MSPS return to their desks today after the Scottish Parliament's nine-week summer recess.
It is to be hoped they are rested and refreshed. Any hopes of a leisurely catch-up on emails will be dashed by the afternoon when First Minister Alex Salmond unveils his programme for the coming year. Not just any year, either. From now until September 2014 promises to be the tumultuous 12 months in Scottish politics for decades if not centuries.
Mr Salmond will announce 13 new bills, including potentially complex legislation to put Revenue Scotland, the embryonic Scottish taxman, on a statutory footing. Measures to crackdown on lap dancing bars, control air weapons and improve childcare are also expected. Among 11 to-be-continued bills, left over from the previous parliamentary session, MSPs will consider the politically sensitive issue of allowing same-sex marriage. They also have to complete the work of devising a new landfill tax for the new tax authority to collect.
There is no question, then, of Holyrood going into hibernation until after next year's referendum. That historic vote, however, is sure to dominate the Parliament, whatever the Scottish Government proposes today.
The annual set-piece of the programme for government will be eclipsed in a few short weeks when the First Minister publishes his White Paper on independence, the long-awaited blueprint of how his vision for Scotland would work in practice. He concluded a series of lectures on independence yesterday, following the cabinet's final away day of the summer in Fraserburgh, just as Chancellor George Osborne was heading North for a speech in Aberdeen making the case for Scotland to remain part of the UK. The battle lines are being drawn.
So where does Scotland stand as its MSPs begin a hectic and historic new parliamentary year? The most recent polls are, well, poles apart. A YouGov survey at the weekend showed a record gulf between Yes, on 29%, and No, on 59%. Yesterday a Panelbase poll put Yes in the lead, by 44% to 43%. The way the polls were conducted may well explain the unexpected lead for the Yes camp in the latter and the unexpectedly wide margin in favour of No in the former, as the psephologist Professor John Curtice explained in his What Scotland Thinks blog. But if there are question marks over the pro-independence campaign's apparent surge the result shows it is very much in the race.
Where all the polls agree, even the wildly divergent YouGov and Panelbase surveys, is on the high levels of support for a more powerful Holyrood. Scots will not vote on that next year, of course, but further devolution is another live issue as parliament get back down to business. MSPs return with a chorus of voices calling for more work to develop devolution, from Sir Kenneth Calman to Willie Rennie and Gordon Brown. Quite how the months ahead will shape Scotland is impossible to predict. Today, though, MSPs can forget the old joke about getting back to work for a rest.
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