Well, the date has finally been announced and in a very short 18 months' time the referendum will be upon us.
Scottish voters will have their say on 18th September 2014. This is, of course, excellent news and we can now look forward to a year and a half of intense debate about the constitutional future of Scotland.
For several years I believed that a referendum would be the best possible way of dealing with the issue and, at last, it is set to become a reality. The Scottish public are to have the opportunity they deserve. Well done all those who made it happen, from various parties and of none.
My initial reaction was relief that at least the question of the date has now been definitively answered. I look forward to voting in that referendum, as I am sure do many others.
Admittedly, when the news initially broke it didn't represent to me the big story others have made it. At the time I was engrossed in attempting to make sense of the effect of Osborne's budget on the Scottish economy and determined that this was not, in fact, a Budget aimed at improving the economy but instead geared towards political considerations. Most of the positives actually stem from Nick Clegg's influence in government and, those aside, the Budget represented another missed opportunity as Osborne demonstrated his lack of imagination in addition to his more pressing political and financial constraints.
Against the backdrop of the Budget, this seemed like a pretty trivial piece of news. After all, it wasn't unexpected. But, following some reflection I came to appreciate that this is a far from trivial matter - 18th September 2014 will be a momentous day in Scottish political history, in UK constitutional history and for Scotland's people. Its ramifications will have enormous political, social, cultural and economic effects. People will remember this date for decades after Osborne's attempts at Chancellor impressions have long been forgotten.
So now we finally have a date, what chance of stepping up the quality of the debate?
I have been interested to read others responses - not least this one on Lib Dem Voice, which takes the view that Alex Salmond shouldn't have timed the referendum to coincide with Lib Dem Conference. I'll try to be polite in my response, but the best thing that can be said is that this is an unnecessary concern and the idea that Alex Salmond or anyone else in the SNP spends their time thinking about our conference is moderately amusing. I'm afraid even I, as a conference-loving liberal, recognise that the referendum is far more important to Scotland's future than a gathering of the party faithful in Liverpool. I also don't see what all the fuss is about - surely there are such things as postal votes?
I was intrigued however by the choice of date, for another reason entirely. I'm sure it's completely accidental but 18th September 2014 will be the 100th anniversary of the Irish Home Rule Bill receiving Royal Assent and the 200th anniversary of the beginning of the Congress of Vienna, which achieved a new "balance of power" in Europe. It seems that, given the history this date has with redesigning boundaries and redefining nations, it is a more than fitting date for such a historic occasion.
I would hope that Scots of all political persuasions and on both sides of the independence argument can welcome this announcement and look forward to settling the question. I for one look forward to 18th September next year with anticipation - and a sense of cautious optimism.