First Minister Alex Salmond will have the attention of the world’s press today as he outlines his party’s referendum plans that will lead us up to a 2014 plebiscite.

Today we will hear nothing that we haven’t heard before and many, many soundbites that we have but it is, nonetheless, a famous day for Scotland, not just for the SNP.

The publication of a white paper on an independence referendum had its importance exaggerated in the 2007-2011 term but with a Nationalist majority in the Parliament ensuring easy passage for whatever plans Salmond puts forward today, coupled with an emasculated coalition Government down South, the hand of history is certainly upon us.

The positioning is pleasingly already coming to an end. The Electoral Commission question has been ceded by the SNP and the 16-17 argument and Devo Max additional question will surely follow by also falling by the wayside and, in return, there will be no legal confusion over the holding of the referendum in 2014, despite the current token resistance from Westminster. All that is left is the question, a question that the SNP has already proposed and I don’t see why the final wording won’t be too dissimilar to that. Certainly the argument that the pro-UK side should take the Yes side of the answer has been straightforwardly dispelled. So we’re good to go and have the best part of 32 months to make our decisions.

As someone who was on the receiving end of the line ‘you can’t build an economy with shortbread and whisky’ last night, I have to admit that I am allowing my imagination to run away with itself a little bit about what today could bring. I have no qualms, as I might have had before, to let on to work colleagues that I’m very much in the Yes camp. After all, do we aspire to be the equal of Yorkshire, Cornwall and Northumberland, or the equal of Norway, Ireland and Finland?

It is the reaction to today that I am most looking forward to though, for therein lies the answer to what kind of referendum debate we are going to have. It is no coincidence of course that it is Burns Day today, so one hopes that the responses will be more poetic than prosaic. Labour may prick our collective unionist consciences with a romantic tale of British camaraderie, Lib Dems may reawaken the slumberous giant that is federalism, the Tories may wreak rhetoric in selling a dubious happy clapitalism and the Greens can paint a picture of a cleaner, healthier tomorrow.

From today the nation is back to being a blank canvas again, a post-Darien construct that knows not yet where it should turn. Alex Salmond will try to lead the way but is he our nation’s pastor or just a Tam O’Shanter? We don’t have ‘too’ long to find out I suppose.