If the Sunday Herald is to be believed, Nicola Sturgeon’s ‘summer initiative’ aimed at persuading No voters to change their minds and switch to Yes, is set to be launched. The news was revealed days after it emerged Elaine C. Smith is once again to take the helm at the relaunch of the Scottish Independence Convention.
All good and all in keeping with the ‘Yesurrection’ that has been ongoing since the SNP swept Labour out of the way in the aftermath of the first indy vote. Local Yes groups are recharging their batteries and the excellent National Yes Registry project is set to launch a new Indy App aimed at ensuring grass roots volunteers can communicate effectively.
There’s no shortage of people offering ‘advice’ on how best to achieve a Yes success in indyref2. I myself pitched in last week when I argued that local grassroots Yes groups should not be used as vehicles in order to push political agendas, or specific left/right policies.
In all the discussion and debate over the issue of strategy for the next Yes campaign, one subject is always noticeable by its absence. I’m talking about the media. Nobody, at least none of the ‘respected voices’, ever seems to want to acknowledge that the media in Scotland is a problem for the independence movement.
Sure, let’s allay the fears of the six percent of voters we need to persuade over to the Yes side. But let’s not forget the role played by elements of our media in promoting Project Fear so uncritically. The media, with the BBC in the vanguard, became the No campaign so compliant was its promotion of Better Together.
‘If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.‘ says the ancient Chinese proverb. The Yes movement certainly knows its enemy, the first indyref forced the media to reveal itself. We also saw at first hand the tactics used by that media in order to help its Unionist paymasters win the first indyref.
I know why the SNP can’t openly challenge the media as strongly as the party might want. Look what happened when two MPs brought the social media exploits of an STV editor to his employer’s attention. But there’s nothing to prevent a non party-political organisation from directly challenging and exposing pro-Union untruths.
For example, during the first independence campaign it was claimed that a newly independent Scotland could be barred from using the pound. It wasn’t until late in the day, during a televised debate, that Alistair Darling under pressure from Alex Salmond eventually conceded that the claim was a lie.
Other nonsense claims such as a newly independent Scotland being unable to remain in NATO because it scrapped nuclear weapons, were allowed to sit basically unchallenged despite the example of post-Franco Spain proving it to be a lie. Spain joined NATO after ditching nuclear weapons following a crash in 1966.
The list of lies goes on. Most went unchallenged because the very media, which should have challenged them on our behalf in the first place, was actively promoting them.
Any resurrected Yes Scotland campaign cannot afford to make the error of trusting the media a second time. A counter-media strategy will be required.
Any story that appears in the press or broadcast media and that can be shown to be untrue, should be exposed as such before it gains traction. Challenges to reporters guilty of promoting demonstrable falsehoods, should be unforgiving and relentless. The second Yes campaign needs to send out a message that says blatantly corrupt journalism will not be tolerated.
Newspapers are of course partisan and should be allowed to publish editorials and opinion pieces accordingly. Debate and disagreement should be embraced. But let’s not kid ourselves that these outlets won’t stretch the truth to the absolute limit.
The next Yes Scotland organisation could well determine whether Yes breaks the magical fifty per cent or falls tantalisingly short of a majority come indyref2. Challenging lies head-on won’t harm the prospects of success. Indeed it may be necessary.
Most online activists, if the twitter poll to the right is to be believed, would appear to agree.
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