The FIF

I doubt if anybody votes according to policy. I mean the reason you support a party is because the policies it pursues are attractive or at least don’t alienate you but do you really vote for that reason or for another less intellectual motive? It’s far from clear that Labour people vote Labour for specific policies for example but rather they have a generalised sense that Labour stands for them. That is about history, social background and group association. Everybody has an impression of what Labour is and who Labour people are and either identify with it or not. Policy issues may make you feel more or less inclined to follow your instinct but they don’t really determine how you’ll vote. At least not very often. I had a dilemma a few years ago when I wanted to express my contempt and fury at Labour – or more accurately Tony Blair – and would have voted SNP as usual. But the Lib Dems were running second to Labour in my constituency so I went for them. That was a kind of policy vote but really it was more of a protest against something. I was following my instincts and saying to hell with the economy, social policy, welfare and every other domestic issue. I made an emotional choice. (Didn’t work).

I don’t believe many Labour voters backed Alex Salmond in the last two Scottish elections because they wanted independence but because they had a gut instinct that he represented them better than did Labour. As the polling shows, Scots think Salmond and his team “stand up for Scotland” better than anybody else and that has a generalised appeal. Despite their natural bias they were so turned off by Labour – and I suspect the two leaders involved, McConnell and Gray – that they were open to switch. So, although they probably liked some of the SNP policy, most decided to follow their heart. This idea that politics isn’t about policy is hardly new. The best articulated example would be David Hume and his concept of sentiment directing reason. People are more likely to vote for what they like even if it isn’t necessarily the best option available.

Recently I had two encounters with different people who said very much the same as the other. (Maybe they’re communicating and I didn’t know it). What they said was that this vote more than any other comes down to a moment in time…that after years of talking, after reams of reports, of assertion and scaremongering, of hours of programming, it all comes down to one silent moment in the plywood cubicle, pencil in hand. You don’t get the chance to change your vote in four years time. Have you really assimilated it all? Have you worked out your answer to every question? Are you absolutely sure about your intention and have no regret? Do you really know what your opinion is? Or will it be as you stand there looking at Yes and No that something primal stirs, a sense that sometimes in life it takes a leap of faith and what’s so perfect about the current set-up anyway? You’re being challenged and the common view is you haven’t got it in you to give up the security blanket. You’re not sure all the numbers add up to stress free new country but a sense of excitement and defiance takes over. You vote Yes.

It’s what they’re calling the Fuck It Factor. That’s the phrase both my contacts used. They mean that at the last moment, even in the face of cold logic, there is a dangerously thrawn element to Scots’ character that may not say much at the time but which takes a silent delight in defying expectation. If they judge that the forces of the Union have patronised them, insulted them or taken them for granted and if they credit Salmond – again – for being a man with the guts to stand up and be counted, they will breathe deeply and say: Fuck It.

Now this is wishful thinking without doubt. But doesn’t it have a familiar ring of something the Scots might just do? Didn’t they defy the odds by electing a majority nationalist government? I think the FIF has a certain illogical logic about it and would also confound the pollsters. You have to ask if the publicity assault of the British government is still working. Is anybody still reading those reports…does any rational person still believe the UK will think it is against its interests to resist monetary union…was the latest effort by Ian Davidson anything other than a joke on Westminster, suggesting it was outwith Holyrood’s powers to stage a referendum?  He is using the position as chair of a Commons committee to politick when the purpose of select committees is to scrutinise objectively. It has been up to now one of the real successes of a creaking Westminster system. But the idea that Davidson warns anyone else they mustn’t engage in propaganda is entering the realms of Monty Python. How the Unionists must regret putting in charge someone so laughably one-eyed at such a crucial time when they could have had for example Ming Campbell, assuming he was available. Had he been in the chair, they wouldn’t have lost Eilidh Whiteford and, if the SNP tried to wriggle out of membership, he would have worked tirelessly to keep them on board realising the importance of balance. How much more import would the reports have had when presented by someone of intellect and gravitas, how much more forensic the questioning by a trained advocate. In over 20 years in the Commons has Ian Davidson ever been promoted? As far as I know not a single Labour minister has offered him even a PPS position so perhaps he’s soaking up the notoriety now as he gets his wee moment in the limelight. He has made himself as much a figurehead for Union as Alistair Carmichael and he adds daily to their nutcase hysteria. The more they bang on and the more strident they become, the less credible they appear. I think the Scots will be heartily sick of Unionist rantings by the time polling day arrives. Welcome to the FIF.

