Mindset – Dave’s Article from the National
Should Scotland be an independent country?
Why is Scotland not an independent country?
These are not the same question. They are very different indeed.
This is important because the last referendum campaign was dominated by the first question – a question that gave our well funded, well resourced enemy with a huge control of the media a huge advantage over us.
If we want to win the next referendum we have to make sure it is fought on the second question – on our ground.
In other words we take charge of the narrative. We turn the questions on them.
That puts us on the offensive – if we recognise how we do that.
But let us first have a good look at our enemy.
For a variety of reasons (and often vested interest) some informed and intelligent people do not support or publicly support an independent Scotland. There are also the pragmatic who will adapt to any constitutional position. There is of course a perfectly legitimate support for the union in Scotland. It may in many cases be largely emotional but it is democratically legitimate.
It is matched by a similar emotional based support for independence. I would suggest that this second group is now much larger than the first. My strong feeling now is that a significant majority of our population would LIKE Scotland to be independent if- if – if………
I suspect if the question was “Would you LIKE Scotland to be independent?” there would be a significant majority Aye response. But it is those who would answer “Aye, but……” who are the key to winning the referendum.
We are aware also that there is always a significant percentage of the electorate that are beyond political reason. They vote on many issues for the oddest of reasons and are as likely to vote for us especially if momentum grows and this is the major reason for encouraging “identification” which we should understand is very important.
I would judge however that perhaps 30% of our electorate are staunch unionist by habit and sentiment. We can waste too much time on them explaining the benefits of independence and the need for it.
What we must understand first is that there is actually only one major battle we have to win to gain independence. This is to persuade a majority of our people that an independent Scotland is economically viable. Which, of course, it is.
When a majority of our people understand that we will win a referendum.
When we have achieved that – when our people fully understand that we are economically viable – we can then paint the picture of the better country we aspire to – confident that most of our people know we have the means to provide it.
Because if you strip away the continuous unionist campaign this is what it is all about . Scotland. Too poor and too wee.
Which is why they were happy to engage us on the battlefield they chose – and will choose again – if we let them.
With the whole broadcasting media and almost all of the printed media at their disposal they knew they could tie the YES campaign up in interminable arguments about carefully selected economic facts and figures. They did so in a confident expectation that sufficient percentage of the electorate take their word for it. That we exist on a subsidy. And they know that a significant percentage of the electorate have no appetite for or understanding of complicated economic arguments and no intention of listening to them.
(This is a diminishing asset to our enemy as it becomes more and more obvious to the alert that the UK is economically in no position to offer subsidy or security to anybody – but not everybody gets this.)
We should not be so stupid second time round. This time we choose the battlefield and the tactics.
Essentially the independence campaign and the SNP should provide the platform for many respected but non political people to join the SNP in articulating the independence case. But the manner in which it is made is all important.
Some say we have to “make the case for Independence.” Indeed. But it is not a difficult case to make. Independence is the normal condition of any nation. And Scotland is a nation of clever, industrious people with a generous sufficiency of the resources that any nation would need to prosper.
That is the case.
So – why is Scotland not an independent country?
That is the question.
There is a long answer which could take several pages but in simple terms history explains it. Initially an impoverished element in the Scottish Parliament (not an impoverished Scotland)took the English shilling and the mercantile class in Scotland soon reaped the benefit of an English and world market that had been denied to it (by the English). Then for much of the following 300 odd years the Scots played a central role in the “greatness” of Britain and its empire. It was entirely possible to be at the same time a proud Scot and a proud Brit. It was in fact a majority position and this hangs on in our older population. A “Union of Equals” indeed with Scotland playing more than its part.
But all that has gone. The Empire is no more. They didn’t even notice as it went. The UK economy is a basket case. The ship is sinking and we are going down with it. And then there is Brexit! From Scotland’s point of view all compelling reason for the union is gone.
But from England’s viewpoint Scotland can’t be lost to it.
This is the battle we face.
And this is when we have to decide exactly how to fight it. Let us a have cold look at our last referendum. We all but won it. We were surely within a hairsbreadth of winning it. We had all the right answers. Yes. We did. We had the White Paper. No country had been better prepared for independence than Scotland with its White Paper.
But the White Paper of over 650 pages that was described as “rubbish” within 20 minutes of its launch by significant figures (obviously world champion speed readers) on the unionist team. And that was how the White Paper was portrayed throughout the whole campaign by the unionist media. And they picked on bit of it which tied us up at a crucial stage and destroyed all our momentum because we handed them that opportunity on a plate.
I talk of the Currency Issue.
I hear continually thoughtful chaps shouting “we must get the currency issue decided”. No. We do not.
In the White Paper we presented four carefully considered currency options – all of them entirely viable. They were put to us by some of the world’s most respected economists. We chose one of them as our preferred option. At the point of independence it would certainly have been agreed to as the most stable option. To no avail. We were suckered.
Check this. There were 51 independent members who signed up for the United Nations in 1945. There are now 193 independent members of that organisation. Not one of those new members broke sweat over what currency they would adopt. As they negotiated their independences they decided what would be the most useful currency option to adopt. There was a very wide choice.
There is a very wide choice.
But the fact of the matter is that no matter what currency option we had chosen it would have been rubbished. Let me repeat that. No matter what currency option we had chosen it would have been rubbished. That is the unpalatable fact. No matter how sensible, no matter how appropriate.
The unionist response on our chosen currency option was a big fat lie. And they could lie because they had the media. Our mistake was to provide them the target and then engage with them on their lies. Their lie did not cost us the referendum – but the loss of momentum we suffered by engaging them on it – when we should have been painting the vision of our new Scotland – may well have done.
