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Into the arms of Yes

Posted on January 18, 2013 by

I’ll make a confession: I don’t think Scotland needs independence. I’m not certain full independence is the most desirable option. At this stage in the debate, on Wings Over Scotland, that might be a quite contentious assertion. But last year, on numerous talkboards and comment threads, starting with that statement frequently saw me being called a “cybernat”, an “SNP stooge” or in one instance, “Salmond’s stormtrooper”.

That was because the statement always came with a “but”: “…but we do need control of welfare” or “…but we do need fiscal autonomy”“. And the “but” never went down well.

Full fiscal autonomy was the reason I voted Liberal Democrat in 2007. It had much to recommend it over the SNP’s full independence policy, both for Scotland and the rUK. It would have been a gradual approach that wouldn’t have scared many horses, north or south of the Tweed. It was an “I do want independence but am too polite to say so, in a very British way” kind of option.

It could have passed barely noticed by the UK media. Friends and family in England would have responded to your declaration of being a “full fiscal autonomy supporter” with a weary eye-roll and “Do shut up about Scottish politics, dear”. Independence, even if virtually synonymous in the detail, instead attracts “What? You want to rip my country apart, literally destroy 300 years of history and rob me of my entire identity, you evil separatist nat bastard?”

Perhaps it’s partly a woman thing. Visit any pub and observe the dynamics. A group of men will likely be having a heated debate – politics, sport, prowess with women. A group of women – unless you happen to run across a radical feminist or socialist meeting – probably won’t. Instead, women will generally tend to look for compromise, common ground. It’s unusual within a group of women to have a full-on heated argument about politics.

To some this may appear as weakness, whether found in a man or woman. Some testosterone-filled types, of either gender, might believe those reluctant to engage in knock-about politics will be easily won by the side most likely to deliver it: threaten yon wee wifey wi’ a doin’ and she’ll come round tae yer wey ay thinking, eh?

They couldn’t be more wrong. When you seek consensus you expect it back. If you begin a comment thread, “I don’t support full independence but…” you expect those you’re seeking common ground with to meet you some place other than their extreme. You expect “Well I see what you’re saying, but…”, and then some sort of movement towards the centre.

Instead, you get abused, patronised, met with intransigence or attempts to silence debate. One of the strangest cases of that was Martin Sime being savaged by Willie Rennie (if such a thing is possible) for daring to speak up about devo-max. He too was subjected to the “SNP stooge” treatment. This from a party which in 2007 had full fiscal autonomy on their manifesto and asked people to vote for them to deliver it!

(Which, incidentally, they could possibly have done in coalition with the SNP in 2007. Alternatively, they – or indeed Labour and the Tories – could have taken part in the national conversation and listened, debated, discussed the future and possibilities that were opening up. Instead, they preferred Westminster, the Lords and the Calman commission, telling us what they’d allow us when we returned to voting the right way.)

By 2011 there was no-one to vote for but the SNP  if you wanted real change. The result of that election speaks for itself. Yet still the Westminster parties and their media weren’t prepared to listen or debate. Under-the-line comments, blogs and discussion boards attracted large numbers of eloquent, passionate and well-informed posters, punctuated only by the old “You’re all anti-English…watched Braveheart too often” comments from the other side.

Instead of rising to the challenge and making an attempt at honest engagement, the No side chose to carry on demonising, acting as if they – our elected representatives, who we pay well to speak on our behalf – were under attack from some orchestrated, hate-filled bunch of obsessives, personally directed by Alex Salmond.

This is as much a nonsense as it is offensive. The internet is an open forum. If there’s a large amount of passion and energy on one side and none on the other, that should tell any fair-minded observer something – and not, “Oh, it must all be an orchestrated campaign”. Even if the polls most favoured by Better Together, the ones where support for independence hovers around 30%, are correct, that’s one in three people in Scotland who support independence.

I still didn’t favour independence in 2011, when I first stumbled onto such threads. In fact I’m probably somewhere in the Better Together statistics of “No-voting SNP supporters”, having said “No” when polled as recently as May. But, that “No” was always hugely qualified. It was in fact a “No but…”, the “but” being my complete support for the aim of bringing more powers to Scotland, a real excitement about the debate on Scotland’s future, a new passion for politics. A “No but… the UK, if it’s to remain, needs radical change”. But there’s no way to qualify a No in an opinion poll.

The refusal of those on the opposite side to debate, discuss, listen or even consider what might be best for Scotland – or indeed the UK generally – is baffling. Their haste to resort to abuse of anyone trying to debate is even more so. (I was deleted and banned from the “Better Together” page for saying joined-up policy-making was impossible when health and welfare are run by different governments, for example – while being frequently abused as a cybernat, stormtooper or whatever the term of endearment of the day was).

When the history of Scottish independence is written after 2016, historians will find scant evidence of “cybernats”, while gutter-level abuse will abound right across the British media – and, particularly after this Tuesday, in the pages of Hansard.

I said at the start I don’t think Scotland needs independence. However, not a thing anyone at Westminster or in the No campaign could now do or say would convince me to vote against it. It is patently clear Westminster cannot and will not deliver what Scotland does need. It doesn’t care, and isn’t interested. As Michael Moore said himself to the Economic Affairs Committee, UK interests cannot be separated out from Scottish ones: there are only UK interests.

“Shut up about what you want and just vote for our interests you moronic, deluded, cybernat. And stop voting for that fat twat dictator as well. Then perhaps after all that we can talk…” isn’t the most persuasive of arguments – unless you count being persuaded to join the SNP and the Yes campaign.

You can only seek consensus with those willing to look for it. In many ways I’m grateful Westminster has shown its true colours this early on, and that no option short of full independence is on the table any longer. In the absence of any other option, we certainly do need independence. And we need it urgently.

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143 to “Into the arms of Yes”

  1. Scott Minto (Aka Sneekyboy) says:

    Well done Cath. Thanks for going ahead with it!

  2. Iain says:

    Good piece Cath. It appears the Bettertogether lot have lost an eloquent voice arguing against full independence; they seem to have retreated into full ‘you’re either with us or against us’ mode (all that consorting with Neocon warmongers has its consequences).
    If, as has been said repeatedly, the key to the result of the referendum lies with the ‘Don’t Knows’, Bettertogether seem to be missing an enormous trick.

  3. Morag says:

    That’s an interesting perspective.  It somewhat parallels my own experience in the early 1990s.  I was in fact an independence supporter, but had never really contemplated joining a political party.  Apart from anything else, I lived in England at the time.  However, I wrote a couple of pro-independence letters to the Herald at the time of the constitutional debate that accompanied the 1992 general election campaign.  Those were the days when the Herald used to publish my letters in full and unedited.

    Correspondents who replied to me did so in terms suggesting that as I was an SNP member, then clearly my biassed views weren’t worth paying any attention to.  I thought, the hell with it, and joined the SNP.

  4. Christian Wright says:

    “One of the strangest cases of that was Martin Sime being savaged by Willie Rennie (if such a thing is possible) . . “

    Ah yes, Willie Rennie’s attacks: like being savaged by a dead sheep.

  5. Silverytay says:

    Cath       I would just like to thank you for an excellent article , I can see now how the Rev and others were so keen for you to go ahead with it .

  6. Marcia says:

    Thank you for your article. I hope we see more articles in the future.

  7. Silverytay says:

    Meant to say in my above post that it is articles like this that will help to push the dont know,s and maybe into the YES camp . We really have to get articles like this out to a far larger audience .

  8. Aplinal says:

    Thank you Cath.  For most of my life I was brought up in the NE England.  (Mother Scottish – Ayr; father English).  I always have considered myself Scottish, unreservedly.  My political journey is probably familiar to many in that I started as Communist leaning in my teens/early 20s.  Trade Union rep, active member of the party etc.  But real life decisions made by elected representatives made me doubt whether either of the main parties (the Liberals were a “taxi-size” party back then) could or would be able to break the mould of Westminster style politics.
    I became a Liberal voter at a time when they were a non-party, as I always thought they had better ideas, often later adopted by the ‘big two’ after five or ten years.  Of course my vote never counted for anything, but – that’s the system!  The SDP/Lib alliance was the turning point when I realised even they had little to offer me, as I was never an “orange book” liberal.
    I looked to Scotland with some envy as the SNP continued to survive and slowly prosper.  They took me back to my roots, and – this is pure emotion, I know – they expressed my heartfelt hopes for a different type of future.  One in which I returned to Scotland to see out the winter of my life!  (Cue “hearts and flowers”)  Although I hope, at 58, that there is a lot of life left in me!  I have a young son who is only 3 and want his future to be one of ambition and vision.  This will never happen if the “No” fearties win in 2014.  In that possible, but I feel unlikely, event I regret that I will not return to Scotland.  Because the Scotland that emerges from that No decision, will not be a Scotland that I would want to live in.  I understand that many will see this as selfish, and that I should come home to aid the fight, but that struggle I will pass on to my son. 
    We have a moment in time that will never come again in such a way.  Our futures, and those of our families will be literally in our hands as we contemplate the YES/NO ballot paper.  Scotland NEEDS its independence.  Whether we are better or worse off, whether we are 6th or 66th best country by GDP is, frankly (at least for me) a total irrelevance.  Scotland can become a proper state again, or is will be subsumed into “greater England” and to all intents and purposes disappear off the maps.  
    I love my family and fiends of all creeds, cultures and nationalities.  I am no “rabid Scottish-loving/English-hating (obviously) “cybernat”.  After Independence I will still love my family and friends.  My father will not become a ‘foreigner’ to me.  But Scotland’s relationship with the rUK and the rWorld WILL change for the better.  It can not be worse.
    Cath – you have set me to rambling, and I apologies for taking up this space.  May I close with a quote from Bill Shankley that I will ‘adapt’ for my purposes. 
    “Is Scottish independence a matter of life or death.  NO – it’s far more important than that!”