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0 thoughts on “The FIF

  1. Brilliant Derek,haven’t stopped laughing.
    If the British propaganda keeps up the FuF might come into play as well.

  2. Yes, Derek,

    The FiF is the one thing that no amount of propaganda and brainwashing from the establishment can account for.

    I think the FiF is what will bring a landslide for independence next September.

    When it comes to a question of “do we want to be ruled by westminster?” many of us have thought “Fuck It” for a long, long time. I just never believed it would happen in my lifetime.

    The people of Scotland have a once in a lifetime choice in front of them. I have faith the people of Scotland will choose to determine their own future and be free from westminster’s corrupt and duplicitous rule.

    The Scots who support the undemocratic british establishment will be swept aside and not a moment too soon. I for one cannot wait to have the Davidsons of the world gone from Scottish public life. They will find themselves outcast and unwanted in a newly independent, progressive Scotland.

    So, continue with 300 years of denigration of our country, or move on into a bright new world?

    Aye, fuck it indeed!

  3. Why not “fuck them” factor ?.

    • I did mean to continue, by saying (in print!) that was/is a so true a situation which most of us will face in the
      Polling booth, with the exception that I have been waiting nigh on 60yrs to say, when in that booth, with the
      Stub of that pencil which one always seem to get, and as I score my cross in the “YES ” box , I’ll be saying
      “Aye Fuck you”!.

  4. FIF

    I always wondered what voter demographic I fell into. 😀

  5. I think that the referendum will be about emotion, better together will or should I say is trying to scare us away from a yes vote and the yes side I suspect will win as most Scots are like me emotionaly for the yes side. when I sit and review the arguments for and against a yes, logic tells me that we can make Scotland a better place with a yes but there’s a wee nagging devil saying why risk it, even though logic says go for it, then my pride in being Scottish and the the fuck it syndrome and the fact I have waited for this moment all my adult life kicks in and I know I will vote yes, as I can see r. u. k. going so wrong that we can save ourself from privatisation of health service, destruction of welfare to give tax cuts to the rich and so on. I will be voting yes both for logic and for emotion.

  6. Illogical logic . Absolutely brilliant Derek. I’m looking forward to the day that the good Prof has to factor the F I.’s into his analysis of how we are behind in the polls.

  7. Great article, Derek. I’ve long thought that there is going to be a sizeable chunk of the electorate who feel the sense of occasion as they step into that booth, think “can I really vote No here? Can I really chuck away this opportunity to change things? Will I be able to look myself in the mirror if I vote No? Could things really get any worse if I vote Yes?” And then, as you say, go “fuck it” and put a cross next to Yes. They then post the ballot in the box and walk off, with that feeling of excitement you get when you do something you’ve perhaps been told not to do, but you’ve done it anyway.

    And there will also be a proportion of the electorate who vote No, but still find themselves becoming unexpectedly excited and hopeful when they hear the news that Scotland has voted Yes. Folk who deep down would like Scotland to be independent, but don’t want the responsibility of being the ones to make it happen. In the end, it’ll just be that 25% who have been nailed-on No voters since the very start who will be unhappy with the result.

