LAST week, assorted scribes and commentators pronounced last rites on the referendum project. Referendum no more. For those of a Unionist persuasion, independence no more. Time for a different take on wishful thinking. And, do you know, it probably is. Certainly so far as pleading for a referendum is concerned. All you get from begging on bended knee is sore knees.

We’ve reached a point in the electoral ­cycle where we know a Tory government is as likely to grant the now infamous ­Section 30 order as it is to crowdfund for a Liz Truss statue in the central lobby of ­Westminster.

Meanwhile, Keir Starmer and his branch office manager have made it all too clear that they are not in the market for ­anything that might smack of ending the Union. Some modest devolutionary tinkering here, the odd borrowing bauble there, but ­absolutely nothing which makes ­independence more likely.

In a way that’s perfectly fine too. It ­prevents any independence-minded ­lefties from harbouring the delusion that ­somehow or other a Labour government rather than a Tory one will aid Scotland’s bid for freedom.

Sir Keir has not only used every and any opportunity to burnish his Unionist ­credentials, but has assured the ­southern lieges that there are no circumstances ­whatsoever where he could contemplate a deal with the much-despised nats. We shall see how rigidly that proposition holds should he be faced with minority rule.

The National: Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer

When Starmer announced that Gordon Brown was penning a new much-­expanded Vow about ceding power to the natives across the length and breadth of the UK, the reactions were nothing if not ­predictable.

In Scotland, folks didn’t need a very long memory to recall that Mr B had promised as near as dammit full federalism within a couple of years of the last General Election. He and we knew that even if such an ­outcome was an acceptable consolation prize, it was never going to happen while the Conservatives were running the shop.

Meanwhile, those English regions who had listened hard to all the levelling-up chat looked on in familiar resignation when the much-vaunted rail improvements via HS2 and other linkages were so downgraded or plain cancelled it looked like Thomas the Tank Engine had done a deal with ­Hornby Dublo.

Well come on, guys. Why make a ­modern train service available to the north of England when for only 20 times the price you can open two new tube lines in London? (Forty times and counting if you want to throw in Crossrail.) Now that there is a possible UK Labour administration visible on the electoral ­horizon, these promissory notes have been subject to substantial tweaking and considerable expansion.

It’s not just about Scotland anymore; every nook and regional UK cranny ­worthy of its salt will be encouraged to have a Burnham-style mayor, the Lords will go the way of all flesh, and local ­government will be given new powers and more cash.

Putting muscle into local democracy, bringing decision-making closer to those whom the decisions will affect, does of course make perfect sense. Not least in a world where local authorities are ­ubiquitously strapped for cash, local ­services are being decimated and the council tax represents a tiny proportion of the overall spend and should have been replaced many years ago.

The bigger problem is that ceding power to one body means giving it up elsewhere, and it’s not remotely odd that every time a new government is elected, it suddenly remembers why it has the only people really properly qualified for raising and spending money and taking big, grown-up decisions.

That’s part of the reason why the ­Scottish Government took an ­altogether sniffy view of other bodies and ­think tanks having the temerity to offer their thoughts on what an independent ­Scotland might look like, what ­problems it would throw up about which the more sceptical natives were particularly ­restless, and how these might usefully be circumnavigated.

So the breath is not being held for a Starmer government to rush into devo max mode, not least since Keir and ­Gordon no longer seem on quite the same page regarding the delivery speed of Mr B’s masterplan.

The National: Gordon Brown during Thursday evening’s Making Britain Work For Scotland rally organised by Our

As for binning the Lords, it’s roughly 110 years since this was first mooted, and despite a previous Labour ­administration having no fewer than seven options re Lords reform to contemplate, they ­contrived to ditch the lot of them.

The cast list on Thursday evening’s ­latest talkfest from GB’s Our ­Scottish Future was nothing if not eclectic. The former PM, a Labour leader of a ­devolved parliament in Wales who has often seemed more bolshie than his ­Scottish ­counterparts, a regional mayor from North West England who has ­repeatedly dissed Scottish independence, one from Yorkshire and a Scottish Labour leader who seems, in the presence of his boss, somewhat incapable of independent judgement.

Their call on Thursday evening for an Alliance For Radical Democratic Change might have had rather more resonance had it included the thought that the democratic wishes of Scottish voters be ­respected. Wales’s Mark Drakeford appears to ­understand that, saying: “I don’t believe in Wales that we have had the success we have had by regarding nationalism as something we can scare people with. You can’t scare people into support for the United Kingdom.

“Nor do I believe that we can ­defeat ­nationalism on a case that is about ­refusing people the choice that they may wish to make.”

Anas Sarwar insisted that Labour’s Scottish push was not just about helping his boss get over the line. Sure.

What all of Thursday’s speakers had in common was their Unionism. Their long-held belief that life has nothing better to offer than a London-based government where the balance of power will always favour the largest element, leaving other nations and regions to hoover up what crumbs may fall from the big table.

Gordon Brown belongs to that ­Labour tribe of true believers in ­transnational ­solidarity. That ­Glaswegian and ­Liverpudlian poverty have the same o­rigins and ergo require the same ­solutions. Mr Brown is a man of no ­little intellect and lives here in ­Scotland, so he will be well aware that the ­largest ­alternative tribe in Scotland is the pro-independence one, representing at least half of his fellow countrymen and women.

Some erstwhile Labour Party big hitters are also possessed of an ­almost ­pathological hatred of nationalist ­sentiment. Former ministers like Brian Wilson who has yet to meet an indy ­supporter he doesn’t loathe. And, in truth, they have opposite numbers in the indy camp for whom hatred is not too strong a word in respect of Unionism.

To further complicate the mix, we have independence “supporters” who expend more energy berating the SNP and all its works than they do on campaigning. We have Unionists in nationalist clothing who cheerfully suggest that while they might notionally support independence, if it doesn’t happen, their sleep pattern will be in no way affected. Not so much soft Yes as soggy-centred.

And we have true believers in ­Unionism who do not go in for much in the way of proselytising or nat-bashing, but ­genuinely believe that remaining within the UK is the better bet. You do not have to agree with them, and I assuredly don’t, to respect their absolute right to hold an opposing opinion.

All that I would ask of them is to ­accord matching respect to those of us who ARE true indy believers. Those of us ­convinced that Our Scottish Future is best ­determined by people living in ­Scotland whatever their country of origin.

Had that slogan not been irretrievably tarnished by the Brexit mob telling so many porkies, we might even have called it taking back control.