Depressingly (in one sense), I'm just about old enough to clearly remember Slovenia's unilateral declaration of independence from Yugoslavia in 1991. I recall the TV reports dripping with scepticism about the prospect of the new "state" receiving recognition from the international community, and positive derision about its ambitions for membership of the European Community (as the EU was then called). And yet in the blink of an eye, Slovenia had attracted widespread recognition, and within just thirteen years it was a full member of the EU. None of this is to say that history is bound to repeat itself in Catalonia, but it's a useful reminder that it pays dividends to be sceptical about journalistic scepticism. These situations often have a momentum all of their own.
I suspect that if the events of the last 24 hours do eventually lead to authentic independence, Catalonia may have a more tortuous journey to follow than Slovenia did. A hard notion though it is to countenance amid the euphoria of the moment, there may yet have to be a strategic and temporary renunciation of the independence declaration if Spain is prepared to offer a binding independence referendum in return. Why would the comically intransigent Spanish political establishment offer such a thing in a million years? Most likely because there is a reasonable chance that Catalonia will prove to be ungovernable under Madrid's puppet regime, if enough public servants switch their allegiance to the new republic and if civil disobedience is widespread. We don't know yet if that will prove to be the case, but we're about to find out.
* * *
Since my last update, four more Britain-wide voting intention polls have been published, and yet again, the Scottish subsamples from all of them put the SNP in the lead.
Survation: SNP 37%, Labour 28%, Conservatives 16%, Liberal Democrats 13%, UKIP 3%, Greens 2%
YouGov (a): SNP 42%, Labour 24%, Conservatives 22%, UKIP 6%, Liberal Democrats 5%
ICM: SNP 39%, Conservatives 27%, Labour 24%, Greens 6%, Liberal Democrats 4%
YouGov (b): SNP 36%, Labour 30%, Conservatives 25%, Liberal Democrats 5%, Greens 2%, BNP 1%
That means an extraordinary seventeen subsamples in a row have now put the SNP in first place - quite a contrast with the pattern seen between election day and the end of August, when a substantial minority of subsamples were putting Labour ahead. It does look very much like the SNP's lead dropped significantly during the summer before recovering. That trend will never be part of the 'official record', though, because the first full-scale Scottish poll after the election wasn't conducted until early September, which if the subsamples are to be believed is roughly the point at which the political weather changed back in the SNP's favour.