The referendum in Scotland is poised dramatically. Any copywriter, however, will tell you that the word ‘Yes’ is a fantastic asset for those who want independence. We use it against tick boxes to encourage people to sign up: ‘Yes! I do want to enjoy a lifelong subscription to…” The territory of Yes is a broad sunlit highland. It is optimism condensed into a word. For by saying ‘Yes’ you are in the affirmative, you are saying yes to life. It pinpoints the moment you decide to act positively. Even the sound the word makes rises optimistically.
NO, of course, can be powerful too. It is a response to danger, the resistance to being imposed upon. NO is the assertion that the status quo should be maintained. It is negative, dour. Its vowel sound a muffled howl of grief. NO THANKS, as sported on the lapel badges of those like Alistair Darling who want to maintain the union, is even worse. It manages to appear prim, as if someone were waving away a plate of unsatisfactory shortbread biscuits.
If Scotland votes out of fear, surely it will vote No. If it votes out of optimism, and an assertion of its own identity, it has to vote Yes. This is not a political observation, just the nature of the words themselves.