  9. Morag says:

    When I first heard this “cybernat” gibe, I thought people were joking.  At that time, the tone of nationalist online debate was I believe less abrasive than it is now, and the abrasive bits tended to be almost tongue-in-cheek mocking responses to the bile the unionist posters were spewing.

    It became clear, however, that the “cybernat” meme was a deliberte unionist ploy to denigrate independence supporters who debate online.  MSPs and unionist commentators spoke in grave tones of the problem of the cybernats, and how Alex Salmond should stop them.  It’s completely made up out of whole cloth.  The bile and vomit is coming very largely from the unionists, and any neutral observer would agree about that.  But that doesn’t matter.  It’s about demonising independence supporters when they debate in the only open forum they have – the internet.

    Sing Hazel’s Cybernat Song to them, and laugh.

  10. Doug Daniel says:

    Excellent piece, Cath. I found your reasoning for formerly being a NO supporter intriguing.

    “I’ll make a confession: I don’t think Scotland needs independence. I’m not certain full independence is the most desirable option.”

    While I’ve always known the result depends on the Yes campaign convincing devo max supporters that the only way they’ll get the powers they seek is by taking that extra step to full independence, I must confess I’ve never really considered that some folk may be (currently) voting against independence because they simply don’t think Scotland NEEDS it, rather than because they think it is undesirable or that their attachment to the union is too strong. Put in these terms, it seems even more obvious that the failure of the unionists to get devo max on the referendum has been a self-made disaster. I thought we would win thanks to people voting despite their attachment to the union, but it sounds as if many like yourself will vote for independence simply because they’re being forced to make a choice one way or the other.

    I suspect we’ll look back at the referendum and identify the removal of devo max as an option as the single biggest factor leading to a Yes vote – and unionist politicians think they’ve pulled off a masterstroke by getting the Edinburgh Agreement to stipulate a single question!!!

    This article ties in nicely with Joyce McMillan’s one. I’m tempted to ask people not to share it too widely in case unionists see it, because it highlights some fundamental flaws in the BetterTogether campaign, and I’m quite happy to see them continue. On the other hand, I don’t think they could change even if they wanted to…

  11. Turnip_Ghost says:

    I need to read the name of the author before the article. I was sitting thinking “what the…? Rev Stu is a WOMAN?! When did that happen?!?”

    Excellent article! 🙂 

  12. Christian Wright says:

    And given Cath Ferguson’s profile of the Unionist psyche, their disdain, indifference, and contempt, churning in a cauldron of resentment and bigotry, what would be the consequences for Scots and Scotland were we seen to bottle this sui generis opportunity to become masters in our own house?

     . It is certainly the case that Scots could not insist that their distinctiveness evinces national identity, for they themselves will have rejected that proposition in the most profound way.

    Given the consequences of rejecting independence, should the People vote NO, they will be seen to be embracing dependence and affirming their status, no longer as even a vassal state, but rather as just another unexceptional region of a greater England, deserving of no special consideration.
    If the People determine Scotland is not a nation, and vote NO, how could it possibly justify a separate national legislature within a unitary state?

    Billy Connolly’s prediction would in the end be proved right; that Holyrood is, despite all the trappings of government, naught but a wee pretendy parliament that mocks the vainglorious pretensions of its inhabitants.

  13. Scott Minto (Aka Sneekyboy) says:


    Yes, it was the bile and lies that drove me to yes also.

    Cybernats are made, not born 

  14. Seasick Dave says:

    Its really quite simple, people.

    Vote YES for a better future.

    Vote NO for a worse future.

    Union Jacks and Saltires have nothing to do with it. 

  15. cath says:

    Thanks for publishing Rev, and for the kind words so far!
    And I know what you mean Aplinal. I’m not anti-British, but if anything the SNP are now the only party I regard as “British” in the sense I understand it, as in dedicated to the NHS and a fair welfare state.
    I dread the thought of waking up to a no vote, especially if the No campaign carries on as it has and wins on this much bile, lying and negativity. And I also suspect many people who vote no may be surprised at how bad they’ll feel the next day if a no result is declared, and how good they’ll feel if it’s a Yes.

  16. Morag says:

    I do have to disagree with Cath’s basic premise.  Scotland does need independence, and she articulates the reasons for that herself.

    In an alternate universe, where Westminster treated Scotland like a grown-up partner in the union rather than as a naughty and irresponsible child, where the LibDems actually meant it when they declared their support for federalism, and when the UK government was interested in taking the wishes of the majority of Scots into account, THERE I would agree with Cath.  Scotland would not need independence.

    In the word where we actually live, Scotland desperately needs independence, the way a drowning man needs air.

  17. Macart says:

    Welcome Cath, good article and I’d say a view widely held by many out there. Westminster and the NO campaign will prove to be the greatest of recruitment tools in the YES campaign arsenal. They simply can’t help themselves. Entrenched arrogance, self interest, corruption and tradition a cracking recipe and argument for a new start and a clean slate if ever there was one.

  18. Kenny Campbell says:

    No voters and Unionists need do nothing, they are essentially using inertia as their fuel…problem with that is that once moving your power is gone. Yes voters want change and need to do something to affect that change. We’ll see in 2014 if Scotland as a nation is lazy or not.

  19. Aplinal says:

    I never really considered FFA as a viable long term solution, because of it really WAS that Scotland raised ALL its revenue (and there would have been massive arguments about how to divvy up that cake) it would soon become clear that Scotland was not only ‘self-sufficient’ but that the rUK economy was being skewed by “the City”, London, and the SE.  The dissatisfaction in Wales and the English regions would become palatable. 
    Now this will probably come about after Independence anyway, but the Westminster parties seem to be pinning their hopes on the opinion polls that a YES vote is unlikely and so they can continue to obscure the real situation from the public.  The MSM, especially the government’s mouthpiece – BBC – will spread the propaganda.  Watch out for a change of tactic once the polls are even. Of course by then it will be too late

  20. Training Day says:

    Good article, Cath.  I think what your thinking signals is the very real possibility that, at a very late stage in the game, the Unionist parties may offer a halfway house/some form of devo max which attempts to prevent voters like you from voting for independence.  This won’t be the jam tomorrow farrago which they currently espouse, it will be presented as a concrete set of powers to be enacted upon a No vote.  It will of course be a lie, and the tone which the Better Together campaign has adopted this early on will ensure that very few will believe them some way down the line. 

  21. Seasick Dave says:

    Sorry Cath, I meant to say thanks for the excellent article.

    BTW, my trouble and strife is English so obviously my two kids are hauf an’ hauf.

    I’ve told them if them if they are ever good enough to represent their country then they are completely free to choose Scotland or England.

    One of my 16 year old daughter’s friends has said that as her dad is Irish and her mum is English, they will be voting No and you feel like bashing your head off a wall at the stupidity of it; you have a chance to escape the economic chaos that is Westminster to become Independent and in control of your own mega resources and you vote against it because you are not Scottish?

    At least we have the best part of two years to help these people see how different things could be. 

  22. mogabee says:

     Thank you Cath for posting your thoughts. Looking around the sites that advocate NO, there is no debate. Facts are missing and distorted to an alarming degree. It’s also obvious that negativity, scorn, derision and many other adjectives are turning people away from NO to YES.
     I enjoy reading calm, fact based articles and balanced debate BTL…… and I’m not alone!

  23. Dave McEwan Hill says:

    The almost unbelievable nonsense coming from unionist Scots in Westminster this week has illustrated vividly two things

    These people do not understand the Scots they were elected to represent and they have completely lost touch with Scottish political reality.

    It shatters the comfortable illusion shared by many of Labour’s supporters in Scotland that it didn’t really matter that the calibre of Labour representation in Holyrood was unimpressive – there were clever ones down at Westminster. 

  24. Ray says:

    A very important contribution to the site, excellent stuff!

  25. cath says:

    I’m half English too, Dave, and most of my oldest friends are also English. Which is probably partly why I’m very sensitive to the fear that “independence” creates this schism while something like FFA doesn’t. But it’s not independence supporters creating that schism, but the No camp. And it’s just part of the scaremongering agenda, trying to push people like us to feel we’re in the wrong. The SNP are very much outward looking, calm and in many cases quite Anglophile. It’s people like Ian Davidson who appear to want to start a civil war if they look like losing their privilege and position.
    The question is how to get people who aren’t so engaged in the debate to understand and see that?

  26. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “I’m tempted to ask people not to share it too widely in case unionists see it, because it highlights some fundamental flaws in the BetterTogether campaign, and I’m quite happy to see them continue.”

    I had the same thoughts before I ran it, and indeed have done about many other articles we’ve run here, but the problem for the No camp is that negativity and fear really is all they’ve got. As I hope we’ve demonstrated here over the last 14 months, the facts are all on our side. We’ve been telling them for years and years that their tactics don’t work, they’ve lost two elections because their tactics don’t work, yet they keep at it because they’ve got nothing else. If they started telling the truth, they’d have to vote Yes.

  27. Seasick Dave says:

    The question is how to get people who aren’t so engaged in the debate to understand and see that?

    Cath, they are not engaged at the moment, or pretend not to be.

    Believe me, come the tail end of 2014 they will be engaged!


  28. Seasick Dave says:

    Can anyone tell me the last time that Lamont, Rennie or Davidson came up with a positive suggestion to make life in Scotland better?

  29. Macart says:

    Agree Rev. Its not as if they can go anywhere else. Pretty much all of the parties at Westminster and our current heid bummer Cameron have quite publicly told us that not only will the austerity measures continue, they are set to become worse. Imagine in the face of all that Scotland gets promised a rosy future as part of the BT campaign? Ye Gods, the London riots would look like a friendly spat. The rest of the UK electorate would be marching on London with pitchforks and torches.

