Is the end of the United Kingdom at hand?

If momentum is with the nationalists, so is organisational muscle. ‘Yes Scotland’ groups have sprung up in almost every small town in the land. Every night, somewhere in Scotland, nationalists meet to plot their strategy — with a morale and determination not to be found among the grassroots of any Westminster party. Last week, for example, the second issue of a nationalist propaganda newspaper — imaginatively called YES — was delivered to thousands of households. Even now, Alistair Darling’s ‘Better Together’ campaign seems quieter than a Stornoway playground on the Sabbath.

Unionists raise procedural, legalistic difficulties such as the precise nature of an independent Scotland’s relationship with the European Union, or how much representation, if any, Salmond should expect on the board of the Bank of England. These concerns, while real, can seem tangential to the greater issues: what kind of Scotland is being fought for? And what kind of Britain, too? Salmond assures Scots that technical difficulties should certainly not be used to bar the march of the nation. Or, as he put it recently, ‘Let’s not wake up on the morning of September 19th and think to ourselves what might have been’..

Real Scots vote ‘yes’; timid Scots vote ‘no’ — and doubtless, in time, will fill a coward’s grave. This might seem a form of emotional blackmail, but it is a mightily effective one.