With Nicola Sturgeon announcing plans to publish a democratic case for a second independence referendum, the opinion pages are full of commentators ready to pre-empt it.

In the Daily Mail, Stephen Daisley is having some fun with need for more ‘taxpayer funded’ publications explaining the case for Scotland to go it alone, or even just to vote on whether to do so.

“How many rainforests have been sacrificed so far in the cause of independence? Some say Better Together II should be headed by Ruth Davidson, but at this rate Greta Thunberg might do it for free,” he says.

Noting that Nicola Sturgeon thinks 47 seats is a mandate for indyref, yet the Tories’ 365 seats is not a mandate to refuse, he quips weakly: “No wonder they had to lower the pass mark for higher maths.”

But he appears to concede that Conservative election leaflets did warn indyref 2 would be a certainty if she and the SNP won. When the First Minister pointed this out to Jackson Carlaw, the Tory stand in leader “looked like a cow that had just stumbled away from a nasty encounter with a milking machine,” Mr Daisley reports.

In The Scotsman, Mr Carlaw’s colleague Murdo Fraser writes that the SNP claims of a mandate do not stand up to much scrutiny.

Accusing Nicola Sturgeon of ramping up the hysteria like a “Poundshop Pasionara”, he says “many SNP candidates stated explicitly that a vote for them was not a vote for independence”.

Blithely ignoring his rivals’ claims that leaving Europe constitutes a material change, he cites the 2014 referendum outcome. “Just five years later, nothing has happened to overturn that result.”

Mr Fraser also gets in a sideswipe at Labour for apparently considering a shift in its stance on a possible referendum. “It is little wonder that we witness the ongoing decline of what was once an all-powerful force in Scottish politics when it has representatives so lacking in the courage of their convictions,” he says. “The Scottish Conservatives are absolutely clear where we stand on this issue.”

Ben Borland, in The Express offers unionists reasons for festive cheer. The SNP may have scooped 48 seats but the Scottish Conservatives had their “second-best general election of the modern era.” He too argues the party’s electoral success can’t be equated with support for a referendum: “Perhaps at the next General Elction the SNP will be brave enough to put their demand for another vote unequivocally at the centre of their campaign. Then we can talk about a mandate.”

Looming challenges could also occupy the SNP’s attention, Borland hopes. “There are several political landmines awaiting the SNP in the months ahead which have the potential to derail the push for independence.” And he looks forward to the 2012 Scottish election, he says. “the SNP’s domestic record will be tested, especially thanks to their appalling handling of health and, especially, education. Could it be that voters will finally tire of being the highest taxed part of the UK for so little return?”

In The Times Kenny Farquharson considers Margaret Thatcher’s refusal to meet the demands of the home rule movement. “Sometimes Tory prime ministers just say no. And keep on saying no,” he warns. He is convinced that the best hope for nationalists in Scotland is to wait until the next Scottish Parliament elections.

“The moral pressure of a renewed SNP mandate in 2021, coupled with Ms Sturgeon’s rhetoric about Scotland being trapped in the UK against its will, might well shame the prime minister into a climbdown,” but

for now, expectations of a “prime ministerial cave-in” are wishful thinking, he suggests.

But we can’t assume, he says, supporters of independence will be willing to wait. “Pressure is likely to grow for recourse to extra-constitutional methods, including civil disobedience and non-violent direct action.”

And this could put strain on Nicola Sturgeon and her cautious approach, Mr Farquharson says. “A perpetual no from Downing Street would test Ms Sturgeon’s independence strategy, possibly to destruction.”

This would be a gift for unionists, were it to happen. Is it a viable option for the Prime Minister? “Mr Johnson my conclude that sitting back and watching the SNP turn on itself is not a bad idea.”

Still, that has its risks, too, the writer claims. “There may be lessons from Scotland’s history. The precedent from the 1880s and 1990s is that Scottish opinion did now turn in on itself . It held firm.”