It was David Maddox who spelled it out so succinctly.

On the Scotsman journalist’s Twitter feed, he remarked the following:
‘SNP need a better referendum strategy than going on about Tories and saying all their opponents are Tories’

The man has more than a decent point there.

Lamont’s ‘something for nothing’ misnomer to one side, the SNP need to define, and regularly redefine, what it is for and what its vision for an independent Scotland is much more clearly than it is currently doing. Befuddled Scots are looking to the governing party for answers and no amount of throwing ‘you can have the Queen, we can keep the pound, we’ll still be British really’ our way will distract us from wanting to know the answers to the more pertinent question – yes, but what’s actually going to change?

It is a simple philosophical logic that asking us to vote Yes instead of No means that there is a difference between the two outcomes from the coming referendum. It’s still not abundantly clear what that difference is. There is admittedly a risk that the SNP’s challenge becomes the unachievable winning a referendum and winning the an independent Scotland’s first election, but more is certainly required than the current performance.

NATO is a prime example of the lack of direction that the SNP is suffering from right now, expending considerable energy on arguing how alike the status quo things will be after a referendum victory. So what’s the point in voting Yes then?

I’m happy to be in NATO, happy with the pound and happy enough with the Royal Family. I still want independence because it appeals to my adventurous side and I think it would instil confidence, fairness and pride in a nation where not enough currently exists. That’s closer to the message that the SNP should be spreading right now, and it shouldn’t be too tough a sell against the backdrop of the direction the UK coalition is taking us in, but it’s just not getting through, seemingly due to timidity.

If you’re not playing offence then you’re playing defence, and so it has proved with Ed Miliband and David Cameron successfully stepping into the void created by the SNP’s lack of proactive campaigning in these past few weeks. If the unionist camp can with this referendum by mentioning the Olympics and getting a bit jingoistic about the UK, then it’s the SNP’s fault for letting it happen. I’m sure One Nationism doesn’t sound too bad to many wavering Scots out there.

NewsnetScotland has fallen into the trap as well, calling today for the unionist camp to explain what a No vote means. Well, no. The onus is on the SNP to explain what a Yes vote means and although that is difficult, shirking from that duty by lazily trying to box Labour and the Tories into a difficult corner just won’t cut it.

The opportunity may come from the ‘blond-haired mop’. Boris Johnson is plainly on manoeuvres and, if the rumours are true, won’t want to wait too long before making his move into Westminster and to the top job. David Cameron after all has never looked weaker – bizarrely unwilling or unable to sack Andrew Mitchell after plebgate, shackled to his best buddy Chancellor whose deficit reduction plan isn’t working and struggling to hold onto the central ground from a resurgent Labour party.

It wouldn’t be glorious or even particularly attractive, but the SNP thrives against opposition that is in disarray. Labour will do very well to conjure up a narrative that prevents this referendum being a choice on whether we want to live under Tory Governments or not so a posh boy scrap between Cameron, Osborne and Johnson over the PM position, not particularly helped by Ed ‘common as muck I am’ Miliband merrily jumping on the bandwagon. (I lived just up from Haverstock in London, it ain’t no Drumchapel I’ll say that).

It’s not the preferred platform for building a new country but for a party that seems intend on taking the easy route, Tory infighting may well be the SNP’s beat chance of victory. I do hope they opt for the high road, the difficult road, in the years to come though. The strategy just doesn’t seek right at the moment.

It’s not surprising that independence polls are derisory at the moment. ‘Scotland’s not buying what Salmond’s selling’ was how Lamont put it and, not for the first time in the past few weeks, the lady has a point.

Ed Miliband delivered a fine leader’s speech a couple of weeks ago and Cameron did the same yesterday.

I’m looking forward to Salmond’s contribution to conference season next week with his own leader speech but if he indulges in more Tory-bashing rather than selling Scotland a dream of an exciting, ambitious future, don’t expect those polls to be moving upwards any time soon.