I’m more widely read than I thought. It seems Better Together Arran are regulars too. Welcome! (I think the new name is No Thanks, guys!).
It struck me as emblematic of the whole No mentality that my open public discussion at the High School in Lamlash was turned by them into a complaint rather than welcomed as an addition to the great national conversation. I had a look at their Facebook page and there is the prolonged moan studded with the clichés of the Blair McDougall handbook so that I am an ‘angry’ blogger, I got my facts wrong, and Yes is ‘spreading lies’.
I wrote that Better Together had let down Arran as they have communities across Scotland in well documented cases, by failing to provide speakers to enlighten people on their views on independence. Worse, they have been known to accept an invite and pull out at the last moment. At some events, this has the effect of not only denying the public a No speaker but means that Yes can’t be present either as there is no balance of views. Here is an exchange from Better Together Arran’s Facebook page which is particularly sad.
Heather Allison 16 June at 15:37 Is there anyone from Better Together Arran that can step in last minute to keep the Arran High School debate on tomorrow? This has taken a lot of organisation and the Better Together representative has pulled out at the last minute.
Better Together Arran We’re so sorry Heather, we tried very hard to get someone to come along after Margaret McDougall pulled out but we are struggling to find people on Arran that are able to come along during the day, as most are at work. We’re so sorry to have let the school down. 1 · 17 June at 01:2
Better Together Arran As we have said before Gordon, we were simply unable to get anyone there on the day because of other commitments. Like Yes Arran, Better Together Arran is solely run by volunteers and we all have full-time jobs. We would love to engage the young people in a debate but we feel that the Yes campaign are deliberately spreading unhelpful rumours about why we couldn’t attend. Yet more lies from Yes Scotland Arran. 9 hours ago
Gordon Downard This is a continuing problem that the BT people are doing, you do a google search and its the same story, the main reason appears to be ‘no answers’ they are unable to provide a constructive reason as to why we should remain within the Union. As their publications and those of the UK Govt show all their points are based on lies that can be pulled apart very easily !! 1 · 30 June at 01:33
Heather Allison Such a pity. It would have been so good for the school to experience balanced debate and have the opportunity to ask questions. Maybe they will allow us another chance after the summer bearing in mind we were let down this time
This sort of problem is inevitable when volunteers are involved but ask any Yes group across the country and you will hear of a pattern of refusal to engage which can only smack of people afraid or unprepared to back up their own case in front of their peers. I know it isn’t easy. I quake in my boots but I believe in my cause and stand up to speak so expect others to do the same.
Malcolm Kerr replied: ‘…both Better Together and Labour United in Ayrshire, given lots of notice, said they would provide speakers for specific dates and times, but pulled out at 48 and 24 hours notice respectively. (It might have been better all round if they had simply refused!). The result is that AHS pupils have been denied a debate in the run-up to what might be the most important political decision in their lives. Derek was observing that this is a pattern which has been seen across the country. It also wasted a huge amount of valuable staff time at AHS as they tried to find alternatives…’
Instead of calling me a liar (a rather angry term, don’t you think?) they should have a look at themselves and make sure there IS a debate for Arran pupils before voting day. And rather than moaning on Facebook about Bateman being on the island, why not get together and come along to the meeting and put points to me and join the debate? Arran was a delight for me and my family and I’m not so bad face to face that I can’t share an opinion and a glass of wine.
When the dust settles, a story will be told of Unionists afraid to defend their own cause in public up to and including the British Prime Minister. Come on, Arran. Sort it. We may not be talking now, but there will be no hiding after September when we will all have to talk to each other and face the future together. Johann Lamont is coming to Arran* so why not ask her to debate with a Yes person and get the young voters along too? Maybe you could give a lead to the whole Unionist side and show that public debate is democracy in action and that it is, I must remind you, a good old fashioned British tradition.
* Have just heard that Johann can’t make it either…she is unwell from reports so I wish her a speedy recovery and I hope she DOES make it to Arran before September 18 and does debate with Yes people and offers front row seats for all AHS students.