OVER the weekend, the First Minister gave a combative, confident and assured interview on The Andrew Marr Show. As always, the BBC presenter was more aggressive in his questioning of the vile Scottish separatist but still Nicola Sturgeon was easily the best interviewee on the programme.

Admittedly she had been preceded by the Conservative Liz Truss so the bar hadn’t so much been set low as it had been buried more deeply than whatever it is that passes for moral probity in the Johnson administration.

There are in fact fossils of some of the earliest life forms on Earth which aren’t buried as deep and just like the Scottish Conservatives, who refuse to call out the corruption and sleaze that envelops the government of Boris Johnson, they haven’t evolved a spine either.

The First Minister had good reason to be confident. Sunday also saw the publication of another poll pointing to a strong showing for the SNP in the Holyrood election which is now just over a week away. If the results of the poll, by Survation for the Sunday Post, are borne out on election day, the SNP should win a majority in the next Scottish Parliament, taking 67 seats. The Greens are also forecast to do well, gaining five seats to end up with 11. That would create a combined Green-SNP pro-independence majority in the new parliament of 27 seats. The Conservatives are facing substantial losses, and could fall into third place in Holyrood behind Labour.

Since the Scottish Conservatives are effectively running a single issue campaign that, together with a substantial pro-independence majority in Holyrood, would be the clearest possible sign that the Scottish electorate has rejected Tory opposition to another independence referendum and their insistence that it’s a matter for Boris Johnson to decide and not the people of Scotland.

However, this poll also confirmed the pattern from all polling companies except Panelbase in putting the new Alba Party on a figure of just 2-3%, which, if replicated nationally, is too low for Alex Salmond’s pro-independence party to be confident of winning seats. It’s important to stress that this does not mean that Alba’s chances can be entirely dismissed. It is still possible for the new party to pick up a couple of seats in regions where they are doing better.

It does seem, though, that voters have been paying heed to Alex Salmond’s advice to maximise the number of pro-independence MSPs by voting tactically on the list – it’s just that it’s the Greens who appear to be the main beneficiaries.

READ MORE: Alex Salmond welcomes Ofcom probe into BBC after Alba Party complaint

The other trend confirmed by the latest poll is the decline in support for independence. It’s not surprising during an election campaign, particularly one where the anti-independence parties get more publicity and airtime than the pro-independence parties.

Witness, for example, the recent party leaders’ debates where supporters of independence were outnumbered three to two and the questions selected by the producers had a suspiciously anti-independence slant.

People tend to revert to the constitutional positions espoused by their political party of choice and tend to view the independence question through a party political lens in a way that they might not during normal times.

This may be particularly the case with that not insignificant segment of pro-independence support which also backs the Labour Party.

What all this tells us as supporters of independence is that Scotland is minded to revisit the question of independence. It tells us there is considerable dissatisfaction in Scotland that the UK which we were promised that we could be a part of in 2014 is not the UK that we are actually living in.

However, Scotland as whole is not yet entirely convinced that independence is the solution. Although the Scottish public is certainly open to persuasion, we are not yet in a place where we can confidently assert that a desire for independence is the settled will of the people of Scotland.

In turn, that means we are in a very strong position from which to launch an official independence campaign, although we cannot rest on our laurels and assume that the independence arguments have already been made.

Of course, a lot will depend, as always, on events beyond Scotland’s control. There has been a lot of talk about whether Boris Johnson will “allow” another independence referendum but it is by no means certain that Johnson will still be in power in a few months’ time.

READ MORE: Scots risk being anaesthetised to sleaze amid endless Tory scandals

Allegations of sleaze, scandal and breaches of the ministerial code continue to grow. A weekend poll found that almost 40% of voters across the UK think the Prime Minister is corrupt, a figure that rises to 53% in Scotland.

Similar percentages characterise the Conservatives as a whole in the same way. Almost two-thirds of voters in Scotland believe that Johnson’s behaviour is “unacceptable”. For people in Scotland, watching Johnson and his former adviser Dominic Cummings tear lumps out of one another is like the worst instalment ever in the Jason Voorhees vs Freddy Krueger franchise. You don’t actually want either of them to win but do hope that they succeed in killing each other off.

Meanwhile, according to the Sunday Times the war between Johnson and his erstwhile adviser is set to escalate. The paper has reported that Cummings’s eyesight has improved enough for him to have prepared a dossier blaming the Prime Minister personally for tens of thousands of deaths during the second wave of the pandemic because of his dithering and delay in introducing a second lockdown and his refusal to introduce travel bans much earlier.

After next week’s election, we could be dealing with a situation in which a Scottish Parliament with a strong pro-independence majority, elected on an unambiguous mandate for another independence referendum, and with a weakened and reduced cohort of Scottish Conservatives, is facing a politically weakened Conservative UK Government which is reeling from multiple allegations of corruption, sleaze and a lethal incompetence which has contributed to the avoidable deaths of tens of thousands of British citizens.

That is pretty much an ideal position from which to launch a second independence referendum campaign. No wonder the First Minister was confident.