THE story so far: the one thing we know for sure is that we don't know enough.
If the opinion polls are to be believed, there is an information drought, a dearth of facts, a statistical famine. In the matter of independence, informed choice has been rendered impossible, so they say, for swathes of the electorate.
Ipsos Mori Scotland described the phenomenon again this week. Where the referendum is concerned, only 56% of those consulted have picked their side and are certain to vote. That leaves a lot of people who have heard too many arguments and too few useful facts. They are groping, as they believe, in the dark.
I know the feeling. How on earth can an existential question be settled without certain knowledge of what might follow? No one casts a vote without giving some thought to the consequences. Some of us are pleading for enlightenment.
Save the stuff about Scotland's destiny, then, and the tales of generations yet to come. Save all those noble aspirations for the far future. Let's keep it simple. Let's say I have an attack the vapours on September 18 2014 and decide to vote No. What follows?
An answer to that question is hard to come by. You can hear an endless amount from the defenders of the Union about the alleged catastrophic consequences of a Yes vote. Their own offer is vague indeed. Attempt to refine the query by asking what will happen on, say, May 8, 2015 if independence is rejected and silence descends.
Given that we are facing the "straight choice" insisted upon by David Cameron, this is odd, you might think. To choose, according to Chambers, is "to take or pick out in preference to another thing". Fair enough. If I think I know what independence could mean, what is this other thing, pressed on us daily, touted as the only rational course? A quick paraphrase would do.
Instead, there is only a whisper on the breeze: "more powers". We'll call that a start. After all, those same pollsters tell us that a handy plurality among Scots desire these very things. Enhanced powers for the Holyrood parliament would therefore satisfy democracy's usual criteria. So will someone give us a wee clue - character, extent, significance - to help us along?
In some quarters, remember, it is asserted blithely that these extra powers are "inevitable" after a No vote. They are defined as a sealing of the deal, a recognition by the defenders of the Union that devolution within the UK must be treated seriously. Yet this large piece of a complicated jigsaw is left blank. How can that be an accident?
Back in March, Mr Cameron was said to be "backing" Ruth Davidson when she erased her line in the sand, spun on her heel, and began to talk of these new but unspecified powers. Since, the Prime Minister has taken to saying that such things cannot - must not? - be discussed until the big question is settled. The plurality will just have to be patient. And trust him.
In spring, too, the Labour machine lurched into life. Control of income tax was heading Scotland's way, so we heard. Local government was to be liberated. Douglas Alexander proposed a Scottish National Convention for the refurbishment of the Union. Then the Inverness conference turned wintry.
Labour doesn't now say that more powers are not in prospect. Stalwarts are happier explaining that these things are complicated. They can't be rushed. It is unreasonable to expect the Union's finest minds to come up with a plan to put to the people before, for the purposes of argument, September 2014.
Joking aside, this is a disgrace. Tories, Labour and the Liberal Democrats said from the start that their "straight choice" was paramount. Now they refuse to say what the choice truly involves. They say that voters lack information on any and every consequence of indep-endence, but say nothing about the aftermath of a No vote.
One faction among them, a group that couldn't be doing with devolution to begin with, takes the view that any talk of what might follow a rejection of independence could be presented as a "consolation prize" for the Yes camp. In this weird view, more powers must not become nationalism's reward. So any proposal to improve the life and government of Scotland must be ignored to secure the desired vote.
The No camp will lose little sleep over a tiny betrayal. Sleight of hand is their stock in trade. It has worked well enough, as they judge, thus far. Ipsos Mori's Mark Diffley believes that while the referendum result is no foregone conclusion, the Yes side has a mountain to climb. In his view it needs to persuade seven in 10 of the people who can still be defined as undecided.
Mr Diffley argues - though not in so many words - that the campaign for independence has little to lose by being a bit more radical. Given the tone set by the SNP's leadership, if not by other Nationalists, that wouldn't be difficult. The small outbreak of fuss this week over Nato was a clear example of where bland caution leads.
The belief that an SNP administ-ration could lead a non-nuclear Scotland into a first-strike nuclear alliance with no questions asked was bizarre from the start. Set aside the fact that one party's improvised policy has no bearing on any future decision by an independent parliament. If the SNP, speaking for itself, was attempting to meet the demand for information it produced only contradictions and confusion.
This has happened time and again. It has given Better Together endless opportunities for "whataboutery" - sterling, social security, defence, the EU, the monarchy - while allowing Unionists to say nothing about the consequences of a No vote. Someone - no prizes for guessing - decided that radicalism would scare the electorate. Instead, caution in the name of "gradualism" has left voters baffled.
While Michael Moore, Secretary of State for Scotland, has been promoting separatism for the Northern Isles - in April, only 8% of islanders fancied the idea - the man from Ipsos Mori was pointing the direction for the Yes campaign. In fact, he offered a fascinating insight into what is happening in reality, far from the theatrical campaigns.
As our report on Thursday put it: "polling data suggests pro-independence majorities are concentrated in deprived neighbour-hoods around the Central Belt and Aberdeen, where voters are more open to change". Ipsos Mori's definitions of deprivation are open to interpretation. Still, what's the traditional name for such areas? Traditionally, we call them Labour areas.
If the pollsters are right, the neighbourhoods long taken for granted by the People's Party are preparing a surprise. Mr Diffley suggested, politely, that people in the schemes have nothing left to lose. That sounds about right. It means they have already worked out what is really going on when the No campaign resorts to studied reticence.
As ever, don't take my word for it. For information's sake, ask Unionists about those additional powers. Then ask what the next Westminster coalition will do for Scotland.
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