"I have plenty of issues with the Yes campaign and the SNP and they offer us plenty of guff too but at least their imbecilities, most of the time, look to a sunny future rather than endless drizzle.I know what he means - there is a catastrophising* tendency in the No camp that is undoubtedly counter-productive but a certain amount of negativity is unavoidable if one is to do justice to the situation. My own 'vision' of a Scotland in the Union is positive for me. I like Britain. The Union that the Nationalists despise so much is what made me. I am its very incarnation. I like to visit England to see my family and friends, going somewhere that is very different and yet somehow the same. I have a strong affection for what is familiar - but I can't reasonably expect to sell this to someone else. How am I supposed to compete with people who think that when Scotland is independent we will have Scandinavian public services alongside American levels of taxation and we'll all hold hands and celebrate the gorgeous mosaic of our diversity - because xenophobia is an English problem, don't you know?
A 'sunny future' indeed but I'm afraid I'm not happy with this demand to be all upbeat and positive. Why should I be? I'm not an American. Whether literally or metaphorically it's going to continue to rain a great deal in Scotland after September 2014 and if it's considered 'fear-mongering' to point out that there's no pot of gold at the end of the constitutional rainbow then that's just too bad. I would even take the negativity a stage further and state my concern that there are now no good outcomes to be had from Referendum 2014 because it is impossible for it to yield a result that people will be happy with. One of the reasons for this is an intrinsic problem with referendums; they are usually sold as a mechanism for dealing with an issue 'once and for all' yet this is exactly what they don't do. It has rightly been argued that one of the reasons the Yes side may still win in September is their committed army of foot-soldiers. Labourish Scotland has only woken up to the real possibility of independence since 2011 and are struggling as they are competing with believers who have been preparing for this their whole lives.
What happens to the soldiers on the losing side when the war ends is a question that has been asked too infrequently in history. If Scotland votes no, are they going to accept defeat, admit it was a fair fight and just go home? I thought the most likely outcome from a No was some kind of evolving 'devo-max' compromise where we ran the risk of becoming as tedious as Belgium. A Yes vote wouldn't have looked that different. For the hardline Nats, an independent Scotland would be neither independent nor Scottish enough. When are we getting rid of the Queen, why are we in the Sterling zone? George Osborne's intervention ruling out currency union is a 'game-changer' in some senses yet in other ways not. I'll leave it to others who know a lot more about economics to discuss the details but as far as I can judge, an independent Scotland launching its own currency, possibly pegged to the pound or the Euro, is now the least mental option. This would carry risks obviously and certainly produce higher borrowing costs. If I were a nationalist, I would prefer this to a Sterling currency union because the latter would mean Scotland wasn't really independent at all. But something that you might think should be an option that people who really believe in independence would favour is as I write being presented as an outcome of 'bullying'. It is for this reason my answer to the nationalists' question "What are you afraid of?" is that I fear this will not end well - because I'm afraid this might never be a settled issue. It certainly won't be by September 2014.
*Note: The way Western political discourse slips into the language of the apocalypse is something I've always assumed comes from Christian eschatology and have tried to correct it in myself accordingly. But there's always a nagging doubt: we don't know exactly what happened in Pompeii because by definition no-one survived to tell the tale but there must have been at least one person who said "Ach, it'll be fine" who won the argument...