    Nope all they are left with as a tactic is convince the Scottish electorate that being independent would be somehow worse than living with Westminster’s economic carnage. 

  30. panda paws says:

    I’d like to add my appreciation for the article which I found very interesting. I’ve long thought that some of the pro-unionists commentators BTL were divisive, insulting and well plain nasty and that MSM are fervently biased against independence. However pro-independence supporters are constantly being told we are chippy and seeing bias where it doesn’t exist.  This article and Joyce’s in the Scotsman hearten me. If previously confirmed no voters can see the bile, then the neutrals definitely will.
    As others have said I dread waking up the morning after to a No vote. I’ve two EU friends who’ve moved to Scotland to start  work. I raised the referendum with them – they didn’t realise they were eligible to vote. Pleased to announce 2 new confirmed Yes voters. 

  31. meljomur says:

    Excellent article Cath.  Thank you for sharing your thoughts here.  

    I have to say the NO camp becomes more dire everyday.  This week I have come across the likes of respected journalists like David Torrance to Labour MP Tom Harris, comparing SNP supporters to UKIP supporters.  It’s not only ridiculous, but also lazy and negative.  I don’t know why they continue on with this juvenile campaign to try to rubbish the SNP.  

    I worked on the Obama campaign in 2008 (both in the US and in the UK), and I witnessed how low and vile your opponent can become.  But I always thought that British politics was a bit more above the board and honest than American politics.  How wrong I have been. 

  32. Morag says:

    Slightly OT, but a colleague just came into my room and handed me the paper copy of last week’s Scottish Farmer, doing its usual rounds.  The front page headline?

    Somebody in print journalism didn’t get a memo….

  33. Rabb says:

    Excellent article Cath.

    Is this the Brittish stiff upper lip “we won’t compromise with those bloody upstart types!” mentality coming out?

    As others have said before me, there can be no positive case from the No campaign. They just don’t get it. Scotland and her people are poles apart from Westminster and a large proportion of the population “down south”.

    Apologies for the canine analogy but we are different people who are straining at the lead to follow a more socially just path than our political master is willing to take.
    The No campaign think that negative reinforcement will lead us away from that path. This tactic is having exactly the opposite effect, it’s turning the Scots against them and will do in droves.

    Could that be the tactic of the Scottish MP’s in Westminster all along or are they just desperately grasping on to the cliff edge of their career by their nails whilst we stand above them with the nail clippers?

  34. David McCann says:

    Excellent article Cath. Now I wonder which camp will Lord George Robertson over at Scottish Review put you in? Maybe you could answer him.
    Cybernat or independence supporter? He seems to have a phobia about it!

  35. Morag says:

    Aplinal said:
    Watch out for a change of tactic once the polls are even. Of course by then it will be too late

    I genuinely worry about what will happen when the polls change, as I think they are likely to do.  In fact, the lady from Yes Scotland who presented the inaugural meeting of the Borders group said she was hoping for a change to start showing in the early spring of this year, perhaps as early as February.

    So far, the unionists have been hugging the comfort blanket so eloquently articulated by Poor Old Cochers yesterday, that a Yes vote is an impossibly long shot.  Not even worth taking into account.  Don’t need to plan for something that isn’t going to happen.

    When they realise there’s a perfectly good chance it will happen, what are they going to do?  The imperialist British state as a cornered beast is likely to get pretty unpleasant.

  36. Scott Minto (Aka Sneekyboy) says:


    The scottish farmer ran a story positive about independence a while back. I tweeted it but dont have a link right now.

    It would seem the professions are starting to look at the possibilities of a yes vote as there was also an architecture journal discussing the possible effects of independence on their sector.

    These are independent publications so more likely to be balanced (not guaranteed though) 

    Interesting times.     

  37. MajorBloodnok says:

    Seasick Dave says: Can anyone tell me the last time that Lamont, Rennie or Davidson came up with a positive suggestion to make life in Scotland better?

    Not sure, but I do know that Margaret Curran was quite positive about the effects on Labour fortunes of Salmond falling under a bus.

  38. muttley79 says:

    Good article Cath.  I have supported independence for a long time.  However, I did not see any contradiction in voting for devolution, and the return of a Scottish Parliament in 1997.  I saw it as a significant step or stage on the road to independence.  Also, I would have supported Devo-Max or F.F.A. as a further step on that road.  I have seen two status quos in Scotland be overturned, in 1997, and after the 2007 elections with the Calman Commission (inadequate as it was).  I am a definite Yes voter in the referendum.  
    O/T  I read the Daily Record article in Peter A Bell’s blog and it said that Salmond was going to be meeting the leader of the Quebec Nationalist party next month.  I don’t know how accurate the story is, but I was wondering if anybody had any concerns about this if it was true?  In the event of a Yes vote would it really be a good thing to have strained relations with a country, such as Canada, which with we should have had strong ties with?  Personally I think it would be a mistake. I have never really understood the parallels between Scotland and Quebec.

  39. Jeannie says:

    Well done, Cath, for so clearly illustrating that Yes voters don’t necessarily start off on the Yes path.  We all start out on the same path – the one marked “A Prosperous Scotland”, but at some point we come to a fork in that path and realise that the one marked No leads to a dead end and it is only the path marked Yes which allows us to continue on the journey to prosperity because it is the only one which allows us full control of our future.
    My own conversion came many years ago.  In 1973, I decided to try living in Germany and found work there on an American army base.  To my astonishment, I found that living standards were much better there than what I had been used to in Scotland, both on the base and off.  For example, I had been led to believe that nothing could surpass the British National Health Service but found that the health service in Germany was far better – and this was nearly 40 years ago!
    I then moved to the United States for a period of some 6 years and was amazed, again, at their high standards of living, with which Scotland simply could not even begin to compare – again, this was in the 1970s.  And I began to wonder why my parents back in Scotland had had to work so damn hard their whole lives for what very little they had and why this continued to be the case.  Whenever I thought about it, it broke my heart.  It broke my father, too, at age 56. And so, I stopped believing that British was best. I had seen with my own eyes and my own experience that it was all a lie. And it’s still a lie.  And that’s why I’m supporting independence.

  40. Kenny Campbell says:

    Never interrupt your enemy while he is making a mistake.
    Napoleon Bonaparte

  41. balgayboy says:

    Re: Gordon Matheson GCC Leader apologies accepted “insufficient evidence that a crime had been committed” 2013 version of Boardwalk Empire!

  42. orpheuslyre says:

    A tremendous piece of writing. This was so good it was indeed worth saying twice: ‘When you seek consensus you expect it back.’

  43. Alastair Hutchison says:

    Hi All
    This article by Cath has really made me smile.
    Keeping to the theme of some of the comments I’ll use this as my confessional.
    I was once a Liberal Democrat.  I worked for the Party and did genuinely believe they offered the best hope for me and for Scotland.
    They believed in free education, a sensible welfare system, getting rid of the unfair council tax, a well run and free NHS.  They were pro Europe, anti war, anti nuclear weapons, wanted voting reform to end the horror that is first past the post, they had very strong green credentials, they were pro immigration and explained why immigration was not just good but vital to successful economies. But most importantly for me they wanted a Federal UK.
    The 2007 Scottish election was a tipping point however.  The manifesto of the Lib Dems and the SNP were so close I actually thought a coalition was inevitable (and there were some in the Lib Dems who did want a coalition).  But the Lib Dems said no… they gave up the chance to actually put their manifesto into action.  To rub salt into the wounds in 2010 they happily jumped into the bed with the Tory Party when they had NOTHING in common.
    To conclude, I didn’t leave the Lib Dems.  They left me.  British politics doesn’t offer me anything.  The kind of society I want to live in and be proud to live in is just not possible while part of the UK.  I’m now fully backing a YES vote in 2014 and fear for the future if that is not achieved.
    p.s I too have in the past been accused of being a Cyber Nat etc as far back as the early 2000s due to my belief in a version of “Home Rule”.  Who knows maybe they were right after all….

    But if that’s the case I think there 455,000 plus people who voted Lib Dem in 2010 who could also come over to the “CyberNat” side.

  44. velofello says:

    Nice article Cath  but devo-max would not resolve the core issues:
    Trident,participation in illegal wars, and the universal benefits philosophy.The manifestly undemocratic Westminster FPTP voting system would not change with devo-max. and so  decision-making power would remain with Westminster.
    The merit of voting Yes is there to see, be it the economics case, universal benefits, Trident, participation in illegal wars.
    And there is respect.
    Flowers and chocolates will not hold a personal relationship together if one partner behaves continuously in his/her own selfish interest. So too with countries. The behaviour of Sarwar and Davidson was juvenile and appalling, but so too was the lack of respect shown by the English MPs in the section 30 debate. This lack of respect is paraded weekly at Westminster Scottish Question time and in the broader political decisions taken over the years.
    Scotland is a cash cow serving the British state.A relationship where one party willingly dominates the other politically is not a caring nor sustainable relationship. It has taken the internet to clear the scales from Scots eyes.

