This week marks six months to go until the referendum which will decide Scotland's constitutional future.

On the plus side, the debate surrounding independence has at last grabbed the public's imagination. All over the country, people are attending public meetings and connecting with politics in a way which we have not seen for decades.

No matter the outcome, a country in which more and more people are thinking seriously about its values and potential is a country enriched.

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On the negative side, the standard of political debate continues to fail to rise to the challenges presented by the referendum.

We have complained before about Better Together's addiction to scare stories and the dangers posed by its suggestions that Scotland is simply not up to the task of running its own affairs.

Yet these scare stories persist, addressing everything from the economy and Europe to oil and our universities.

The recent televised debate between Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Labour's Scottish leader Johann Lamont showed in an all too depressing manner that neither side is above opening their mouths and shutting their ears.

The open letter, A Commitment To Respectful Dialogue, published in this newspaper today, is a sensible contribution to the debate.

The discussion around independence is by its nature potentially divisive, and it is right that both sides should be driven by passion and determination.

However, on September 19, Scotland - whether independent or not - must live with itself and its people must face the challenges of the future together.

The fewer fences which need mended, the less bitterness felt and venom spat out, the better it will be for us all.