The Yes Campaign is Out of Control

1798420_10152061515588300_706234064_nIf you’re ever feeling doubtful…this is the campaign to save the Union in the busiest shopping street in Scotland’s largest city last Saturday (no photo-shopping required). As Donald Dewar looks on one poor soul stands alone.

The docile media and the cynical bombardment of corporate messaging by the No campaign might get you down, but really, take heart: we have Tariq Ali, they have Ally Carmichael; we’ve got Katie Morag, they’ve got Katie Hopkins; we have Will Self, novelist, they have Danny Alexander, fantasist; they have Melanie Philips, we have Jack Foster.

We have thousands of activist groups hitting the streets, they have career politicians hitting the panic button.

Bhv2nHdCYAACPpiThe reality is that the Yes campaign – maligned as it has been – has done its so job well that it’s becoming redundant. It was always needed to be a structure for a movement not a content delivery system for a slick advertising campaign, and now it’s being outflanked by reality on the ground.

As Blair Jenkins put it:

“It’s enormous. We’re no longer able to have an accurate handle on what’s happening, because like a proper grassroots campaign it’s self-generating, it’s autonomous, people are getting on with it.”

This is the biggest campaign Scotland has ever seen as people take the historic opportunity to question the basics of the way things are. As David Greig has written, this debate doesn’t have limits (‘Why the Debate on Scottish Independence Might Be More Interesting Than You Think?’):

“Over the last few months I’ve seen Independence based discussions on topics as diverse as crowd sourced constitutions, peak oil, Iceland’s collapse, arts policy in Finland, land reform, wildness as a concept, Black identity in Scotland, the function of defence forces, bilingualism and brain development, immigration, pensions… and the list goes on. Almost every area of public policy seems to be up for grabs. It’s a far cry from the political debate in the rest of the UK where the only area of discussion left to us seems to be whether we get a little bit more or a little bit less austerity.

In the context of independence the parameters of politics suddenly turn out to be more malleable that we thought. The pound, the monarchy, Trident – nothing is a given any more, not even the idea of Scotland itself. Should Shetland be part of Scotland? Should Newcastle? This new malleability is married to a practicality that gives even ordinary political discourse an extra piquancy. Change is possible. Put simply, the Independence debate allows us to explore every aspect of our national life and ask ourselves the question – ‘does it have to be like this?’


Super Saturday with @YesEdinburgh in Gorgie

Yes Scotland is about to launch a £2 million-plus advertising campaign that will dominate billboards and in cinemas all the way to September 18. But that’s not what will win it. Canvassing, voter registration and a million one to one conversations will defeat a Better Together campaign fronted by a Tory Chancellor, Conservative-supporting big business with a history of opposing devolution and an inept and visionless Labour party running a cadaverous campaign. No is a top-down hollowed-out defence of the status quo, ours is a grassroots movement for change.

After RIC in Easterhouse and Super Saturday in Edinburgh, the Yes campaign is now beginning to kick off in real time. We’re inviting campaigners to send in reflections on the experience. What are people asking? What is the most effective way to work? What’s unexpected? Share ideas to charge the campaign. Send us notes for our campaign diary to: bellasletters (at) or tweet to us at @bellacaledonia

As Chic MacGregor from Rangers Fans for Independence puts it:

Be aware that the tide is turning and the momentum is with the Positive Yes Campaign. The people who run the No Campaign are worried because no matter what they throw at us the Yes vote is steadily increasing. Threats are taken apart one by one as are the scaremongering stories and even the much anticipated Love Bombing ‘Bombed’ spectacularly. They are worried because for the first time in 300 years they are losing their grip on the Scottish people despite all the promises and threats.

It’s the beginning of spring after a long dark winter. Coming soon, a long hot summer of campaigning, discussion and debate about what kind of country you want to live in. To paraphrase a slogan from Paris in ’68: We will fight, we will win, Dundee, Glasgow and Carfin.

