Scotland independence vote: Scots show world how to settle nationhood questions

As I write this here in Edinburgh at on Friday morning, the first thing to note is that the referendum on independence is all that everyone has been talking about in Scotland for months.

Here's how I can best describe the all-consuming nature of this event for Americans: it has been like the presidential election, and the Super Bowl, and the finale of both "Breaking Bad," and  "American Idol," and the O.J. Simpson trial -- all rolled into one. It has been everywhere and everything.

Opinions have been given on every radio and TV channel, in every pub, in every town center, and in the windows of houses, cars and businesses. And of course it is all over social media.


But more than the oral and visual representations, there has been something even more powerful and obvious, and that is the overwhelming atmosphere of engagement in the process, and a belief that things can be changed for the better.

As I watched the results come in during the wee hours of Friday morning, the most astonishing statistic was the percentage of Scots that had participated in the process. At the last U.K. parliamentary election there was a turnout of 64% of the Scottish population. It has been reported that the average turnout on Thursday was 85% and several regions of Scotland exceeded 90%. This is unprecedented.

Accordingly, there is no denying that the people of Scotland have spoken. It appears that the majority have rejected the notion that Scotland should be an independent country at this moment in time. For me, as one of the founders of Americans for an Independent Scotland, this is a very sad day.

But I prefer to look at this positively. Two years ago I was one of the original signatories to a Scottish Declaration of Independence in Edinburgh. At that time the polls suggested that less than 33% of the country supported independence. Thursday, at least 45% voted in favor of separation.

So the momentum towards independence is only going one way.

In a last minute effort to secure a no vote, the main parties at Westminster promised Scotland new powers. No one is arguing that Scotland should have fewer powers.

Scotland will have more control over its own affairs and in time, there will be another referendum, and ultimately I believe that Scotland will be an independent country.

Above all, whatever happens I am incredibly proud of Scotland right now. Not just for the fact that everyone was so engaged in the process, or for the new found self-belief, but for the way that this whole process has been conducted.

Yes there have been arguments, fallings-out, and a few broken eggs, but there has been no blood shed and no violence.

The national debate and the referendum journey has been a model for self-determination that will be the envy of the world. That such a fundamental question was resolved so democratically is of monumental credit to us. The world is watching on in admiration.

Let me stress that again. The people of Scotland have shown the world how fundamental questions of nationhood and identity should be addressed and resolved. This is a hugely significant achievement.

One might even suggest that the fact that the Scots managed such a difficult process proves that the we are more than capable of running our own country. Such arguments will continue to be made. This is not the final chapter.

It has been a long night here in Edinburgh, and it is too soon to have a proper perspective on it all. But my feeling right now is that I will look back on this period of Scottish history with immense affection and pride.

Ultimately I expect that Thursday's vote will be seen as another step forward towards independence. For almost half of the Scottish population, this is not the end. Rather, this is the final wake-up call for the United Kingdom.