Don’t Take Your Foot off the Gas

shepard-fairey-say-yesAs momentum gathers and independent bodies note the swing in favour of Yes, Ben Wray warns against complacency.

There will be plenty of smiling faces at the SNP conference today and tomorrow. Yes is on the rise, No is in crisis and the world’s diplomats are whispering that something big is going to happen in September. Confidence is a great thing; there would have been more yes campaigners out over the past two months than there would have been in the four months previous, and not just because of the weather. But confidence can easily slip into complacency, and this is what I see as the biggest danger for the independence movement now and something Salmond and Sturgeon would do well to avoid in Aberdeen this weekend.

First of all, we shouldn’t forget yes is still behind in the polls. I’ve seen some independistas argue that we are better off being a little behind until the last month or two for various tactical reasons.

Rubbish. It’s better to be ahead in a contest like this as undecideds will want to feel like they’re with the majority, plus any other mentality is a breeding ground for activists taking their foot off the gas.

Secondly, the disaster of Better Together shouldn’t lull us into a ‘sit back and wait for them to **** up’ mentality. Again, I’ve seen some say if yes plays it safe, keeps repeating a consistent line then the no side will be so repulsive as to guarantee us victory. Passivity won’t work. The thing about undecideds isn’t really that they lack information, it’s that they lack persuasive information: neither side has been worthy of the voters embrace, so the voter pleads for more third-party information.

I would hope that Salmond and Sturgeon have some tricks up their sleeve – committing to set the minimum wage at the living wage rate is an obvious option that is low-risk and high reward. UK corporations are going to defend their buddies that have helped them out for so long anyway, it’s the low-paid working class we need to worry about not Standard Life and Shell. There’s lots of other commitments Salmond and Sturgeon could make which would provide the working class with hard evidence that there lives would be better with a yes vote. France have just banned work emails after 6pm so workers can actually enjoy their non-working lives without the stress of their job hanging over them, why couldn’t Scotland do the same?

The counter-attack approach Salmond has been deploying since the start of the year has worked well because Better Together have been so blundering, but to count on that continuing to work until referendum day would be foolish: Man Utd tried to sit back and wait for mistakes for 180 minutes against Bayern; but eventually the floodgates opened. British imperialism has a dazzling repertoire of global resources it can draw upon to turn the heads of Scots voters, so we need a few pro-active plans of our own.

The final danger of complacency is to become paralysed by the ‘positive campaign v negative campaign’ dichotomy. The reason No are losing isn’t simply because they are negative, it is because the people behind the negative message have overseen the biggest fall in living standards in over a century. Scots haven’t fallen for the establishment’s propaganda simply because it rubbishes Scotland, they haven’t fallen for the establishment’s propaganda because they have no trust in an out-of-touch British elite that look the same, talk the same and have the same policies.

My point is this: there’s nothing wrong with being negative about the terminal decline of the UK, as long as it is combined with a positive message about what the alternative is. We should be turning the tables on Labour: if you support the welfare cap, then how is voting no in the referendum and for Labour at the next general election going to stop 34,000 children (‘If the Cap Fits’) from being pushed into poverty by that policy? The SNP should follow Adam Ramsay’s lead (‘Scotland isn’t different, it’s Britain that’s bizarre’) in finding innovative ways to outline how the UK is not normal on any reasonable social and economic European comparison. It should highlight the fact that Westminster is no normal democracy either: it has an unelected House of Lords that is bigger than the House of Commons, and since 1571 has had a ‘City of London Remembrancer’ (‘The Corporation of London’) who is the ‘oldest institutional lobbyist in the world’ and sits to the right of the Speaker of the House ‘to protect the interests of the City of London Corporation in parliament’ – he is briefed on all bills before they are passed into legislation. Labour should be asked whether they believe the Remembrancer is looking after the interests of the people of Scotland?

I am not the bearer of bad news: yes is on the rise and things are looking promising. But lets not take our foot off the gas; Scotland still needs to be won to its independence. The recent poll boost should not be a moment of vindication for SNP delegates in Aberdeen – nothing has been won yet – it should be a moment to feel emboldened to make the case for yes unbeatable.

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  1. Maggie Craig says:

    Reblogged this on Maggie Craig Scottish Writer and commented:
    Some sound advice here from Bella Caledonia.

