WE are a week and a half out from a general election. But newspaper columnists are already looking way beyond that horizon. They just do no agree on what they see, especially for Scottish independence.

Daily Mail

There are few more staunchly pro-UK columnists than Graham Grant. He has harried the SNP for years on crime and education. Now he sees an end to his labours.

That is because The Daily Mail reckons Scotland has reached ‘peak Nat”. Polls suggest Nicola Sturgeon and her Green allies will just fail to secure a Holyrood majority in 2021.

He wrote: “Just as Miss Sturgeon won’t be around forever, it’s also likely that her party’s core objective of dismantling the UK has a shelf-life – and that we may have reached ‘peak Nat’, the point at which support for independence can only recede.

“The era of constitutional politics must end eventually – even if it feels as though it never will; and when it does go, so too will the key SNP message that Scotland needs an escape route from Brexit.”

Mr Grant is confident about Brexit - and even a Tory “surge” in SNP seats with “wafer-thin” majorities about to turn to dust”.

He wrote: “Imagine a victorious Johnson regime finally implementing Brexit, and the economic revival that could follow as years of uncertainty came to an end: what then for the SNP?

“After all, Mr Johnson could prove to be a highly effective Premier, just as he was a transformative and energetic Mayor of London; when Brexit’s over, Miss Sturgeon may not have much left to rail against.”

Mr Grant, pointing to a decline in support for independence in Quebec, believes the Yes movement will peter out. He concluded: “Experience elsewhere shows that independence movements tend to wither on the vine once robbed of their central mission, albeit over many years.”

The Times

Not all unionists are are effusively confident as Mr Grant. Over at The Times, writer Alex Massie is less impressed with the recent conversion of the acting Tory leader Jackson Carlaw to Brexitism.

“The Tories are the party of Brexit now and, even in Scotland, they have made their peace with it,” Mr Massie wrote but warned of “treacherous tides”.

He added: “Mr Carlaw is a unionist diehard clever enough to appreciate that Brexit has put the Union’s survival in new jeopardy.

“The opinion poll trend is unmistakable: support for Scottish independence is regularly touching 50 per cent. The independence cause has had to wait for its Brexit bounce, but it has arrived now.”

“From a unionist perspective, IndyRef2 must be avoided for one compelling reason: the Yes campaign might well win. Deep down many unionists appreciate this even if the prospect fills them with dread. The only way to be sure of a win is to refuse to play. Hence Mr Carlaw’s frankly preposterous suggestion that there shouldn’t be another independence referendum for 40 years. That’s a line for an election, but not one for life.”

Press and Journal

Over in the north of Scotland’s paper of record Calum Ross is worried about life after the election too. But in a more prosaic way.

Mr Ross has clocked just how many candidates for the House of Commons in his patch are councillors. In some seats, a by-election is almost certain to follow the general election.

He wrote: “In Aberdeen South, the city council’s co-leader is taking on the leader of the local authority’s largest opposition group and the leader of its second biggest opposition group.

“It means that a fresh by-election is highly likely for a council that has already had to replace three elected members in by-elections in the last few weeks.

“In fact, across seven of the seats in northern Scotland there are 33 candidates standing, of which 11 are sitting councillors and six are ex-councillors.” Mr Ross reckons “at least four or five serving councillors have a good chance of winning”.

“This political conveyor belt is not a new phenomenon. Far from it. Indeed, half of the dozen MPs for north and north-east seats in the last UK Parliament were former councillors, as are more than a quarter of the area’s current MSPs.”

But where does this leave councils, asks Mr Ross. “While churn is inevitable in any organisation, “ he said, “and is sometimes useful, the constant stream of the brightest and best politicians from local authorities to national parliaments is debilitating for bodies that already have enough on their plate.”