I understood that champagne at the Conservative Conference was at a minimum this year as a result of the cuts to spending and last year’s shenanigans but surely Prime Minister Cameron had had one too many when he came out with this quote:

“I will be on that campaign if they ever have the courage to call that referendum on the future of the United Kingdom but it doesn’t look like they do right now does it.”

Perhaps this bravado stemmed from a frustration at his party’s poor, majority-denying performance north of the border at the May election but let’s just pick apart the things that are wrong with the above shall we.

1 – The SNP does not have the power to simply ‘call’ an independence referendum. With Scottish Conservative support at any point over the past 3.5 years there could have been a plebiscite but that support has, sadly, not been forthcoming.

2 – The use of the word ‘courage’ suggests that Prime Minister Cameron is actively spoiling for this contest, a consideration that First Minister Salmond will reflect on with lip-smacking relish. In an error that helped to bring down Wendy Alexander’s short tenure as leader of the Labour group in the Scottish Parliament, Cameron should be choosing his words more carefully on this constitutional issue. Loose lips sink ships after all. Or,alternatively, now that the Scottish Tories are in favour of a coalition are they soon going to come out as pro-referendum to pick up for tactical SNP support?

3 – This is, once again, a breach of the promise to treat the Scottish Government with respect. Looking past the man’s remarkable ignorance of how the parliamentary process works north of the border, a playground-style taunt is not how leaders should behave to one another.

Of all the posturing and positioning and strategising that can drag on on any political issue, sometimes it is a simple blurting out of a line that loosens the most intractable of positions.

Cameron has queried the SNP’s courage. The SNP, it is safe to say, will leave the Prime Minister in no doubt as to how much courage it possesses on this subject and where will that leave the UK Government, a body that has the power to hold an independence referendum?

Game on?