A Yes Vote will recognise Reality. A No vote will run away from it. But Not For Long.
The status quo has proved itself incapable of articulating any positive case for the maintenance of the Union. The deep truth is that It can't find that case because the Union is already dysfunctional. It's already exhausted. On many if not most important levels, “separation” is already a fact.
To give an example of disconnect at the most basic level or perception, and at the highest level of historical change, the week after Ed Milliband appeared at the Annual Scottish Labour Party Conference to argue that a vote to keep the Union was a vote for social justice, with no sense of irony at all, the very next week he led the UK Labour Party in the Westminster parliament, including its loyal Scottish members, into the voting lobby of the Commons to vote with the Tories for a legal and permanent cap on welfare spending.
To quote Iain MacWhirter: “There are now only two things the Tory and Labour front benches in Westminster agree upon: that Scotland should not be allowed the pound after independence, and that social security spending should be capped permanently, irrespective of need or changing circumstances.”
From the perspective of the Westminster village, to vote this way was for Labour a genuinely wizard wheeze to neutralise Tory attacks on them as being soft on welfare, the party for the scroungers. But from a traditional Britsh left perspective, which is where Scotland still sits in terms of political culture, the Labour party voting with the Tories to enshrine the principle that the transient needs of capital outweigh the historic obligation of a state towards the welfare of everyone who lives there was a catastrophic and terminal betrayal of everything that the post-war consensus of British-ness had supposedly stood for.
You'd have thought someone would have noticed.
And if it was that post-war social consensus that they felt they could so casually disregard in order to avoid unfriendly headlines in the Daily Mail, then that consensus was also the glue that held the post-imperial political Union of Scotland and the UK together.
For some time there's been a widespread feeling here in Scotland that we are not so much leaving as we have already been left. And the fact that this feeling seems beyond the comprehension or empathy of the political party that made that now-broken consensus is itself an argument that the fellowship which one might expect to be the chief appeal of the case for the Union is hollow and unconvincing. All that is best about the Union, was declared dead. By the Labour Party in Westminster. The question before us in Scotland is whether we have the decency to bury it before it starts to smell.
So, the No campaign have lost the argument and lost the campaign quite decisively. But we the voters may not recognise reality in time. Fear may well still win the vote. All the uncertainty peddling still seems, despite everything, to be commanding a lead in the polls and successfully pandering to a streak of self-dislike and self-doubt in us. But while negative strategy may well secure the No vote that is being sought, does it not need to be asked, on the Union side, what kind of relationship is it whose only maintenance is in planting fear and insecurity in one of the “partners”?
Is winning at the vote really worth the price we’ll pay afterwards if we feel ourselves to have succumbed to the unworthy, fallen angels of our nature?
And if we do Vote No, then as a matter of practical politics, after September, every negative consequence of every policy that emanates in Westminster will keep the question of the border on the table. Every cut in welfare, every austerity measure, every entanglement in war, every slash and burn to the consequential spending on health, education and local government will carry a big sticker on it from the defeated Yes campaign. It will read "See? Told ye!"
A vote for the bitterness of the No campaign in September , a triumph of fear over hope, will have a bitter hangover of disillusion for years to come. A vote for No is not a vote for togetherness. It is a vote to pretend that separation hasn't already happened and will have no negative consequences if we shy away from democratic recognition of economic, cultural and even political reality.
A faked, patched up Union will be unable to deal with reality once reality bites. it won't be sustainable. It will be, to use George Galloway's word, "havoc."