I haven't yet had time to look at FMQs from yesterday, but I had to laugh at the clip of Ruth Davidson on the STV (Grampian) News. Every poll ever published (in the whole wide world in the history of mankind) agrees with me? What? It's a wonder then Ruth that you're not First Minister, or the Queen, or something. And of course, as James points out, clearly the poll of September last year, and umpteen others showing a lead for independence over dependence, were figments of our febrile imaginations.
Lamont was just as bad. "He has the majority, he has the mandate...." (well, thanks for admitting that Johann) ...so why, she wondered, didn't he call the referendum now.
Well, you see Johann, the clue to the answer is in the question. It works like this:-
He has the majority to decide whether or not, and when, to call the referendum. This is a majority given by us, we, the Scottish electorate. And although by Westminster standards it is a tiny majority, it is, in fact, the majority that should never have been: a majority that was never envisaged: a majority that the system was set up to avoid ever happening (because Blair wanted 'parish councils' rather than strong government in 'the provinces').
And (and this is important), it's not a majority based on the voters being sick of the last lot, as so often happens, but instead a majority based on their being SATISFIED with the last lot, because as you may remember, the SNP was the last lot.
And as Johann says, the mandate is there; there's no escaping that. The referendum was in the manifesto. And, just in case someone who didn't know what the SNP was all about, and who didn't read the manifesto, was in some doubt, it was hammered home by none other than Tavish Scott in the Leaders' Debates when he pointed out that "a vote for the SNP is a vote for independence".
And when pressed on the timing of that referendum, Johann, you may remember, Alex Salmond said, on national television, in front of the then leaders of the now opposition parties, a hand picked studio audience, and anyone who was interested enough to be watching, that if the SNP won the election, the referendum would be called in the second half of the parliament.
So, to answer Mrs Lamont question, he is calling a referendum, and he is calling it in the second half of the parliament because he has the majority, he has the mandate, and that’s when he promised the Scottish people he would do it.
And why, anyway, is Mrs Lamont in such an all-fired hurry now to have a referendum that only a few months ago her party, in an opposition coalition with the Tories and the Liberals, made clear would be defeated were proposals to “bring it on” brought before parliament?
Unless, as part of Labour’s “Bring it on: Don’t Bring it on” referendum policy, we're in the 'Bring it on' cycle.
Pics: Ruth Davidson, Conservative leader, and Johann Lamont, Labour leader, providing her own caption and advertising campaign.