If anyone wonders why the union is on the rocks, the BBC’s Sunday Morning programme was instructive. Its newspaper review mentioned the historic Sinn Fein vote in Northern Ireland, but skipped straight on to discuss Beergate and Labour’s electability in England, Lib Dem party fortunes with Ed Davey and Beergate with Lisa Nandy before deputy PM Dominic Raab - finally asked about Northern Ireland’s seismic voting shift - was allowed to rattle on about the Northern Ireland protocol and EU intransigence instead.

Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish folk get the message. We just don’t count. The politics of each devolved nation glossed over as too confusing, and the most obvious questions arising from our local elections totally side-stepped.

Why has Sinn Fein become Northern Ireland’s largest party? Isn’t that what most people want to know today? And does the SNP’s tenth, eleventh or is it twelfth consecutive mandate for a referendum mean publication of their Referendum Bill is now imminent? But no. Not interesting or important enough.

There should have been an interview with Nicola Sturgeon, leader of Britain’s third largest party by membership and MP tally. And after ending 101 years of unionist domination in Northern Ireland, there should have been an interview with Michelle O’Neill.

The absence of these women from the BBC’s flagship current affairs programme speaks volumes. These democratically elected leaders aren’t just the ‘wrong nationalist leaves on the line’, so are the voters and nations they represent.

Mercifully the world doesn’t revolve around the news priorities of the BBC’s increasingly Anglo-centric Sunday Morning show. It seems Andrew Marr, the Dundee-born former presenter, had more influence behind the scenes than we ever knew.

But the programme’s skewed priorities demonstrate precisely why the union is on the rocks. The British establishment will not acknowledge the steadily rising temperature in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Not even when a Sunday Times poll shows 55% support for another referendum in Scotland over the next 5 years.

Success for Sinn Fein in Northern Ireland and the SNP in Scotland might just mean voters like what it says on the can. But instead of exploring that heady possibility, commentators get more exercised by the search for hidden meanings, extraneous factors and proxy issues.

Of course, these exist. And another will be manufactured by Boris Johnson’s expected suspension of the NI protocol in Tuesday’s Queen’s Speech, ushering in another period of turmoil as the ‘oven-ready’ deal gets picked apart or just plain rejected by Brussels.

But even that awful prospect doesn’t obscure the call for change in Northern Ireland. Sinn Fein are now the largest party at Stormont. Demographics and fading memories of IRA violence have played a part. Irish solidarity post-Brexit has registered with voters too – there are now more Irish passports in Northern Ireland than British ones.

This will not result in an immediate border poll or even the early resumption of power-sharing at Stormont since the unionists have thrown their toys out of the pram right on cue. But there’s no escaping the long-term trend. Ireland is heading towards some kind of reunification. And Scotland is heading for a second independence referendum.

Commentators can legitimately demand the new prospectus from the SNP, ask how the next vote can be legal if vetoed by Westminster or torpedoed by the Supreme Court and highlight uncertainty over which currency an independent Scotland would adopt.

They’re important issues. But in the absence of definite answers, support for independence is holding steady and slowly rising. Isn’t it time for political opponents to concede that’s significant?

Instead, former Labour First Minister Jack McConnell is trying to muddy the water, adding up the votes for Unionist parties in the local elections and concluding the status quo majority means there’s no need for another independence referendum. No matter that the local elections had a pitiful 43% turnout and that many Labour voters will quietly support independence when the time comes.

Some former Scottish Labour politicians have privately confided that their adult children are now keen independence supporters. Not because their values are so different from mum and dad, but because they no longer believe sustained progressive change is possible within the UK. What kind of democrat would pre-judge their vote?

Baron McConnell’s totting up exercise shames a man who gamely introduced proportional voting for council elections, knowing Labour’s old fiefdoms would inevitably disappear. That was done in the name of fairness. Now though, it’s acceptable to extrapolate the national mood from one set of election results, instead of settling the issue with another vote.

This is how the great and good have bent themselves out of shape, to avoid the elephant in the room. Another independence referendum is coming. No matter how often Anas Sarwar ducks the question or out-toughs Douglas Ross as the new Hammer of the Nats, demographics are stacked against the union here just as they are across the Sheuch.

Clearly all unionist captains intend to go down with the ship. Maybe not this month, this election or this year, but soon. Easier, meantime to concentrate on whether Nicola Sturgeon looks tired or the SNP has run out of steam on the domestic agenda instead of asking why the public keeps backing her party against all-comers – from the Tories to Alba.

Could it be that a referendum to create a new Scottish state is now acknowledged as the best way to jump start the Scottish body politic and improve all outcomes, not the prospect of a Holyrood takeover by unionist parties?

Dreamy lefties are often accused of false consciousness, assuming that critics are simply unaware of what’s in their own best interests. Scotland’s unionists are now guilty of the same thing – surveying voters who continually fail to endorse their lacklustre, Westminster-lite policy platforms, insisting that deep down they really want no change.

It won’t wash. Scottish politics looks set to lurch back into life before the July recess. Will the old, tired scripts see Scotland’s unionist parties through?

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