THE First Minister has said that after a month in office, Liz Truss has failed to call any of the leaders of the devolved governments since becoming Prime Minister. Nicola Sturgeon, who has now seen four British prime ministers in her time in office, describes this as unprecedented. It's safe to say that the Respect Agenda promised by David Cameron three Prime Ministers ago is now well and truly dead and buried. Scotland, you'll have had your respect, and Theresa May's precious Union is clearly not that precious after all.

Theresa May travelled to Scotland just two days after becoming Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, came to Scotland only five days after becoming Prime Minister despite the fact that he was as unpopular as a case of anthrax, and that was just within the Scottish Tories. When David Cameron became prime minister he visited the then first minister Alex Salmond four days after taking office. There is no love lost between an SNP first minister and a Conservative prime minister, but making a trip to Scotland shortly after taking office is a vital way in which a new prime minister signals that they intend to govern for the entire UK and acknowledges the importance of Scotland in what is still supposed to be a union.

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An early visit to Scotland also serves the crucial political purpose of sending the message that despite obvious differences in policy and philosophy, the Prime Minister seeks to build a constructive working relationship with the second most powerful elected officeholder in the UK, moreover an officeholder whose mandate is independent of the House of Commons. You might think that sending such a message would be especially important when that First Minister holds a mandate for bringing about a second independence referendum.

However, in a marked departure from previous practice, Truss has been Prime Minister for over a month and hasn't even picked up the phone, not just to Nicola Sturgeon but to any of the devolved governments. The slight from Truss speaks volumes about the attitude of this Conservative government to the smaller nations of this supposedly united kingdom. It tells us that she views Scotland in the same way that she views her opponents within the Conservative party, to be side-lined, ignored, and crushed into submission.

Meanwhile, the First Minister has said during an interview on BBC Radio 4 that she would prefer not to have to fight the next UK General Election on the single issue of independence, turning it into a de facto referendum. Her preference would be for a single-issue referendum. However, this depends on judges in the UK Supreme Court ruling in the Scottish Government's favour in the case currently before them. A judgement is expected later this month.

Most commentators believe that it is unlikely that the case will go the Scottish Government's way and the court will rule that a referendum can only go ahead with the permission of the House of Commons, which effectively means with the permission of the Conservative Prime Minister. It is vanishingly unlikely that Truss would consent to another referendum.

A ruling that in order to ask itself about its future within the UK, Scotland must obtain permission from a Prime Minister from a party it has consistently rejected at the polls and that Scotland is deemed legally incompetent to make such a decision for itself by means of its own internal democratic processes. This would have seismic and catastrophic implications for the traditional Scottish understanding of the nature of the Union which Scotland has always been assured was voluntary.

It would be a ruling that the Union is not voluntary and that Scotland does not have the ability to decide for itself the form of government best suited to its needs. Although we can be certain that the BBC and the bulk of the Scottish media will do their utmost to minimise the effects of such a ruling, it would be an effective legal declaration that the Union is dead, killed by the intransigence of a Conservative party and its Labour fellow travellers who will only respect the outcome of democratic processes in Scotland when the result goes their way. No wonder Liz Truss wants to keep her head down.