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Labour doesn’t understand that by siding with the Tories on the referendum it alienated many voters forever. Shambolic and divided: how Better Together nearly fell apart. The crowd erupted; he was the hero of the crucial eve-of-poll hour, but Gordon Brown, sweating from exertion, buffeted by the attentions of grateful supporters at the end of a speech that, perhaps more than any had helped save the union, wanted the ear of his former chancellor – and former friend.

Shambolic and divided: how Better Together nearly fell apart

"You deserve a lot of credit for this," Brown mumbled to Alistair Darling, as the raucous cheers finally receded in Glasgow's Maryhill Community Central Hall. The response from Darling, leader of the cross-party Better Together campaign, whose 2011 memoirs told so candidly of being a victim of Brown's "brutal" Downing Street regime, was lost to the noise. Alex Salmond: a solitary man, a singular vision. Like all the lonely people, Alex Salmond's solitude only really becomes apparent when he is surrounded by others.

Alex Salmond: a solitary man, a singular vision

On Friday he embarked on a helicopter tour of Aberdeen, Inverness, Dundee and Perth, a bewildering eight-hour dash around the citadels of his beloved north-east Scotland. He was the home-town boy entering the home stretch of a race he has been running for 40 years. Everywhere he went he was treated like a champion, their champion, receiving some last-minute encouragement from his "ain folk" before turning to face the eternal and malign foe. But it is in these circumstances, surrounded by love, in which his loneliness is at its most acute. It is not a desolate loneliness such as those who feel abandoned and alienated and forgotten might experience. You watch him striding towards the oustretched arms of a gaggle of activists, taking their hugs, bathing in their acclaim, doing their selfies.

A yes vote in Scotland would unleash the most dangerous thing of all - hope. Of all the bad arguments urging the Scots to vote no – and there are plenty – perhaps the worst is the demand that Scotland should remain in the union to save England from itself.

A yes vote in Scotland would unleash the most dangerous thing of all - hope

Responses to my column last week suggest this wretched apron-strings argument has some traction among people who claim to belong to the left. Consider what it entails: it asks a nation of 5.3 million to forgo independence to exempt a nation of 54 million from having to fight its own battles. In return for this self-denial, the five million must remain yoked to the dismal politics of cowardice and triangulation that cause the problems from which we ask them to save us.

“A UK without Scotland would be much less likely to elect any government of a progressive hue,” former Labour minister Brian Wilson claimed in the Guardian last week. Here, to Wilson and his fellow flinchers, is what solidarity meant while they were in office. Where, in Scotland’s Labour party, are the Keir Hardies and Jimmy Reids of our time? Scots voting no to independence would be an astonishing act of self-harm. Imagine the question posed the other way round.

Scots voting no to independence would be an astonishing act of self-harm

An independent nation is asked to decide whether to surrender its sovereignty to a larger union. It would be allowed a measure of autonomy, but key aspects of its governance would be handed to another nation. It would be used as a military base by the dominant power and yoked to an economy over which it had no control. The referendum campaign's not toxic, but intoxicating. Fewer than 100 sunsets now until dawn breaks on Scotland's fateful day and the campaign has just become reassuringly and pleasingly poisonous.

The referendum campaign's not toxic, but intoxicating

It has been a rather splendid couple of weeks in the independence referendum campaign. If this sort of momentum and tone are maintained for the next 93 days, I shall be sorry to see 18 September come and go. Indeed, I'm almost tempted to urge a no vote so that we can gather together the circus, strike up the band and do it all over again. The campaign hasn't got toxic at all; rather, it has become intoxicating. We first had Gordon Brown galumphing around Scotland, purporting to love the country in ways that were not apparent during his wretched time in office at Westminster.

Now, though, he wants us to soar with extra new powers… just so long as his old chums in London hold the purse strings. Scottish independence would change England more than Scotland. Alarmed by the aggressive timbre of some of Scotland's pro-independence debate, the writer JK Rowling has donated £1m to the No campaign.

