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Tolerant Scots show how to hold referendum

I am sure I was not the only person here to feel a rictus of jealousy at the Scottish referendum.

Not because of the poll itself but for the – generally speaking – Scots' sense of tolerance, seriousness, enthusiasm and energy in the debate before the big day.

Could anyone imagine our own border poll being such a positive experience? Or even the prospect of more devolved powers leading to a greater sense of purpose at Stormont?

I suspect not. The leadership that led us through 40 years of low level civil war is still in place and so, sadly, are the deadly tribal ideologies which govern the voters' imagination here.

Even after 20 years of "peace" in Northern Ireland we really haven't progressed far enough to have a committed but friendly debate about our place in the United Kingdom.

It is a grim irony that many moderate democrats actually fear the idea of a poll or more powers at Stormont.

They are right to be worried because they know that sectarian rabble-rousing is just around the corner.

So well done Scotland – only 20 miles but an imaginative world away.


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