A senior Liberal Democrat has warned his party not to close down the option of coalition talks with the SNP.
Donald Gorrie has suggested a multi-option referendum
Newly retired MSP Donald Gorrie said it should "never say never" to an independence referendum.
The Nationalists are committed to one, but Scots Lib Dem leader Nicol Stephen has regarded it as a "significant block" to a power-sharing deal.
Mr Gorrie said this need not be the case, and has urged all party leaders to set aside "macho posturing".
He said they should be prepared to "negotiate away disagreements" after the May election, adding that Labour would have the Lib Dems "over a barrel" if it became clear they would not talk to the SNP.
Personally, Mr Gorrie favours referendums, but politically, he expressed concern that the Liberal Democrats would weaken their negotiating position by ruling one out.
The Holyrood and Westminster veteran has suggested a multi-option referendum as a possible compromise.
The Liberal Democrats, he claimed, may have to choose whether to form a coalition with Labour or the SNP.
He said they should do so on the basis of which party would help deliver the Liberal Democrats manifesto.