Scottish independence would change England more than Scotland

Or "Bitter Together", as some of us like to call it. Her point was proved as Scottish separatists swarmed all over social networks, hurling abuse in response to news of the donation. Scoundrels, all of them, with patriotism their last refuge. (That's the coinage of Englishman Samuel Johnson, recorded for posterity by a Scotsman, James Boswell.

Which is nice.) Rowling is right on this. Scottish referendum: magnitude of the question galvanises debate. When Mark Coburn cycled into St Enoch Square in the centre of Glasgow on a recent Sunday afternoon, there were cheers, balloons and the promise of a shower and a pint.

Scottish referendum: magnitude of the question galvanises debate

The 40-year-old postman was completing a 1,421-mile bike ride from Rome – across France, and up through England – to home, raising more than £8,000 for local groups campaigning for a yes vote in September's referendum. Dear Scotland: here are 76 things we'd like to apologise for, love England. 1 Sorry for calling every last one of you "Jock".

We now know it's offensive, especially if you're a woman. 2 So sorry for the years of heartless Conservative governments that you never voted for that ripped the heart out of the Scottish mining, steel and shipbuilding industries, butchered public services and imposed an unwonted, dismal neo-liberal ethos on a land to which such a callous political and economic philosophy was inimical. 3 And for making you guinea pigs for Margaret Thatcher's disastrous poll tax, inflicting it on you a year before England and Wales, and then – somehow! Scottish referendum: why Chomsky's yes is more interesting than Bowie's no. 'My intuition favours independence,' Chomsky told the Russian news agency RIA Novosti.

Scottish referendum: why Chomsky's yes is more interesting than Bowie's no

Photograph: Graeme Robertson It wasn't only the anarcho-syndicalists who got excited. In lending his support to Scottish independence, Noam Chomsky generated a palpable buzz among yes activists: "Noam" even started to trend among Glasgow's twitterati. "My intuition favours independence," Chomsky told the Russian news agency RIA Novosti, adding that he had "been following the debate with interest". But that, apparently, was the limit of his contribution. The story is at once strange and predictable. So what do the English think of Scottish independence? Kevin McKenna takes in the view from the Rising Sun pub at Cleeve Hill, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire.

So what do the English think of Scottish independence?

Scotland likely to choose independence, foreign diplomats believe. Foreign diplomats believe Scotland is likely to vote for independence after a series of opinion polls have shown an increase in support for a yes vote in September's referendum.

Scotland likely to choose independence, foreign diplomats believe

Sources in the diplomatic corps in Edinburgh, which is home to nearly 50 consulates and diplomatic missions, have told the Guardian they think the tide of opinion has shifted significantly in recent months, after a noticeable swing against David Cameron's government and the no campaign. One senior diplomat, who asked not to be named, said he had believed last year that a yes vote was unlikely, but had since changed his mind. In his view "it is now likely, but not certain" that Scotland would vote yes in September, he said. Lord Robertson is trying to bully Scots into voting no in the referendum. ‘An anti-independence lead that was at 24 points last year is fast dissolving, and a succession of polls have the anti-unionist cause on more than 40%.’

Photograph: Afp/AFP/Getty Images If Scotland votes to break the union, the future of the west will be imperilled. Perhaps Lord Robertson would dispute such an apocalyptic spin on his Brookings Institution speech on Monday, but there is little hyperbolic exaggeration on my part. More power to Glasgow's online journalists. To those who know about these things, the signs and symbols that recently began to appear buried deep beneath the streets of Glasgow were unmistakable: the cybernats are coming to get us and our children are in peril.

It was these fears presumably that must have informed the decision of Strathclyde Partnership for Transport to outlaw a series of unique and paid-for adverts by the nationalist website Wings Over Scotland: "There are 37 national or daily newspapers in Scotland. Just five of them are owned in Scotland. Scottish referendum: could they make this any easier for the Nats? Is there any bribe or blandishment that the Tories will not use as the prospect of losing a quarter of their kingdom looms? In last week's budget, a sinister new low was reached by the Tories, brutish and un-British in its conception. It was an obvious response to recent polling on the independence referendum, which has consistently shown that working-class people are more likely to vote yes. Scottish independence is winning over uncommitted, says SNP. Margie Maxwell is no Scottish nationalist.

