An interesting summary of the independence debate in Scotland from The Economist:
Put up or shut up. That is the risky (but arguably rather canny) message that David Cameron has sent to the pro-independence head of the Scottish devolved government in Edinburgh, Alex Salmond. Specifically, Mr Cameron has announced that the British government and Westminster Parliament are willing to give Mr Salmond the referendum on Scotland’s future that he says he wants — as long as it is a proper, straight up-and-down vote on whether to stay in the United Kingdom or leave, and is held sooner rather than later.
It is not that Mr Cameron wants to break the three hundred year old union between London and Edinburgh. Both emotionally and intellectually, he is fiercely committed to the union as a source of strength for both Scotland and Britain, insist Conservative colleagues who have discussed the question with him. Publicly, he has pledged to oppose Scottish independence with “every fibre” of his being.
But Mr Cameron and his ministers also feel that Scotland has been drifting in a constitutional limbo, ever since Mr Salmond’s Scottish National Party (SNP) won an outright majority at Scottish parliamentary elections in 2011 (a feat that was supposed to be impossible, under the complex voting system used in Scotland). The SNP campaigned on a simple manifesto pledge to hold a referendum on the future of Scotland. But after his thumping win Mr Salmond slammed on the brakes and started talking about holding a consultative vote in the second half of his term in office, ie, some time between 2014 and 2016.