  45. Soapy says:

    I am not in favour of breaking up the UK, which is what independence actually does mean for all of us who think of ourselves as British.
    But that’s just my opinion. Everyone gets one. Question is, how do we form it?
    There are some fair arguments on either side. There are also some unfair ones.
    Best if we can tell them apart.
    What matters (it seems to me) is why people decide whatever they decide.
    If the reason you want independence is because you are really annoyed by a bunch of loudmouthed unionists, you might stop to consider whether that is really an adequate reason.
    Profoundly annoying though the idiot braying of some Eton Tories may be- and deeply disgusting as we may find the attitudes of certain trough-snouting Scots Labourites with a vested interest in the status quo, that in itself may not be the best reason to vote to destroy a nation, or to start a new one. In the words of Charles M. Schultz, “Spite candy never tastes good.”
    Vote yes if you will, but do so for positive reasons, not to raise two fingers at the old guard.
    I have said elsewhere that while Alex Salmond is unlikely to make a “Yes” voter of me, David Cameron could manage it with an ill chosen remark. It’s an understandable attitude, but it’s not a very mature one.
    I’m still open to convincing, but in truth it’s not news to me that politicians are petty twerps who defend their own interests and will lie to do so. There are no guarantees the ones we might have in an independent Scotland would be any better.

  46. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “I’m still open to convincing”

    Why not tell us what it is you doubt, and I’ll see if I can point you to any relevant articles? We’ve covered most things.

  47. Craig says:

    Excellent article Cath; it mirrors my own political movement frol labour to Liberal to SNP.
    The Ironic thing is that my natural home would be as a liberal democrat and I have voted that way for many years and hopefully will be able to do so again in the future for a Scottish Liberal Democratic  Party.
    Strangely enough, my own MP Sir Robert Smith (Lib/Dem) has been very helpful and supportive when I have had reason to contact him. His colleague Mike Rumbles when he was my MSP didn’t even want to assist. I feel that when Scotland does becomes independent we will need people of his integrity in our parliament
    I am also a mix of English Father Half English/Scottish Mother so the gybes against the independence supporters about being anti English are just plain stupid, how could I hate my own Kin?

  48. Christian Wright says:

     “Stuart Campbell says: . . but the problem for the No camp is that negativity and fear really is all they’ve got.”

    Indeed, and that is why there will never be a debate worth the name. Their best strategy is to harness the power of a compliant and complicit media to carpet bomb the Yes forces relentlessly until they are ground to powder. 

    And why on earth would they look to change that – It’s working!

    The key to a yes vote is the low-information voter. You do not reach that demographic with considered opinion pieces in the Scotsman, or rational arguments in cyberspace comprising more than a paragraph, or beyond bite-sized sloganeering on/in broadcast media. 

    They will base their vote on gut feeling – not patriotism, but a general notion that we will do better with change or do better without change. What is required in a targeted reshaping of the zeitgeist through which the unengaged can be reached and influenced. That means simple concepts that can be verbally articulated in a few seconds or in a single written sentence.

    It means the use of images and imagery. Two “posters” in this website get the Nationalist message across with commendable clarity and efficiency:

    One is a map of Great Britain where the geographical uneven distribution of parliamentary seats (and therefore power)  is depicted and related to Scotland’s political impotence within the current political settlement.

    The other is a call to voters to be bold, remain resolute, and embrace the future – “Bottle this – Not this” , where “this” and “not this” are respectively, bottles of Scotland’s iconic export – whiskey, and the referendum ballot box regaled with the YES campaign logo.

    These are simple messages that are more quickly inculcated and viscerally understood, than they are explained analytically. We need to sell this proposition of independence as one would sell toothpaste, if we are to reach and motivate those voters who right now, to put none too fine a point on it, really don’t give a shit.

    I think we often make the mistake of presenting the arguments as if our target audience comprised a cohort of thirty-somethings with master’s degrees. That isn’t our fertile ground (Cath not withstanding). Most of those folks have already made up their minds, and those who haven’t or can yet be converted, while welcome into the fold, are an insignificant minority when compared to the vast swaths of the Great Unwashed who have yet to be cultivated, convinced, and motivated to vote.

    Signs that this may be well understood by the SNP, is their emphasis on the ground game and the women’s vote. The recent US Presidential election presents a salutatory lesson of how building an organization where local representatives can go door to door, ward to ward, and start engaging the electorate on their terms, two years out from a ballot, can make the difference between success and failure come D-Day.

    Simple, easily accessible messages, well told, is the order of the day. 


  49. Robyn - Quine fae Torry says:

    I have been reading this blog since September time and haven’t commented up until now.  I just wanted to say this article sums up how I have felt regarding independence and that the article is very similar to a letter I wrote, this week, to Anne Begg, my local MP (Labour).  I wrote in the capacity of her being my local MP and also as a previous Labour supporter and voter, to basically tell her that after Anas Sarwar’s performance in HoC this week that any thoughts I would ever return to the Labour fold were now a distant memory and that the likelihood of me voting for independence is increasing by the day.  IMHO, Anne Begg has always seemed decent and professional but I highlighted to her that my impression of even decent Labour politicians is one of disbelief that they are allowing the likes of Ian Davidson and Anas Sarwar to destroy Labour. 
    If I had been told 10 years ago by someone with a crystal ball that I would be voting for the SNP and considering a Yes vote, I would have laughed very hard in their face and asked for my silver back.  Iraq, PFI and the scandal of the MP having £350,000 “resting” in her bank account (cannot remember their name now!!) were the triggers for me to look for alternatives and in 2007, the SNP candidate for my area (Maureen Watt) was the only one who knocked on our door.  After listening to them and reading their manifesto, I decided to give them my vote and see how they got on in their first term.  In 2011, I felt that my previous vote for the SNP had been justified and consequently followed that up with another.  On independence, I would have put myself in the Devo Max camp, which as we all know now is not an option.  I think this is an own goal by the No camp and people like me, seeing the gutter behaviour of senior politicians, can only be left with the conclusion that if we want better than this, if we want a better country, a better society and better role models, then we have to vote for change. 
    Anyway, keep up the good work.  I always enjoy reading all the articles and comments and in particular, like reading guest articles. 

  50. Jeannie says:

    Welcome, Soapy.  Just to clarify – would you have been in favour of Devo-Max?

  51. MajorBloodnok says:


    It’s not what the Unionists say or their boorish attitudes – it’s that they actually do follow it up with actions too (and quite often offering one thing, but doing another).

    To be honest I’m long past caring what the Unionists say – independence is about what we are going to do when we get it, and you can’t get more positive than that.

  52. Morag says:

    I remember that moment in May of 2007 when the LibDems refused to go into coalition with the SNP.  It was all change for me then, as I had moved into my new house on 1st May, not realising at the time the day was the 300th anniversary of the Union.  I was back in Scotland for good, after 25 years.  And look what was happening!

    It was an odd feeling.  The realisation that the SNP were going to have to go for a minority government, which would be precarious, but would also mean it was pure SNP without LibDem compromises.  All the commentators were pessimistic about its chances of lasting the full term.  OK for the first year they said, that’s how long the low-hanging fruit will last, but after that, they’ll be crucified.

    I had this wild, terrible hope, that this was it.  This was the big chance.  This was where we got to implement The Plan.  The plan to show to Scotland how it could be when the party in government wasn’t in thrall to Westminster, wasn’t taking orders from a Westminster head office, and wasn’t basing all its decisions on how these would affect the party’s chances at the next Westminster election.  The plan to do this so well that people voted SNP again, in large enough numbers to get a mandate for an independence referendum.

    I thought it was only a tiny chance.  Something would go wrong, it always does.  When we were plunged into recession in 2008, and Iceland and Ireland started being called the “arc of insolvency”, I thought that was it.

    But it wasn’t.  Don’t you just love it when a plan comes together?  Thank you, LibDems, from the bottom of my heart.

  53. Stevie Cosmic says:

    ‘that in itself may not be the best reason to vote to destroy a nation, or to start a new one.’
    I think you’ll find a great many folks disagreeing with that premise. The UK is not a nation. It never has been. It is a political union and no more. Scots on the other hand, can claim nationhood, and only a fool would dispute that.
    Many political unions have dissolved in recent times, the former USSR, former Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia to name just the obvious examples. I have NEVER heard anyone describe the break up of any of those unions, or any other for that matter, as ‘destroying a nation’. Nor have I EVER heard any of the seceding states described as ‘new nations’.
    Why should Scots not be entitled to their national identity in the same way as other ‘nations’ when seceding from broken political unions?

  54. Seasick Dave says:

    Robyn and Soapy

    Welcome aboard!

    Its good to hear your story, Robyn, and what lies behind it. For some Independence is a natural way of thinking, for others its a slow dawning but the end result is the same.

    The attitude of the Unionists, Soapy, is only a symptom of the disease which, at this stage, is terminal.

    In 2014 every voter in Scotland will be presented with two options;

    1. Vote YES to run our own affairs using all of our resources and all of the possibilities that that opens up to us.

    2. Vote NO to see no new powers and the probable removal of the ones we presently have so that we can be One Nation, as we disappear down the plughole.

    YOU choose Soapy.

    For me, as an ex Labour and Liberal voter, the choice is incredibly simple. 

  55. balgayboy says:

    Kenny Campbell says:
    18 January, 2013 at 12:08 pm

    Never interrupt your enemy while he is making a mistake.Napoleon Bonaparte
    Correct and it is presently happening with the leader of the Labour GCC present situation and rather than backslapping each others individual’s views of how or why we have reached our independence stance, it would be expedient for us to put the boot in  collectively in response to the shit that  the SNP and specifically the FM has had these past months.

  56. Macart says:

    Welcome Soapy

    Independence isn’t about two fingers to the establishment, not for me anyhoo. There are multiple reasons which all culminate in a desire for radical change. You can name your poison really – The corrupt neo liberalism of Westminster politics entrenched in years of tradition and elitism. Scotland’s democratic deficit as a numerically smaller nation partner suffering the decisions of governments that we as a nation didn’t vote for. Our own traditions of social democracy now wildly veering away from the political norm south of the border. Economic carnage visited upon us by uncaring Westminster governance and fat cat roulette patronage. Like I said, take your pick.

