Left to men, this small, fractious nation would already be far down the road to separation from our neighbours.
A new poll suggests it's women who are putting the brake on Scotland's dream of independence, with around 62% of females against it, as opposed to 51% of men who are in favour. Asked to explain this gender divide, pundits from quarters as various as Mumsnet and the University of Strathclyde have suggested women are instinctively more "risk averse" than males, and more apprehensive about the idea of Scotland going solo, a move described by one woman as "tribal".
The implication – you might as well say criticism – is that women are timorous beasties, hugging the fireside, rocking the pram and interested only in financial security for the family. When such challenging ideas as nationhood and self-determination come along, wee wifies would prefer to keep the status quo, imperfect though that is, than take a gamble on their own and their children's future.
Well, maybe women are more careful and cautious than men. But is that such a bad thing? If you look back through history, we've had good reason to be. It's men who have created wars, political turmoil and fiscal meltdown, wreaking national and personal havoc with their macho posturing and aggression. Meanwhile, it's women who've been left to pick up the pieces, as breadwinners have perished, or jobs evaporated. Not all examples are historic. Some believe Europe's current financial woes would be less severe had women been in charge of banks and economies.
I'm not convinced women are wiser than men, although I think we're more conciliatory. What can be said is that there's nothing intrinsically anti-nationalist about the way women see the world. One of the earliest champions of Scottish independence was Englishwoman Wendy Wood, who campaigned vigorously throughout her life, and went on hunger strike in the cause of Home Rule. In the same era, Winnie Ewing scored a famous victory for the SNP when she won a seat in the 1967 by-election in Hamilton. Then there's Margo MacDonald, former SNP MP, now MSP, and a politician of unusual courage and conviction. And, of course, there's unflappable Nicola Sturgeon, who looks neither anxious nor arrogant, simply calmly confident that independence is the way ahead.
So if it's not chromosomal inadequacy that makes many women baulk at independence, what is it? I blame both sides for the narrow way they are concentrating on finances. To date, all talk of independence has been dominated by countervailing claims that Scotland will be better or worse off, depending on which position bolsters their case. Economists and business experts on each side are regularly trotted out to pronounce on things they are little better qualified to assess than a midwife or manicurist. If predicting the economy was a science, we wouldn't be in the mess we're in right now. No-one, in other words, can be fully trusted on the subject of economic advantage or loss.
Nor can anybody predict the future, regardless of whether we are independent or still in the Union. For everyone, but especially women whose voting habits are less entrenched, the discussion about independence needs to be more elevated. There should be serious and meaningful debate about the fundamental political issues at stake. These are the bedrock of the decision voters will take, yet so far I've heard nothing of substance from either party.
In essence, the question is profoundly existential but exceedingly simple: do we believe Scotland is an independent nation? And if we do, is it time for us to govern everything within our borders? If the answer to both is yes, then the economic arguments, while important, are surely secondary. They certainly should not be dominating the agenda.
Campaigners, thus, have only themselves to blame if they cannot woo the female vote. Women can be every bit as politically passionate as men when we believe in something. If the idea as outlined by the independence lobby does not appeal, it's not because we're timid, but that we remain unconvinced. Those charged with delivering independence are running an uninspiring – you might say cautious – campaign, but that's hardly our fault.
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