When I saw that James Kelly MSP was trying to add a 50% requirement to the Referendums Bill, I assumed he had jumped the shark completely and was saying that 50% of the total registered electorate would have to vote in favour of independence to make the result valid. To put in perspective just how ridiculous that would be, if there was a 75% turnout, and if the result was 66% Yes, 34% No, the electorate would be deemed to have voted No. And it's not at all fanciful that unionists would seek to load the dice in such an extreme way - only a couple of months ago, an anti-independence group in the north-east (with which Professor Hugh Pennington is involved) openly called for a two-thirds majority requirement.
But it turns out that Mr Kelly is playing a slightly subtler game. His amendment would simply require that half of the registered electorate takes part in the referendum, irrespective of whether they vote Yes or No. If they didn't, any Yes victory would be voided. Superficially, that doesn't sound quite so unreasonable, because of course the turnout in the 2014 referendum was 85% - so surely there'd be no danger of a referendum of any real importance falling below the 50% threshold?
Well, here's the thing. In 2014, in spite of that record-breaking turnout, and in spite of the fact that No won by a "decisive" margin (it must be true, because the BBC used that word about 70,000 times the following day), less than 47% of the registered electorate actually voted No. If there had been a 50% turnout requirement for a No vote to be considered valid, pro-independence groups could have sabotaged the result by urging their supporters to abstain rather than vote Yes.
But of course Mr Kelly's intention is that only a Yes majority would be voided by his 50% rule. A No majority on less than a 50% turnout would effectively be respected. So if a future campaign was going against them, the No side would have the "sabotage-by-boycott" option open to them, but the Yes side wouldn't.
As the chap in the Question Time audience said the other night, the UK has become like Hotel California - we can check out any time we like, but we can never leave.
* * *
I have two more constituency previews in today's edition of The National - this time it's Stirling and Glenrothes. (And these are honestly written by me, and not by the Labour list MSP for Glasgow. We all have a cross to bear, and mine is my name...)
* * *
If you know of any independence and/or SNP supporters who might not have registered to vote yet, make sure they know that TONIGHT is the deadline. They can register HERE.