Voting is well underway in the Scottish referendum, with the people of Scotland deciding whether to become an independent nation or stay as part of the United Kingdom.
The past few months - and especially the last week - has seen vocal battles between political opponents on both sides, plus allegations of intimidation, including death threats.
It's pretty serious stuff.
The referendum has produced an avalanche of polls, commissioned by 'yes' and 'no' camps, each one claiming that they have the edge.
For the latest on public sentiment and voting intentions, the Daily Telegraph has created a 'poll of polls' tracker.
The facts will be revealed on Friday.
Whichever way the vote goes, what will follow is likely to be years of intense politicking, the likes of which British politics has never seen. Imagine the worst marital divorce times a thousand.
Having watched The Great British Break-Up? The Live Debate on Channel 4 last night, a recurring theme throughout the programme, was that voters have totally lost faith in the British political system.
Having seen the Arab Spring unfold via social and mainstream media and the eruptions of public dissent in places as far apart as Thailand and the United States, this malaise possibly reflects a global sense of distrust in politicians and the political process.
It's not just ordinary voters who are affected by too many broken promises. A recent Ipsos MORI survey revealed that less than half of MPs in Westminster would trust the word of another politician.
The system seems to be broken; some may say irrevocably.
It's obvious that things have to change.
The best way is to start is by stimulating debate.
To that end, I'm featuring a thought-provoking presentation by the Institute of Customer Experience (part of Human Factors International), which has produced a powerful collection of insights and predictions.
At the time of writing, leaders of the UK's three main political parties were reported to be crafting their 'responses' following the UK Independence Party's dominance in the European elections and creditable tally of new councillors in the local elections.
Ukip's comprehensive victory led to a record 24 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), ahead of Labour's 20, the Conservative's 19 and just one for the Liberal Democrats (down from 11 in the last election).
The political 'earthquake' promised by leader Nigel Farage erupted in spectacular fashion, despite widespread, and mostly negative media coverage related to allegations of being racist due his party's anti-immigration and anti-European Union stance.
So why - or how - did this cigarette puffing, beer swigging, virtual one-man band win against the well-oiled campaign machinery of the three main parties?
Was it because he listened to and spoke the language of the ordinary man and woman (even though David Cameron insists that Farage is a 'consummate politician' with big expenses and was only pretending to be a 'normal bloke down the pub')?
Was it because Farage was the 'underdog', demonized by mainstream politicians and the press for standing up for his country's sovereign rights against uncontrolled immigration and greedy, controlling and unaccountable European bureaucrats?
Or was it because Ukip offered the prospect of something fresh, new and exciting in British politics, rather than the predictable 'two-and-a-half' party, first-past-the-post electoral system?
My take on this is that, in his public persona, Nigel Farage appeared to be more 'authentic' and less 'contrived' than other politicians. Many of the 'photo opportunities' for which he posed, pint in hand, were probably 'stage managed', but they seemed to not jar as much as they would have done with any of the other party leaders.
There are other notable - some may argue 'imperfect' - politicians who embody characteristics which, in these days of the 'cookie cutter' political classes, shouldn't really work, but they do...and very well.
In Nigel Farage's case, many of his views are considered repugnant; London Mayor Boris Johnson is renowned for his blustering style of delivery and Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has had well-publicized battles with his addictions. These men are polarizing individuals who have faced down their harshest critics and attracted a loyal following big enough to force their political rivals to sit up and take notice. As this article in the Media Intelligence Partners suggests, "authenticity is all".
Perhaps it's time for politicians - particularly national ones - to ditch the hubris, embrace their 'core' and speak from the heart, rather from a prepared script, peppered with headline grabbing sound bites and empty rhetoric.
Whatever the reasons, it will take a lot of head scratching, teeth grinding and hair pulling among Tory, Labour and LibDem strategists to work out how best to respond to the rise and rise of the UK Independence Party.
From a reputation point of view, they need to go back to basics, keep it real by ditching the 'politico speak' and start to properly consult and connect with voters on the issues that really matter.
They'd better hurry.
The clock is ticking and the 'bad boy' of British (and European) politics has promised more of the same in the UK national elections next year.
It should be interesting.
P.s. A heads up for my forthcoming book, 'How To Turn A Bad Reputation Good & Make A Good One Better'. It's scheduled for release in ebook form in the next few weeks. There will be a free preview of selected chapters for readers of this blog or connections onTwitter,Facebook or LinkedIn.
A Happy New Year to readers of The Reputation Manager blog.
The year starts with an infographic on lying: perhaps the biggest 'reputation killer' of them all.
Last year saw a series of scandals that ended careers, shocked millions and brought dark secrets to light.
Much of what we read or saw on our TV or computer screens involved untruths, distortions, misrepresentations and cover ups.
But what makes people lie, especially when there's more than a slim chance of being discovered?
...and then get on with having a great, (relatively) trouble-free 2014.
Thoughts on customer service, communication and, of course, reputation management.