We should not simply dismiss George Galloway's talk of "partition" or Adam Tomkins' proposal to bind Scotland by law to England-as-Britain. We should, rather, regard their purposefully outrageous utterances as portents of the British state's intentions.
The British parties do not have to decide their stance on a new referendum. That is decided for them by the fact that they are British. They serve and are served by the structures of power, privilege and patronage which define the British state. They can do no other than seek to preserve the Union at whatever cost to Scotland and its people, never mind decency and democracy.
At first glance, the Brits would seem to be inviting the displeasure of the politically aware part of Scotland that isn't so easily manipulated by the British media. But from the British perspective that's a good thing. As with defying the unanimity of the Scottish Parliament, going against popularity with the public in Scotland makes this a better demonstration of power.
If the purpose of the Scotland Matters billboard was to convey information then we would have ample justification for saying it had failed. But conveying information is no part of its purpose.
When Boris Johnson shows me something and says look at my plan I expect to see a bungling buffoon stuck on a zip-wire. For no reason other than that is the image I simply can't help associating with the vacuous ideologue.
One of democracy's imperfections is its fragility combined with its appearance of robustness and resilience. Those whose direct personal experience is confined to a broadly democratic society do not easily imagine anything other. The corollary being a tendency to take democracy for granted. If only they realised how tenuous is our grip on the freedoms we assume to be ours by dint of nature, they would fear for those freedoms.
This British Nationalist propaganda unit is not there to help spin Tory policy, although it may do so incidentally. Why would the British government need to 'spin' policies it has the power to impose regardless of what the people of Scotland want?
Listen to the British parties! Actually listen to what they say! They are not saying they will accept and cooperate with a referendum that they are satisfied is fully democratic. They are saying they will not tolerate any referendum IF it is democratic. Or BECAUSE it is democratic. Or because they fear it MIGHT BE democratic.
Without the Union, the pretence of the British state as a major player on the world stage becomes unsustainable. Without the Union the reality of 'Great Britain' as nothing more than the structures of power, privilege and patronage which serve the few at the expense of the many becomes undeniably evident.
Douglas Lumsden has come up with a wizard wheeze. I say Lumsden has come up with this wizard wheeze, but there's a better than good chance that he didn't. It's likely that the idea first hatched in the mind of some lowly aide or assistant who, lowly as they might be, was still closer to the hierarchy than Douglas Lumsden and therefore able to inveigle their wizard wheeze into the party's decision-making contraption. The wizard wheeze may well have come to Douglas Lumsden in the guise of a boon bestowed from above. A gift Douglas Lumsden knows he can't refuse lest the British patronage spigot be turned off and his career in British politics ended prematurely.