Be afraid; be very afraid.

It has been the media's message throughout this campaign. The banks will leave, food prices will rocket, Scotland will be thrown out of Nato, the European Union, the Eurovision Song Contest. Scots have been battered around the head with warnings of chaos and division, savage racism, fighting in the streets, the burning of books, children turned away from hospitals, a halt to cancer research. There shall be a Great Depression.

The media coverage of this campaign is easy to parody. But that doesn't mean it has been harmless. I've spend much of the past week being ticked off on TV by patronising London-based commentators and presenters for my claim that this has been one of the most peaceful and democratic independence movements in history. Not a window has been smashed, not a punch thrown. Yet look at Northern Ireland, the Basque country, Ukraine ...

Even the chairman of the Scottish Police Federation has said the campaign has been "robust but overwhelmingly good-natured". "Ah" - one London newspaper commentator responded - "you can't always believe the police, look at Hillsborough". The idea that the Scottish police would try to cover up Yes violence is, of course, absurd; as was the complaint of "lack of police action" from former First Minister, Labour's Jack McConnell, when there was nothing for them to act on.

Well, that's all finished now. The Scottish people didn't respond to the scares, didn't allow themselves to be provoked. They kept their own counsel, listened to the arguments and turned to social media. I criticised the Yes campaign's official media operation for failing to address and rebut the negative messages, allowing the No campaign to dominate the news cycle, which it did for fully two years on Europe, the pound, the deficit, banks and oil revenues.

But the Zen approach to media relations appears to have been the right one. Certainly, the Yes campaign was right not get involved in trading nasties - even though there were plenty of nasties to trade, like the NUJ's Yes-supporting members who were threatened with violence this week. The secret of the Yes campaign's success has been its refusal to budge from the positive. When the Unionists roared, threatened and condemned, the Yes campaign said - in terms - be happy.

And in the end, the roars turned to desperate pleas. The threats turned to vows and promises, as the powers-that-be discovered the people had simply stopped listening to them. Shocked by the opinion polls, the UK party leaders offered to deliver the Earth, the moon the stars, anything - just for God's sake vote No. The Prime Minister has had to go on bended knee and beg Scots to remain in the Union.

Some voters will almost certainly respond to these eleventh-hour appeals, believing the UK party leaders can't all be telling fibs. This may work with the many undecided voters. After all, most Scots have always told opinion polls that they don't want to leave the UK but want economic powers within a federal UK "wrapper". Perhaps Scots voters will now believe that they have, with this week's solemn vow signed by the three UK party leaders, forced devo-max back on to the ballot paper.

The problem, however, is not just that these promises have come at the last minute from a UK establishment in a state of panic, but that the inflated rhetoric of the vow cannot be reconciled with the minimal changes actually proposed. The three UK parties each have different views of what new powers are appropriate for Holyrood.

The Liberal Democrats have long argued for federalism, the Scottish Tories have offered a kind of fiscal autonomy, and Labour pledged 5p in the pound more in tax-raising powers and an upper limit that can be raised but not lowered by the Scottish Parliament. If there is a No vote, the parties are likely to agree to disagree and legislate for Labour's package, the only one on which there is a consensus. But this is not federalism and represents barely a tinkering around the edges of the constitution.

What of the new Constitutional Convention that was promised by Douglas Alexander? Presumably this has been cancelled in order to press some minimal devo bill through a reluctant Westminster before May, because there is no way such an institution could be convened and deliberate in so short a time. And if such a convention were to meet, it would assuredly demand more than Labour's package, probably more than all three combined. Yet there is already growing opposition to this minimal package, which includes those senior MPs who told the London Evening Standard yesterday that they "will keep silent for the sake of the pro-Union campaign until Thursday".

Appended to this week's vow was an apparent promise that the Barnett Formula will be retained in such a manner that Scottish public spending cannot be reduced as a consequence of any changes made to tax-varying powers. If this is the case, and it appeared to be what Douglas Alexander was offering yesterday on BBC's World at One, then it is hard to see it being endorsed by Westminster MPs. Too many MPs, Labour and Conservative, believe (incorrectly) that the Scots have been getting an unfair share of public spending. They have been waiting for a No vote to cut Barnett back and to reduce Scottish representation in Westminster. According to a poll in City AM, half of English voters expect Scottish spending to be cut after a No vote.

I don't know where this is all going. But it seems to me the simplest course of action now would be to say to Scotland: we get it. Have the economic powers of a state like Quebec or Oregon, or even Denmark or Norway. We're not going to hold you back. When you've had a think about it, let's talk about how we can continue to co-operate on this little island of ours.

We'll set aside the tough talk and try to work together on shared defence, foreign affairs, trade currency and all the issues that we face together. But we will do this as equals, not de haut en bas, not big-to-small, not on the basis of threats.

This is how the future could be. Unfortunately that is not what is on offer. I hope if the vote is No today that the Unionists might have been given such a shock that they realise the UK constitution has to be radically reformed, root and branch, in a federal direction. But I fear the in-built small-c conservatism of Westminster means that it will never happen.

After a No vote, we will see a return to politics as usual as Westminster becomes preoccupied with the next UK General Election and then the proposed referendum on British membership of the EU. In a parliament of 650, Scottish interests are always going to be marginalised.

And the UK media which has suddenly become so interested in constitutional reform? After the tent cities and media hangouts pack up and go, they will forget all about it. Scotland will lapse back into what it has always been for many of them: a tartan theme park with bad weather and some truculent employees.