Just a couple of thoughts to calm my nerves…are we really that close? I was wondering about the No messaging after the disastrous PatronisingWoman – and her defenders like Margaret and Johann – and the I Love My Family slogans which made me say: Duh! Yeah, me too…AND?
I think there are two constituencies they are failing with. The first is the key group of the election, the non-Nationalist Yessers.
The language of No has been to damn the SNP and Alex Salmond and aim all their propaganda at them while simultaneously spreading terror among Don’t Knows. But what have they said to the key group – the people of all parties and none who are not SNP but who nevertheless want independence? To them there is nothing tailored except an unconvincing Wait for Labour to Get In. It is as though their hatred of the SNP has blinded them to the hard fact that they can’t get the Nationalist vote so there’s little point in banging on about it and anyway, non-Nationalists who vote SNP for Holyrood have lost their fear of the party and certainly of the leadership which they see as far superior to the opposition.
This group is roughly double the SNP support in this referendum and yet does not relate to the party, does not call itself nationalist and will return to voting for Unionist parties for Westminster – if there’s a No. They are mostly Labour but have lost their fear of independence and have seen enough of Salmond and Sturgeon in action to get their measure. They deprecate their own leadership yet might respond to a sincere and winning case of a reformed Union.
What do you say to them? Well, the answer of course is Devo Max. These are the same people – along with a rump of Nationalists and a dash of Unionists – who would be the core supporters of a Second Question and who, when denied it, were so scunnered with Westminster that they will vote for the most radical change of all. They have been disenfranchised and have been offered nothing from the Unionist parties that convinces them it is worth voting No for – no agreed powers, no all-party understanding on delivery, indeed no real powers at all, only tax-raising with a consequential funding cut. So dismal have the parties been in their defence of Union that many in this group don’t believe they will deliver anything after a No. If Yes wins this, they are the key group which will bridge the gap between the Nationalists and the Don’t Knows. They were morally on the No side but were brushed off by the refusal to countenance a face-saving second question and the Union is now paying the price for its arrogance.
The other constituency is one they can’t control- the virulently anti-Scottish grassroots of England which sees Scotland as a threat to the mythical England/Britain to which they adhere. For every Paul McCartney there is an England-for-the-English Dave exploding over comment threads about spongers, whingers and cowards who are worthless, benefits-dependant, backward and ungrateful. F**k Scotland. F**k Independence, says one Twitter Twit today.
In the rush to condemn cybernats, the No campaign and their media agents have missed one of the most telling manifestations of real feeling – the intolerance of England, both the achingly superior middle classes and the disgruntled working class who have been fed an unrelenting diet of one-sided, ill-informed commentary about Scotland and the constitution. They have no understanding of how funding works, how their own country operates and appear wilfully blind to the economic ruination of the UK and the dismal quality of life compared to their European neighbours. This is blind patriotism as self-delusion. But they have pride in their ignorance and relish the chance to display a brute resistance to the enlightened challenge Scotland affords them.
Of itself that isn’t a campaign message, merely a background hum. But it leeches through into the bigot pages of the Mail and Express where commentators pick up on the emotions and feed the beast by repeating them. The right-wing backbenches in turn respond with their own Gilbert and Sullivan bellicosity and this in turn is reported in the mainstream. This is where it matters because this anti-Scottish rancour is just that – anti-Scottish. It fails to distinguish between the Scottish Nationalist who threatens their England and the average Scot at least 50 per cent of whom on current evidence prefer the Union. So in its field of fire it cuts into Unionist Scots too who are obliged to read wounding, angry pro-British venom and realise they themselves are the targets.
These partisans are not political, they are racist and brand all of us, even the English-orientated and Unionist among us, as essentially the same.
It is a steady drip-drip of undiluted anti-Scottish hatred that provokes pity and its own backlash in defence of a wider Scotland. Unionists prone to waver swallow this gruel with difficulty and ask themselves if this really the country they want to be.
These are two examples of the wheels within wheels that might explain why, for all its unquestioning loyalty from the media, NO is grinding painfully to an end.by