Comments (30)

Join the Discussion

Your email address will not be published.

    1. stuart says:

      The reason for this is the rest of the U.K feels this is a matter for the Scottish to decide but because the rest of the U.K. And the it’s people are saying north of the border and let me be perfectly clear about this we feel and say united we stand divided we fall and I know for a fact that Wales North Ireland and England say if Scotland splits it is not right for a new country to get all the benefits that they enjoy now like the pound and defence contracts and the U.K.s equipment the defence forces have like the army and navy and Air Force have. The first reason we feel is as the why the Scottish are debating and finding ways to make up for the enormous hole in the budget and the get out the easy way or back doors for the split, they are not even considering the damage they are causing to the rest of your brothers in the U.K. As the Scottish leave a devastating mess and seriously damaged international reputation and irreplaceable and strong financial as well as world leading economical reputation and intonational financial reliability which leads me to my second point as Alex salmond either carefully forgets or pitches all the good stuff he is not even considering what he is putting at risk like the pound, he says we will keep the pound say you do then it’s punch is strong financially with together but if Scotland splits it’s worth and it’s strength will fail massively in the financial markets and you will be hit and our children’s future is damaged and unclear and if you are a parent and have children like me you will understand that you can not allow this to happen and you can never let this happen. You children’s academic future is now a steak and your children’s security and safety is now uncertain and unclear, your children’s health is now at risk and ours and this can no happen !

      As you can see above Scotland is not considering what will happen to the rest of us if you split your vote will effect us not just Scotland so the Wales North Ireland and England feel you are acting inconsiderately and the British people are united in opinion and will never allow Scotland to have all the benefits like the pound and all the good stuff you enjoy in the U.K. Now as your actions will effect the rest of Britain so the question is thus “why should Scotland be able to keep all the good things they are wanting when the rest of the Britain will be devastated by the inconsiderate and misled people of Scotland as they will damage our children’s future and make us suffer with impunity” PLEASE DONT LISTEN TO MR ALEX SALMOND HE IS MISLEADING YOU ALL AND IS WRONG ABOUT WHAT YOU CAN KEEP AND HE NEVER TOLD YOU HOW BAD THIS WILL EFFECT THE REST OF BRITAIN AND THAT THE THE REST OF BRITAIN WILL NEVER ALOW YOU TO KEEP WHAT HE PITCHES.

      1. norrie says:

        nah he gave us free prescriptions free personal care etc etc etc and he puts Scottish people first

  1. Dan Huil says:

    Inspiring stuff. And I notice the No campaign is desperately appealing for donations.

  2. Bob Cotton says:

    The NO campaign is quite dysfunctional. If the NO campaign did not have the London media in tow they would be destroyed already. As for our unionist MP’s, they are surely beside themselves as they watch their careers going belly up.

  3. atypicalscot says:


    The Yes campaign has to keep up with the grass roots movement that wants change –

    Change is the operative word, and it’s time to look for just that.

    Let’s concentrate on getting the big business’ out of Scotland, nationalising resources and making a real change for the people.

    Get in.

  4. crowriver says:

    It’s essential to guard against hubris. ‘We’ have a grassroots campaign, but ‘they’ have the mass media. The millions who do not take an active interest in politics, who are not attending meetings and debates, are ultimately the ones who will decide the referendum. Those people need to be reached too.

    1. atypicalscot says:

      ‘Hubris’ or do you mean ‘complacency’?

      1. Colin says:

        You are both correct and we have to do both things, guard against becoming complacent and from becoming over confident.
        Crowriver is correct in saying we have to reach the people that may be overlooked.

  5. Peter Arnott says:

    First we take Kirkudbright…than we take Carfin….

