THERE’S nothing like a bit of devo-max debate to put a political spring in our step at the start of a new year. The same year in which, if I’m not mistaken, most of us desirous of independence were determined to see both clarity of purpose and progress in achieving that ambition.

Personally, I don’t know Chris Hanlon and even if I did, I see it as less than helpful right now to cast aspersions on the motives of the former SNP policy chief in backing a three-way vote with devo-max as an option in a second independence referendum.

God knows there are enough signs of division rearing their head again without another pointless social media tit-for-tat within the independence movement’s ranks by throwing yet more paraffin on the fire.

Far better and smarter I think to look at the cold hard facts of this debate, and how it’s especially going down in Unionist ranks, than indulging in yet another homespun blame game.

For if there’s one thing obvious about this “third option” it’s that its real danger lies in the capacity to neuter or stymie the independence cause rather than provide a mechanism by which to bypass the constitutional impasse.

READ MORE: Senior SNP politicians hit back at multi-option indyref2

In that regard it’s doubtless been music to the ears of those Unionists who as bitter experience has – I hope – long taught us will stop at almost nothing to thwart independence.

It was curious then to see the initial response of commentators from within their own ranks who have gone all out to warn of it being a “trap” to supporters of the Union. Now call me cynical, but such is the smoke and mirrors tactics adopted by Unionists in the past that almost the moment they say anything, I find my political spider senses going into overdrive. In short, I don’t trust them or their motives.

Take for example the remarks of Daily Mail and Spectator columnist Stephen Daisley yesterday, or those of Henry Hill editor of the ConservativeHome website.

“This couldn’t be more of a trap if it had been painted on the side of a mountain by Wile E Coyote,” opined Daisely.

Hill meanwhile saw it as representing “the next iteration of “the best of both worlds”, whereby Scotland gets “as many of the advantages of the Union as they can get away with, with as few obligations as possible”.

I suspect neither of them really in truth care much for such arguments. In fact, I’d go as far as to suggest that their motives are more likely driven by an attempt to muddy the political waters. Let’s never lose sight of the fact that the sole objective of Unionists is preventing a sovereign Scotland.

​READ MORE: James Doleman: Scotland's not listening to Union flag, 'make Brexit work' Labour

In warning of a “trap” in the devo max option perhaps what the likes of Daisley and Hill are really saying is “go for it”. Anything after all is better than independence, and if enough voters sign up to devo-max it would effectively kick the can of independence down the street for a very long time.

Yes, suckers go for it goes prevailing Unionist thinking. Go for it and in doing so salve your independence conscience and prevailing doubts by having the half measure rather than the full glass.

Much as devo-max might grate in the minds of Unionists like Daisley, Hill and others, it’s worth having if it does damage to the independence cause whatever such commentators attest to the contrary in their columns.

Never in my life have I found myself agreeing with Daisley politically on anything, but he is at least right about one thing here, this is a trap. Not a trap to supporters of the UK as he insists, but a scarcely disguised booby trap lying in wait for those of us seeking independence.

Put another way, by adding a third option we will only allow for the sowing of uncertainty and even division that would send our indyref2 aspirations into stasis or even paralysis. There are those who will say, well, that’s precisely where our independence hopes are right now, in limbo, so something must be done to get things moving.

I do get that but acquiescing to a devo-max option is not the way to break that political logjam. Frankly, I’d rather see a plebiscite election before devo-max on the ballot paper. And hey, who knows, the SNP leadership might yet pull something out of the bag.

To that end it was encouraging at least to see some within their ranks like Michael Russell hit back at the devo-max option. But others must make their voices heard too, for if not, the Unionists will run with this and make more mischief.

The political reality of what it would mean were we to accommodate such a third option is staring us all in the face. Many readers of The National – and other independence supporters and activists, I’m also encouraged to see – have already made clear their views that it should be dismissed outright.

Only the most politically short sighted could fail to see that devo of any kind equals Tory Brexit or provides another opportunity for Tories and Unionists to tell us more fibs. I for one never fell for it back in 2014 and have no intentions of doing so now. The inescapable fact is that power devolved is power retained by Westminster, as someone rightly observed yesterday on Twitter.

​READ MORE: Three-option indyref2 plan sparks furious backlash from grassroots Yes supporters

Chris Hanlon might have suggested the devo-max option in the genuine spirit of exploring the possibilities of circumventing or unlocking the constitutional impasse. But there’s no getting away from the fact that the net result has been the positing of a convenient political ambush that we must avoid at all costs. As recent history has starkly taught us, Unionist politicians and commentators will do all they can to lure us into the trap.

The lesson is clear. One we Scots should have long since learned by now. One that screams beware of vows, pledges, and political promises of things in perpetuity from unionists. Let’s not make their job any easier by buying into any such charade.