On 19th September 2014, a very large group of Scots will have to come to terms with the fact that their side lost.
If it’s a Yes, I expect most people from the No campaign to start fighting Scotland’s corner relatively quickly. This is because I don’t know of many countries that after independence have had a large group of people trying to undo the divorce. As far as I know, nobody is campaigning for reunification with the UK in the Republic of Ireland, the Slovaks don’t pine for the good old Czechoslovakian days, the Norwegians like their independence and have no desire to reunify with either Sweden or Denmark, etc., etc. I think there might be some people in Belarus who want to reunify with Russia, but that’s the only exception I can think of, and I do think Scotland is more like Ireland, Slovakia and Norway than Belarus.
One of the results of a Yes will be a complete realignment of Scotland’s political system: The SNP will most likely break up (or at least lose many members to other parties), and the unionist parties will shed their links to the mother parties in London and reposition themselves to respond to the political views of the Scottish voters without any need to appeal to English swing voters. This realignment will mean that soon after independence, Scotland’s political parties will be as different from the rUK’s as Ireland’s currently are.
If the referendum ends in a No, I’m not so sure. Of course we’ll all accept the result and try to make the best of it at first, but having talked about how much Scotland will be able to achieve as an independent country, it will be very difficult to abandon the dream completely. The SNP might lose a few disillusioned voters, but on the whole I expect the party to survive and keep the flame alive. Also, given likely subsequent developments in the UK, such as leaving the EU and getting a Tory government supported by UKIP, I wouldn’t be surprised if large groups of Scots would soon bitterly regret their No vote in the referendum.
In other words, a Yes vote will bring closure to the independence questions and allow the nation to move forward together. I fear that a No vote will just lead to stagnation, confusion and regret.