The SNP website has today isolated a number of specific questions for the No campaign from Jim McColl's interview in the Scotsman -
1. How will a No vote rebalance the UK economy away from its London-centric focus?
2. What options will a non-independent Scotland have other than UK-driven austerity?
3. What further incentives will there be for business in a non-independent Scotland?
4. How can the UK's one-size-fits-all approach to welfare be tackled in a non-independent Scotland?
These are all fantastic, because they get to the heart of objectives that most people in Scotland share, and challenge the No campaign to specify their plan for realising those objectives - if, of course, such a plan exists. In reality, their answers would be...
1) The UK economy does not have a London-centric focus, because all parts of the UK are equally precious to the London government and Bank of England (aye, right).
2) There is no alternative to UK-driven austerity.
3) No current plans.
4) We're not going to tackle the UK's one-size-fits-all approach to welfare, because we don't see it as a problem.
Doesn't strike me as a winning manifesto. But the Yes campaign shouldn't stop there - it should produce its own version of the ludicrous '500 questions' document, which ought to go down exactly the same road of demanding answers to specific policy questions. If the No campaign think it's perfectly reasonable to ask what the rates of income tax will be in an independent Scotland (even though we don't have a clue which party will be governing an independent Scotland), let's see if Scotland's 'Popular Front' of Tory, Labour and Lib Dem can come up with a joint position on what the rates of income tax will be in a non-independent Scotland over the coming decades. It seems only fair.
But the questions I'd really like some answers to are these -
1) By what date can we expect these non-specific "new powers" to be transferred to the Scottish Parliament in the event of a No vote?
2) If substantial new powers are not delivered by the date you have just specified, will you undertake to immediately resign from public office, or to issue a public apology if you are no longer in public office?
3) Would you agree that a second independence referendum will become a moral imperative if new powers are not delivered with the speed and on the scale currently being hinted at by the No campaign?