Reaching for No
I see a lot of comments these days along the lines of “Thanks No voters, see what you’ve done, we told you so, etc. etc.” which, while expressing the frustration of Yes campaigners, are not very helpful from a perspective of national reconciliation or of enhancing the independence argument.
During the referendum debate, the Better Together campaign, aided by a compliant right wing media and state broadcaster, focused its fearmongering energies on the largest demographic, which happily for them coincided with the one they felt they could most heavily influence, particularly given the older generation is also the most resistant to change.
For two years, older and retired people were relentlessly pounded with negativity by their traditional information sources: newspapers and the (once respected) BBC.
Is it any wonder in such circumstances that the majority feared for their retirement income and feared equally that their country would quickly wither?
I’ve no doubt that, while I didn’t agree with their decision, the majority thought long and hard but ultimately were cowed by Project Fear’s argument that their own pensions and their grandchildren’s country were under existential threat.
With that in mind, it could be argued that the Yes campaign was not convincing enough, and in retrospect there were areas in which its thinking hadn’t yet matured. Currency, arguably lethally for the campaign was one of those, and while the majority of Yes supporters were happy to take a leap into the dark, it wasn’t convinced Yes supporters that the campaign needed to persuade.
I don’t believe, as Neil Hay fatally tweeted (opening the door for Ian Murray to become the only Labour MP in Scotland) that the older generation were too doddery and infirm of mind to understand they were being brainwashed. Such naivety only stiffens resistance. Instead, the BT campaign understood that traditional news sources were the well this group drank from and all it needed to do was poison enough of its members and the job was done.
In the end the statistics tell us that it was the only demographic to vote No in its majority, so clearly the campaign from that perspective was a success. All the BT campaign felt it needed was a win to put an end to notions of self-determination. Events since then tell us otherwise and show us that the road to independence remains negotiable.
We in the Yes campaign were devastated by the result. But our path to a successful independence campaign is not one where we sneer and snipe at No voters on the sidelines, but one where we demonstrate that No voters and the generations of their families to come, will be safer, more comfortable, happier and more prosperous in an independent Scotland.
At the moment, every parliamentary vote at Westminster triggers an “I told you so” from Yes campaigners. I think No voters are perfectly capable of seeing for themselves the condition of the country under Tory rule, and equally how weak and ineffectual Labour have become.
It’s time to stop sniping and start reconciling. It’s time to move the debate on to discussion about just how Scotland can survive and prosper on its own. It’s time to shore up those areas the Yes campaign failed on, such as currency, and it’s time to engage more fully with the demographic that needs convincing the most.
It’s also time to warmly invite the members of that demographic into the debate and encourage them to propose the ideas they feel Scotland needs to adopt in order for an independent nation to be in their and their family’s best interests. That’s the way forward, not pointing fingers and snarling at folk who did what they thought at the time was the best thing for their country.