But she is Glaswegian, and intensely loyal with it. Whatever the result of Scotland's referendum, nothing will be the same. Britain rules, UKOK? It does not slip easily off the tongue and could be mispronounced. But government authorities have decided the four-letter phrase, "UKOK", is the perfect way to encourage tourists back to Britain. If I were a Scot, I might vote yes to independence. As it is, I can only plead with them to stay. Even before David Cameron had opened his mouth, a Scottish friend of mine got in touch. "Today reminds me of an old joke," his email began, "about a pilot announcing that he'll have to make an emergency landing in the sea. With seven months to go to the Scottish referendum, the scaremongering has begun.

Suddenly I feel we are the most loathed nation on earth. Everyone used to love us. Are politicians right to block currency union with an independent Scotland? Scotland and England: we need each other, in sickness and in health. There can be something akin to love between peoples. Memo to George Osborne: England's bullying of Scots will drive us into the Yes camp. Scottish independence: opponents are like rabbits in SNP's headlights. Scots Labour leader derided for casting independence gains as 'wee things' A Scottish Labour party attack on Alex Salmond's plans for currency union imploded after the party's leader, Johann Lamont, derided nationalist opposition to Trident, the Iraq war and the bedroom tax as simply "wee things" offered by independence.

Lamont was lambasted by the first minister for her "mind-boggling" phrase, which immediately began trending on Twitter in Scotland with the hashtag #weethings as Scottish government ministers, nationalist MSPs and pro-independence campaigners, accused the Scottish Labour leader of a major own goal. Please, Scotland, vote Yes and take us northerners with you. Act of Union, 1707. Still nailed in my head from history A-level. Three centuries on, could Scotland really be about to tear it up? I hope so. Labour will be tougher than Tories on benefits, vows Rachel Reeves. Dude, where's my North Sea oil money? The poverty of the Better Together campaign.

Scotland's Labour traditions are the real battleground for the yes vote. Scotland is going it alone – regardless of the referendum. An independent Scotland must own its energy sources. Scottish independence is fast becoming the only option. Scotland's Iron Lady fomented revolution too. Scottish Nationalists can rest easy, given the opposition. Karie Murphy withdraws as Labour candidate for Falkirk after union row. Nigel Farage's Scottish hounding was an antidote to fawning media treatment. MoD fears for Trident base if Scotland says yes to independence.

Nigel Farage flees barrage of abuse from Edinburgh protesters. Scotland: Labour really needs to get its act together. Scotland's EU bombshell? It's bunkum from Barroso. Kevin McKenna: I wrote a piece on Scottish independence and hit 'send'. Then the floodgates opened. Scottish Labour is blinded by hostility to the SNP. Sturgeon sharpens independence debate as a battle for centre-left.

Steve Bell on the wording of the Scottish independence referendum question – cartoon. Scottish independence is fast becoming the only option. Neolithic discovery: why Orkney is the centre of ancient Britain. Andy Murray wins US Open: 'It's great to have finally done it' Andy Murray: not miserable, just normal. Andy Murray: 10 things we learned from the US Open. Scottish National party must 'grasp thistle' of a written constitution before referendum.

The BBC's Queen's jubilee propaganda failed in Scotland. Scottish independence would help Labour rediscover its soul. Scotland independence would allow economy to grow, says Sturgeon. Shocked MPs told electoral plan could remove 10m voters. Tony Blair to keep Scotland in the union? Labour must be in denial. David Cameron's union address: a speech of style but no substance.

Alex Salmond: Economist will rue 'Skintland' jibe at Scotland. 'Devo plus' for Scotland? Let's unpack it. First battery-powered ferries to be built at Clyde shipyard. From the Observer. MPs to hold investigations into Scottish independence referendum. In five years' time, the Union will be no more.