Whatever way you look at it, at this moment, the referendum result looks like it is going to be uncomfortably close for everyone. It's going to be, if you average out roughly equal weightings of Yes and No Votes...a decided "Maybe" - in terms of consensus if not arithmetic.
A No vote will be an unstable temporary No...if it is any less than decisive. A Yes vote that barely scrapes a majority will be a less than thrilling mandate for such a major constitutional change.
So are we doomed to more instability? More uncertainty? A constitutional crisis every ten minutes as the losing side in this referendum, whichever it is falls to automatically blaming everything that can possibly go wrong on any issue on our having voted the "wrong way" whichever way that is?
Is there any escape from our own indecision? In 1979, who knew that it would take 18 years (till the second devolution referendum in 1997) to transform a hair-raising, breath taking, inspiring and ultimately indecisive campaign into a boring constitutional inevitability.
(Boring constitutional inevitabilities are not fun, but they do work. A 75% vote for or against independence is beyond challenge and has a mandate to do anything it wants. A 55/45 split either way?...not so much.)
So if it's a narrow No will we really be waiting till an inevitable and tedious Yes in 2032? If a Narrow Yes...will we come to our senses in a second referendum where we promise to be quiet and good? Or will the British State come riding to the rescue of its enemies, as it has historically, in America, Ireland and India, and snatch defeat from the jaws of victory?
In 1775, there was every chance that with care and negotiation, the British Empire could have kept America. In 1916, there was every chance that with care and respect, the British could have negotiated a peaceful settlement in an Ireland horrified by the events of the Easter Rising. After World War I, the British might have gradually recognised the need for fundamental change in the relationship with India and its growing secular nationalist middle class.
Instead, they opened fire at Concord, shot James Connelly propped up in a chair and massacred the Sikhs at Amritsar. Someone somewhere in the British establishment could always be relied upon to do exactly the wrong thing to turn uncertain and conflicted discontent into a settled and irresistible movement for change.
And it just might be that the vengeful resentment currently being stirred South of the Border against us whining subsidy junkie sweaties...could just be it.
If there is a narrow No vote, as the polls seem to predict, what better way to ignite full blown constitutional crisis than to vengefully slash public spending in Scotland now that the threat of independence is off the table? What more tempting, crowd pleasing and utterly idiotic option might appeal more to the Tory backwoodsmen who are fed up to the back teeth with us - for whom the option we have chosen with a No Vote means shutting our mouths forever about everything - than to give the Jocks a bloody good kicking? To abolish the Barnett formula and solidify direct Westminster control over the concrete assets of energy and defence while throwing the idiot haggis munchers a shiny bone of a few extra powers on taxes that are impossible to use without strategic freedom?
And what more misguided tactic can one possibly imagine than to threaten to do just that, to say that the UK will punish us either way - not for voting Yes but for having the bloody temerity to have the referendum in the first place? A few weeks before the referendum?
Well here it is. Here too is a link to statements that have already been made threatening and promising to do exactly that.
This isn't over yet...and it isn't over when it's over either. The knee jerk desire for revenge within the UK establishment will see to it. In the next few weeks, we should not under-estimate the possibility that we get a decisive swing to a Yes vote not because of something clever someone says or does in Scotland, but because of something cloth-headed said or done by some halfwit in Westminster.
They've got form on this one. Watch this space.
ps. As if by Magic, ladies and gentlemen, I give you Tim Montgomerie of Conservative Home.