It is a common error to suppose that populations become restive when they lack political freedom and that they can be pacified with the offer of extensions to that freedom. However, the proximate cause of dissatisfaction is always economic constriction or coercion, and only distally lack of of political avenues for the expression of political choice.

The Scottish case is an example. The devolution of political power to the Holyrood administration has in no way diminished desire for liberty, and national independence for Scotland will not address it either. The relationship between the European Union and England (nota bene: England, not the United Kingdom) is similar. There is an increasing desire for economic freedom, which manifests itself in part as a wish for political freedom, for restoration of the nation state, but in both these cases, Scotland and England, political freedom is a proxy or at best a preliminary to economic freedom, and it will not in itself satisfy the desire for a life free from constriction on the individual's wish to better his or her condition and that of their family.

Thus, a government faced with a restive population or subsection of that population errs if in attempting to pacify the rebellion it offers an extension of political freedom. This will not only fail to dissipate resentment, but it will actually increase it, since this extension of political freedom, say self-government or a tier of local government, will inevitably only serve to increase the economic coercion that is the primary cause of the initial disaffection. Indeed, the political cadres and bureaucracies that benefit from self-government will usually tend to be illiberal, as we can see from the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP); and in any case, funding an extra tier of government will necessitate the levying of additional taxes.

Given this, a wise central government will respond to separatist movements not with political palliatives, but with deep cuts in taxes and public services at the local level.

This may seem counterintuitive, and many will imagine that while tax cuts would have some appeal, local services should be increased if at all possible, since the offer of 'something for nothing' will surely please the electorate. However, this is mistaken since the central provision of services is constricting in itself, and will lead to public frustration even if those services are provided at no cost to the user. This is a point that is poorly understood even by many on the economically liberal side of the argument.

This is not to deny that political freedom can and does facilitate economic freedom, or that there is some degree of correlation between the two. The point is that political liberty is not the principal and most intensely desired good of the typical individual, an observation that I derive not from what people say, but from what they do. If political freedom were in fact so important, democratic participation would currently be at high not low levels. I conclud that people wish to do and to make, not to vote.

Indeed, we are not that troubled by distant political government. If we were so, there would be a much a powerful emotional loathing of Westminster and the European Union, not the mild contempt and irritation that is everywhere evident, much to the frustration of eurosceptical politicians. But, as anyone who has engaged with local government knows, deeply felt, passionate hatred of state coercion really only emerges when the individual is faced with local councillors or local government officers, and particularly the latter. This leads me to predict that in the event of Scottish independence, which I think more or less probable because of the extremely close referendum result, that country would prove to be more or less ungovernable, and that a return to Westminster control under distressed and distressing circumstances would be the inevitable and ultimate result. This is undesirable, and can be prevented by tax cuts and the abolition of one or more tiers of local government across the United Kingdom as a whole.