‘YES momentum is unstoppable” ran the front-page headline on yesterday’s Sunday National. And there is no question that the stars seem to be coming into alignment. The never-ending shambles of Brexit is about to step up a gear when Boris Johnson stumbles into 10 Downing Street surrounded by an inner circle of rabid Little Englanders with the combined intellectual clout of a herd of cattle.

Then there’s the state of UK and Scottish Labour, the main bulwark against a Yes vote between 2012 and 2014. At the weekend, Richard Leonard pledged that Labour will refuse to be involved in a new Better Together campaign with the Tories come indyref2 and will instead offer their own distinctive vision for the future of the UK.

That throws up some interesting questions. First, it seems to suggest that even Richard Leonard believes another independence referendum is on the cards. No talk here about once in a generation. Instead, Scottish Labour are clearly making contingency plans for the next ballot on Scotland’s future.

Secondly, Labour can offer anything they want as an alternative to independence. They can promise blue skies and endless sunshine, free wine and six months of paid holidays for all. But it doesn’t matter what Labour promises, because right now the party is in fourth place in the UK, behind the Tories, the Brexit Party and the LibDems.

Last week, Labour slumped to 18% in the polls, their worst-ever support. Among Brexit supporters, they now have a derisory 8% support, making a mockery of the party’s strategy of pandering to

anti-immigrant prejudice among older working-class voters in some parts of England.

In Scotland, things are even worse for the party. Down to just 16% in 10 most recent polls for Holyrood. Out on the margins. Abandoned en masse in most of their former heartlands, and now spurned by those legions of young people who just two years ago hailed Jeremy Corbyn as the new messiah.

It’s been a spectacular fall from grace – and it has explosive implications for the future of the United Kingdom. Because let’s be clear, it wasn’t Ruth Davidson who saved the Union during the last referendum. Or David Mundell.

Or David Cameron. It was Labour wot won it, to paraphrase the famous Sun headline.

Ruth Davidson might have made a lot of noise, but the Tories merely turned out their own support base. The elderly, the affluent, the bigoted and the people who are always terrified of progress. The same kind of people who voted solidly No to devolution back in 1997.

The National: Ruth Davidson

Labour, on the other hand, have been the biggest bulwark of the Union for many years. They could and did promise to fix things at Westminster when they came to power. They had influence among potential Yes voters and could spread confusion and disinformation in areas where the Tories would never dare to tread. By 2014, Labour’s support base had been severely eroded, but they could still bring out a few big guns to frighten people into sticking with the devil they know.

No longer. And that is why we, the Yes movement, are buoyant. At the very least, we have retained a rock-solid base of support, upwards of 45% of the population.

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Unionism stands on a very precarious foundation, amounting to something like 25-30%. It is that big swathe in the middle which will decide our future.

When I say the “middle”, I don’t mean that in terms of social class. Many are on low incomes, juggling debt, struggling to pay the bills, living a frugal existence. When you’re in that position, it’s tempting to cling to the life raft rather than take the chance of swimming vigorously to safety. They have more to lose if things go wrong to be convinced that an independent Scotland will provide a better future.

The new £10 Scottish Child Payment will be targeted at the 400,000 poorest children in Scotland. We need more measures like that, designed to improve the lives of the one million people in Scotland who live in poverty.

Right now, the Unionists are sailing into the perfect storm. Westminster is held in widespread contempt, Labour are marginalised and the Tories are about to hand over the ship’s helm to an erratic captain who will be surrounded by a crew of intellectual giants such as Grant Shapps; Dominic Raab, who has been nicknamed “The Turnip” by EU negotiators; and Gavin Williamson, whose Tory colleagues apparently call him Private Pike after the immature and hapless officer in Dad’s Army.

So, there is every reason to be optimistic. But politics never stands still. Things may get worse for the Unionist parties before they get better, but we don’t know what might be down the road. And that’s an argument for getting the foot hard down on the accelerator.

The National:

There a few fears lurking that could trip us up unless we nail them early. Possibly the most difficult will be the threat of a hard border between Scotland and England. In that sense, what happens in Ireland will be vitally important. Ironically, the same Brexiteer Unionists who have been so recklessly blasé about the dangers of a hard border across the island of Ireland will pour out

a torrent of horror stories about the catastrophic consequences of a customs border across the island of Britain.

We need to be ready for that – and in the meantime it’s in the interests of the Scottish Government and the wider Yes movement to bring pressure to bear to ensure that trade continues to flow freely north and south across the Ireland whatever form Brexit takes.

The border dilemma may also force us to think carefully about the timing and nature of our future relationship with the EU. Should we instantly apply to rejoin? Or should we perhaps seek a Norway-style solution, at least in the interim, until the technology is in place to ensure that there is no visible border?

These are the problems we will need to deal with, arguments we will need to confront. They pale into the shade, however, compared to the problems facing the other camp. During the last independence referendum, people moved in huge numbers from No to Yes as the campaign progressed.

We are in an immeasurably stronger position than in 2012,

while Unionism is now weaker than at any time in the history of the United Kingdom.

And that in a nutshell is why we have no Unionist politician today prepared to repeat the brave war cry of the then Scottish Labour leader Wendy Alexander back in 2008: “Bring it on!”