by Douglas Lindsay, with Dr Ian Shackleton, senior lecturer at the Glasgow School of Politics and Football
With the final few months of the battle in full swing, both the Yes and No campaigns are looking for the big breakthrough that would clinch what is becoming, in the eyes of a majority of political analysts, a fascinatingly tight race.
And while solid political argument and well-researched statistics, allied with surreptitiously funded propaganda and scaremongering, can effect a shift in the polls over time, nothing creates greater movement than a scandal, or the political nirvana of the smoking gun.
Consequently, as the longest day of the year is left behind, and the first hint of autumn starts to sweep, wringwraith-like across the blighted Scottish hills on the cold winds of eternal damnation, both campaigns are reported to be running covert ops in the hope of uncovering what could be the killer blow in the struggle for Scotland's future.
'The trouble is,' says Dr Ian Shackleton, of the Glasgow School of Politics and Football, 'there's nothing out there. There are no selfies of Alex Salmond's privates, there's no Westminster secret invasion plan, there's unlikely at this stage even to be a Chris Christie-esque Bridgegate scandal.'
Instead, says Dr Shackleton, the teams leading the campaigns have given their covert operatives a Scandal Wish List (SWL), with orders to go out and find evidence of the scandals, whether they exist or not.
Shackleton claims that moles on either side passed him the lists, which point clearly to the mindset of those involved and to the potential rumourmongering that the summer holds.
The No campaign SWL is known to be seven pages long, with the following highlights:
• pictures of Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon walking out of a hotel room hand in hand, with her pants on his head
• an SNP memo outlining plans to ethnically cleanse Scotland of all English within six months of independence
• proof that Salmond is aiming to join Warsaw Pact II
• details of Scottish Government plans to enter into a currency union with Mordor
• official Scottish Government North Sea energy estimates, predicting that the oil will run out by 4.15pm on September 21 this year
Despite the acknowledged fact that none of these items actually exist, a No campaign spokesman was outraged. 'One does not simply walk into a currency union with Mordor,' he said.
The Yes campaign wish list is thought to be slightly longer, with the highlights including:
• proof of Westminster plans to turn Scotland into a dump for nuclear waste
• photographs of Alistair Darling being debagged and radished by an unholy alliance of David Cameron, Gordon Brown and Stuart Hall
• details of a Westminster government bill to rename Scotland as Thatcherland Minor, with a 700ft high statue of Lady Thatcher erected in George Square
• copies of a No campaign "begging e-mail" to every world leader, celebrity and author of wizard fiction pleading for their backing
Despite the recognised non-existence of any of these items, Yes campaigners are infuriated. 'This is the kind of weasel-worded wankery that we've come to expect from the likes of David Cameron and his bitch, Darling,' said one unidentified friend of a Yes campaign insider.
Stroking his long white beard as he looked out over the golden spires of the city, from his 98th floor office in the newly renovated Archie Gemmill Building at the heart of Glasgow's football quarter, Dr Shackleton was in contemplative mood.
'Politicians, pundits and crazy people on the internet see that little more is to be gained from reasoned argument. The time for measured debate is over. War is coming. Or, at any rate, shouting is coming.'
Other Referendum News From The Past Week
Monday June 16:
As promised in the early spring, Nicola Sturgeon today launched a consultation process over the interim Scottish Constitution, a document that will show the way ahead for Scotland, steering it through the processes between a Yes vote in September and full independence in March 2016, leading to a full written constitution for the independent nation.
'It's disgraceful,' said Ms Sturgeon, speaking to a gathering of Scottish business leaders in the bunker at the 17th of the Old Course at St Andrews, 'that the UK does not have a written constitution. Without such a document, how can a nation even exist?
'We will eschew the arrogance of the UK approach and look to follow the example of the likes of South Sudan, Iraq and Somalia, all of which have the rights of their citizens enshrined in legally-binding documents.'
Ms Sturgeon announced that the document, entitled Declaration of Arbroath II: Revenge of the Fallen, will be written in the blood of our nation's enemies, and will include such guarantees as:
• everything will be really brilliant for everyone
• there will be no more sadness
• there will be a new Scottish Enlightenment, powered by wind
• Scottish parliamentary sessions will be opened by the Queen, whose speech will begin: 'I'm pure like that, by the way…'
• Trident missiles to be auctioned off on eBay
• Scottish troops to advance on Derby by Christmas
• Scotland will launch a space programme, with the aim of finding new worlds we can beat at football by 2029
'Virtually every country in world has a written constitution,' says Dr Shackleton, 'so you can understand why the SNP thinks it's important. But let us not forget that tyrants everywhere use their constitution as a smokescreen of legitimacy, and that decent countries with decent governance would still be decent, regardless of the written constitution. Still, it'll give someone somewhere something to do.'
Meanwhile, the search for iScotland's Mission Statement, which will serve as the Constitution's tag line, is on.
Suggestions so far sent into the SNP's 'Write Scotland's Tagline and Become an Imperial Shekel Millionaire' competition, include:
• I Can't Believe It's Not Norway
• Between Love and Madness Lies Scotland
• Where Buckfast Is A Way Of Life
• Trapped in time. Surrounded by evil. Low on oil.
• Carlsberg don't do countries, but if they did…
• You'd rather be here than in North Korea
'Every country has a mission statement these days,' says Shackleton, 'albeit some of them, such as Greece's 'Making An Arse Of It So You Don't Have To,' are not terribly reassuring.'