Are the people of England and Wales more immune to fear than their neighbours in Scotland? There were some suggestions, prior to the Brexit vote, that perhaps the reason why Project Fear 2 was proving every bit as much of a flop at the box office as most other sequels was the distinct lack of an equivalent to the 'Scottish cringe' south of the border.
It was argued that if you tell the average English person that their country is too useless to govern itself and that they need the 'broad shoulders' of others to survive, you won't tap into a deep-seated sense of inadequacy – instead you'll career headlong into an iron core of self-belief wrought during the centuries of empire.
That's a seductive theory, but actually the outcomes of the respective referendums in 2014 and 2016 give the lie to it. Thursday's vote was so close that there can be no real doubt that the will of the adult resident population of the United Kingdom, and indeed of England itself, was to remain part of the European Union.
There is one very simple and shameful reason why the Brexiteers won – they pressurised David Cameron into depriving a full 5% of the population of their voting rights. Those 5% are of course the citizens of other EU countries, who are entitled to vote in most elections held in the UK (they helped to elect both Nicola Sturgeon and Sadiq Khan last month, for example), and who we can very safely assume would have turned out to vote in droves on an issue that they have a much greater stake in than anyone else.
Just imagine for a moment what would have happened if the Scottish Government had stripped people of their voting rights in the independence referendum on the basis of national origin. Firstly, Alex Salmond would have been called a fascist (although come to think of it that pretty much happened on a daily basis anyway) and secondly, it's quite possible that Scotland would be an independent country by now. Although it'll never be possible to say this with certainty, one study suggested that a narrow majority of the Scottish-born population actually voted Yes in 2014.
Those of us in the independence movement can take enormous pride in the fact that we didn't allow our eagerness for the outcome we sought to trump our commitment to the most basic principles of democracy and inclusivity. But there's no getting away from it – a like-for-like comparison between the two referendums suggests that the people of the UK were not any more or less keen on 'taking back control' from Brussels than the people of Scotland were on 'taking back control' from Westminster.
The likelihood is that next time around the proposal will be for an independent Scottish currency.
If anything, Scotland probably proved more resistant to Project Fear, because in the EU referendum it wasn't just the proponents of the status quo who resorted to disgraceful scaremongering. Many people were only coaxed into voting Leave by the ludicrous horror stories about tens of millions of Turks descending on our shores by teatime next Tuesday.
Quite understandably, though, one consequence of Scotland's decision in 2014 – not to disenfranchise people who had come to the country from another part of 'the union' we were being invited to leave – was that a significant portion of the electorate were susceptible to fears about the breaking of family ties and about suddenly feeling like a foreigner in a place that they had previously considered to be just another part of the UK.
Although a large minority of the English-born population in Scotland ultimately voted for independence, it's hardly surprising that the majority were more preoccupied with concerns about unnecessary disruption and a sense of what might be lost.
But those concerns don't half look ironic now, do they? In all fairness, no-one could really have predicted the events of the last few days, but it is a simple fact that by voting No in 2014, Scotland – and by that I mean the voting population of Scotland from all countries of origin – hitched its wagon to a country that was less than two years away from an act of utter insanity.
Remaining part of the UK has directly led Scotland into an economic and political crisis on a scale that is without precedent in the recent history of the western world. And any concerns about the breach of a common UK citizenship two years ago pales into insignificance now that most residents of Scotland face the imminent prospect of being stripped of their EU citizenship and the right to live and work in 27 other countries, in spite of the fact that their own country just voted by an overwhelming margin to stay within the EU. Only the boldest and swiftest of action (and that can realistically mean only one thing) will prevent that calamity from coming about.
Which raises the obvious question: in the second independence referendum that now seems almost inevitable, has Project Fear 3 failed before it's even started? You'd certainly think that the Yes campaign will enjoy the best of both worlds this time – they'll simultaneously look like something approaching a 'status quo' option offering the stability of continued EU membership, and a 'change' option offering people far more control over their own lives.
But the London establishment's oldest habits die hard, and there have already been hopeful noises emanating from the corridors of power that two of Project Fear's 'greatest hits' from 2014 – relating to currency and border controls – may have even greater potency now that the rest of the UK is unambiguously heading for the EU exit door.
Project Fear may be left with nowhere to go
It's doubtful whether that's true. Although it would be harder to argue for the Scottish government's 2014 proposal for a currency union if one country within that union is to be inside the EU and the other is to be outside, the reality is that there has long been a near-consensus that currency was the weakest part of the Yes campaign's pitch. The plan may have been intellectually watertight, but because it depended on the goodwill and good sense of a certain George Osborne, it simply didn't convince people. The likelihood is that next time around the proposal will be for an independent Scottish currency.
Perhaps concerns over border controls will have more traction now there is a prospect of the line in the map between Gretna and Berwick becoming a real border separating the European Union from the lawless lands beyond. But the problem of the Irish border will have to be resolved quickly anyway, and it's probable the solution will involve relatively free movement continuing in one form or another. It'll be hard for the UK government to plausibly argue that the same arrangement couldn't or shouldn't be extended to the border with an independent Scotland.
If both of those issues are successfully neutralised, Project Fear may be left with nowhere to go – and in any case it's murderously hard to imagine who could successfully deliver the scare lines in a new referendum. Scottish Labour are a radically diminished force, and many individual Labour politicians and members have already done the unthinkable over the last few days and crossed over to the pro-independence side.
The Daily Record, which played such a crucial role in shoring up the No vote in 2014 with the front page 'Vow', also seems to be undergoing a change of heart. Indyref 2 may essentially boil down to a battle between Scotland's progressive forces and the Scottish Tory party – and however highly regarded Ruth Davidson may be south of the border, that's a hopelessly uneven contest. So if you thought Project Fear 2 was a bit of a flop, just wait until you see Project Fear 3 – it's shaping up to be an embarrassment on a par with Dumb and Dumber To.