You've gotta love the anti-independence print media. They go around calling the process of democratic self-determination "an insulting sham" and "absurdly naive", and then innocently wonder why the pro-independence movement are getting a bit ratty with them. The latest provocation comes from the Herald's Tom Gordon, who clearly wants to make the independence issue disappear in a puff of smoke by persuading us that the whole thing is just completely and utterly hopeless. He doesn't much mind whether we decide it's hopeless because our masters in London won't 'allow' us to exercise our democratic rights, or because we just think the task will be so fiendishly complicated and messy. As long as we think it's hopeless, that's all that matters, so Tom is happy enough to chance his arm with an each-way bet.
First of all he tells us that the idea of a pre-2021 referendum is "guff", because any vote would "require" the permission of London, and no Tory Prime Minister will grant it. Essentially Tom is inviting us to tremble and genuflect before the colonial rights of Westminster, which is an argument that should be dismissed with utter contempt whenever we encounter it. The UK is either a democracy or it is a prison from which Scotland is not permitted to escape. I presume no unionist journalist (sorry, "neutral" journalist) would conceive of the possibility that it's a prison, in which case it must be a democracy and we must have the right to a democratic choice on our own future.
Secondly, Tom informs us that even if an early referendum takes place (his "guff" scenario) and a Yes vote is won, it would be impossible to complete the process of becoming an independent country before the next Holyrood election, and therefore the SNP wouldn't actually risk a pre-2021 referendum in case that election produces a unionist majority that seeks to reverse the referendum result. There's a pretty obvious gaping hole in that line of argument, which is that the SNP willingly took exactly that "risk" with the last referendum, which was held only eighteen months before the 2016 election. Frankly, it's almost inconceivable that the SNP wouldn't poll strongly in a post-Yes election, because there would be a strong pro-independence vote that would want to see the job done - a similar impulse to the one which is driving the Brexit Party's vote now. That doesn't necessarily mean there would be an outright pro-indy majority at Holyrood (although I suspect there would be), but it's hard to imagine any scenario in which the SNP wouldn't at least be leading the government, and that would make it murderously hard for unionist parties to undo a Yes vote - even assuming they'd want to do that, which is a very big if.
Tom obviously thinks that independence is going to unfold just like Brexit, but worse. That's led him to emulate a number of unionist politicians by saying things that are monumentally stupid, but in a way that sounds superficially plausible if you don't dwell on the points for too long. For example, he parrots a familiar Tory attack line by suggesting that unpicking a 300 year old union will obviously be many orders of magnitude more difficult than Britain's efforts to extricate itself from the EU after a mere 45 years. But the reality is that any country that is integrated into a wider union is just as integrated after a few decades as it would be after a few centuries. Are we really supposed to believe that it would be harder for Scotland to become independent from the UK than it was for Estonia to become independent from the Soviet Union, a state which it had "only" been part of for four-and-a-half decades? Of course not. So why pretend that it would be? Well, we can probably guess.
Most countries that have become independent in recent times (not all, by any means, but most) have found the process a lot less traumatic than Brexit. Many of the UK politicians who now support either Revoke or a People's Vote, such as Chuka Umunna, were initially willing to accept the outcome of the 2016 referendum and only reversed their position because the UK government made a pig's ear of the negotiations. The Scottish independence negotiators are not predestined to be as useless as Theresa May. The Scottish MSM commentariat plainly have no faith in their own country's competence, but we're not obliged to share that view.
A final thought: Tom thinks Nicola Sturgeon has "set a precedent" by calling for a second referendum on the EU to reverse the result of the first one. But that precedent is only set if a People's Vote actually happens. If Brexit occurs without a second referendum, as still appears to be the most likely outcome, the precedent will be that the result of the first referendum must be enacted.