We have a referendum on independence for Scotland next year. It was suggested to me (by a young woman friend) that there should be some sort of initiative aimed at winning the votes of older folk for independence in that referendum. I think that’s right.
While the recent apparent doubling of support for independence amongst the 18 to 24 age group is very welcome, you can’t just rely on “the youth”. Reality is, 18-24s make up only a small percentage of the electorate. We need the support of folk of all ages. Us older folk should not be written off, we still have a lot to contribute. That being so, I have been thinking about what such an initiative amongst older folk could be like. Here are some thoughts on that.
As it happens I live in a Sheltered Housing Complex, with restricted entry, which makes it pretty impossible for any canvassers to get inside. But what it doesn’t do is to stop those of us who live inside the complex from canvassing. I’m not going to actively do this just now, but nearer the time I will. I will also raise, at our monthly tenants’ meeting, that we organise meetings, in such sheltered housing complexes as ours, with representatives from both the YES campaign and the “Better Together” campaign to answer questions.
It would probably be best if the YES representative is (1) not too young, and (2) not a member of any political party. So far as our own place is concerned, I would be one of the folk asking the most awkward questions of the “Better Together” representative, so I couldn’t be a speaker. I am confident that, in any such open discussion, our positive message can prevail over the negative message of keeping things as they are.
Another older person suggested to me that, rather than being just “old”, we are like good wine, or malt whisky, which matures with age. Which brought to my mind the television series “Last of the Summer Wine”. But if we called ourselves “Last of the Summer Wine for Independence”, the BBC would probably claim breach of copyright! So, what name would be appropriate for such a grouping? “Senior Ladies and Gentlemen For Independence”, maybe? Or “Independent-Minded Senior Citizens for Independence”? I quite like that last one. It stresses our personal independence of party politics and politicians. What do you think?
If there is to be such a grouping, I would make the following suggestions:
It should be restricted to folk over pension age. Folk younger than that may want to support the initiative, but they can’t actually be part of it, for the same reason as it would be inappropriate, and downright silly, for me to be part of any “Youth For Independence” initiative!
A face-to-face meeting should be held at some point, so that the grouping is not just something arranged on Facebook. It doesn’t matter if this face-to-face meeting is small. Many important initiatives have started with very few folk.
We can still count, as members, senior citizens who were unable to turn up for the face-to-face meeting but have expressed support for it.
After the face-to-face meeting, a press and media statement should be issued. This press and media statement should say honestly how many folk founded the group (even if this should be as few as 3 or 4!) but it should also say there will be no further statements on the numbers involved. We’re not talking about a political party. The aim is not to get members, but to get folk to vote YES in the referendum. The only number that matters is the number of folk who vote for or against independence in the referendum. We confidently predict that, in that only number that matters, a very large percentage of senior citizens will vote for independence.
We should call on all organisations concerned with senior citizens, be they local councils, tenants associations, etc etc, to facilitate meetings at which senior citizens in a locality can ask questions of folk from both the YES campaign and the Better Together campaign.
Those are some of my thoughts. It would be good to hear from other folk. What do you think?