  6. Marie Penman says:

    I’ve been out canvassing in Fife for the past three weekends and have seen a definite turn towards the Yes side – more positive comments, more support and more engagement in discussion. However, there are still some people showing no interest either way. Here’s a conversation I had on the doorstep last Sunday in a local housing estate:

    Me: Can I ask you a couple of quick questions about the referendum?
    Woman: What’s a referendum?
    Me: It’s the vote to decide whether Scotland should be an independent country.
    Her: What does that mean?
    Me: It means Scotland would be a separate country, away from the rest of the UK.
    Her: How can that happen? I don’t understand…

    This kind of response doesn’t fit into the Yes/No/Undecided categories, yet it’s not as rare as you might think. It’s easy when you’re caught up in the campaign to forget that for some people, September’s vote is a complete irrelevance. They think it doesn’t concern them and that it will make no difference to their lives. It’s our job to get these people involved and make sure they vote, preferably with a cross in the Yes box…

    1. bellacaledonia says:

      Good point Marie, I’ve long thought that the Dont Care vote was more important than the Don’t Know vote, and harder to reach

  7. My letter out to the “newspapers”or propaganda sheets for the unionists;Sir,we are getting all the information that the “unionist parties” will “give” Holyrood more powers if we vote no to independence.Now a few things do concern me of this vague offer of additional powers,if indeed they will be additional,and not a swap for what is already in the jurisdiction of Holyrood.I would like to see the powers being put forward before the vote is taken,and not on a “loan” basis,but given and never to be returned by that I do mean “Given” set in stone,to use the phrase.Not like something that can be removed on the whim of an unelected member of the House of Lords like has happened already.We really do need Westminster to ask the question on the EU as they are the only part of our government that can,as is with many of the questions asked of the yes campaign,clarity from all sides,please.(was going to write pretty please)

    1. Illy says:

      Haven’t you heard? At Westminster, there’s no such thing as “unbreakable rules”. They can say something is one, and then repeal it the same day.

      Something I’ve noticed recently: Project Fear is asking a lot of “When did you stop beating your wife?” style-questions. Is that a common statement that ordinary people can understand?

  8. bjsalba says:

    I don’t know about out of control, but I do know that as a local YES activist, I will be out on the doorsteps till referendum day.

  9. evan says:

    The same is happening in Quebec…!!!The Parti Quebecois(the equivalent to SNP, here in Quebec) seems that they will get a majority in the next election…they will call a general election any day soon…It is amazing what is going on already in the anglo media!!!

    Look, it is very simple, it is all about land and resources!!!!

    As I wrote in an earlier entry here at Bella Caledonia, it is time for the house of windsor to send its family members out to work, so they can appreciate what it feels like having a mortgage and having a boss above them!!!

  10. dg299 says:

    I am so happy to see an inspired grassroots campaign gaining ground. Whatever the outcome, I hope that people will ask the questions mentioned above, and others, and gain faith in their nation’s ability to create its own sustainable future. It won’t be easy at first but I truly believe it will be better.

  11. Fay Kennedy says:

    i have done an interview on community tv here in Perth WA on the independence referendum which will be televised on the 7th. April. I have never done anything like that before. I just wish I could do a rerun with a list of questions but I couldn’t knock back the opportunity so did my best as someone very far away from the day to day of the campaign. I talk it up as much as I can. There are many folk here who come from the UK so hope it ignites some interest. It’s a great time to be a Scot and can’t wait to be there on the 18th. Sept.

  12. macart763 says:

    We’re going to win because this is our country and we are best placed to make our own decisions, our own choices on how it should be run.

    Better Together and Westminster will argue that their approach deals in the real world of cause and effect, never mentioning of course that their causes and effects are based purely on imaginary scenarios. I think we’ve all encountered the ‘Scotland couldn’t have bailed the banks out on its own’ argument. Whilst completely ignoring the obvious counter that under an independent government for the past thirty or forty years, there’s no rational explanation as to why Scotland’s economy or banking system would have been in a position to collapse in the first place.

