The public may not believe the Scottish Government's official proposals for independence in light of the row over entry into the European Union, according to the Labour politician leading the campaign to keep Scotland in the UK.
Alistair Darling, the former chancellor, said the SNP leadership has a credibility problem one day after it emerged that no specific legal advice has been taken on the country's position in the EU after a vote for independence.
Appearing before a committee of the House of Lords, he said government papers on both sides of the argument should be externally validated by experts.
"The Scottish Government is going to publish, as I understand it, a paper in about 12 months which is to be prepared by the Scottish Government," he said.
"Especially with what happened yesterday, I think they have a big credibility problem now where people just aren't going to believe it.
"For their own good, what I would do if I were them is to get it published, get other people to look at.
"If we don't, the risk is that one side will say that, the other side will say something different and the public will think these are just politicians scrabbling around."
To help lend more credibility, he called on big companies and institutions to get involved in the debate before the referendum in 2014.
"I do hope people who have got a view about what happens in our country, whether in business or in individuals, speak up," he said.
"There's no point keeping quiet then saying 'I wish I'd said something'. That will not do."