Where is the sun shining now?

sun in sky Image copyright bbc
Image caption Is the sun shining on Tory leader Ruth Davidson?

The sun shines on the Right. Ruth Davidson takes her small but determined group of Tory MSPs on an away day in the North-east - just as it is forecast that the area will experience record February temperatures.

A fine day is, I suppose, some compensation for an overcast political atmosphere.

Just where is Ruth Davidson's "line in the sand" on Scottish self-government now? Overtaken, it would appear, by events or, more precisely, by the Prime Minister.

But, hey, these things happen. Ms Davidson's position was defined by the electorate she was facing at the time - the Scottish Conservative Party membership. For them, status quo is a way of life not just a venerable rock group.

She told them what they wanted to hear - that nothing would change. By contrast, her opponent Murdo Fraser wanted to change;

  1. the party's constitution
  2. attitude to devolution
  3. and name

Ms Davidson duly won and duly found that everything changed - that change, indeed, is the elemental nature of politics, particularly in Scotland.

Devolution may have been the "settled will" of the people in 1997 but not, it would appear, the final will.

And so we have (in order of foundation);

Plus, of course, the small matter of the elected Scottish government pressing forward with plans for a referendum on independence.

Do we now know the definite date for that? The new Scottish Sun on Sunday suggested we do, Saturday 18 October, 2014.

Team Salmond - who presumably briefed this as a prospect in response to prompting from the newspaper - are insisting that it is but one option.

Record temperatures

Objections include the point that it might coincide with a school holiday week - and that Saturday polling might involve Sunday counting which would be less than popular in the Western Isles.

Still, we knew autumn 2014. From that, we presumed October. The precise detail of the Team Salmond timetable matters less, at this stage, than the issue of the question - or questions.

Mr Salmond's aides remain notably keen on featuring a second question on Devo Max or Devo Plus, presumably as a form of parachute should independence fail to find favour.

Mr Salmond's opponents remain implacable opposed to that option - but not, intriguingly, to the search for alternatives to the SNP scheme.