However, the strength of the language about the determination to push ahead with legislation for a referendum come what may, and about how the next request for a Section 30 order will be the final one, is much better than I would have thought likely a few months ago, and is important because it gives SNP members something to hold the leadership to. It isn't vague language that can be conveniently 'explained away' at a later date - the meaning of the pledge is crystal-clear, at least this side of any visit to the Supreme Court. We no longer have the nightmare scenario, which the likes of Mhairi Hunter used to punt in all apparent seriousness as a viable strategy, of asking for a Section 30 order and then just "campaigning some more for a Section 30 order" every time the request is inevitably rejected.
A couple of Stuart's specific objections are bogus. He seems to think the language about holding a referendum as soon as it's safe to do so is a delaying tactic, and he points out that if it's already deemed safe to hold an election in May it must by definition be safe to hold a referendum. Well, that may be technically true, but a parliamentary election is a much more routine event than a referendum on a country's independence, and it's surely undesirable to hold the latter until it's possible to engage in the full range of campaigning options, such as doorstep campaigning. But the way things are going, that shouldn't be too far off.
Stuart also trots out the silly old myth about how a consultative referendum is essentially impossible because unionist-run councils will refuse to cooperate with it. In reality, the only way a consultative referendum will take place is if it's the law of the land - ie. if the Scottish Parliament has legislated for a referendum and the Supreme Court has upheld that law. Unionist councils will obey the law of the land as they do in every other election or referendum.
* * *
Yesterday brought some mildly encouraging polling news from YouGov, who appear to be the only firm that structure and weight their Scottish subsamples in GB-wide polls correctly. Their poll of 3rd-4th March is therefore the first real straw in the wind about the state of public opinion in the wake of Alex Salmond's appearance before the Holyrood committee, and the subsample figures are healthy enough: SNP 50%, Conservatives 21%, Labour 16%, Liberal Democrats 8%, Greens 3%.
* * *
I'm currently crowdfunding to run another Scot Goes Pop poll at some point before Holyrood election day - if you'd like to donate, click HERE to find out more.