Proper respect for No voters

project_fearHaving been surprised, and not a little irked, to discover that a total lack of gender-balance on a panel had suddenly become something to brag about, I was tempted to give up on Carolyn Leckie’s article as just another condescending lecture from the happy-clappy faction of the Yes movement urging tip-toe eggshell-treading in the vicinity of No voters when I encountered the claim that “people have valid reasons and feelings for voting No”. Supposing we were about to be presented with some of these “valid reasons”, I thought it might be worth wading through the cloying self-righteousness of Ms Leckie’s sermonising in the hope of finally getting some clues as to that most mysterious of beasts, the ‘positive case for the Union’.

It was a forlorn hope. Having hinted at a revelation, Ms Leckie left us hanging. The ‘positive case for the Union’ remains as elusive as Ruth Davidson when the subject of ‘dark money’ is raised and as impenetrably baffling as a Richard Leonard speech.

Instead of the rational justifications for voting to give the British political elite licence to dispose of Scotland as it pleases that we’d been teased with, what we got was the facile argument that the constitution is subordinate to “bread-and-butter concerns” and an inane admission that “not everything in the garden will miraculously turn rosy after independence”. As if anybody had ever claimed that it would. And as if the ability to address those “bread-and-butter concerns” wasn’t absolutely dependent on the core constitutional issue of sovereignty.

All of which is unfortunate. Because I would have been delighted to discover how No voters continue to justify that choice. From where I stand, what distinguishes No voters from Yes voters is that the former unthinkingly accepted the lies, smears, insults and threats of Project Fear while the latter saw right through them. Some of them believed the Better Together propaganda for no better reason than that it was British. For those whose first and abiding loyalty is to the British state and its ruling elites, no reflection was required. Voting No was as innate as the gag reflex.

Others, we are assured, voted No having given the matter some thought. I had hoped that Ms Leckie was going to throw some light on how these people came to the conclusion that keeping Scotland bound to the British state was the best option. I genuinely want to understand the reasoning process involved. I would really like to be assured that there was one.

I really want to know what it was about the anti-independence case that No voters found intellectually persuasive. I would be fascinated to hear their reasons for continuing to be convinced by that case even after it has been conclusively shown to have been utterly dishonest. I need to understand the mentality that can insist a No vote was ‘right’ when they know that it was sold to them on a totally false prospectus.

It is a truism that the first step on the road to recovery is to acknowledge the problem. If people are to change, they must take responsibility for past choices and actions. But the essence of Carolyn Leckie’s remonstrance is that we in the Yes movement must never ask No voters to take responsibility for their choice. We are supposed to persuade them to make a different choice whilst assuring them that we don’t consider their previous choice to have been in any sense wrong.

Following a comment that is offensively dismissive of the work put in by those who pound the streets delivering leaflets and the Herculean effort of those who organise marches, Ms Leckie ends by telling us that “to achieve success, we have to confront the hard stuff too” – as if leafleting and organising marches wasn’t “hard stuff”. But she herself is not prepared to take on the hard task of confronting No voters with the hard truth that their reasons for voting No were not valid. She insists that we must never ask No voters to confront the consequences of their choice.

The real “hard stuff” of the coming campaign involves forcefully impressing on people the harsh reality of what the Union means for Scotland, and what it will mean in the very immediate future if we do not act as a matter of urgency. We cannot possibly do this without categorically rejecting any suggestion that there can possibly be “valid reasons” for favouring a political union which precludes adequate representation of Scotland’s interests and prohibits the proper exercise of popular sovereignty.

No voters are not misguided children who need to be shielded from the implications of their actions. They must be afforded the respect due to mature individuals capable of acknowledging past mistakes and accepting that they were maliciously misled. That is the starting point for the journey from No to Yes.


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3 thoughts on “Proper respect for No voters

  1. Peter

    Are “YES” partially responsible?

    I fear one of the reasons many “NO” have not moved to “YES” (or had to move) is that too many in the YES movement are still talking about this referendum being a re-run of 2014…”we were lied too”…they even use the same 2014 arguments.

    For those still buying what the BBC are pumping out, why would you listen seriously to a group just wanting a re-run of a vote. When large numbers of YES keep trumping out terms like “INDYREF 2″ it just gives the “Better Togetherites” a free kick to label YES as sore losers only wanting a re-run.

    We all know 2018 is not a re-run of 2014 and the message from all in YES needs to change.

    Scotland is no longer just wishing to be a better country. Scotland has grown up and this time it is exerting its constitutional rights. The current events are a totally new condition where the Union has clearly been broken and the dangers of the democratic deficit has become evident for all to see (2014’s Indyref did not come with that same explicit risk).

    The only relevance of the 2014 referendum and the Unionist empty promises is it give YES the clear case that any promises of the Neo-Better Together-ites are worthless. The Unionist’s own words shows them for what they are…gaslighters and snake oil salesmen. But the only argument now is the one that cuts like a rapier through all the Westminster attacks is that the Union is broken. Its over.


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  2. Peter/Tom

    Tom I don’t think we will ever convince the BBC/Daily Mail No voters of the merits of independence end of. They are British and being Scottish is just the part of Britain they were born in, they know things can be different, they know that the very worst that can happen is that things stay pretty much the same, but they won’t accept that. People like my brother, very well educated and not a stupid man at all, will never vote yes. They are British end of.

    As far as Carolyn Leckie, and the Cat Boyds of the world go, they come across to me as champagne socialists and two of the reasons why I don’t buy the National as much as I should given it’s the only paper media we have. They come across as the middle classes who can appear to know better, the Social Workers of old who will tell you how you will live your life rather than working with you to find the learning and knowledge that you require to make an informed choice. They do more damage to the cause than the yessers who may be a little rude and say it as it is.

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    1. @Bruce

      The % who will never budge may be smaller than you think.

      Luckily, YES are not fighting 50% died in the wool Unionist who will lay down their all for England. All votes are a coalition of voters and positions – even those who voted No. To win YES needs to peel off those who are actually open to change their mind. The smaller that Unionist coalition becomes the more foolish they will look as they lose the respectability of the more reasonable positions they use to hide their true nature. (EG…Alistair McConnachie at AUOB. Do reasonable “No” voters really want to stand with that?)

      When you have deeply ingrained programming to break, language is important in changing people’s minds. Think about it from your own perspective, We are all obstinate so & so’s….hence, once you perceive the message (or messenger) as pish, you switch off. We all do. There is a saying that a great message must do all of the following 3:

      1 – Energise the Base
      2 – Engage the middle (those who are open to change)
      3 – Make your opponents show their true colours

      If you are only doing the first, YES are doomed to lose.

      Never give your opponent a free kick. Never do their work for them….and never let them set the terms of the debate. YES needs to set is arguments like a razor. It also needs to jettison the terms that do Unionists work for them to the dustbin. Eg.”INDYREF 2″ & “BRITAIN”

      The NIMBY YES supporters are a real problem. Anyone whose support is premised on their opportunities will always be a risk of jumping ship if their see the grass is greener on the other side. However, in any final vote, YES will still need them to get over the line. Just as the NO coalition is a broad church, so will YES need to be. A wolf in sheep’s clothing can make the flock look bigger…but never let it loose.

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