It was never meant to be this way.

What if Mel McGibson had marshalled the troops at Stirling Bridge and tried a different type of inspiring rhetoric:

‘Imagine yourselves lying in your deathbeds, many years from now. Would you trade in all the days from this one to that, to stand here and fight, to say to your enemy that you may take our lives, but you will never take our £500!’. I don’t know if Scots had short arms and long sporrans back then, but it doesn’t exactly get my patriotic juices flowing.

Amidst this whimsy I am referring of course to the poll news yesterday (commissioned by the Scottish Government, curiously) that 32% of Scots are in favour of independence but 65% would vote Yes if Scotland proved to be £500 a year better off. I know times are tough but that’s a rather tawdry way to go about choosing your constitutional destiny, is it not? That said, I do wonder what the result would have been if the dangling trinket was 500 Euros rather than pounds. Isn’t it SNP policy to take us into the Euro before too long? I’m just saying…

Anyway, it will be a bit sad if this is what the next few years are going to come down to, a contest over who can convince Scots who they’d have more money with as their Government. It’s like some sort of unseemly Tesco vs Co-op price war. I can just see Salmond and Cameron jostling for position at Fort Kinnaird giving out clubcards. I understand that people are struggling to make ends meet and the prospect of more money in the wallet each month is appealing but noone really knows with any degree of certainty how much better/worse off Scotland would be after independence so what we end up with is all sides just yanking each other around, and the public seems to not only be caught in the middle, but falling for it gooing ga-ga over the shiniest entreatment before them.

I’m often disappointed at the idea that the richest in the UK have to be placated with financial incentives to stay here so if Scots were also seen to be selling their future to the highest bidder, that would be doubly depressing, triply depressing infact as this poll result will inevitably open to the door to more scare stories about how Scotland will be a basketcase of ah place if it goes it alone.

I suppose I should guard against being too cynical. After all, my personal belief is that Scotland will be better off as an independent country, albeit partially off the back of a foolhardy strategy surrounding its oil revenues and despite seemingly shunning the sensible option of a separate Scottish currency. Either way, would I be voting No if I thought Scotland would be worse off if independent? I like to hope not, I like to think that this choice runs deeper than the pound signs (or Euro signs) that are seemingly flashing in front of our eyes.

The prospect of building a new country in the mould of what Scots envisage a country should be, distinct from (but not separate to) the rest of the UK and Europe at large, is a tantalising prospect, an adventure that we can all tell the next generation(s) about and trust them to continue. I genuinely love the idea of a Scottish call to arms, a clarion call to Scots across the world to come ‘home’ and help build something special. It is a message built on emotion, on romance, on ambition. It is not a message that is built on creaming a few extra hundred quid for yourself.

Not that the SNP should be castigated if they do opt to tap into the strategy of promising more money for all after independence, it has to give the people what they want to get by, that’s how democratic politics works after all. Let’s be honest, a win is a win and, come the referendum, there isn’t really such a thing as winning ugly. The game is ensuring that your objective is appealing to the majority of the public, irrespective of how base their instincts may be. There is also a realism that has to be faced here; how many countries have chosen independence from a larger country and faced a poorer future? I am thinking of South Sudan, of UAE, of Norway. Plenty of oil, plenty of profit and plenty of people voting in favour of secession. Is that really so bad?

Either way, I remain hopeful that Scots can in time dig a little deeper and harden their opinion on the matter one way or the other. Voting Yes doesn’t come with a money-back guarantee, it is a decision taken for richer or poorer, so maybe we should take the £ signs out of the debate a bit more.