MOST political attention over the past few days has been rightly focused on Labour’s fissiparous meltdown. One journalist told me on Thursday that he had never heard so many swear words from so many parliamentarians as a succession of senior Scottish Labour figures venting their fury on John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor.

McDonnell’s crime, of course, was to say he supported the democratic right of the Scottish people to choose their own future. If he had said that about any other small country he would have been applauded, but saying it about their own patch (and on their own patch) was enough to have his Scottish comrades foaming at the mouth.

Self-determination for them is something that can only happen abroad.

Apparently the instigator of the formal Scottish Labour Parliamentary Group rebuke to John McDonnell – designed also to embarrass Richard Leonard, a man badly miscast as the leader of anything – was Jackie Baillie.

During the 2014 indyref, Baillie was prominent on Tory platforms, and indeed I recall her being feted at the Tory ladies lunch club in Dunoon.

No doubt that was a heady experience, but she needs to remember what happened next. Within a year her Scottish Westminster colleagues had been all but removed from the political map and in 2016 she not only saw a swathe of her fellow Labour MSPs electorally defenestrated as well, she came within a whisker of losing her own seat.

Yet she seems to have learned nothing about the perils of keeping bad political company.

Jackie Baillie is, of course, not a key player in all this. She can irritate her party leadership, but while Corbyn remains in office, the decision about what Labour’s attitude is to Scotland will be taken by him and his colleagues.

That is ironic, but it is as true as the fact that while I am always hopeful that sense will strike the Scottish branch office leaders of the Conservative Party, I think there is greater chance of them being trampled by a herd of unicorns.

I therefore don’t expect them to change their hostility to Scottish democracy any time soon. But with Labour now officially supporting Scotland’s right to decide, the spotlight needs to shift on to the LibDems.

I have noticed that of late LibDem activists spend much more time attacking the SNP than attacking the Tories. This may point to a desire by their new leader to do another deal with the same Tories with whom she served in government prior to 2015, as well as a realisation that their tide, while rising in England, is not nearly as buoyant north of the Border.

That, of course, might change if they started to be really liberal and firmly democrat, backing a second referendum for Scotland – while no doubt remaining opposed to independence itself – as passionately as they claim to back a second one on Brexit.

And that distinction between medium and message is at the heart of this matter. Labour, the Liberals and the Tories – and everyone else who chooses to do so – are absolutely entitled to argue against independence and to campaign for the continuation of the Union, for federalism or even for assimilation by the Borg Collective.

What they are not entitled to do, given where the nation of Scotland now finds itself, is to refuse to allow those who live here to make their own choice about their own future.

The SNP Scottish Government laid out very clearly in its manifesto in 2016 the circumstances in which it would seek to hold another referendum and those conditions have been met.

Brexit was rejected by Scottish voters and has been by the Scottish Parliament.

That same Scottish Parliament has voted in the majority for another referendum.

And now polls indicate that the people of Scotland want one sooner rather than later.

If any party at Westminster stands against those facts they cannot call themselves democratic, let alone liberal or socialist. And they will be judged by that failure to live up to their core principles.

John McDonnell opened a hornets’ nest last week in his own party. No doubt a sensible similar initiative by a senior Westminster LibDem would have the same consequences.

But there needs to be a recognition by all the parties that while they can, if they wish, remain irredeemably hostile to independence, they cannot, in the current situation, take the same view of an independence referendum without major damage to their standing, credibility and future north of the Border. Or what little of that is left.