When voters scan their ballot papers on Thursday, they will not see the words ‘Scottish independence’ or ‘second independence referendum’ named as an explicit choice on the ballot paper.

But they are there, they all over the ballot paper because, like at every election in Scotland since 2014, it is again the dominant issue.

Even after more than a year of a pandemic, the constitution is still the issue looming large over the campaign.

Glasgow Times: The CBI has informed the Electoral Commission of its pro-union stance in the Scottish independence referendum.

The prospects of a second referendum taking place is central to the message of every one of the main parties contesting the election, even when they are discussion health or education or post covid economic recovery.

Either it will aid recovery or wreck it, depending on who you listen to.

The opinion polls for independence show that at present there is pretty much a 50/50 split on Yes or No to independence.

There had been a consistent trend in favour of No for years since the last referendum, with a few showing Yes ahead, until one year ago when there was poll after poll showing support for a Yes vote.

For all of this year so far there is nothing between the two.

At the same time as stating this election is not a referendum, Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP are arguing that if a majority of MSPs elected to the Scottish Parliament are in favour of holding a second referendum then it should take place.

A majority of MSPs in favour of a referendum however, doesn’t necessarily mean a majority in the country is in favour.

Many constituency MSPs will be elected first past the post with less than 50% of the vote.

But the argument from the SNP is if Scotland elects a majority of MSPs who stood saying they are in favour of a referendum then it should take place.

The SNP position is to have a referendum in the next parliament.

Nicola Sturgeon wants it in the first half of the next tern, so before the end of 2023.

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Nicola Sturgeon said: “My focus will continue to be fully on tackling the pandemic but when the crisis has passed, people in Scotland have the right to decide their own future, and whether Scotland would be better off with the full powers of an independent country.”

Also in favour of a referendum is the Scottish Greens who say it is needed to achieve their goals of social and environmental justice.

Patrick Harvie Greens Co-Leader, said: “The Scottish Greens would support the holding of a referendum on independence in this term of parliament.

Glasgow Times:

“We believe only independence provides the opportunity for Scotland to remain a genuinely progressive and compassionate nation, built on the principles of radical democracy, equality and respect for the planet.”

The argument that people in Scotland should decide if there should be another referendum and electing people to Holyrood is the only democratic way to do so is the question the parties opposed are struggling to answer.

Labour, the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats are battling with each other for votes of those who are not in favour of independence and they all oppose holding another referendum.

Labour has tried to set itself apart from the Conservatives in this fight.

Anas Sarwar, the new party leader has been trying to leave the SNP and the Tories as the parties at loggerheads arguing about independence, while he seeks to focus on recovery from the Covid pandemic.

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He has tried to focus on domestic issues of health education jobs and climate change as being far more urgent than whether or not there should be another referendum branding that conversation as “the old arguments”.

But the question of a referendum cannot be ignored and not holding one remains key to his message.

Going into the last week of campaigning Anas Sarwar said: “We simply can’t come through the collective trauma of Covid and go back to the old arguments.

“While the Tories are playing political games, my only priority is delivering our national recovery from Covid.

“We have had 14 years of SNP broken promises and failure, we can’t afford to have a government or a parliament that takes its eye off the ball from the recovery.”

The new Tory leader Douglas Ross has carried on where Ruth Davidson left off. It is No. No. Never. No.

Glasgow Times: The Conservative's Douglas Ross is the MP for Moray

Stopping another referendum, by denying the SNP a majority is the overarching message of the Conservatives to the extent it can appear to be the only policy, at least the only one that maters to the party.

If the SNP is going back to 2011 seeking a majority to call a referendum, then the Tories are going back to 2016 and 2017 where they won more seats at Holyrood, and then Westminster, on the back of saying no to it.

Douglas Ross, said: “On Thursday, if pro-UK voters unite around the Scottish Conservatives on their peach party list vote, even just this once, they can stop an SNP majority, stop their push for indyref2 and have a Parliament 100% focused on rebuilding Scotland.”