But even if Scotland votes no, I believe it will eventually end up with a form of independence, though it may not be called that. The existing constitutional settlement already leaves most domestic legislation – education, health, criminal justice – with Holyrood, and the case for greater economic powers has largely been accepted, not least by the unionist-inspired Calman commission in 2009, which argued that to be accountable, a parliament must raise, in tax, the bulk of the revenue to pay for its spending policies. This must come – indeed, partial income tax-raising powers will be devolved next year under the recent Scotland Act.
Few in London would seriously lament the loss of Scotland, or the disintegration of an imperial entity – the UK – that no longer has an empire. In some opinion polls, more English voters support Scottish independence than Scots. Scotland is dominated by two parties of the traditional social democratic left: Scottish Labour and the Scottish National party. The standing joke is that there are more giant pandas in Scotland than Tory MPs.