You have to love the Scots for robustness. A referendum in Ontario on a new voting system in 2007 had so many strings attached that campaigns on both sides never really took off. In Scotland you have vibrant “Yes” and “No” camps involved in spirited intellectual sparring, shiny signs and big rallies.
Their civic engagement thermometer is at its zenith and we could all learn from the 97% registration rate and projected voter turnout of above 80 per cent.
Something else strikes me about this referendum. Scotland is heady in the afterglow of July’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow followed by the prestigious Ryder Cup. Patriotism is high and exhilaratingly vehement: unbridled pride and enthusiasm. It shows.
When you look at footage of tonight’s historic Independence referendum, notice how clean the streets are in the background.
Try to find litter on the landscape. It will be scarce. That’s because this proud, feisty, little country embraced a national anti-litter program as a serious goal. Towards A Litter-Free Scotland is a laudable effort by government to reduce the amount and rate of littering. Education, fines – a one-two punch. To this distant observer, the strategy appears to be working.
But we’ll see if the losing side leaves any of its leaflets and placards on the ground tonight.