How often do we read what disasters 'could' befall an independent Scotland?
Last weekend the SoS published an article with the headline 'Jim Murphy warns that independence could cost thousands of defence jobs'. There it is again, the unionist 'could' - suggestive scaremongering and rather ironic considering the job loses currently affecting HM Forces. The unionists' only option is to campaign in 'could' mode because they have no other choice.
Last week David Cameron, on his visit to the central belt, stated he 'may' offer further powers to Scotland - but only if the people vote NO. This weekend's SoS reports Alistair Darling suggesting a similar proposal, but with slightly - very slightly - more detail:
Darling admits that all this would be academic anyway if we voted for independence and his proposal is as weak as Cameron's: "If you are staying then you look at that (more powers)."
I'm not convinced by the latest unionist attempt at appeasement purely because I have no trust in Westminster politicians and their care of Scotland. A power which is 'easy to implement' is not necessarily one for the good of Scotland and if ease of implementation is the basis for the Scotland Bill 2010-12, it doesn't bode well.
Scottish Labour is stuck between a rock and a hard place because they want to show themselves as supportive of a more powerful devolved settlement than suggested by the present Bill, while keeping it off the independence ballot paper.
People know the results of being part of the UK for over 300 years and few politicians are silly enough to spell out the present-day benefits, so rely on this new style of negative campaigning. It's gentler than their old 'We're too wee' and 'We couldn't afford to support ourselves'. It's negativity by suggestion and can work extremely well - so my psychologist friend tells me. The use of could and would softens the negative message but the suggestion alone is effective.
The question is - will the people trust the UK government to deliver on jam tomorrow?
There's no doubt the current version of the Scotland Bill going through the processes of Westminster will be kicked into the long grass by the present Scottish government, but should the people vote NO in 2014, it could be all London is prepared to offer their irritating neighbour up north.