    Some would answer, but shouldn’t we work to improve the system from within? Doesn’t it make sense to stick together in this bad old world? Well yes it would if the system wanted to be fixed or the other partner gave a monkey’s about your opinions or past loyalty in the first place. Perhaps if they weren’t stabbing you in the back and robbing you blind that would be a help too, we could probably put up with simple indifference. But it doesn’t, they don’t and they have, so that pretty much leaves two options really. Stay and continue the abuse or do the sensible and right thing. Make your own decisions based on your own problems and needs, make a life you can live with, be………independent. 🙂

  57. muttley79 says:

    For me Scottish independence is not about the Saltire, Braveheart, Bannockburn, national identity etc.  I see it as a means for the people of Scotland to take responsibility for ourselves, govern ourselves, get a written constitution, take proper ownership of our resources, increase self-confidence, introduce reforms that benefit as many people as possible, and probably most importantly, to deliver a more caring, humane, just society.  None of these things can be delivered by Westminster.  We are now living in the most unequal society in the West according to the Independent.  Therefore, vote for the future of Scotland, vote Yes! 

  58. Luigi says:

    Hi Robyn and Soapy,
    Thanks for your contributions – much appreciated. Information is the key – there are so many lies and half-truths out there (on both sides!) it does require some effort to sift through. It is great that, with each passing day more and more people are starting to think about 2014 and seek the truth. Personally, I would have happily supported devomax (as a compromise) but that opportunity came and went. A refusal by the LibDems to work with the SNP in 2007 may be seen as one of the greatest blunders of the 21st century, akin to the mess they (Liberals) made of the Irish settlement in the previous century. There is no way I could now bring myself to vote for status quo (or a false promise of jam tomorrow). I always encourage people to check both sides of the argument and then come to their own conclusion. For the unionist side, the BBC and Scottish press will tell the story as they see it. For the independence side, you have to check nationalist blogs online (some are listed on this page). Neither side (or any site) is perfect, but checking both sides will give you a more balanced view and help you to make your mind up. Those that seek the truth shall find it (eventually). There are many reasons for voting yes (or no). It will be such an important decision, personally and collectively, it is vitally important to get it right. The referendum in 2014 is not a rehearsal.

  59. tartanfever says:

    Enjoyed that article – and Cath’s description of the ‘No, but…’ voters has got me thinking. I know of quite a few in that camp and possibly I may try and persuade them to consider just changing that to ‘Yes, however…’ 

    It’s not that much of a leap really. 

  60. cath says:

    “devo-max would not resolve the core issues: Trident, participation in illegal wars, and the universal benefits philosophy.”
    Yes, I know. There are many very desirable outcomes to full independence that wouldn’t be possible with devo-max/FFA. And these look ever more attractive by the week. My “unionism”, if it could be called that, was more a pragmatic one based on a very strong desire not to piss off friends and family and create a horrible, divisive split, but just to shift gradually. If that’s not possible I was always happy to accept independence as necessary instead. I could have been either FFA or indy I suppose, depending how the debate had played out. But never the status quo. The real chance of change and transformation makes now going back even to FFA pretty unthinkable once you’ve crossed over to independence.
    Also Soapy, it’s not breaking the UK. If anything it badly needs change to survive – the UK is moribund and anachronistic right now in a political sense. Scotland won’t be going anywhere – Glasgow will be the same distance from Manchester and London, and I’d like to think there’d be less antagonism when we have two governments acting in our interests.
    And far from this giving the UK less power on the world stage, it will give us two voices where we have shared interests, and the ability to speak for ourselves where we don’t.

  61. Morag says:

    Welcome, Soapy.  Double welcome if you’re who I think you are.

    I see what you mean about not voting Yes simply because a lot of unionists are loudmouthed twerps.  However, I don’t think that was really what Cath meant.  If you’re making an important decision, then the calibre of the people advocating for each side is an important consideration.  The calibre of people on the unionist side is by and large dire.  That they seem to have no actual debating points, but merely conduct the argument by means of smear, abuse and lies, has to weigh in the balance to some extent.

    I’m voting yes for the same reason you give for being inclined to vote no.  Because I think of myself as Scottish.  That’s the foundation of the entire argument, it’s just that rather a lot of superstructure can be built on that.

    I don’t think we should dismiss the “politics of identity” lightly, or simply because it can be spun as racist.  What nationality you feel to be yours is an important consideration.  It’s also something that is largely out of your control – at least for most people.  I can’t help feeling Scottish, and presumably Soapy can’t help feeling British, and neither of us presumably had a lot to do with how these feelings happened.

    Feeling Scottish, it seems natural to me to want my nation to be a nation state.  It’s the normal condition for a country.  I feel ashamed, abroad, when the Danes and the Norwegians and the Slovenians can be proud of their countries, and people say to me, Scotland – that’s part of England, isn’t it?  This may not be a heavyweight political argument, but never underestimate the power of feelings.

    It also seems advantageous to me for Scotland to be my natino state.  Small is beautiful, in the 21st century.  The number of independent countries in the world has quadrupled in the past 100 to 150 years.  From the newly independent countries of the former British empire, through to the newly independent countries of the former Soviet bloc, we see pride and happiness, and certainly no mass-movement hankering to reunite with the former overlord.

    These countries are comfortable in their own skins.  The Balkanisation of the Balkans has in the end been a howling success, it’s just a pity they couldn’t have achieved it peacefully.  Being able to look after your own affairs, your own assets and expenditure, looks like a popular choice.

    Being close to your government is also a popular choice.  I am currently having an almighty battle with our very own Justice Minister.  I’m surprised my printer didn’t catch fire spontaneously, considering the stuff it was putting out earlier this week.  I have some hope of success, because this is a small country, and he’s right there.  If I had to battle with a Justice Minister in London, I’m not sure I’d have the stamina.

    I think there’s huge advantage in this.  To be able to administer our own resources primarily for the benefit of our own people, to be able to elect the government we want, rather than be governed by the party the people in the south east of England want.  To be proud in the way Finland and Estonia and Slovenia and Switzerland and Denmark are proud.

    But if you really, really, feel British and “Scottish” means nothing to you, then I suspect these arguments fall flat.  Which is why this is, fundamentally, about the politics of identity.

  62. Yesitis says:

    A fine, considered and, hopefully, persuasive piece, Cath. Thanks for sharing your views and experience so far, and hope to hear more.
    Well, I might as well…
    I`m a born and raised Dundonian, my earliest political leanings were of the SNP variety; as soon as I could vote, I voted SNP. I have always believed in an independent Scotland.
    My earliest memory of Labour`s disdain for SNP supporters is from a modern studies class in high school in 1982/83. For some reason, the teacher (from Hamilton, if I recall) asked my fellow pupils to describe their burgeoning political leanings; I mentioned my pro-SNP, pro-Independence tendency. To this day, I can recall the teacher wrinkling his face, and gently mocking me with “Och, your no one of them, are you?”
    I was the only one in that class to air a pro-SNP opinion; the rest of the class were Labour lambs, with a couple of young conservatives thrown in too. My Modern Studies teacher was an obvious dyed-in-the-wool west, central Scotland Labour supporter; though he never again revealed his political affiliation as brusquely as on that day.
    So, I`ve been a SNP/independence supporter, really, as long as I can remember. My reasons for desiring independence are manifold: but look around you, look out of your window… in the thirty years since my modern studies teacher wrinkled his face and sneered at my early feelings regards independence… look at the present state of Scotland and tell me there`s something more than this; there HAS to be something more than this.
    And that is why I will be voting YES.

  63. Commenter says:

    @Christian Wright.
    I agree with you. The ‘masses’ need to be targetted with simple to understand charts and maps, a few at first but in the end more or less BOMBARDED with them.
    Your QUOTE “It means the use of images and imagery. Two “posters” in this website get the Nationalist message across with commendable clarity and efficiency:”END QUOTE
    Is one of them the map currently appearing on the Bella site, because it is excellent, the best and simplest I have seen? (Although the error vav Shetland’s location MUST be corrected)

  64. Commenter says:

    I came across an interesting site about the effect of campaigns on voting intentions. Unfortunately I didn’t copy it. The article and links to other similar sites with some statistical evidence suggests that in the USA anyway all the whoop te do campaigning, canvassing and pro and anti political messages have very little effect on the final results of major elections. Most people have already made up their minds based on gut instincts, consciously or sub-consciously, long before the campaigns begin, and that media polls only tap into peoples’ current indifference, or temporary uncertainty along the way. There is the 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 in 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 low some time before the vote but in the end it was YES  63.5% for the taxation option and YES 74.3% for the straightforward 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 that including the sub-conscious YES voters, it is at a level somewhere in between 63.5% and 53%. 

  65. Matt says:

    “not realising at the time the day was the 300th anniversary of the Union”

    Interesting point there. Perhaps someone should ask the Unionists, if the union is such a fantastic and wonderful thing, then why were there no national celebrations for its 300th anniversary in 2007? Surely that would be a much more reasonable thing to celebrate than the START of a vile and bloody war.

  66. Ian Dommett says:

    As the Marketing Director of Yes Scotland I read your article with a huge amount of interest as it chimes perfectly with both the current mood of the campaigns and the reasons I will be spending the next two years working tirelessly for victory in 2014. Every day I am grateful I am doing the job I have and feel sorry for my counterparts on the ‘No’ campaign. Fear, negativity, scare stories, inaccuracies and the abuse of the country they claim to love (see Tuesday’s Westminster debate etc) will grind them down. With a Yes vote we can have everything, with a No vote, you get nothing.

