Given the way in which the lies of Better Together/Project Fear have been so comprehensively exposed; the scaremongering so thoroughly debunked; and the promises so completely revealed as empty and worthless, the surprise is there is any continuing support at all for keeping Scotland thirled to the British state. If recent polls showing only a statistically insignificant increase in support for independence demonstrate anything, it is that there are rather more people committed to ‘the union at any cost’ than can readily be explained by reason alone.
There is a notion within the independence movement that we will persuade previous No voters to the cause of restoring Scotland’s rightful constitutional status simply by presenting them with better arguments. The belief is that the Yes movement got certain things wrong last time and that we need only get those things right in order to win over the ‘soft’ No vote. There are, of course, at least as many views as to what constitutes the right message as there are individuals and organisations offering an opinion on the matter. Pretty much they only thing they all agree on is that we mustn’t ever tell these No voters that they were wrong.
Across the Yes movement, it is held almost as a matter of dogma that we must be nice to No voters. We must not confront them. We must not contradict them. We must constantly reassure them that their original choice was perfectly valid even as we strive to convince them that it wasn’t by presenting them with evidence incontrovertibly proving that the choice was made on the basis of an entirely false prospectus. A prospectus, moreover, that was quite transparently false even as these No voters were allowing themselves to be influenced by it.
It is rightly said that it is futile to deploy reason in an effort to persuade someone from a position not arrived at by reason. The Yes campaign urgently needs to heed the wisdom of this aphorism. There is no magic form of words describing independence that will induce an epiphany in someone who has blithely rejected the evidence of their own senses in order to cling to their prejudices.
We will not win people over solely with the power of the argument for independence. That argument cannot ever be more powerful than it has been ever since the political union was conceived for the purposes of securing established power completely without regard for the interests of the people of these islands. The case for independence cannot be made more powerful because it is already a matter of fundamental democratic justice.
We seek independence, not for some necessarily transitory and uncertain economic gain, but because it is right – in the most profound sense of that term. What we seek is not something extraordinary or outlandish. What we seek is the normalisation of Scotland’s constitutional status. We seek to correct the anomaly of an asymmetric and patently dysfunctional political union. We are trying to put right an ancient and abiding wrong.
It is not some pretty new formulation of the independence argument that is required in order to break through the barriers of stubborn adherence to the union and learned aversion to the normality independence. People may well be lured by the plain logic and democratic appeal of bringing Scotland’s government home. But they will not even begin to hear that message until they are first induced to question the union and their allegiance to it.
We should treat former No voters with the respect of presuming them to be, not delicate hot-house flowers who need careful handling, but mature, intelligent individuals perfectly capable of questioning their own assumptions and preconceptions if they are given sufficient reason to do so.
By rights, those who voted No in 2014 should all be very angry at those who deceived them so egregiously. The polls suggest they aren’t. The Yes campaign needs to consider why that is.Views: 6553
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