I DO feel slightly sorry for John McDonnell – a sentiment I never thought I would have, let alone commit to writing. He no doubt read his briefing papers on his way to North Britain and no doubt he agrees with the view that London should not allow us to have another referendum on independence.

He probably thought that it was subject to not standing in the way of an emphatic democratic mass vote in support of a referendum at some time in the future. If the electorate clearly reject the Unionist parties in, say, 2021, then, McDonnell presumably surmised, even Labour would have to relent a little.

But no, Richard Leonard “clarified” that no matter how big any vote of the Scottish people for another referendum is, Labour’s policy should be not to “allow” us to have a vote. Never, ever, ever. Ian Murray MP even labelled McDonnell’s democratic impulse “utterly irresponsible”. For politicians, visiting their Unionist Labour chums in Scotland must be a bit like visiting Unionist politicians in Northern Ireland. Still, I suppose McDonnell has only himself to blame.

Brian Dempsey