  67. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    Hi Ian, good to hear from you. Do feel free to give the story a wee tweet, I think it suits the tone of the campaign wonderfully. Now tell someone to get the rest of that Dennis Canavan speech up, some of us would like to hear it 🙂

  68. Holebender says:

    Kudos Cath. Excellent piece.
    It is no coincidence that those who leave Scotland and work either temporarily or permanently abroad (i.e. not just in a different part of the UK) are overwhelmingly for independence, in my experience. Such people are probably more independently minded and self confident anyway, but seeing Scotland and her relationship with the rest of the UK from outside can be a real eye opener. Seeing what is normal in other countries compared to back home just makes one realise how abnormal Scotland in the UK really is in so many ways.
    I was born, raised and educated in Scotland with a Scottish mother but my father was English ’til the day he died. The first time I ever voted was in the 1979 referendum, and I voted no. However, at the end of 1979 I began my globetrotting adventure. My work took me first to Canada and then the USA for a total of five years, followed by a move back to Scotland (with a new wife). Even though I moved back to Scotland I continued to work abroad on drilling rigs, returning home for my days off. My time away from Scotland educated me.
    It was after the 1987 General Election, when Scotland got another Tory government despite voting decisively against them (and having seen how useless Labour parliamentarians were in opposition) that I finally decided that the only way for Scotland to get the government its population wanted was to support the SNP and independence. It has always been about the democratic will of the electorate for me, and I have never wavered since the day I (and my wife) decided to support and join the SNP as the vehicle to achieving independence.

  69. Tonia Wight says:

    I think I came to the YES vote in a similar manner to Cath. I was a big supporter of Britishness, at the same time as being incredibly proud of my Scottish birth. Living in England until I was 18 made me sad at the prospect of breaking up a nation. And yet, until 2011 I have consistently voted Lib Dem as the only party I thought shared any of my values. I voted SNP in 2011, not because I was pro independence but because the SNP reflected my belief system closer than any of the other options. Oddly, I now see independence as the only way of maintaining the things I truly want. Bizarrely I also came to the conclusion that Devo Max would not be sufficient, well before Devo Max was off the table, because I care far more about foreign affairs and defence spending (or rather how we treat other countries) than we could influence with Devo Max. But in many respects I have been pushed into a corner and that I why I will vote YES. Not because I have some overriding-braveheart-esque need to be SCOTLAND and nothing else. Britain has a wonderful (albeit somewhat savage) history, that we can all be proud off, as well as shocked by and definitely a history we should learn from. BUT independence may well give us the chance as socialist-leaning Scots to provide a far fairer future.

  70. Jeannie says:

    I would also add that the war on Iraq was significant for me.  It was a complete abuse of the power of the British State – and it is why I could never vote for the Labour Party in Scotland.  Their claim that a pensioner in Glasgow had more in common with a pensioner in Blackpool rang somewhat hollow when British bombs were raining down on the heads of pensioners in Baghdad.  It’s just beyond me how anyone could vote for a unionist party after that.  Unless they have a very short memory.

  71. David McCann says:

    Yes Ian. As I keep saying. Vote NO. Get nowt!

  72. Juteman says:

    A strange thing has happened to me recently. I suddenly realised that i had stopped reading Unionist blogs, and MSM political stories online. I’m an anorak that read every article i could find that had a Scottish angle, so was surprised to realise that i had changed.
    The NO campaign has simply become an annoying background noise that my mind had decided to filter out.
     Please don’t change your tactics NO’ers.

  73. MajorBloodnok says:

    Good news Juteman, judging by Peter A Bell’s extremely useful daily roundups, they haven’t changed a bit.

  74. Norrie says:

    My take on the section 30 debate

  75. Juteman says:

    I hope the NO campaign is affecting the undecideds in the same manner. Before, i used to get angry at the likes of Sarwars recent antics, now i just shake my head. It’s as if i’m watching a history programme on Discovery. Yesterdays men, and yesterdays news.

  76. EdinScot says:

    Thanks for this superb article Cath.  I think your story illustrates perfectly  that we are a broad church of people in our quest to normalise our country Scotland and let her regain her rightful place in the world.  When i went on the Independence rally last year, it was magical to see real peoples faces rather than monikers on a website.  It normalised us, letting us all see that we were all different people from all walks of life, and yet it was just people you would pass everyday in the street without thinking. I think the big push is on and the numbers are only going to swell.  We have all reached here the hard way against a mountain of lies and propaganda to now be in sight of our long long awaited referendum.  No mean feat!

    To cut a long story.  When i reached voting age, i did what my mother did and voted Labour, the default position.  This only lasted 2 Westminster elections more as i had began to have serious doubts about them due to a couple of local Labour council issues i had concerns with.  From that moment on i researched all about this SNP, took my time and made a reasoned judgement to give them my vote but only borrowed until the next time.  My trust grew in them and i became more and more convinced in an Independent Scotland being the cure to Scotlands ills.  I would never go back to voting for a Unionist party.  So it always makes me smile when  someone tells me that yet another SNP voter  has wrote to a paper saying ‘they used to vote SNP but no more, its Labour for them’.  I know its the British state we’re up against but we’ve come this far.  Something has been happening cue the hysteria from the Unionist msm and politicans.  We will have to be strong right to the very end but nobody said it was ever going to be easy.  The thing is this has been my journey, all our journeys and there is no turning back no matter.
    The thing that i think clinches it is that we are on the side of right.  Its my and all our right to live in an independent Scotland that other peoples in other countries take as a given.  I really think when it comes down to brazs tacks its as simple as that.

    Oh and by the way after a damascun conversion and to my shock and delight, my mother has voted SNP since 2007. Kenny Mackaskill impressed her very much apparantly.

  77. Cameron says:

    @ Macart
    We all have our *own” reasons for making our choices in life, though the power and penetration of a multitude of propaganda campaigns that we are constantly exposed to, makes the independence of this action less certain these days. Making decisions for oneself is probably the single most self-empowering act a human being can make. I can speak from the perspective of one who the NHS considers to be one of the UK’s most brain damaged head injury survivors, that has gone on to regain their independence. Subsequently, I would like to blame my injuries and ongoing battle with PTSD, for the atrocious spelling I have called on this forum to endure, but I think Mrs. Jarvice who taught me in P4 would argue differently. Careful with the chuckies Dr. M.
    Anyhoo, if sticking two fingers up at the establishment is not a significant factor for you, would it be fair to assume you missed Naomi Wolf’s article in 2nd December’s Grundian?

    I know that some might assert that I believe in 90 foot space lizards, or such, but it is clear that economic and social trends tend to migrate from the USA to the UK and then to continental Europe. Up to the 70s the time lag was around 15-20 years, but the world has turned upside down since then. Meanwhile, David Cameron is seeking closer trading ties with the USA, which is signatory to the TPP. Many observers believe this possibly opens the door for global corporate governance? So is what Naomi describes, what we might expect from the British state in the future? If so, why would any rational being choose to vote No?
    I want a written constitution tomorrow, but certainly not one that Alexander Hamilton ensure would protect the “wealth of the nation”. IMHO, the wealth that Hamilton defended, was the political and economic interests of the landed, slave owning aristocrats. The American experiment was a failure and one we would best leave well alone.

  78. Craig P says:

    Cath, thanks for sharing. It seems like devo max is the lost cause of Scottish politics, the Betamax of constitutionalism, the orphaned child of unionism. The one solution that could have been stomached by everyone, now abandoned. Unfortunately the centre has decided it must hold, or shatter, and people who preferred devo max must now make a choice.

    Christian Wright – think you’ve hit the bullseye when you say the key to a yes vote is the low-information voter. A little information will go a long way.

  79. Cameron says:

    @ Matt
    “…why were there no national celebrations for its 300th anniversary in 2007?”
    Why would anyone celebrate a business contract that was signed more than two hundred years before women obtained the vote, and which was agreed on by the political class of it’s time, land owning men? 
    Que Bono?

  80. Matt says:


    It was a huge moment in British history. The fact that there was no big effort to commemorate it seems quite significant to me. Is it that some people in the establishment were unwilling to potentially open up discussion about the constitutional make-up of these isles, or perhaps just simply that people down south don’t really know or care; they were ruled from London beforehand, and they are ruled from London now – to them, there’s no difference. Either way, it seems to me to undermine Unionist claims that the Union is brilliant, that we are stronger together, and that no part of the UK is taken for granted by London.

  81. Cameron says:

    @ Matt
    Good points. You would have thought the British establishment (including the MSM), would have been drooling at the opportunity to wave the flag and declare that this is truly the best of all possible worlds.

  82. douglas clark says:

    I don’t ‘know’ any of you socially, but you are a grand bunch of people. And this is an excellent article.
    My path to being a member of the SNP would just repeat what others have said, so I won’t go there.
    A couple of comments I’d like to support and a couple I’d like to criticise in a charming and friendly manner.
    Given the incredible growth in it’s membership over the last few years I doubt very much that the people that joined were, by and large, tabula rosa. These are people who had other convictions and changed.
    It ill behoves us to talk, even amongst ourselves, about ‘the masses’.

    Each of the people we want to persuade is an individual in a unique set of circumstances. Either we can persuade them that independence is a good thing or not.

    We must never fall into the trap of talking about ‘masses’. There are all individuals. Our opponents have already fallen into that trap, as Cath eloquently said in her Op-Ed.

    Let’s not go there. We will win if we make friends and they make enemies. At one level, it is that simple.

    And, as of now that is what is happening.

    Several people have talked about being barred on unionist sites for no good reason. It seems to me that that in itself is the sort of cognitive dissonance that causes one to re-evaluate your options.

    I think we can make a great go of a new Scotland, I sort of hope some of you might stand as candidates!

