The only information I've been getting about the upcoming vote on Scottish independence came from The Economist, which for weeks intimated that this wasn't really a contest. Yes, the polls were tightening, but there was no way the Scots were going to break away from the United Kingdom. It just wasn't going to happen. In the last issue the articles and authors seemed not so sure of the outcome.
The impossible is now almost a reality:
One week from now, it’s entirely possible that the United Kingdom will, in effect, no longer exist in its current form. Next Thursday the people of Scotland will vote Yes or No on the question, “Should Scotland be an independent country?” — and according to recent polls, an increasing number of Scots are ready to end the 307-year union between their country and the rest of Britain. If the decision is indeed Yes, then the details will take a year or so to thrash out, but a political earthquake will be triggered that will shake Britain to its foundations, with the shockwaves felt across Europe and much of the world.This is potentially a seismic event.
Calls for a vote on independence have been growing since a Scottish Parliament, with powers devolved from Westminster, was created in 1998. For much of the time since the independence referendum was announced at the end of last year, the No campaign had held a comfortable majority in the region of 60 percent to 40 percent; however, the polls have narrowed in recent weeks, and last week the Yes campaign took the lead in a poll for the first time.
The Yes campaign’s message is that it’s time for Scotland to strike out on its own, and that the country can achieve more as an independent nation than as part of the UK. Its leaders envision the country as a Scandinavian-style land of plenty along the lines of Norway and Sweden, economically prosperous but with a generous welfare state funded by income from North Sea oil and gas — 90 percent of the UK’s oil reserves lie in what would likely become Scottish waters in the event of a Yes vote.
I've heard it said that without the Scots, there won't be a Labour government in Britain for a generation. To give a US example, it would be as if the Northeast and Pacific Coast states seceded (there wouldn't be a Democratic-controlled US government in a generation) or if the South seceded (there wouldn't be a Republican-controlled US government in forever).
When we look at the NATO alliance and our closest allies, this really is a BFD.
What's next? Do the Basque, and Catalan, break away from Spain? Do the Quebecois give it another try? Does this justify Russian expansion into Ukraine? Does Iraq divide itself?
As Instapundit might say, I guess it's a good thing we have Smart Diplomacy® on the case.