I've been slightly curious as to why the media seem to assume we should treat the UK government's legal advice on an independence referendum as intrinsically superior to the Scottish government's advice (perhaps they've mistaken Dominic Grieve for a Supreme Court judge), but the plot thickens - if the Independent is to be believed, it appears that the two sets of advice are in fact virtually identical...
"The Prime Minister will publish legal advice that concludes the SNP administration in Edinburgh can hold a binding referendum only with the British Government's permission. He will say he is prepared to give his backing to a vote only as long as it is held by the summer of 2013.
Mr Salmond wants to hold the referendum in the autumn of 2014 to capitalise on the patriotic buzz caused by the Commonwealth Games and the Ryder Cup, both of which will be held in Scotland that summer.
A spokesman for Mr Salmond insisted he was not prepared to enter into deals. Mr Cameron says he will back a vote only if it is held next year. He is set to publish legal advice stating that Scotland can carry out a binding referendum only with the backing of the UK Government."
Is that it? All these dark mutterings about new legal advice, and all it amounts to is that the Scottish Parliament can only hold a consultative referendum, rather than a binding one? Er, I think we've known that since at least 1998, but thanks all the same.
This detail is also rather amusing -
"Ministers in Mr Cameron's Coalition hope that an earlier vote would enable campaigning for a referendum to take place in the afterglow of the Queen's diamond jubilee celebrations and the London 2012 Olympic Games."
Ah, you mean like holding the Royal Wedding a few days before the Scottish Parliament election last year successfully headed off an SNP landslide? Yes, these wizard schemes never fail. At least Prince William and Kate Middleton were reasonably popular in Scotland - after the BOA's antics over the last few years, and the way that the Olympics have robbed Scotland of vital investment, I'm not so sure the same can be said of "Team GB". But by all means let's see what the Olympic 'afterglow' looks like in practice.
* * *
There's no entertainment known to man quite like perusing the readers' comments on a Mail article relating to Scottish independence. Here are my favourites from yesterday -
"...some facts for our Scottish friends: You vote for Labour in droves, Labour ruined the country, now that the country is ruined you want to leave it because you are disatisfied, you continue to vote for Labour. You are sure to soar as an independent nation as you demonstrate great logical thinking skills. I will give you an analogy to highlight my point. What you are doing is the equivalent of letting an oil company drill on your land, then becoming disatisfied with the natural disaster on your land, then arguing in favour of allowing oil companies to drill on people's property at the same time as saying you need to move due to the natural disaster....then when arriving at your new property asserting that you will allow an oil company to drill because you think it is a good thing you are in favour of."
I've seen some cracking analogies in my time, but it has to be said - that one is an absolute belter. The only thing that could make it even better would be an explanatory diagram.
"As someone born in England but studying in Scotland, I support the prime minister's decision. Salmon wants to bide his time so that he can play petty politics to drum up support for Scottish independence. Salmon thinks he is above 300 years of history. Above the world's greatest union. He is not."
I'm confused - when did Alex Salmond ever claim to be 'above' the Swiss Confederation? Bloody arrogant of him if he did.
"This reminds me of the kid that ran away from home and never made it to the end of the road. Why cant we give them a taste of what it will be like without us and stop all funding as of now. They wont last long and they'll soon change their minds....Let them experience the real world without England to cover for them, they will soon come crawling back with their tail between their legs, begging us to take them back."
Oh, absolutely. After all, the people of Ireland famously refer to independence from London as 'the Historic Error', so why should it be any different for Scotland? Let's get this nonsense out of our system ONCE AND FOR ALL.
"You will have no MP's in our English parliment. No reprisentation at all. Nil. Nada. Zip. Still want you own show??"
Yeah, Scotland, you're really not thinking this one through, are you? If you were independent, you wouldn't have the Union Jack anymore. None of it. Not even a dash of red. Still want to go? No, I don't think you understand - YOU'D HAVE TO HAVE YOUR OWN FLAG. You see, you wouldn't be part of the UK anymore, so you wouldn't be allowed to have ours. Not quite so sure now, are you, sonny? Yeah, you see, all this talk of independence is all very well, but when you actually start thinking through the ramifications...what? You still want to go? Dear me, you don't seem to be understanding my words. Let's try this. If you were independent, you wouldn't have the Tory cabinet anymore. None of them. Not even Eric Pickles. Are you MAD?