  2. Miller says:

    Yes, just on that reference to France banning after work e-mails:I heard the ‘Today’ programme on R4 this morning discussing that issue and, though contributors were using the ‘UK’ tag, Sarah Montague asked one if ‘English ‘ workers would accept it! This, from the BBC at a time when you would have thought media would have to be especially sensitive.

  3. Jim D says:

    “My point is this: there’s nothing wrong with being negative about the terminal decline of the UK, as long as it is combined with a positive message about what the alternative is…..”

    I deliver leaflets in East Lothian and I have been banging on to anyone who will listen to my opinion that we need leaflets that are specifically targeted, contain a positive message which counteract and trump the no campaigns’ propaganda. Leaflets promising “bright futures in an independent Scotland” are not hitting the mark with the people I speak to on my rounds. The message is too general. We should be producing leaflets which target energy, currency, the EU, NHS and so on. People are looking for positive ,specific guidance and answers on the things that matter to them in their daily lives.

  4. I put in a comment on a facebook site,and I think Alex Salmond is just taking his “jaikit aff” watch when he rolls up his sleeves.I have every confidence in our first minister.All some of the press keep on doing is attacking him,we have the Express this morning going over how much his hotel room costs saying it was for him and his wife Moira,seemed daft to me to keep on about how he shared a room with his wife!

  5. Peter A Bell says:

    “There’s nothing wrong with being negative about the terminal decline of the UK, as long as it is combined with a positive message about what the alternative is.”

    True. But it is important to avoid appearing to relish that “terminal decline” in the way that the anti-independence campaign drools gleeful over every bit of bad news for Scotland.

  6. James Coleman says:

    A timely warning. Even I as an ‘internet activist’ got a feeling of a little bit of boredom yesterday after the excitement of the last few weeks. The SNP needs to try and instill new enthusiasm at its conference with some big announcements about the campaign. And it and the YES campaign needs to become much more proactive in showing up the faults in the UK.

    Elsewhere I have implored everyone to start showing VERY publicly that they are YES supporters by wearing YES badges and hats and similar stickers on their houses and cars so that it becomes the norm on the street. Many UNDS who don’t care much either way and even many NOs will be influenced by momentum and the bandwagon effect.

    1. stewartb says:

      Strongly agree James about badges etc.

      Three days this week walking for several hours around central Edinburgh: so many more Scotsman posters outside newsagents promoting Project Fear than sightings of Yes Scotland badges. Not sure I saw more than three other badges like mine. Can the polls really be true, the undecideds out there may ask.

      Momentum is really important. We need to make this visible.

  7. Padaruski says:

    Good article Ben. Well written. I agree with the thrust of what you say. But as you know YES is a wider campaign than the SNP and its not all Salmond and Sturgeon, even if they are the two smartest politicians in the UK today. These highly talented politicians will carry a lot of sway, but the drip drip effect of talks, presentations and on line activity like this site are all adding to the accumulative dam that will fill and then burst into a flood on ref day. Ivan McKee’s persuasive factual debunking of all the NO IDIOCY propaganda at his talks sweeps away the fog of propaganda and spin. This is all about Scotland, our people’s confidence being allowed to grow, encouraging the people to have the confidence to step into the future of YES, a new future for Scotland. Scotland is a nation: nations’s govern themselves. We can, we shall and we must stand up for ourselves and choose Independence.

  8. As somebody who is out on the streets every week, I can assure you Ben, there is no complacency amongst the Yes campaigners. This isn’t a sprint, and although we are entering the final lap we still have plenty of time left to make an even greater impact. The one tactic I don’t want from either the S.N.P, or for that matter the Yes team are “tricks”. Leave that to the better together “campaign”. As with the now completely discredited attempt to bully Alex Salmond into a currency u-turn, I believe that we are the only group with policies that will convince the Scottish people to vote Yes. The No people have nothing to offer, except threats and insults, and this will backfire on them even more spectacularly in the future. You only have to look at their latest “plan” to bring the “noble lords” out of retirement to warn us of the supposed consequences of becoming an independent country. No, quietly confident is how I would describe us, but don’t worry, we’re taking nothing for granted.

  9. Mark my words. Say no to independence and the Tories will unleash hell upon little old Scotland. It will be food stamps and fuel vouchers for the unemployed, cuts in disability / carers benefits, tax breaks for the rich, the death of the NHS…. The list goes on. We must wake people up to the truth fast!

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