Scotland: Devolution-max or independence-lite?
Edinburgh: The Scottish public doesn't want it; the Scottish Parliament won't vote for it - so why on Earth is Scotland's first minister about to publish the first-ever official plan for one part of the UK to break away from the rest?
On Monday, Alex Salmond will unveil what he describes as "a historic document" - a White Paper spelling out plans to give the people of Scotland a vote on their constitutional future and making the case for independence.
One answer is that he's doing what he promised. The more interesting answer is that he believes politics will change dramatically in the year ahead in a way which will deliver support for a referendum and significant new powers for the Scottish Parliament, if not independence itself.
The election of an old Etonian English Tory prime minister who will be said to have no Scottish mandate is only one part of what he means, should of course the Conservatives triumph.
He also believes that Labour out of power, both North and South of the border, would face irresistible pressure to let the people have their say.
What's more, he thinks the Lib Dems might find the lure of returning to government in a coalition with the SNP irresistible in place of the relative obscurity of being Scotland's fourth party.
Independence will not, Salmond tells me, be a "magic bullet" which will solve all of Scotland's problems.
However, his proposals will aim to move away from debates about symbols. The Queen can stay, so too the pound and the army and there will, he assures non-Scots, be no passports, no Hadrian's Wall, no ditch on the border.
The White Paper will aim to show that real everyday problems could be better solved if the Scottish Parliament had greater powers.
It will spell out what could be possible under the government's version of the Calman reforms or under so-called devolution-max (or independence-lite, as I prefer to call it) in which Scotland controls everything other than defence, foreign policy and macroeconomics - and under full-blown independence.
His real aim is to present independence not as a clean break but as an evolutionary step on a journey which Scotland has already begun.
That way, he hopes to convert majority opposition to independence into majority support for greater powers for Scotland.
Just now, Salmond has neither support for a referendum or independence. Not so long ago, it was unthinkable that he would be first minister in a Scottish government. History, he believes, is on his side.