Yet the battle is already won. In its political culture and its powers to define what form that culture takes, Scotland is already so incomparably different from England that a form of separation is taking place in front of our eyes. Even in the absurdly artificial environment of the Edinburgh festival it is impossible to avoid the sense that Scotland and England are separating even if, as the pollsters here predict, there is no formal divorce next year.
The referendum plays an ambiguous role in the unstoppable sequence. Without doubt, insular, parochial England should pay more attention to a referendum that is definitely taking place instead of obsessing about one on Europe that might never be held. And yet, inadvertently, the indifference is not entirely misplaced. Of course, if Scotland were to vote for independence there would be a tumultuous constitutional crisis months before a general election – but even if there were to be such a dramatic outcome, the trauma would be felt more at Westminster. Scotland has already made its moves and will continue to do so.