John and I watched This Week recently, with the pugnacious Andrew Neil, and his two political guests were Alan Johnson, whom I’ve always liked, who talks sense, and is also a dangerous assassin when he chooses, and Michael Portillo, a man of parts and secrets, but not without a certain grace and charm.    (He’s not nearly as quick thinking or fast in the draw as Johnson, however.)   The issue arose of Scottish independence, and Johnson I felt was reluctant to be drawn, but pressed, he spoke gracefully for the Together campaign.    Portillo was asked for his view, and I listened, stunned and horrified.   Scotland, he said, was a nation of benefits culture;  it depended on handouts, and it would be totally unable to survive in the modern world.   Johnson shifted in his seat but he kept his face blank.

I thought, to hell with pleasant train journeys, and charming perambulations through Spain, and my being stupid enough to think he was a better sort of English Tory.   This was the real Michael Portillo speaking, insulting, threatening and dismissive.    Like Cameron.   How dare they?    Is that really who they think we are?    If so, do they want to retain us as an act of charity, so they can continue to sustain our feckless and improvident nation against hardship and injury?   This is very kind of them and we should indeed be grateful (not.)

A few weeks ago, I was oddly disappointed when the document outlining the bid for Scottish independence was launched by Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon.   It took me a few hours to work out why, and I think it’s because the case for voting Yes should not be decided upon economic issues.   If the Scots are only going to be persuaded to vote Yes by a belief that they’ll be financially better off, I suggest they move South and live in England.   That’s not to say I don’t think Scotland would prosper on it’s own.   We can do whatever we set out to do, and Scots skill and drive in commerce, work ethic, aggression and determination was part of what built the British Empire.   But Economics is  a doubtful art, and who knows what the future will bring, what challenges may arise?

What is it to be a Scot?   It’s to be part of an independent nation.   Wherever you go in the world, when you say you’re a Scot, people know who you are, and that you come from a beautiful country.  It’s one of the great privileges of being a Scot, that you are welcome wherever you go.   As a generalisation, a Scot is proud to be a Scot and would be reluctant to change his nationality.   We are bold, enterprising and industrious and we can go and live anywhere in the world and make a success of it, and Scotland is still ours.

When it comes to the day before the vote Alex Salmond has to make the speech of his life.   I think if they run a collection of these insulting and condescending speeches from the likes of Cameron, Osborne, Hague and Portillo, one after the other, they can use the mealy-mouthed negatives as a positive incentive.   If the Scots vote No, they accept the role that these bullies allocate them.   On the morning of the vote, every man and woman has to look in the mirror and say, who am I?   Will I accept the view of the Together campaign that I’m too feeble and dependent and lesser and useless to be in charge of my own destiny, and go crawling back to Westminster saying, we’re sorry we aspired to be a nation, please let us come back in, we won’t cause any more trouble, and can I have some more gruel now please?

I still think that the best solution would be the four nations in a federal reformed government under the crown, but the Better Together campaign actually acts for me on behalf of the Yes vote;   and one thing is absolutely certain, if the Scots do not have the courage to stand up and vote Yes, no progress will be made on reforming any of our out-moded government arrangements.

As for the threat that the EU  would not accept Scotland, who are the English to solicit this view when they themselves – and especially Cameron’s party – are forever hovering on the brink of exit?   Scotland was historically friendly with Europe when England was not.

There’s a lovely Scots love song (can be heard on You-tube) called, Will ye go, lassie go.    I won’t be accompanying that despiser of his ancestors, Portillo (his grandfather came from Kirkcaldy in Fife), on any more journeys.   But if Alex Salmond were to ask me, were I a Scottish voter, Will ye go, Lassie: I wouldn’t hesitate.