THE word “unprecedented” applied to politics and the constitution is getting commonplace these days, but, in terms of Scotland ’s right to make a democratic choice about its own future, we have, indeed, been here before.

After the 1979 failed referendum on devolution (which, although it was clearly won by those who wanted a parliament, was fatally rigged against change by a unique rule which said that the proposal had to be backed by 40% of the total electorate before it could succeed) the Tory mantra for the next decade-and-a-half was that “no one wanted” change and that constitutional issues were a distraction from the real business of government.

However, when eventually the pressure from Scotland became irresistible, the people showed what they did want by a huge margin – a parliament substantially stronger than that first proposed was backed by almost 75% of Scottish voters in 1997.

Tory determination to weigh the dice against Scottish democracy and resist the exercise of our basic rights is therefore neither new nor, in the end, successful.

READ MORE: Leading pro-independence campaigners on how we secure a Yes vote now

The same tactics were used against the SNP government elected in 2007 which had a manifesto commitment to holding an independence referendum. “No one wants it,” was the Westminster cry, “and in any case we should be concentrating on health and education rather than on the constitution”.

However, the Holyrood election of 2011 clearly showed that people backed the SNP manifesto on health, education, and the referendum. There was also now a parliamentary majority that could deliver it, even though the Tories still tried to resist.

Consequently, on September 18, 2014, some 3,619,915 people turned out to answer the question: “Should Scotland be an independent country?”

On that occasion, 2,001,926 said “no” and 1,617,989 said “yes”. Only 3429 people were either so confused by the question or so indifferent to it that, having got to the polling place, they either spoiled their paper or failed to make any mark on it – a minuscule 0.09% of the total turnout, which was in itself a record, comprising 84.59% of registered voters.

The question they were asked had been approved by the Electoral Commission the year before, who described it as “direct, short and simple”. Moreover, they suggested that the formulation they had devised was better than the one put forward by the Scottish Government for testing by the Commission, which read: “Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country?” The Scottish Government agreed to that change without hesitation.

READ MORE: Gerry Hassan: No quick fix for crisis gripping UK democracy

This question is still in use. Since 2014 there have been more than 50 national opinion polls using the question and these have taken place in all but 11 of the past 40 months. It has been tested, is widely understood and is unambiguous, as the Electoral Commission clearly stated. Everyone expects it to be the question when a second indyref is held, as it surely will be.

So why would anyone wish change it, unless they wanted to rig the result and frustrate the democratic choice of the nation? Which, of course, is exactly what the Tories still want to do.

Indeed, one Tory-supporting commentator recently went so far as to suggest that any indyref should require not only a majority at a Scottish Parliament election and a Westminster election, but also a supermajority of MSPs, a turn-out of two thirds of the electorate, a further supermajority in the popular vote and, to finish, a second multi-option confirmatory referendum. The only thing missing in this proposal was the necessity for it all to happen at full moon in a month with an “i” in it.

Tory politicians haven’t (yet) gone that far, but Tory MSP Murdo Fraser tweeted a fortnight ago that a “Leave/Remain” question and a two-thirds majority should be required even though the impartial Venice Commission, which advises the Council of Europe on such matters, has been explicit that there should be neither a requirement for a minimum percentage or a threshold.

Meanwhile, Boris Johnson is still saying, like all his predecessors, that no one wants constitutional change and that the real priorities are health and education, even though Westminster is paralysed by his constitutional Brexit obsession.

The SNP is delivering on health and education. The polls show that people do want a chance to choose.

So the Tories north and south of the Border are simply up to their old tricks, once again. And are certain, once again, to lose.