The Better Together campaign will struggle to make a plausible case for indyref2

I DON'T often look at the responses on social media to my pieces for this paper - one of the important lessons that I learned from a stroke that has left me with significant lifelong physical disabilities is that caring for one's mental health is fundamental. The last thing anyone needs is to read abuse from individuals who don't know me but who seem to believe that a difference in political opinion is all the justification that is needed for personal insults or childish taunts that would not be out of place in a primary school playground.

However, yesterday I broke a long-standing habit and had a peek at the responses from the frothier end of the British nationalist staunch fraternity to a piece which was about how all the parties opposed to independence, but particularly the Conservatives, have destroyed many of the arguments which were effectively deployed by the Better Together campaign in 2014.

One major change, in particular, is how any Better Together 2.0 will struggle to frame the debate in the next independence vote as being a choice between 'nationalism', and 'non-nationalism'. With the aid of the predominantly anti-independence media, Better Together had some success with this framing in 2014.

However, next time round this is a framing that will lack plausibility. We have a nakedly English nationalist Conservative government at Westminster that pays lip service to this supposed union but in practice acts as though the entire UK is simply Greater England. Brexit has been used by the Conservatives as an excuse to undermine the powers of the devolved governments and the form of Brexit that the Conservatives ruthlessly pursued took no account whatsoever of Scotland's needs, interests or opinions. We got an English nationalist Brexit and have been told by the Conservative Scotland Secretary to "suck it up".

This already established centralising English nationalist tendency in the British Government is likely to become even more pronounced whoever becomes the next prime minister. Both Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak are on the Brextremist right of the Conservative party and both had made it clear that they want their policies in government to apply across the whole of the UK.

There are other important ways in which the opponents of independence have undermined their own position compared to 2014 - no one will believe any future promises of greater devolution or greater investment, or the security of jobs. Trust is a precious commodity, and the Conservatives have blown theirs.

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Yet point this out to die-hard opponents of independence, a significant number of whom seem to base their politics on support for a particular football team, and all you get are furious denunciations of the SNP and infantile name-calling directed at the First Minister. It seems that everything that is wrong in Scotland lies squarely at the door of the SNP and that the parliament on the banks of the Thames, which has far greater power and which controls the purse strings, has nothing whatsoever to do with it.

For all their determination to oppose independence, and very often to undo devolution, or even to deny Scottish sovereignty or Scotland's very existence as a country, the extreme fringe of Anglo-British nationalism in Scotland paradoxically inhabits a mental universe in which Scotland is already independent at least in so far as it is entirely responsible for all its own woes. All that is good, however, is thanks to those nice self-effacing people at Westminster.

However, the overwhelming impression is a fury born of deep fear. A confident and self-assured unionism would be calm and implacable, content in the strength of its own case and its own arguments. British nationalist opponents of Scottish independence on social media are anything but, they are defined by their burning anger and consuming hatred, as though the only reason there is any demand for independence at all is because of the SNP. In order to rationalise to themselves why so many people in Scotland agree with the SNP, they must resort to insults and abuse, in effect insisting that people only want independence because they are either stupid or wicked. This is not a platform that's going to win for them.

On some level, even though they would never admit it, the staunch mob knows this too, and that traps them even further in their downward spiral of anger and fear. They are going to struggle to articulate a plausible case for Better Together 2.0 in the vote that lies ahead.