I’m confident the outcome of the referendum will be a clear Yes, but if it ends up a No, it clearly won’t be because Better Together won the argument.
If they win, it’ll be because many voters got trapped in the quagmire of worries and vague promises of the No campaign, e.g.: “I’m a bit worried about the plans for X after independence”, “I’m worried my job might be at risk if we vote Yes”, “Perhaps the English will get angry at us after a Yes vote” or “Those new powers the talked about sounded quite nice, let’s try them out first”. Very few people — and certainly no more than before the referendum campaign started — will feel that the UK is working well for Scotland.
This is why a No vote won’t be the end of the story. Of course the Yes side will respect the result — nobody would even dream of declaring independence after a No vote without holding a new referendum — but the Yes activists will still believe in independence. Nobody will have been convinced of the impossibility of independence like this: “I liked the idea of independence, but they clearly demonstrated that a country the size of Norway or Denmark isn’t viable”, “It’s a shame Scotland would get invaded by Russia as soon as we declared independence” or “I used to think Scotland could go it alone, but we’re clearly too wee, too poor and too stupid”.
The No side keeps talking about avoiding a ‘neverendum’, but the only way to achieve that is by winning the argument. So long as a large part of the population still believes that independence is best for Scotland, of course the issue won’t go away.
A Yes victory will be forever. Independent nations don’t ever want to give up on their independence again. (Independent countries that aren’t nations — such as East Germany — might, but that’s a completely different story.) Once you’re independent, you’ll get used to it, and you’ll never want to give it up again. Did the banking crash cause Ireland to beg for reunification with the UK? Or Iceland to ask Denmark to be readmitted into the Danish Realm? Of course not!
A Yes vote will bring an end to the current discussions about devolution and independence and make us focus on building the best Scotland possible. That in its own right is an important reason to vote Yes.