  8. Thought provoking as ever; Derek.

  9. You must have read my mind. After reading your blog yesterday I sat wondering to myself why everyone decries the emotional factor in voting and stridently demands more answers and that SNP stop ducking the question, when in fact so many of these questions can’t really be answered until after a YES vote is secured.
    Given the complexities and often the disinformation and propaganda being churned out, then in reality it must surely come down to our individual gut instinct on what is best for Scotland in the long run and whether one thinks one side has presented a prospect of a better future than the other. So you may well be correct that all the claims and counter claims and scare tactics of the No campaign may be overwhelmed simply by the FIF on the big day.

  10. At the end of the day, for many people it will come done to how do you trust. The Nasty No’s who’ve been denigrating Scotland all through the campaign and see no future other than Austerity Britain or the Yes campaign backed by the SNP government who have proved themselves in government and kept the Westminster wolves from the door.

  11. FFS. If you watched daily politics, bbc scottish news, Douglas Fraser then you will understand my FFS. The institute for financial studies: The oil is running out and Scots are getting older faster than the rest of the uk. I thought we all aged one day at a time and every bodies oil was running out as it is extracted.

    The impression I have is that Londinium has awoken to the fact that their milch cow is getting restless and they better scare the sh** out of those stupid jocks. FFS. With all the dept and only us as their income nae wonder London is rattled.

  12. Could it be a along the lines of,
    ( Pacific Key, day of the vote.)
    “Let’s see what Professor Curtice thinks the Polls are telling us.”
    “Well Gordon, as you can see the Yes and No votes are running neck and neck at this moment and as has been the case for the past few months, the Don’t Knows will determine the outcome of the referendum. However, within this group there is a sub-set, an unknown variable, an enigmatic type of voter called the F I’s , for clarity, The Fuck It’s.”
    “It is this demoghraphic that will ultimately decide the outcome Gordon, and unfortunately they create a problem for we psephologists, as they make all our analytical methodology T F ( Totally Fucked ).”

  13. There is good statistical evidence from the USA that suggests that all the campaigning, canvassing and pro and anti political messages have very little effect on the final results of major elections; and what could be more major than an Independence Referendum? Most people have made up their minds long before the campaign begins, based on gut instincts, consciously or sub-consciously; and that media polls only tap into peoples’ current indifference, or temporary uncertainty along the way. There is also a bandwagon effect visible in the polls where the indifference recedes as the voting date nears, and the undecideds gradually come out to follow their basic instincts one way or the other.
    An example of this could have been the 2011 Scottish Parliament election where SNP were well behind according to the polls but gradually built up a lead as polling day came closer so that the results for those who voted were 53% SNP, 32% Lab, 15% Libdem. Or the 1997 Devolution Referendum where YES support was lowest two weeks before the vote but in the end it was YES 63.5% for the Devolution with taxation option and YES 74.3% for the straightforward Devolution option. Since I believe the Referendum vote will be ‘gut based’ I would argue that the underlying Independence supporting vote in Scotland is more or less fixed now regardless of what the media polls show; and based on those earlier polls the basic YES vote is at a level somewhere between 55% and 65%.

  14. Brilliant Derek.
    FIF will play along nicely with the GIRUY factor. 🙂

  15. There will be a big FiFactor on the day of the referendum. Many people will say ‘fuck it’ on the day maybe not realising that 100,000s of others will be doing the exact same thing. I’m sure many people who voted for devolution in 1997 weren’t sure what it was all about but they voted YES YES because they felt it was a vote for Scotland. Independence is the natural progress from devolution and a normal position for a country. The question I ask doubters is: “Do you want Scotland to be the only country in the history of the world to be offered Independence and refuse it?” If anything it gets them thinking, planting seeds within people and let it germinate over time, this is the beauty of the long game and maybe on the day of reckoning when they’ll see that question: Should Scotland be an independent country? … they’ll say “fuck it, aye!”

  16. There is empirical evidence which directly supports your thesis Derek. I was watching the recent Kirsty Wark shambles on the Tweed when, to her horror, more than 60% of the audience voted Yes. With tears starting in her eyes she asked one chap why he’d voted for independence.

    “Well, I just thought, ‘what the heck, let’s go for it’!

