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Belief and trust are key as decision day looms

It would be understandable if voters in Scotland view a resumption of hostilities in the independence debate with a certain wariness.

The hiatus enforced by the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games was for some all too welcome, offering a variety of daily contests which were less divisive and wearying than the quotidian fray between Yes and No.

Now, with the decisive polling day a little over six weeks away, will those who have yet to engage with the independence debate find that a deadline focuses the mind?

The immediate signs are not encouraging. The Friendly Games are giving way to the resumption of an argument which has been characterised by a lack of cordiality

Tomorrow's planned statement by the pro-Union parties about new powers for Scotland after a No vote will offer nothing that has not been said before. We already knew the main parties guarantee further devolution, but the detail of any new powers cannot be confirmed at present.

Meanwhile tonight's television debate between Alastair Darling and Alex Salmond risks ending up a victory for caution with both parties anxious not to derail their campaigns with a gaffe.

However, cynicism is the worst possible response from voters. The debate thus far may have been of mixed quality, tainted too often with negativity. But what could matter more than the future direction of Scotland? If the TV debate does not catch fire, it can be turned off.

But the Scottish people should not switch off from the issue. Many have already made up their minds and may find the last six weeks of the campaign trying. But we know they will not settle the argument alone. Substantial numbers as yet undecided will have a say in that.

It may be a frustrating run-in. The Yes campaign will argue the lack of detail about future powers within the Union means such promises cannot be trusted. Meanwhile No campaigners will say the same of Alex Salmond, when certain questions about independence cannot be answered with complete certainty.

In fact, we should be cautious about absolutes and accept that in some policy areas, votes will have to be cast in the absence of concrete facts.

A degree of doubt is inevitable. The referendum will be decided partly on issues of faith and principle. What do the Scottish public believe, and whose vision do they trust?

Politics does not offer the instant gratification of a medal podium or the predictability of a form book. Now the excitement of the Commonwealth Games is being replaced by an altogether different excitement.

It behoves us all to take an interest and engage with the debate. This will be a momentous decision, the most important for a generation, and one which we should all take seriously.

Undecideds in particular have a short time now to ask the key questions, read up on the arguments and above all get informed.

Whatever the outcome, this is an event that will not come around again in four years' time.Meanwhile its legacy will be far more significant.

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