It could become a joke. How many experts does a country need to design and run a referendum?
The Unionists – more obviously known as Labour, Conservatives and Liberal Democrats – have decided not enough. And they’d like their own added to the mix, please.
So today, their triad of experts, all impressive in their own right, never mind as a group, have come up with what they reckon should be the question to be put to the Scottish people.
“Should Scotland become an independent state?” Yes or no. Nice and simple.
How does it differ from the Scottish Government’s preferred option of “Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country?” Not a lot but significantly where it matters. No leading, you see. Straight as a die, and therefore, worthy of consideration.
Except for the use of the word “state”. It suggests an academic disdain for the concept of Scotland as a country and as a nation, when patently we are both. State might be the correct terminology in international law but it jars with the everyday parlance of how people consider these things. Which might very well be the point.
And if the Unionists push this option, they will find themselves at odds with the sentiment of most Scots. Out of touch, trying to make us feel and seem that we are doing something outlandish, ignoring the reality of who we are and how we think, attempting to show that the Scots are voting for something less ordinary.
And even if we don’t have this reaction right now, the SNP will ensure we do eventually, by drawing attention to this little word that makes the big difference.
Ultimately, the Unionists can play their mind games but it amounts to pointless dancing on pinheads. They have no locus in this part of the process.
The Electoral Commission has already stated that it is obligated only to consider the questions framed by the Scottish and UK Governments. So in an effort to make themselves relevant to the process, the opposition parties have conspired to demonstrate their obsolescence.
With many in the country, sorry state, of Scotland wondering why they bothered and haven’t they got something more important to be doing, like trying to fix the economy and create jobs for our young folk?
Of course, the UK Government might well adopt this question and it will be interesting then to see how people react when it and the Scottish Government’s one is tested in focus groups. My bets are hedged.
I reckon we might yet see a hybrid created that pleases none of the parties but which exerts the people’s sovereignty over what is their referendum.
It might be quite good to use the opportunity of determining the question for the people to stamp its authority on the process, having been somewhat excluded from it all until now.
Should Scotland become an independent country? Yes or No. It has a ringing clarity that we can all understand and decide accordingly. And it took me five minutes and the involvement of no experts or party panjandrums to craft.