    I bet he was really thinking, “Fuck it, let’s just do it!”.

  17. Yesterday watched a screening of ‘We are Northern Lights – http://wearenorthernlights.com Worth a watch. Great discussion afterwards.
    In the film a guy with multiple sclerosis who swam the Clyde explained what kept him going. ‘Hope is in the positives,’ he said. He was thankful for the good sight in his right eye and sidelined failing sight in his left, and so on, concentrating on the positive to let him achieve what he wanted in life. Hope is life. To live, we need to hope. This seems very much part of the FIF philosophy.

  18. Good article Derek but the FiF factor only comes into play if you can get the people to the booth in the first place, if it wasn’t for this and a few other sites I wouldn’t be having this conversation as none of my friends are interested in politics and will probably just stay home and not vote on the day. These are the type of people we need to convert and get to the polling booths I just don’t think many will turn up and if you are that disinterested my thinking is they would vote for the status quo, hope I am wrong.

    • Derek, I’ve been saying this for ages. When that moment arrives, people’s loyalties to parties and flags are going to be tested to the extreme. I like that because that’s what we need. I’ve noticed Annabel Goldie and various others of a unionist disposition who have repeatedly undermined the importance of the constitutional question – always with that patronising remark about bread and butter issues. As if the future of the Welfare State wasn’t a bread and butter issue. And so, the Fuck you Factor, the Fuck off Factor or whatever it may be called, might just be, for many people said with a smile.

    • Are you sure of this? I mean, when we get to the referendum, the hype, hysteria etc will be at fever pitch. It will be enough to get people off their arses and out the door to vote. They will not be missing this. Yes, there are voters who have to be persuaded to go and vote, I agree. But I think that just this once we might be finding a much higher figure than expected. The 1997 referendum produced a disappointing 61% turnout. That was over a duration of 6 weeks. The official referendum period will be for 4 months. And there’s the Commonwealth Games too don’t forget. Showpiece to the world and all that.

  19. Another excellent contribution to the debate.

  20. Cheers Derek, brightened up an otherwise demoralising day for yes.
    Fifs

  21. The FIF is spot-on Derek and it appeals to the ‘disenchanted and disenfranchised’ more than the solid citizen type inkling for NO.

    What the BT campaign needs more than ever is a very low turn-out. They will be pushing for apathy to take hold to keep the ‘dis -es’ away from the voting booth.

    I’d wager some kind of overkill will be pushed to sicken off voters, which means every positive appearance of YES on the streets will be much, much more important. On voting day every YES car in Scotland should be made available to take voters to the polls and one thing we can be sure of the YES people will know who their supporters are and will get them out to vote.

    With pressure now building on the UK, it’s increasingly becoming a real threat that voting fraud, be it postal or at the count, has to be considered and I have never been certain of the probity of the Electoral Commission – so I hope the Scottish Government has a similarly acute sense of concern.

  22. Spot on Derek. I’d never thought of the general disposition of ‘fuck it, I’m going to do such and such a thing anyway’ as a ‘factor’, but it encapsulates it beautifully. Especially against the relentless fear ‘n’ scare merchants and the unremitting patronising of these smug commenters, both English and Scots, who think it’s never going to happen.

    Aye, fuck youse. Fuck it. Yes X

  23. It’s been such a roller coaster up to now…good report / bad poll…good interview / bad article. If I wasn’t so convinced that the arguments for Indy make sense I reckon that I could have been turned off by the constant assaults on the case for a better Scotland.
    People always want, mostly, to be positive IMO so the fif will be strong. Thanks again for your thoughts…fair cheers me up!

  24. “Doug Daniel (@DouglasDaniel)
    “…that 25% who have been nailed-on No voters since the very start who will be unhappy with the result.”
    No – next year it will be 24%. And the year after 23%. And the year after 22%. Sure as Death. I don’t know the result next September: guessing a close No. I am certain of the result in the next 10-15 years.

    Get a Yes sticker on your car/house/dug/spouse!

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