THE British government is trying its best to thwart the unanimous wish of the Scottish parliament to better protect the nation’s children. Even Westminster’s greatest admirers are astonished that London chose this hill to die on – especially in the middle of an election campaign!

It must be especially confusing to the growing ranks of sane voices who are trying to persuade the British government to see sense. A great impetus to these voices was provided in two reports published this week.

The first, written by senior Cambridge academics, Professor Michael Kenny and former senior civil servant, Philip Rycroft, urges a move away from “hyperunionism” to a more co-operative approach by Westminster.

Their report entitled Union at the Crossroads, Can The British State Handle the Challenges of Devolution, exposes the “assertive Unionism” that characterises the Tory party. They say the centrality of this strand of thinking within British government circles has “injected a significant new destabilising dynamic into the current situation”.

READ MORE: Lesley Riddoch: Two new reports are scathing about UK's approach to independence

They go on to say: “if the choice that is presented to the Scottish public in the coming years is between independence and a new species of unitarist Unionism, there is a very good chance that more political support will grow for the first of these options.

“Furthermore, the neo-Unionism that prevails at the top of the current UK Government could well generate a deepening divide with those unionists who are still supporters of the principle and much of the practice of devolution.”

In short this may herald the feeling that the much-expected split between Unionists and conservatives in Scotland will soon arrive.

A second report published this week, entitled Resist, Reform or Re-run by Professor Ciaran Martin of the University of Oxford, reveals more of how Westminster sees Scotland and Scottish voters. Martin draws upon his personal experience from the 2014 referendum and the negotiations that preceded it. One conclusion he reaches is: “The formal position of the UK Government appears to be that there is no lawful or democratic route to achieve Scottish independence for an unspecified number of decades.”

This position, he argues, could fundamentally change the Union as we understand it – “from a union based on consent, to one based on the power of law”.

READ MORE: Sir Tom Devine's foreword to Ciaran Martin's report on Scotland and indyref2

His report also deals a hammer blow to the hopes of so-called home rulers or soft Unionists, who imagine there is some halfway house between the status quo and independence. Indeed, Professor Sir Tom Devine in his foreword to the report, says: “there is much talk by Labour and LibDems about the possibility of federalism in the UK as an alternative to a Scottish divorce. They would be well advised to read Professor Martin’s shrewd assessment of the grave obstacles to such an option before proceeding further down that particular track.”

Professor Martin’s main conclusions are:

- The Union can be maintained by force of law – but is it wise to do so?

- There is no viable alternative model for the UK, which means that the choice facing Scotland is between the status quo and independence.

- The 2014 referendum template is broadly replicable for a further referendum.-l A repeat of the 2014 campaign in which both sides unnecessarily complicated what is a “huge but actually reasonably straightforward political choice”, should be avoided.

It is important to note these reports do not come from independence supporters, rather these are reactions to the present state of the political set up in the UK. Indeed, it might be argued that the authors’ sympathies lie with the union.

There is a very clear warning here that we are entering a phase of “hyper-Unionism”. A move away from a somewhat limited cooperation between the nations to a wholly dictatorial approach by Westminster.

This is also likely to expose those who resent the term “Unionist” being applied to them as they declare a wish for a devolution halfway house or take refuge in federalism. These reports make it clear this is not going to happen. This means so-called home rulers or “soft nos” will have to choose. As the door is firmly shut by the UK Government and it moves to dismantle devolution, the choice is simplified. If constitutional change is truly desired, then the choice is increasing clear. It is independence or something much worse than the status quo.

When this message is fully understood, it is evident the time to change is here. In an independent Scotland, voters deserve to be offered a range of choices across the political spectrum. In short you may be Conservative or Labour, but you do not need to be a Unionist. The time for non-Unionist alternative parties has arrived.

To celebrate our 50th TNT show Alex Salmond is the star guest at 7pm on Wednesday