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My escape to Tuscany in event of a No vote

AS the days tick by towards you-know-what, the debate's temperature rises and more and more folk begin to realise that, whatever the outcome, things will never be quite the same again.

It has been a hallmark of the naysayers to insist that, if they don't get their way, then they may stomp off in a huff. This applies to individuals as well as captains of industry who, when all else fails, are given to threatening their employees with dire consequences if they don't reject independence. "We will have no option but to leave for pastures new," they insist. "Trust us, we're businessmen."

Needless to say, we have been here before. On the road to the re-convening of the parliament, deafening were the voices of apocalypse. Were these hysterical souls to be believed, we would become the economic basket case of Europe, like Belarus or Albania. Not only would the pennies in our purses turn to buttons, we would be lucky to have enough to eat and drink. Before too long we'd be dependent on emergency food drops and the ministrations of Medecins Sans Frontieres.

This is not, of course, a prospect to be welcomed. Consequently, 700,000 people have let it be known that, in the event of a Yes vote come September 19, they intend to leave Scotia. Should that come to pass it will be an exodus of biblical proportions. The entire population of Glasgow will take the high road south, their goods and chattels strapped to their buckling backs.

Where, one wonders, will they go? A few of them - well, two to be honest - have told me that they have already done a recce on Carlisle. Everything there, they say, is hunky dory.

Having visited it recently, I can confirm that it is a nice enough town. It has the usual shops, the usual space cadets wandering around mid-afternoon with infinite time to kill.

Whether it has the charity to accommodate 700,000 traumatised refugees with incomprehensible accents and no jobs waiting for them is a moot point. There is a limit to human kindness. Then there's the pressure that will be put on the housing stock. Most of the folk to whom I spoke were more inclined to move to Scotland, land of milk, honey, free prescriptions and no university tuition fees, than champion the charms of an England that is falling increasingly in thrall to Nigel Farage and his legion of swivel-eyed loons, homophobes and xenophobes.

Such, however, has been the media's concern with those determined to maintain the status quo that it has not bothered to enquire what those in favour of disuniting the UK will do should they fail in the attempt to reinvent Scotland. Perhaps this is because, despite the polls and the cataract of negativity thrown at them, they remain positive and optimistic. Defeat cannot be countenanced for the alternative (stasis, apathy, complacency, enervation, dependency, frustration) is unbearable.

But it's necessary, as Alex Salmond has conceded, to have a plan B, to know what one will do should all go awry a month from now. Ought one to stay and continue the struggle or is it better to depart, and let those who are happy to allow our neighbours run the show as usual prove they were right and that we really are better together?

Increasingly, I am coming to the view that it might not be a bad idea to take a sabbatical from Scotland. That, certainly, is what many in the No camp have done for some years.

They left for whatever reason and, ever since, have carped and patronised from afar, they being so superiorly gifted and progressive and successful.

The irony is that all the fresh, innovative, imaginative ideas have come from those eager for change. They are the ones who want to make a fairer, more equitable society, and who have inspired people to become involved in the hope of making that happen. They have made an often selfless investment.

The same cannot be said for many on the No side. What they want to do is protect what they have, which is why they put so much emphasis on the economy. But there's more at stake than a few quid. It's about who we are and what we want to be. I'll be in my Tuscan palazzo if you want to discuss it further.

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