  83. Soapy says:

    Morag- Aye. It is I.
    Quoting Holebender. “It is no coincidence that those who leave Scotland and work either temporarily or permanently abroad (i.e. not just in a different part of the UK) are overwhelmingly for independence, in my experience.”
    As a lifelong Scottish resident who has worked abroad for 33 of the last 35 years, my experience does not match this at all.
    I do find most expats (of almost any nationality) tend to be more attentive to what they see as “their” culture than stay at homes . (What do they know of England, who only England know?) -but on the matter of political independence I hear a rather different story.
    So far, among Scots expats I have discussed it with, a clear majority are opposed or utterly uninterested. That said, holebender may be correct, insofar as I have found even greater apathy and opposition at home, a fact which has honestly surprised me.
    I have, for some months now, been asking friends, relations, neighbours and total strangers what is their attitude to the idea of independence. I stress this is totally informal and unscientific) but the results (I’m now into the nineties) would suggest  a far lower level of enthusiasm than even the (unquestionably biased) UK media have suggested. 
    So far I’m looking at about 12% actively in favour, 44% against and 44% uncommitted or uninterested. (“Aw ah dinnae understaun aw that politics, son.”)
    I have no way to know if people are more or less honest with a casual stranger than with a clipboard wielding pollster, but a couple of things have surprised me-
    One is the scarcity of enthusiastic, excited, pro independence responses. Even the few who said yes did so apparently with some reservations. Only 1 wanted to talk me to death about it. 18 months away from a referendum on breaking the Union, where are the enthusiasts? Why does nobody seem to care?
    Also surprising is that by far the most definite (even passionate) group, are the “No!” voters. Even those who gave no real coherent reason to vote no, were absolutely certain that they will. In part this is likely just inertial resistance to change, but it’s surprisingly vehement compared to the watery pro party.

    Even stranger is the identically large “uninterested / no opinion / nothing to do with me crowd. I mean, I’m as apolitical as people get, but for god’s sake show some interest.

     I’d have expected a swing to the “Yes” campaign as time went on- partly as some of the early questions about fiscal viability were answered positively and (sadly more so) as politician after politician down south continued to shoot themselves in the foot, having first placed said foot squarely in their mouth. But if anything, I’m meeting more “nos” or “Don’t care” s  than ever.

    This is all very strange. For a country on the verge of it’s biggest political decision in centuries, where is the excitement? Why such detachment? People are far more interested in whether Gordon Strachan was going to get the job as team manager than whether Alex Salmond is going to be first minister of the Peoples Republic of Nova Nova Scotia.
    Sure, there are blogs like this one, but by definition anyone reading  this blog is apt to keep reading  a pro-independence opinion. It  would be easy to fall into the trap of supposing said opinion is also the norm in society at large. That  is not what I’m finding. 
    If there is anything in my wee survey at all, then the “Yes” campaign badly needs to involve the uninterested, the disinterested and the uncommitted, or the vote will be overwhelmingly no.  I think many of the uncommitted just want the answers to many questions, before they make up their minds, but a surprisingly large number just don’t care. 
    I’m a no voter, until I hear a better reason to change than I’ve heard yet,  but I’d hate to see all this money and effort thrown away because people just didn’t give a damn. If we vote no, lets do so because we feel positive about Britain. If we vote yes, let’s do so because we feel sufficiently positive about Scotland to do so.
    If we just don’t bother to vote, or we vote “yes” because we don’t like David Cameron, or “No” because we didn’t get the answers to specific, legitimate questions, that would be a great pity. Whatever we decide, let’s decide it for good reasons.
    (Nb- I definitely know 1 other poster here and suspect I might know a couple more. I don’t include them in the “yes” group for the same reason I don’t count online acquaintances who are in the “no” camp. Only folk I’ve spoken to .)

  84. Juteman says:

    As there is no need for a violent uprising, i think most Scots will behave in a typical Scottish way. No need to discuss it, or pore endlessly over polls or whatever. No show of emotion needed.
     Simply walk into the voting booth and nonchalantly vote Yes for a better future.

    I think the unionists know this, witness the relentless bile on display.

  85. Scott MacVicar says:

    Excellnt Article and mirrors my own experience of coming to a yes vote.
    I have voted for Labour for years and before that Tory (ashamed of myself). I voted against the devolved parliment. But asking questions to the no campaign I have been accused of being an ‘SNP strormtrooper’ amongst other things – there seems to be no debate, and no answers. Seems to be either with us or against us. That is not what i expected. So my moto became if i cant join them beat them. And with Cameron getting it down to either for or against independence with no devo max then I’m affraid the only option for me is to vote yes. I have never been politically motivated to sway other peoples opinion but I am now and will be trying to convert everyone I know to voting YES! 

  86. macdoc says:

    Nice article. Its good to hear that individuals that see themselves as proudly British still can see the positives of Scottish Independence and would be willing to vote YES in 2014. Its also good to see that the ugly and pervasive language by the ProUnionist  establishment is not having the desired effect and is turning people away from what would otherwise have been guaranteed support.

    I must confess I have never really thought of myself as British which I have always associated with Englishness. Generally my national identity is not near the top of the pile when describing myself. However I do certainly classify my as Scottish. That is not to say I am hostile to Britishness. There are many musicians, actors, scientists, writers  that are English who I admire greatly but then again there also is from many other nations.  

    My reasons for supporting Scottish Independence is primarily we have been lied to for year about Scotland’s wealth. How poorly Britain performs on Wealth distribution, poverty and social index figures in comparison to other countries of similar wealth etc etc. However even if all things were going to be identical, no better, no worse I would still support Scottish Independence because of my national Identity.

    According to this if people have to pick a primary identity. In Scotland since 2000 the people have classed themselves as Scottish first as 73-80%, British is about 13-19%. Completely different picture in England. 


  87. muttley79 says:


    Interesting post.  Firstly, I would not mistake a seeming lack of interest in the referendum to actual interest in it.  A lot of people in Scotland are reserved, and probably also nervous that they say something that they think people will disapprove of (e.g. which side they support).  Change in Scotland, particularly constitutional change, has come about remarkably quietly, and with the minimum of fuss.  Also, total strangers will not want to tell you who they support in a political sense, even neighbours might hedge their bets as it were.  I would personally never underestimate the degree to which many people do not feel comfortable talking about politics, particularly this kind of a referendum about the country’s future.  

    In addition, the reason why people are probably more willing to discuss Gordon Strachan is because it is like talkng about the weather, it is a much more neutral subject, and uncontroversial, as compared to politics.   

  88. Cameron says:

    @ Soapy
    Having a name that is regularly abbreviated to that of a popular brand of soap, coming from Dundee and having an uncanny resemblance to a certain cartoon character, Soapy was my primary school nickname.
    I think it might have been Scott Minto that put it something like this.
    Do you want to have minimal input in to decisions that affect your future? Vote No.
    Do you want to have a direct input in to decisions that affect your future? Vote Yes.
    Its as simple as that really.

  89. Dave McEwan Hill says:

    I am confident that we will prevail in the referendum because of the almost total lack of enthusiasm for the union.
    Ther will be virtually no activists for the No campaign, no enthusiastic public committemtn to it and those who will most actively and publicly espouse it will be those – ie the Orange Lodge and sundry other bigots – who will do it most damage.

    My feeling even now is that of those who are determined to vote a significant majority will be voting yes.
    If we approach referendum day with anything around 40% or above in polling forecasts we will win due to differential turnout factors.

  90. Matt says:

    Welcome to the site Soapy, I think it could be good for us to have a commenter on here who is not a definite Yes voter, and I’m sure you’ll be an asset to the discussions here.

    I agree that some on here are maybe a bit more optimistic than is justified, but I don’t think you should underestimate the number of people who support independence but still don’t feel completely comfortable saying so. I was one myself until recently, in fact I still am a bit but my New Year’s Resolution is to start speaking up, because the last thing I want to do is wake up the day after the referendum and wish I had done more.

    Quick little anecdote to illustrate this point: I was on my way to the Yes Glasgow launch the other night, when I bumped into a class-mate from Uni. He was in the same group as me for a project last semester, and we support the same “diddy” football team, so we’ve chatted quite a bit, and we’re friends on facebook. He asked me where I was off to, and I hesitated for a second before admitting where I was going. His response was “oh right, glad to hear you’re on the right side of that”. Now I had never had any inkling before that he was pro-independence, and it seems he didn’t know I was either. So I think it might surprise you how many people are out there who want to be able to say “Yes, I am voting Yes”, but are still just a little afraid to do so until someone else says it first.

    I think it comes back to something another poster said earlier, about identity. I am Scottish, I was brought up to feel Scottish, and I will always be Scottish first and British second. (This does not mean I have always been pro-independence, I only joined that camp over the course of the last year.) Anyways, I have always felt that connected to the Scottishness in my identity, is a feeling of awkwardness, of embarrassment. If you think of your nationality as Scottish, then you always feel a little embarrassed inside that your nation isn’t really a nation, not like Iceland, Norway and Denmark are nations. It’s quite hard to define, and it is definitely not an argument for independence in itself, but I think it is the same concept that we sometimes refer to as the “Scottish cringe”, and the same idea that Renton was trying to articulate in his famous “it’s shite being Scottish” rant.

  91. velofello says:

    Simply brilliant conversation going on here.People seemingly dropping their reticence guard and speaking from the heart.
    And a few pearls: 
    Devo-max the Betamax of constitutionalism.
    The low information voter. 

    Good to hear from Ian Dommet of the Yes campaign 

  92. Seasick Dave says:


    Long and interesting post.

    Bottom line is that I think that you have something to offer Scotland.

    We can all apply ourselves to think of how we would like the newly Independent Scotland to develop so, for me, its something we should grab with both hands.

    England is taking a totally different path to us and whatever way you want to paint it, we are not going to benefit from being part of the UK any longer.

    Its not something we need to fall out about or to criticise each other for, its just how it is.

