IF I was Theresa May I would be worried, very worried, right now.

One swallow doesn’t make a summer, and one poll showing the gap narrowing between Yes and No doesn’t mean independence is inevitable – especially when that poll still shows the No camp would edge it by two points.

So why I am I confident that we can and will win the next independence referendum?

Mainly because the No camp has been furiously fighting indyref2 for the past nine months – and the Yes side is only just starting to rev up the engine.

Almost every day, the Tories and Labour rail against the idea of a second independence referendum. “Scotland doesn’t need the risk and uncertainty”, says Kezia Dugdale. It would be “toxic and divisive”, says David Mundell. It would be “unjustified and irresponsible”, says Ruth Davidson. The supreme irony here is that Scotland’s two main Unionist parties are already fighting the next referendum, day in and day out.

Ruth Davidson makes no secret of the fact that her mission in life is to save the United Kingdom. The former Territorial Army reservist is already tooled up and parading around the battleground.

We know too that the slogan of the Scottish Labour Party conference in Perth later this month is “Together We’re Stronger”. These words have been carefully crafted to send the message that Labour is now in full campaigning mode to defend the Union.

Compare that to the SNP conference slogan: “Help Us Build a Better Scotland”. A bit bland in my opinion – but no-one can accuse it of being a rabid, nationalistic call to arms. Then have a quick look at the respective websites of the two parties. Since the start of 2017, the SNP has published 28 news updates. Among the topics covered are child refugees, Brexit, gender equality, climate change, tourism, job centre closures, welfare cuts, LGBT rights, and tourism. Only three even mention independence. That’s less than four per cent.

Labour meanwhile has posted 18 news updates on its website this year. And of these, no fewer than 12 condemn Scottish independence. That’s 66 per cent.

In her New Year message, Kezia Dugdale accused the SNP of having an “obsession with separation”. From where I’m standing it looks like it’s the Scottish Labour Party that is obsessed with stopping Scotland achieve national equality. And that’s a pity. If Labour had the courage to either back independence, or at least allow a free vote as it did during the EU campaign, the next independence referendum would be all over bar the crosses on the ballot paper.

I’m hopeful that could still happen. Henry McLeish posed five uncomfortable questions for Labour voters in Saturday’s National. Honest answers should lead to only one conclusion: independence is the only way to deliver the sort of country that embodies the values of traditional Scottish Labour voters. If Labour doesn’t change its stance, the Tories are guaranteed to remain Scotland’s main opposition for the foreseeable future. They will always sing Rule Britannia louder than Labour, and will never feel embarrassed at draping themselves in the Union Flag. It’s not for nothing that up here they’re called the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party.

And they’ll have no qualms whatsoever about advocating that Scotland stays in a right-wing, post-Brexit, Tory Britain rather than becoming a modern left-of-centre independent state looking towards Europe. In the coming contest to prove who is most loyal to the British state, the Tories will have Labour for breakfast – and Kezia Dugdale will inevitably become the seventh Labour leader forced to resign since the Holyrood parliament was established.

So back to the opinion polls. The most recent shows support for independence almost touching 50 per cent. And that’s after a nine-month bombardment of anti-independence arguments from Labour and the Tories. Up to now, the main political party of the independence movement has been very restrained. Once a campaign is unleashed, the numbers will surely shift, perhaps quite dramatically.

The next referendum will be fought on different terrain.

When the last campaign officially kicked off in early 2012, it was unthinkable that the UK would leave the European Union. Even less likely was that Labour would be relegated to third place in Scotland, their MPs wiped out and their council strongholds set to topple. Without the solid phalanx of Labour MPs, MSPs, and local councillors, backed up on the ground by several thousand activists, it’s likely that the No campaign would have crumbled in the run-up to 2014.

LAST time, people’s main source of information – the BBC – was an institution the vast majority believed was an oracle of truth. Viewers now watch through glasses coated with a healthy tint of scepticism. A poll in Saturday’s Herald showed that only 23 per cent of Scottish viewers believed the BBC was not biased against the cause of Scottish independence – which means a staggering 77 per cent of Scots are not convinced the BBC is impartial.

While I didn’t support the protests outside BBC HQ in Glasgow, I’m reassured that the next referendum will be thrashed out in a much more enlightened atmosphere. And this time, the No camp will be led by Ruth Davidson, David Mundell and Theresa May rather than Johann Lamont, Alistair Darling and Gordon Brown. Even some die-hard Labour activists may find they have little stomach to for a No campaign led by Thatcher’s descendants. This time round, expect major defections by high-profile figures in the labour and trade union movement.

Late last year, former Newsnight and Channel 4 News journalist Paul Mason – a close ally of Jeremy Corbyn, by all accounts – called on Labour to “get real” about the crisis it faces in Scotland. He suggested the party should, as an interim measure, embrace Home Rule, support a new independence referendum and throw open its doors to radical left-wing independence supporters.

Predictably, he was howled down. “Bollocks,” tweeted fellow left-winger Neil Findlay – who last week voted with the Tories to trigger Article 50.

Findlay has some valid criticisms of the EU – but the union that has in recent decades led the continent in privatising public services, smashing trade union rights, deregulating big business and slashing taxes for the rich is not the European Union, but the United Kingdom. Fake internationalism that stops at the White Cliffs of Dover has had its day.

So, as an interested outsider, I’d suggest to left-wing Labour activists that instead of expending blood and sweat and tears to save the union, they start to think seriously how to save their own party from oblivion.