And they will do the same again – if we do the same again.
The reason they could lie was we gave them the target and the opportunity.
Why do I go on about this?
Because this is exactly the point.
We got engaged in a diversion, in a battle chosen by our opponents, which tied us up and which we couldn’t win.
The fact that our position was honest and perfectly reasonable was immaterial. As the Governor of the Bank of England conceded it would have been accepted with alacrity by rUK. But the lie got the coverage. And we got bogged down.
When I get asked what currency we will use in my head I answer “Smarties” because the significant fact is that the average voter doesn’t understand what “currency” actually is and does. That makes lying about it very easy.
With hindsight it is pretty obvious to me that our position on currency should have been “There are over 195 countries in this world utilising a variety of currency options. They chose the best option for themselves. That’s what an independent Scotland will do. Or are you suggesting we not clever enough? “
We have to look in a different way at the battles ahead and how we choose to approach them. With a different mindset.
Factor this in. Arguing about stuff can give it more oxygen and allow it repetition.
If you don’t control the media you are giving it opportunity to repeat one side of an argument and the lies and distortions that are used against us.
Turn the argument round. We have to immediately bounce an argument back on them. Make them scrabble about for the answers.
“The Scottish economy is weak and Scotland needs subsidy from the UK treasury to provide the services its people enjoy”
“Ah. So after 310 years of a union a country with clever people and huge resources need hand-outs. And this a benefit of the union? Tell us why we should just continue doing the same?”
“Scotland has a £15 billion deficit.”
“This is Scotland’s UK deficit, not Scotland’s deficit . This is a result of Scotland being trapped in a UK economy with a £1.85 trillion national debt. Are you telling us the UK with that huge debt is hanging onto Scotland to give us money? Do you believe we are all stupid.
By the way how is the UK going to deal with its nearly £2,000,000,000,000 debt?
You can include the disturbing facts that Scotland is being charged over £4billion every year in interest on the UK’s debt, over £3billion of “defence” and are paying a share of the expenses of the London Underground system, the London Sewerage network the House of Lord and lots of other areas of “national expenditure” that has nothing to do with us. That makes them think.
“But how would Scotland defend itself?”
“The same way that Denmark and Finland and New Zealand and does – for less than half of what Scotland is charged (for no virtually no defence force – except Trident). The only maritime nation without a navy. “
“But England is Scotland’s biggest market.”
“And Scotland is a huge market for England. This is the “no Maltesers for an independent Scotland” argument. Are you suggesting that the English would be so stupid that they would stop trading with us and damage their own businesses to punish Scotland. Why would we want to be in a union with that sort of attitude? Are you being serious?”
Pensions. How will get my pension?
Well, the UK and the Scottish Government have agreed that pensions will be fully honoured. Did you know it is about the worst pension in Europe by the way. A Scottish Government will aim to match the Irish pension as a first step (that sets them back on their heels) – and then move on perhaps to a Scandinavian model. Do you think we are too stupid to manage that?
But we are short of teachers/nurses/ doctors/policemen etc. etc.
Not as short as they are in England. But you voted NO. You voted for austerity. You voted for slashed budgets and slashed services.
That’s the key. Knock the question back. Attack.
Don’t get trapped in facts and figures.
Don’t give them the field to deploy their media advantage.
Don’t argue figures about the performance of Scotland and the Scottish economy that are thrown at us by our enemy. The SNP Government has been pretty smart recently. It doesn’t argue about the multitudinous invented failures it is charged with by the assorted unionists and their media. It doesn’t give the enemy the oxygen. It just quietly gives out the facts and agrees that it is working to improve things – and the attack sinks.
Do use the example and comparison of the other small nations around us and point out that they, with no more resource than Scotland, are providing better for their people.
Do refer to better pensions in all the small countries, better social provision, better wage levels, better health service provision and pose the big question. Are the Scots uniquely stupid. Is that what you are telling us? They can all do this and we can’t? Is that what you are telling us? Do you think insulting us is a good tactic?
Do use opinion formers. This is key.
And understand that economic case that propels our independence case will not be won by arguing about figures thrown at us of a Scotland trapped in a UK without the major powers over its economy.
“without the major powers over its economy”
That is the key when you approach the “Why is Scotland not an independent country” question.
All these other little countries (over half the countries in the UN are smaller than Scotland) have control of their economies.
In terms of provision for their people all the best performers are small countries.
In general terms they have fewer resources than Scotland and are less developed in many ways.
Scotland’s GDP and GNP put it among the richest countries in the world.
These are the proof that Scotland should be an independent country – not endless disputed figures.
We use comparisons with similar sized small countries, not UK figures.
(Apart from anything else a huge proportion of our electorate just switch off when assailed by political figures shouting contradictory facts about a Scotland inside the UK.)
I could go on. Virtually every argument against Scottish independence can be combated by turning the question round. Virtually every statement against Scottish independence can be described as an insult. (If we were to step back and look carefully the only actually sustainable economy in the UK is the Scottish one which readily feeds and powers itself while the UK is dependent on huge import in both those areas. This is a simple case to make and takes us away from the mindboggling swamps of economic “facts” and carefully selected and partial figures paraded against us by our enemies.)
So we change the mindset. We refuse to accept the insults. We chose the questions. We control the narrative. We deploy more respected non political figures to make our case.
Very important however is identification. Ignored sometimes, but just as effective as telling arguments. Car stickers, window stickers, lapel badges and flags.
And in the final analysis, when we are sinking the unionist campaign, we hold a friendly hand out to the people of England. “What would you prefer? A surly lodger in the north or the best neighbour you can ever have?”