Alex Salmond, Jim Sillars, and many of their MPs, MSPs and activists, are keen to see a firm commitment to another referendum in their manifesto for the 2016 elections.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and SNP central office, play down talk of another referendum coming sooner rather than later. Mindful perhaps, of those who might vote for the SNP in 2016, but who would be put off by the prospect of more years of divisive debate. This is a delicate issue for the SNP, with the leadership trying to control the agenda and avoid public dissent. Their preference is likely an open ended, and less intimidating reference, to the option of another referendum in the manifesto, without commitment to when.

Yet where does this leave the rest of us? Sadly, when the First Minister says the people of Scotland will decide on whether there will be another referendum, she intends that to mean simply those who vote for the SNP in 2016.

Once that election secures the expected Holyrood majority, the referendum decision-making baton will pass to the First Minister, becoming hers and hers alone. The people of Scotland will have to live with the resulting uncertainty and a Government still preoccupied with their ultimate ambition, rather than the underperformance and recurring crises across essential education, health and emergency services.

So much for the First Minister’s claim that no politician will be able to impose a second referendum on Scotland. There is every possibility she will manoeuvre into a position where she will be able to do exactly that.

I am, etc.

Keith Howell West Linton