While I’m delighted to find Robin McAlpine acknowledging that the core message of the Yes movement in the first referendum was, and remains, “the most coherent we have”, I am somewhat concerned about the intense concentration (I’m trying to avoid the word ‘obsession’) on ever more fine-grained demographic detail. I have to ask, what’s the point? While it’s always better to know more rather than less and I would never underestimate the importance of being informed, I have to wonder what it’s all for.
All this data doesn’t seem to have much practical use – unless the suggestion is that we run lots of separate campaigns with messages carefully tailored to each and every one of numerous narrowly defined demographic groups. And that would be precisely the wrong thing to do.
I have always maintained that we didn’t do much wrong in the first independence referendum campaign. There was nothing wrong with our core message. The problem was that the core message was not conveyed effectively enough. There were a number of reasons for this. Not the least of these was the proliferation of subsidiary or alternative messages. Every party, organisation and group had its own version. This resulted in a dulling and a blurring of that message. Voters couldn’t see the central constitutional question for all the policy options that were crowded around it.
The situation was aggravated by the tendency for large parts of the Yes movement to be preoccupied with ‘critiquing’ the agendas of other parts of the Yes movement to the point where they neglected the core message and failed to properly address the opposition’s arguments. The anti-independence campaign’s job was made easier by the fact that, when attacking some aspect of the Yes case, they could always point to somebody on the Yes side who ‘agreed’ with them.
Diversity was turned to division by the masters of divide-and-conquer.
In a political campaign the power of a message is relative. The No campaign benefited both from the dilution of the Yes ‘brand’ and the banal simplicity of its own message. To put it simply, the No campaign was one voice and one message while the Yes campaign was many voices and many messages. The key to success is many voices and one message.
We have the many voices. We have the one message. We win if we concentrate on that message and sell it as hard as we can. One unified campaign backing one agenda. The entire Yes campaign working to the same plan and reading from the same script. The very opposite of the diffused (defused?) effort that Robin appears to envisage.
Achieving the necessary focus and discipline will not be easy. It is patently obvious that, to have any hope of success, the entire Yes movement must get behind the First Minister and the Scottish Government. A sense of the difficulties we face can be gained from a recent article on, you guessed it, Bella Caledonia (https://goo.gl/RkDvxr) in which Colin Fox indulges in just the kind of pointless sniping at Nicola Sturgeon that damages the independence movement for no gain other than to his non-SNP credentlials.
Interestingly, Colin’s ‘criticism’ bears absolutely no relation to Robin’s definition of what is ‘true’. Or, for that matter, any other definition of the term. What he offers in his remarks is, not rational assessment, but rhetorical posturing for the benefit of his followers.
I don’t expect the left to love the SNP. I just wish they could find the self-discipline to suspend the party political skirmishing for the duration of a referendum campaign which will only succeed if we all accept the crucial role of the SNP as the de facto political arm of the independence movement.
Solidarity! Focus! Discipline! Many voices – one message! We get that right and it won’t matter a damn what the polls say now.Views: 2010
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