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Scottish Referendum: 'Two Scotlands have emerged'

A highlander hold up a Scottish Saltire flag Image copyright Getty Images

Questions of national identity have been raised after Scotland's referendum. BBC special correspondent Allan Little considers the campaign and its fallout.

The Scotland my grandparents, born in the first decade of the 20th Century, lived in, was the Scotland of the Empire.

Even in our remote little village, which seemed impossibly distant even from Glasgow, was connected intimately to the great wide world through the shared global enterprise of the British Empire.

My parents' generation, born in the 1930s, lived as children through the Second World War, from which Britain emerged with immense moral and international stature.

Theirs was also the Britain of the post-war welfare state. In the Scotland of my youth, the British state was still digging coal, building ships, milling steel.

Empire, industry, world war, welfare state: those were the powerful things that locked Scotland into the Union, that gave generations of Scottish people a sense of partnership in a common purpose.

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Image caption 'No' supporters celebrating the result of the referendum

In my own adult lifetime that sense of partnership has diminished. The Better Together campaign won by a clear and decisive margin. In the end the independence case argued by the Scottish government failed to convince a majority.

Its plan for a currency union with the rest of the UK was probably its fatal flaw, causing trepidation in the minds of many voters.

But is that it - job done, union saved? No-one thinks that any more.

Think of the heavy artillery that was pressed into service in defence of the Union in the last weeks of the campaign.

Almost all the mainstream media were hostile to independence.

The banks would move to London. The financial services industry would collapse. Mortgage payments would rise. Scotland would have to get in the queue behind Kosovo for EU membership. The oil was running out.

There would be no pound in your pocket and the supermarkets would put their prices up. We love you Scotland, London politicians said, but if you vote "Yes" we will send armed guards to the border.

And still 45% voted "Yes". I think the three main parties at Westminster should be worried about that.

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Image caption In Glasgow 'Yes' won by 194,779 to the 'No' campaign's 169,347.

Even 15 years ago, when the Scottish Parliament was established, that would have been unthinkable. Labour should be particularly worried.

Forty per cent of their traditional voters crossed to the "Yes" camp. Glasgow and Dundee both had "Yes" majorities.

You can denounce those people as "narrow nationalists" if you like (and Labour did, again and again).

But you can't move at a Yes Scotland event for people coming up to you to tell you they are not nationalists and do not vote for the SNP.

Westminster politicians who are serious about the long-term health of the Union should understand that this has gone way beyond so-called narrow nationalism.

'Carnival campaign'

Those who voted "Yes" have spent the last two years pioneering a new way of engaging in politics; two years imagining a better country. They are not going to un-imagine it now.

Their campaign often seemed more like a carnival than a political rally. That carnival is going to go on.

The "45 per cent", they have started to call themselves on social media. I don't think that genie is going back in its bottle.

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Image caption There was disappointment for 'Yes' supporters after the result was announced

Professor Adam Tomkins of Glasgow University, a passionate and thoughtful Better Together supporter, said something wise on Friday, within hours of the result being declared.

"Any 'No' voter thinking of gloating should remember that 1.6 million of our fellow citizens voted 'Yes'," he said.

"I won't be gloating because I have many friends on the 'Yes' side and they are hurting today."

It was a reminder to me of the predominant spirit of the remarkable process that Scotland has been through.

'Reconciliation will come'

It is true that there has been menacing and intimidating behaviour. JK Rowling posted on her website a measured, considered and careful defence of the Union in remarks that generously acknowledged the merits of the independence case.

It made me proud that she was a Scot not by accident but by choice. And she was subjected to vile and mostly anonymous abuse.

Colin and Chris Weir, the Ayrshire couple who won a fortune on the lottery and bankrolled much of the "Yes" campaign attracted a degree of public venom too that had an unpleasant anti-working class tone to it.

But that has not been the predominant tone. For the truth is that most families - my own included - have both "Yes" and "No" voters in them.

Two Scotlands have emerged and been articulated in the course of the last two years and most families contain both.

Many individuals feel a mixture of loyalties to both these Scotlands. It is not as binary as you might think. And that is why reconciliation will come.

I have spent much of my working life reporting violent revolution, upheaval and war.

"No bombs, no bullets, one egg", someone said on Twitter on Friday. "Well done Scotland."

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