I have noticed an interesting theme develop over the past few weeks which has involved non-Nationalists complain about the look an independent Scotland would have under the SNP’s referendum plans. 

The objection goes that Salmond is claiming to offer choice with one hand but only offering a Scotland that keeps the monarchy, keeps the pound and keeps EU membership with the other.

For me, this is a bit like a Rangers fan complaining about the Celtic lineup before an Old Firm match.

If it’s clear which side of this argument’s line one is on, then why busy oneself with the free choice of what the other side is pushing for?

Further, how precisely would Scots get to decide on the monarchy, on the EU, on NATO, not to mention whether we should be independent or not, via one single question? 

It is difficult to tell if complainants are merely posturing or genuinely can’t tell the difference between a referendum that decides once and for all on the nation’s monarchy, currency and the extent of European involvement and a referendum, as this one in 2014 shall be, on whether we as a nation should decide on these issues for ourselves rather than merely as one small part of a larger country. 

One example was a fine argument had with David Torrance in the pub, unquotable only because I can’t trust my memory one minute to the next let alone two days after, but another example was a robust Twitter exchange with Labour’s mightily impressive Michael Marra. Examples of Michael’s position include:

“in order to be credible you have to argue for independence”

“no fiscal Indy, no monetary Indy, no military Indy, no head of state Indy. No Indy.”

“either have the balls to argue for real Indy or we talk about things that really matter”

It’s not for the SNP to dictate what an independent Scotland’s currency or EU membership should be, as I’m sure most in the party would freely accept. Even the current pressure on Alex Salmond to outline what our Defence force would look like is unwarranted. 

Salmond is the First Minister of a devolved Scotland, we don’t know who the first Prime Minister of an independent Scotland will be, if that day comes to pass. These issues would be for he or she to decide after fresh elections and after a negotiated breakaway from the UK. 

Of course the SNP is trying to push as wide a view of independence as it possibly can in order to fit as many Yes votes into its big tent, broad church politics as possible. What, in short, is wrong with this approach? Why is it for the SNP to dot every i and cross every t of how Scotland will be post 2014 and for decades to come? After all, the SNP might not even exist once its mission is accomplished.

Labour, or any party, pushing for Salmond to flesh out this detail are inadvertently weakening their own position by making it appear that they do not have a policy that they would wish to push for. To cede the position is to cede the argument.

For me, the best way to advance this referendum debate is for each side to pick their own position on any related issue and advance it as best they can. Salmond is wryly trying to advance nameless persons’ Devo Max argument on their behalf while trying to unscrupulously gain from doing so and, as pointed out, non-Nats are trying to paint what actual Nats should be arguing for. 

Maybe proponents of independence and members of the SNP are angry that abolishing the monarchy and shunning the EU are not on the agenda in the near future but it is not the business of unionists to stir that particular pot. Nats are free to raise this issue with the party they are a part of and/or join or create a different party in order to champion the views that they hold so dear.

Argue for what you believe in, make your case and we’ll see what the result is, and where Scotland wants to go next, come 2014. 

Everything else is just noise.