    Important to remember when faced with the BT ‘what if’ scenario based on current experience and the UK model. WHAT IF Scotland had been independent for the past forty years say? Do we really think we would have volunteered our services in an illegal war? Destroyed our manufacturing base? Bubbled then burst our economy? Blown our oil receipts on vanity projects and tax breaks? Taken apart our services and welfare? Blamed our own electorate for all of the above and then penalised them with benefits cuts and manufactured punitive taxes (welfare reform)?

    This is why I believe we will vote YES. I do not believe for one second that had an independent Scotland and a government based on popular sovereignty, over that period, would bear any resemblance to the UK we see today and which forms the basis of so many BT scare stories. I don’t believe we wish to continue down a path where a system of government disenfranchises and penalises those least able to defend themselves. We can be and do so much better.

    1. bringiton says:

      For me,the signing of the Edinburgh Agreement was seminal.
      Westminster openly saying that Scotland was a country and had the right to elect a government of it’s choice.
      This has completely undermined the Labour One Nation narrative which seeks to imply that Scotland is a region of British Labour land and not a country.
      This referendum is entirely about we Scots being allowed to exercise our democratic rights and elect a government of OUR choice and not one imposed on us by others.
      All the rest is just fluff.

      1. Macart says:

        Couldn’t agree more.

        This part here?

        30. The United Kingdom and Scottish Governments are committed, through the Memorandum of Understanding 4 between them and others, to working together on matters of mutual interest and to the principles of good communication and mutual respect. The two governments have reached this agreement in that spirit. They look forward to a referendum that is legal and fair producing a decisive and respected outcome. The two governments are committed to continue to work together constructively in the light of the outcome, whatever it is, in the best interests of the people of Scotland and of the rest of the United Kingdom.

        Basically means that whatever political rhetoric we hear from Westminster, BT or the media in the next six months is so much flash-bang, (lots of noise and light, without much heat or substance).

        That and only that will be the outcome of a YES vote in the referendum. There will be hard and sometimes noisy negotiations, but it will be in the interests of both parties to hammer out a workable settlement or risk economic carnage which makes the current austerity Britain look like days of wine and roses. All the posturing of Gideon, the veiled warnings of Maggie’s old chum in Standard Life, is just that posturing. So much for non interference in a Scotland only issue. Mind you hypocrisy is the coin of their trade.

        Scotland is a nation and its people are only just becoming aware of what that means and the responsibilities as well as the great freedoms this entails. It means we can choose to be our brothers keeper, to take our politics in a different path from Westminster. A path that actually does centre on the community, the common weal of all. Enough with the ‘I’m alright Jack’ economics of Westminster. Financial services, casino banking, greed is good keech that’s taken us to where we are today. We’ve got a once in several lifetimes opportunity in September, given to us by a government that should never have been, had others got their way.

        Be a shame to screw it up because we believe only the worst of what others say about us.

  13. Fergus says:

    The world wide diaspora of Scots are with the YES campaign. Independence for Scotland- Yes!

  14. The single most important point about the Yes campaign is that it offers a message of hope and optimism , as against the crescendo of “No we can’t” from the Better together campaign. Whether this is sufficient to inspire enough of our fellow Scots will be a moot point in the weeks and the moths to come. Despite, Darling and co’s best efforts it is vital that the many different visions of Scotland’s future are given a voice and more importantly a chance.

  15. Robyn B says:

    Don’t let the USA southern religious groups get a hold in your campaign, as happened in our recent Yes vote in Australia. I’m sure it won’t, just a warning of what happened to our Indigenous community 2023. The bigots, more than was expected, won out. Decades of hours & honest work were ignored by the lies in media. Yes voters here are still mourning in disbelief.

Help keep our journalism independent

We don’t take any advertising, we don’t hide behind a pay wall and we don’t keep harassing you for crowd-funding. We’re entirely dependent on our readers to support us.

Subscribe to regular bella in your inbox

Don’t miss a single article. Enter your email address on our subscribe page by clicking the button below. It is completely free and you can easily unsubscribe at any time.