Stuart Campbell of Wings Over Scotland has helpfully moved forward the debate over indyref timing by arguing that the Scottish Government should go ahead and legislate for a second referendum without specifying a date. I would maybe quibble over whether this proposal stands outside the dispute over timing in quite the way that Stuart thinks, because what many of the people arguing for a long delay really want is for the whole issue of a referendum to fade from public debate, whereas legislating and perhaps triggering a challenge in the Supreme Court would have the opposite effect. Nevertheless, on paper at least, preparing the ground for a referendum without naming the day ought to be able to unite all shades of opinion on timing.
Two key points need to be added to the proposal in my view. Firstly, the Scottish Parliament should only go ahead and pass a Referendum Bill after the request for a Section 30 order has been revived and clearly rejected. To avoid further "now is not the time" delaying tactics, the UK government should be given a specific deadline for a definitive response to the Section 30 request, with a failure to give a clear "yes" or "no" by that date being interpreted as rejection. It must be plainly seen by the public that the Scottish government wanted an agreed process, and only legislated unilaterally after their overtures were spurned.
Secondly, it's important to get the message across that any hypothetical rejection of a Referendum Bill by the Supreme Court will not lead to us all packing up and going home. Of course we would obey the law, and of course we would not hold a "wildcat referendum". Instead, we should make clear that if all other options are exhausted, the next Holyrood election will be used to seek an outright mandate for independence. A negative outcome in the Supreme Court would actually be helpful in the pursuit of that mandate, because it would provide clarity - Yes supporters would be under no doubt that the only way to achieve independence will be by turning out in huge numbers in a Holyrood vote.