Earlier this week in Scotland democracy briefly looked like a process that could actually change things. 

For two electrifying weeks the prospect of it seceding from the union with England was like the ultimate Ice Bucket Challenge for both the Conservative and Labour parties, who each had compelling if distinct reasons for dreading the dramatic change. 

In the end though the world was eventually reminded that democracy produces no effect whatsoever in the United Kingdom. 

This is a nation so supremely confident of its own standing that in a thousand years it hasn't gotten around to writing a constitution. This is a nation that has largely ignored their neighbors to the north for 307 years and didn't imagine there'd be a consequence.

But it became clear that the idea that something as profound as Scottish independence could occur without a war, a revolution, or even a permission slip had deeply hurt England's feelings. Oh it hadn't made a fuss over the blue faced Caledonian hordes in decades, but that's always been England's way. 

It was blindsided by this brave hearted movement for freedom. Even the Queen was reported to have heaved a windy sigh at the prospect of a few lost castles.

Of course by Friday morning the world had learned that it had all been a giant psychological game of chicken. Sabers had been rattled and bagpipes had been played but Scotland had voted to stay under the umbrella of safety that being in the UK supposedly represents.

And all of the famous battles through its long history, dozens of them actually, striking for freedom - from Robert the Bruce to Bannockburn - were consigned to the dustbin. Nae more o’ that.

Good old Glasgow still had heart for the fight, so did Dundee and other painfully deprived unemployment black spots, but the poor always cry the loudest for change. They were unceremoniously shafted by their faithless (older and slightly better off) compatriots.

For all the sturm and drag of the last fortnight the story ended where it started; in a kind of badly written episode of Downton Abbey where Mrs Hughes (Scotland) went back downstairs to fetch Lord Grantham's (England's) tea.

The old killed the hopes of the young and the forgotten. What a lesson for them all.

The Downton Abbey reference is not so fanciful, by the way. According to the National Bureau of Economic Research, the richest take home a higher share of national income in England today than the aristocrats and superrich of 1920's England did. 

So to its enduring shame when given a historic opportunity, Scotland instead voted to tether itself to one of the most unequal societies on earth rather than create a fairer one of its own. They will have decades to rue their own short sightedness. 

And now, when traveling abroad and meeting the Irish - fellow Celts who have known what it meant to be oppressed by England - how will they be able to meet their eyes?

Every country offered independence from England quickly took it - except for Barbados and the Falklands.
A lonely tax haven and a perch for penguins. Put Alba in the same bracket now. They had their chance and for independence and instead they chose dependency. No nation once again.

William Wallace you can turn your face away too, there weren't enough brave hearts when the moment came.

Scotland should take the plunge and make the step into a future that they will determine themselves.Getty Images/iStockphoto