That the Union is imperilled is one of the current maxims of public discourse; it has become as prevailing a mantra in Tory circles as an earlier tocsin, in the reign of Queen Anne: “The Church in danger.” While the future of the United Kingdom is indeed threatened by Scottish separatism, the reiteration of alarmist forecasts of imminent dissolution, by the people supposedly most committed to the preservation of the Union, is cowardly and irresponsible, increasingly in danger of becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The croaking must cease and give place to a coherent, calculated and cool-headed strategy for maintaining the United Kingdom by highlighting its benefits to all four component nations. It needs to be an integrated, four-nation strategy, not a haphazard reactive exercise in fighting bushfires as they spring up in different locations. An umbrella programme is required for all of the UK, taking account of the very different cultures of the member countries.