SNP members are wildly congratulating themselves on Nicola Sturgeon’s ‘plan’ for another independence referendum. It’s a bizarre spectacle as the scheme is an utter mess.

People like clean straight lines, easily digestible stories and narratives. There’s nothing clean, straight or easy about Sturgeon's proposals. They’re as convoluted as Spaghetti Junction. What she suggests is reminiscent of one of those highly complex flow charts, with arrows, multiple pathways and dead-ends: if X happens, then do Y; however, if X doesn’t happen then proceed to Z.

Furthermore, it’s making a significant number of moderate independence supporters - including the one you’re reading - a little uncomfortable. The suggestion of turning the next general election into a ‘de facto’ referendum seems both presumptuous and potentially ill-fated.

However, a strategy for the next election, that’s a lot more clean-lined and straightforward, is being cooked up in Westminster right now - and it may be sown with the seeds of SNP misfortune.

Rumours abound in that neo-gothic palace of corruption on the Thames, that a new Lib-Lab deal is being struck. The plan appears to be this: in return for Liberal Democrats backing a minority Labour government there would be electoral reform - proportional representation - legislated for without a referendum.

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There’s so much in this to cause woe and dread for nationalists, if they cannot gain a referendum before the next UK-wide election - and the chances of achieving another referendum are, to say the least, currently slim to vanishing.

Clearly, Labour isn’t going to offer any sign that it will enter into a pact with the SNP ahead of the next election. That’s catnip for the Tories. Remember posters of Ed Miliband in Alex Salmond’s pocket. But Mr Slow-and-Steady to the point of tranquillisation, Keir Starmer, can easily slip a pact with Liberals past the electorate as a means to get the Tories - and Johnson specifically - out of power. There’s already an undeclared alliance between the Liberals and Labour as seen in the Tiverton and Honiton, and Wakefield by-elections.

Even if we accept that Labour remains, for now, unlikely to win an outright majority - though that may well change in the future - a confidence and supply agreement with Ed Davey’s Lib Dems seems perfectly feasible. And that would sink the SNP’s battleships.

Starmer, if PM, won’t agree to indyref2 anymore than Boris Johnson - though he is likely to offer wide-ranging constitutional reform which would start to suffocate nationalist ambitions.

Another scenario could see Labour failing to quite get over the line, even with Lib Dem support. What would the SNP do then? Not support Starmer and allow the Tories back into power? That would ignominiously end the SNP for a generation at least.

There’s also the long-range weather forecast to consider. If Labour did institute PR, as requested by the Lib Dems, then the political landscape of the UK would change forever. The Tories would most probably find themselves locked out of power indefinitely, as Labour and the Lib Dems could most likely, thanks to the windfall of PR, form repeat minority administrations.

Now, what motivates support for independence in Scotland more than anything else? Tory rule. Most Scots - even those anti-independence - brindle at the democratic deficit of having to endure the rule of leaders like Johnson when they’ve been rejected for decades by the electorate.

No Tories in power, means independence support goes off a cliff edge. Perhaps, the wild smiles on the faces of SNP members over the Sturgeon plan are really just grimaces hiding true dread that the clock ticks on dreams of independence.

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