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Agenda: Many referendum questions remain despite the best efforts of politicians

It was a real pleasure to listen to Nicola Sturgeon and the leaders of the other four Holyrood parties as they spoke to Young Academy of Scotland and the David Hume Institute about September's referendum.

We listened carefully to each of them for 45 minutes followed by a full 30+ minutes Q&A, and then enjoyed private dinners with each of them.

You must be thinking that, as a result of this privileged access, we are streets ahead in understanding the key elements of the various parties' views on the main issues related to a Yes or No vote. Sadly, that is less true than we would have hoped.

We heard a great deal and debated a great deal in public and private. However, when we sat down to recap events, it was much easier to identify what we still did not know, at least not with sufficient clarity, than what was now crystal clear.

One problem is that there is not a consistent and cohesive set of views on either side of the debate. Patrick Harvie, from the Greens, and Ms Sturgeon of the SNP told very different stories regarding their vision.

Mr Harvie saw independence as an opportunity to "create a sustainable economy that works for everybody"; the chance to create a radically different economic model. Therefore there would best be a distinct Scottish currency, as a sterling currency union would unduly constrain policies.

Ms Sturgeon had no doubt the only plan was a currency union - "that is Plan B," she proclaimed when pressed. We shall watch and see what happens and whether either "sterlingisation" or a separate currency emerges as an alternative.

Ms Sturgeon's thesis was summed up as "more powers - more policy levers - more growth; and a fairer society" with independence the only means to guarantee remaining in Europe and avoiding the perils of London-centricity. For her, the end is a different society but to be achieved via the relative safety of maximum continuity. Presumably the risks are perceived as far greater in any currency option other than a sterling union.

Perhaps the most interesting factor emerging from the No parites was that Willie Rennie, for the LibDems, was set upon creating a unified Unionist view, supported by all three parties at Westminster and Holyrood, as to what package of further devolution was desirable and likely.

But Johann Lamont and Ruth Davidson appeared sceptical that this would be achieved, at least over the coming weeks and months. The vision of these three parties is not uniform, although all appear to accept further change, further devolution, including fiscal devolution, is required.

Labour's Ms Lamont sees the crucial dividing force being between haves and have-nots rather than north and south of some Border. Ms Davidson, for the Conservatives, believes we can be proud Scots and unionists - at home in a union of our own choosing.

She shared a view with Mr Rennie regarding the desirability of driving decision-making closer to the people. However, we suspect she might find it difficult to heartily echo part of his recurring refrain: "In Britain, in Europe, in work." His references to federalism and home rule might be a step too far for both Ms Lamont and Ms Davidson.

One final remaining gap was on the fiscal front. Mr Rennie at least did stress an independent Scotland would face tax competition if we sought to gain advantage via lower rates, even if that was permitted in the context of currency union. Mr Harvie would be promoting a wholly different model to seek clearly stated environmental and social ends.

Ms Lamont, Ms Davidson and Ms Sturgeon were all essentially silent on this front. The first two had no prescription for a workable combination of tax powers and grant stability under increased devolution, and from Ms Sturgeon there was no discussion of how to balance the books in an independent Scotland - an issue the Institute of Fiscal Studies still see as problematic.

So, in sum, a fascinating series, but leaving us with loads to uncover over the next six months.

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