Blackford, the money grubbing political hypocrite and national embarrassment who is a rallying force for the Union every time he opens his mouth.

And the man who sparked the SNP pensions crisis and revealed how hopelessly unprepared they are in providing answers to questions on currency, pensions, mortgages, the deficit, the loss of the extra £2,000 per head people in Scotland get compared with people in England, on rejoining the EU, on how they would fund an army, navy and airforce, and on the daunting inevitability of a hard, passport controlled border with England.

Blackford and the SNP’S cluelessness ignorance and top level confusion on who would pay Scots their pensions after independence was not just a tactical blow for their cause.

Nationalists have pensions to collect as well. And where they come from and who funds them rises well above point scoring and cheap jibes.

A significant number would accept the “trust us, we’ll sort it all out when we’re free” line spun by the SNP.

But many others want cast iron guarantees in place as much as Unionists do. And the pensions fiasco showed how far short they are from getting them.

The scepticism or outright cynicism among many nationalists who subscribe to the gravy train belief that SNP MPs and MSPs are now merely cashing in on the “independence industry” – guaranteed re-election every time, lucrative salaries and expenses to set them up for life – and have failed dismally to advance the independence cause, is now reflected on the virtual disappearance of those rousing marches they’ve previously held here, there and everywhere.

Whatever happened to those noisy massed ranks colourfully on the move?

One event in Edinburgh a couple of months ago which attracted a few hundred participants. Another in Glasgow with 1,000 or so, as estimated by the organisers themselves, a couple lined up by the All Under One Banner organisation for the months ahead. And that’s about it.

And with the covid threat now fading so quickly that’s no longer a credible reason for the virtual end of the marching era.

Nothing is planned for Inverness, most likely because potential organisers fear how few people would turn up.

Disillusionment prevails and the former fervour has been sapped out of them.

The monotonous indy drumbeat will continue to be heard by those of us still paying attention.

And Nicola Sturgeon and her cronies will continue their wearisome grievance mongering to stir things up and try and keep their supporters on board. Boris Johnson and the “evil Tories” will be ritually denounced.

But there are no credible routes for another legal referendum open to her.

Boris Johnson has been denounced as a liar, just like Sturgeon, and there might be many people who would agree with that.

But this week he spoke the obvious truth.

An independence referendum anytime in the foreseeable future?

It’s just not going to happen.

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