How to we get a clear view of what the Scottish people want in relation to the devolution/independence question? The subject has been well aired this week following Scotland Secretary Michael Moore's claim that a second vote would be necessary to approve the actual settlement if a first referendum supported the principle of independence.
It must be right that people are given a reasonably clear idea of what it is they are voting for. But a second vote strikes me as a recipe for all sorts of potential trouble. A "no" vote to particular proposals, following a "yes" to the question on principle, would solve nothing and, it seems to me, result in a situation that could only be resolved either by finding a formula that could win a further "yes" vote, or by a further poll reversing the result of the first one. Did I say "resolved"? Not very likely, on the latter scenario.
Better for us all, in my view, and certainly for the prospects for stability (whatever form that may take), to have a single poll, most likely with more than one option. These would have to be well spelled out in advance, which does give me some concern given the quality of the AV campaign literature. And if you have options, of course, the question arises whether you need an AV-type vote to produce a clear result...
If one of those options is to be "independence lite", as it seems to be known now, but remarkably similar to the Home Rule proposed by the former Liberal Party for many decades, that puts that party's successors in the UK coalition's junior partner in an interesting position when it comes to the campaign. The Lib Dems had to rein in their devolution instincts to acheve a united unionist position on the Calman Commission, but now that the push is on from the Scottish Government to add to the Calman formula, they must find themselves having to make uncomfortable choices.
So too will SNP supporters who do not accept the view that the goal of full independence should be compromised. You can imagine others also.
This is another issue that will run and run. But let us be clear from the outset about the way to achieve a proper decision from the people.