IT had never been the intention of Better Together – or “Project Fear” as they termed themselves – to inspire or uplift. They weren’t interested in making Scots feel positive about Britain, nor about themselves. Not even they had faith in the UK. Their polling had told them that the Scots’ hesitant “Britishness” was too thin a base on which to campaign: only 40% felt an emotional attachment to the Union, claimed Blair McDougall, CEO of Better Together. Their research revealed that the thing which worried Scots about independence most of all – unsurprising, given 300 years of relative powerlessness – was the economy. For this reason, in contrast to the Yes campaign, Better Together largely eschewed the cultural front to exploit instead the Scots’ deep fiscal insecurities.

Yet what did this strategy show but culture itself at work?

The chief proponents of the No campaign – McDougall, Alistair Darling, Gordon Brown, Ruth Davidson et al – were not Unionists because they feared the prospects for an independent Scotland. They feared the prospects for an independent Scotland because they were Unionists. This is cultural.

The No campaign’s activist base was the same: a small but committed collection of party die-hards and ideological Brits, for whom the economic arguments were largely a fig leaf covering their emotional loyalties to the UK.

All the while, of course, they were telling us how very proud they were to be Scottish. And who knows, maybe they were. But the Scotland they were proud of was one that was subject to London, one which sat down, shut up and did what it was told. A Scotland which didn’t do this had to be fought.

Again, cultural.

Unionists repeatedly point to social attitudes surveys which show little difference between the opinions held by Scots and the English on most points. But why the stark difference between the two nations when it comes to standing up for themselves, even though England has spent exactly the same time in the UK as Scotland?

Can we imagine that England would for one second tolerate rule from Edinburgh in the way that Scots have tolerated, and in some cases craved, rule from London?

There can only be two explanations: either England is indeed much stronger financially than Scotland as a result of the Union – in which case the simple question “how?” must be asked – or Scotland’s economic uncertainties have been contrived and repeatedly whispered to us, and a dependent mindset, rather than an independent one, fostered. Neither of these conclusions exactly cover the Union in glory, but the latter is a cultural effect, which speaks of layer upon layer of successful British conditioning over centuries.

It’s not that economics are unimportant, it’s just that people – always, everywhere, in every context – are far more subject to cultural effects than they realise. Otherwise, why were Scots inclined to believe what was told to them by vested interests originating in the financial and political quarters of London – who have been repeatedly exposed by recent historical events to be charlatans of the first order – to give credence to this set of numbers rather than that one, to invest authority in scare-stories dreamt up by PR agencies funded by the Tories and the landed gentry, which have since been proven bogus?

Because the cultural conditions created by the Union have made it so.

The perennial line, which British nationalists need to make us believe above all else, is that no matter how much the UK declines, no matter how hopeless life feels for its citizens, or how far to the right its governments drift, or whatever economic shocks it is subjected to, or whatever crimes and corruptions are revealed about its ruling elite, an independent Scotland will always be worse.

These are stories being constructed and narrated to us, which purport to be about balance sheets but are sustained by sheer belief.

Narratives are countered by narratives. The only thing which can defeat a well-told lie is a well-told truth. This is why so many artists – poets, musicians, playwrights, actors, painters, designers, rappers – who create stories and so instinctively know when one rings hollow decided to throw their lot in with the Yes campaign in 2014, and why Better Together and their outriders in the media had to conduct a relentless rear-guard action to discredit the biggest artistic movement which Scotland has ever seen...

For the full (much longer) piece on the cultural impact of the indyref, pre-order your copy today.