By the way, the SNP don't like people referring to the referendum they want to call as Indyref2. Presumably because that might remind people of the first Indyref - and the result.
In order to avoid making the SNP's chip on the shoulder any worse, we probably ought to avoid personalising this discussion and framing it in terms of personal criticism of the First Minister.
Allison Pearson's article on the Telegraph, "Here's another treacherous Queen of Scots" (that was the title in the print edition) is likely to be very entertaining for most unionists but it probably isn't in the interests of the union to further galvanise the separatists by inflaming their persecution complex.
Does the SNP have, as they claim, a mandate to call a second referendum? The position is not as clear-evident as they pretend.
Yes, the possibility of calling such a referendum was mentioned in the SNP manifesto for the 2016 Scottish parliament election. An election in which their party list share of the vote fell, with the result that the SNP lost their majority in the Scottish parliament, becoming a minority government as the largest party.
And if you look at what the SNP said before the election and in that manifesto, it's far from obvious that all their conditions to call a second Independence referendum have actually been met.
The lack of majority support in Scottish opinion polls is only the first hole in the SNP position.
The second is that their reason for revisiting what they had described as a "once in a generation" vote is that Britain leaving the EU has changed Scotland's position - but the SNP are no longer proposing that an Independent Scotland would be a full member of the EU.
This seems to make complete nonsense on stilts of their argument for calling a new referendum in the first place. What is the logic of using the fact that you are being "dragged out of the EU" and therefore the situation has changed as the basis for trying to overturn the previous referendum unless you are proposing to try to rejoin the EU?
We will never know whether an Independent Scotland would have been allowed to rejoin the EU following a "Yes" vote in 2014 and it is far from clear whether they would be allowed to do so following a "Yes" vote in Indyref2. It's not the UK government or the English who are in a position to stop Scotland staying in or rejoining the European Union, but the other 27 member government, each of whom would have a veto.
And because several of those governments have their own separatist movements which they are determined not to encourage, there is a very substantial possibility that at least one of them - most probably Spain - would exercise such a veto.
Therefore if Scotland does vote to leave in Indyref2 there is a strong probability that the country will spend at least some time outside both the UK and EU.
Accepting this and regarding it as a good option is a logical and consistent position for the large minority of Scots for whom Independence is far more important than how well off Scotland is - after all, anyone who dislikes rule from London should find rule from Brussels even more annoying - but there are some very serious economic downsides to such a position. And we're not talking "Project Fear" but "Project Fact" in making such a point.
It looks at the moment as though the SNP may be planning to seek EFTA membership in the event of a successful campaign to leave the UK. As Iain Martin writes at Reactions here,
"The SNP’s new position appears to be this:
It is an outrage that Scotland is being dragged out of the EU! That means there must be a referendum on Scotland very soon!
Does that mean you will then seek full membership of the EU, that body you keep saying you are furious about leaving?
Er … no. That will not be necessary. Something a bit like Norway – in the EEA, and EFTA – should be fine. Let’s call it the “mibbe Norway” option.
On one level this is clever, because it suggests compromise and sounds reasonably coherent. And it squares the circle. Unfortunately, in the middle of the circle is a very large hole. Scotland would break away from the UK, where 64% of Scottish exports go, and instead seek to negotiate Norway-style status while establishing a new currency."
The SNP's proposed timing for another referendum is also the height of absurdity. If you are going to hold such a vote it is essential that Scottish voters should be in a position to know what sort of terms of trade with the EU will be available to them if they vote to stay in the UK. Which means you should not hold the vote until those terms are negotiated - which may take most of the two years available. Holding the vote before Britain leaves the EU, as the First Minister proposes, would put the Scottish people in the position of buying a pig in a poke and deny them the opportunity to make an informed decision.
The last Indyref was angry and divisive and injected a large degree of poison into both Scottish and British political discourse, leaving a legacy of bitterness which is far from healed. The next one will probably be nastier.
My last quote is Hugo Rifkind in The Tmes on the uncertainty and difficulties Scotland now faces.