LAST night on STV, Labour's Scottish branch manager Anas Sarwar was finally grilled on what he is actually offering the independence supporters he so assiduously courts.

The answer is: nothing much, except hoping that he can turn them into content supporters of the British state and the dysfunctional affront to democracy that is the Westminster Parliament, an institution which his party is not going to reform.

Sarwar was asked by host John MacKay under what circumstances a Labour government would offer a second independence referendum. The accurate answer to that question is that it's way above Anas Sarwar's pay grade.

We got the usual well-rehearsed waffle about how he doesn't want a referendum, as the branch manager trotted through all the lines he'd put forward during the Scottish Parliamentary elections in 2021 - an election which the Labour party lost.

READ MORE: Poll: Tories to be wiped out in Scotland at next General Election

But due to the democracy-denying intransigence of Labour and their British nationalist fellow travellers in the Conservative Party, here we are, stuck in the doom loop of a referendum shell game.

Eventually we learned that, in the view of the Labour Party, the normal rules of democracy do not apply when it comes to holding another Scottish independence referendum.

It is no longer sufficient for a simple majority of the Scottish electorate to vote for one, presumably in an election to Holyrood.

Instead, Sarwar (below) now insists that there has to be a super-majority, he mentioned the figure of 60%, safe in the knowledge that that level of support does not currently exist.

The National: Anas Sarwar

That figure which he cited as coming from the SNP leadership referred to what would constitute the settled will of the people of Scotland for independence and not, as he misleadingly made out in his reply to John MacKay, the requisite level of popular support for holding an independence referendum.

You don't actually have to be in favour of independence to recognise that it's a democratic imperative that the question of independence should be put to the people.

Sarwar deceptively conflated the two in an effort to pretend he has a principled and democratic position on this issue when in fact he's merely a patronising British nationalist democracy denier.

When explicitly asked whether a Labour government "might allow" a second referendum on independence, Sarwar said: "No. No, not at all."

READ MORE: 'Game on' in the Borders to oust incumbent Scottish Tories

So, there you have it, what the people of Scotland want or what they vote for is irrelevant.

This intransigence proves that should that magic figure of 60% ever be attained, Anas Sarwar and his 'We're not nationalists we're British' fellow travellers will find some other spurious reason for shifting the goalposts yet again.

The real reason Labour and the Tories are singing from the same referendum denying song sheet is because we all know the truth that Sarwar will not and cannot admit. No British Prime Minister will ever agree to a Scottish independence referendum if they think there is a realistic chance that they might lose.

A figure of 60% consistent support for independence means that it is guaranteed that opponents of independence will lose.

The National:

The British nationalist parties in Scotland are united on one crucial point: they will only accept the democratic will of the people of Scotland if the people give them the answer that they're looking for.

Sarwar's solution to Scotland's constitutional conundrum is to hope that a Labour government in Westminster led by Keir Starmer can turn supporters of Scottish independence into happy little unionists.

Failing that he hopes to crush the SNP so that Scotland can be politically neutralised and the question of independence can be ignored. It's not much of a vision, especially considering how far to the right Starmer has taken the Labour Party, abandoning any policy that's even vaguely left-wing.

But even in Sarwar's best case scenario, the electoral pendulum in England will eventually swing back to the Tories sooner or later, and then Scotland will yet again be left to face the onslaught of a right-wing English nationalist Conservative government.

Is Keir Starmer’s lack of scruples hitting him in the polls?

It is increasingly crucial for the Labour Party to court the votes of the Scottish electorate, which they hold in such contempt, as widespread disquiet grows over Starmer's uncritical support of the slaughter and destruction that the Israeli Defence Forces are currently wreaking in Gaza and his U turns on environmental pledges and meaningful reform of the House of Lords.

This is eating away at Labour's lead over the Conservatives in UK-wide opinion polling.

Many people wonder, quite rightly, what is the point of a party that opposes a cap on bankers' bonuses but which supports a cap on child benefit.

Just how is that in any meaningful sense the "change" that Starmer claims to stand for.

The National: Sir Keir Starmer is facing a frontbench rebellion over Gaza (PA)

It's becoming ever more clear that Starmer is as unprincipled as the Tories he simultaneously seeks to emulate and to replace.

Following a row over Labour's deselection of two candidates due to allegations of antisemitism, the party's lead over the Tories has dropped to the lowest level since June last year.

According to new research by the polling company Savanta, Labour's lead over the Tories is now 12%, down 5%. Polling was conducted between February 9 and 11.

Expect more platitudes from Labour about how important Scotland is to them. However what Starmer means by that is not what the Labour Party can do for Scotland, but rather what Scotland can do for the Labour party.

Buffer zone legislation can’t come soon enough

Scottish Green MSP Gillian Mackay is leading moves to pass legislation creating buffer zones around abortion clinics which would outlaw intimidatory demonstrations outside clinics by anti-abortion protestors who have in recent years been taking their cue from aggressive Christian fundamentalists in the USA who target vulnerable women outside clinics in an effort to prevent them from seeking abortions using a variety of emotional blackmail tactics, such as confronting them with graphic and bloody images of aborted fetuses.

Protestors claim that they are holding 'prayer vigils.' Can God only hear them if they pray outside a hospital?

The Green MSP said: "Nobody should have to face down a sea of graphic placards and banners in order to get to a hospital.

“It is targeted intimidation and harassment, and it is being done in order to stop people from accessing the healthcare they are entitled to. It underlines exactly why buffer zones are so crucial."

This piece is an extract from today’s REAL Scottish Politics newsletter, which is emailed out at 7pm every weekday with a round-up of the day's top stories and exclusive analysis from the Wee Ginger Dug.

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