    A chance like this will not come up again in our lifetime so it would be a tragedy to miss out.

    Think positive, think Independence, vote YES. 

  93. douglas clark says:

    This has probably been done to death, but as a schoolboy lots of us wrote something like this on our jotters:
    douglas clark,
    49 Polwarth Street,
    United Kingdom,
    Planet Earth,
    Solar System,
    Milky Way Galaxy,
    The (local) Universe.
    The Muiltiverse (maybe)
    Personally my alliegences are to Scotland and Planet Earth, the rest can look out for themselves. If you are uncomfortable with the last two, then just see it as a single Universe.

    Back then we had no idea there might be a multiverse, either parallel or beyond the light cone.


  94. Macart says:


    Not normally on my radar for subject matter in the Guardian, but an interesting article.


  95. Cameron says:

    @ douglas clark
    Sorry to be a pedant, but when were you at school if you were considering the existence of multiple universes? 😉

  96. Cameron says:

    @ Macart
    I think it is more than interesting, its bloody scarey.
    I thought this sort of revelation would have been front page news everywhere, but the MSM has managed to report it all quietly in the back pages. It may not be the Illuminati, but there certainly does appear to be anti-democratic forces at work.

  97. douglas clark says:

    Fair point. I just got carried away. It would have taken a brave schoolkid back then to have suggested that!
    If I recall correctly, the Sky at Night was relatively new, and it hadn’t really hit the average man or woman’s conciousness that the grey blobs on astrophotographs were other island Galaxies. We didn’t really have words for a billion stars rotating aroung their own centre of gravity, We just didn’t. It was just all a tad mind-blowing to have Patrick Moore telling us all about these mysteries

    Or maybe I was just young.

    I think, just by osmosis, everyone knows a hell of a lot more about the Universe we live in that I did back then.

    Whenever I get a bit despondent about all this politics stuff, I get some succour from the genuinely international human endevour that gives us pictures like this:

    That is what the Northern Lights of Auld Aberdeen look like from the International Space Station.

    Phil Plait’s site is at:

    He is a smashing chap.

    I want Scotland to stay at the forefront of this amazing and beautiful knowledge. And I want my country to take it’s place in that sort of international co-operation.
    Well, that’ll larn ya for askin’

  98. Cameron says:

    @ douglas clark
    Almost as radical as thinking of a Scotland free of the Union.

  99. Soapy says:

    While I can agree with several respondents that Scots are less likely to discuss politics than football, maybe for fear of offending others, this does not explain the difference between the (often rather dogmatic) definiteness of the no voters and the lukewarm response of the yes voters.
    My surprise really was that those who say no are often loudly dismissive of the very idea, quite certain in their stance, even where they had no really convincing argument to back it. Those in favour , apart from their lower numbers are also noticeably less sure. These seem to grade into the very large group of uncertain / uninterested.
    This is understandable in terms of the known versus the unknown. We often stick with the devil we know unless we can see clear advantage in switching. There really are many questions and uncertainties involved- the EU membership, currency, the position of Scots in UK forces, on and on. It’s perfectly reasonable that people should want answers to these and other issues, before they make their mind up.
    I feel the only way to move most of that group over to the yes camp is to answer the many, many questions they have about what change involves. In the time available and with the manpower available, that would require herculean effort. I don’t see it happening. I expect a lot of bland (It’ll be fine) reassurances, simply because the answers are just unknown.
    We should also keep in mind that reticence cuts both ways. Your best pal, knowing you are a yes voter, may reassure you that he is too, merely to keep the peace, but may vote no on the day.
    My own guess is that come the day, many people will vote on the basis of emotion without ever considering the question in any detail. That  may be no bad thing in the long run, but it’s not the way I prefer to make decisions. Wouldn’t be the first time though.

  100. Juteman says:

    Every time the Scots have been given the chance to vote YES for more powers, they have seized the opportunity, no matter what the polls have said, Soapy.

  101. douglas clark says:

    Almost as radical as thinking of a Scotland free of the Union.”
    Maybe, Cameron, maybe.
    Here’s a couple of ,sort of, constitutional terms that you haven’t heard anywhere else:
    That Scotland will invest for all time in it’s knowledge economy and endow universities and colleges with a proportion of the capital from any dividend from North Sea Oil.
    (This, in order to make them more equal to their real rivals in the US, for instance, Harvard, Yale and more importantly Cal Tech and Mass Tech I think the tertary sector should be endowed to the extent that there are no tuition fees, no fees whatsoever and a reasonable payment, yes, payment, to students.
    That Scotland will continue to fund, subject to reason, all international scientific collaborations that can be seen to increase knowledge, or just make us awe struck…
    These are not issues that most people, on either side of the debate, care a lot about. I want to know whether we will pay our share for, say, CERN. I would be a very unhappy bunny if we said we wouldn’t.
    I am also a tad concerned about  what are known as Crown Colonies. It seems to be  assumed that we would leave them with rUK.
    Why is that?
    We ought to be discussing them as something we refuse to see Westminster as being even vaguely competent in managing.
    I am apparently the only Scot that so far thinks that we, Scots, have a responsibility to Diego Garcia that transcends the UK’s disgusting sell out of it’s people for geopolitical ends. Do we just wash our hands of that? Or on another topic entirely, what would we do if Argentina attacked the Falklands? That is also a Crown Colony.
    With independence of thought should also come some care for those we are responsible for. It is frankly wrong to leave these folk at the tender mercies of Westminster.
    We Cameron, have seen just how incompetent they are at conducting our affairs. They are even worse when it comes to Crown Colonies. I give you the brains that decided disputed territory in Anartica would forevermore be called Queen Elizabeth land.
    We should re-name ‘Queen Elizabeth Land’, ‘Lionel Messi Land’ and take it from there…….
    The folk that run our UK government are idiots.

  102. Cameron says:

    @ Douglas Clark
    My question re. the Falklands, is where does Scotland figure in the rights over the resources that are under Saxe-Coburg and Gotha land? After all, didn’t Scottish tax payers help pay for a “task force” and the heightened military presence now in the South Pacific?

  103. velofello says:

    @ cameron:
    Every note on the musical scale is the potential start of a musical scale, in x,y and z directions. Mutliple scales, multiple universes, why not? 

  104. Cameron says:

    @ velofello
    I accept that there is more to know than we are currently aware of. Multiple universes, why not? It appears far more likely than Scotland getting a fair shake from the British state.

  105. Matt says:

    “While I can agree with several respondents that Scots are less likely to discuss politics than football, maybe for fear of offending others, this does not explain the difference between the (often rather dogmatic) definiteness of the no voters and the lukewarm response of the yes voters.”

    I think you have missed my point. The reticence about speaking up about independence comes not from a fear of offending, but from a fear of having someone think of you as a fool. Many people seem to think that the very idea of independence is childish and stupid. On quite a few occasions over the past year, I have said to people I know very well, that I am in favour of independence, and their response has been to say “really?”, in a voice of extreme surprise. The MSM are doing everything in their power to try and perpetuate the myth that only a fool would support independence. That is why people who have no arguments can confidently say NO, but even those who have thought it through every which way, still struggle to say YES with pride.

    I have always felt that pride and shame are the two most influential human emotions, and as long as people feel that support for independence is something to be embarrassed about, they will struggle to speak up. If we can get over that hurdle, THEN we can really start to put the arguments out there and make up some ground.

  106. Seasick Dave says:

    I won’t go into to details but in the past six weeks or so I have come across several peripheral friends and offshore colleagues who were voluble NOs.

    However, when it became known that I was a hunner percent YES and was prepared to challenge them at the most basic level, their defences fell at the first hurdle and they immediately came out with almost the same line, “Eh, well, I don’t know much about it so maybe I’ll need look into it more”.

    When I replied that there would be a lot of information coming out in the next two years that would put their minds at rest they were like, “Well, OK, we’ll see”.

    I would say that by simply challenging negative feelings towards Independence I have changed six NOs to six Maybes.

    Think positive, people, and don’t be shy 🙂

  107. Soapy says:

    Matt, I agree many in the no camp are dismissive without clear reason, simply taking it as self evident that  yes makes no sense. Some of the yes group are equally unable to give a reason beyond patriotism for their support.
    I’m not sure I agree about shame being important in this. Perhaps I’m more detatched than some, but it’s never occurred to me that anyone would feel ashamed of holding any political view. Nor have I seen any sign of shame or embarrassment in those I’ve spoken too. Apathy aplenty, contempt, confusion and occasional enthusiasm, yes, but no shame.
    I just find some folk are for it , often for no clear reason, and some (more in my experience) are agin it for no clear reason. A lot of people are undecided, some because they haven’t thought about it and don’t plan to, others because they have thought about it , but can’t get answers to their questions.
    That last group are the ones the SNP absolutely must reach. Most of the rest are unreachable, for one reason or another.

  108. Matt says:

    Seasick Dave,
    That exactly mirrors my experience with a friend who commented “vote NO!!! to independence”, when I shared a photo about the Welfare vote and how Scottish MPs had opposed it. I decided that rather than responding simply “Why?”, I would say “Why on Earth would you want to do that?” – expressing the same level of surprise as usually comes my way when I say YES. He replied with a list of reasons why he felt that “independence wouldn’t work”. I spent a good twenty minutes typing out a robust response to each of those questions, and that was the end of the exchange. The next time I saw him in person I barely had to say anything before he conceded “I guess for now I’m a maybe”.

    Many of these people are just confidently repeating opinions they have read in the papers. People have been doing it for generations, it’s nothing new, but once they see that people they know are confidently refuting those arguments, their certainty – and the opinion it backed up – completely disappears. We just need to keep speaking up, keep calmly answering everyone’s questions (and for those we don’t know the answer, there are plenty of posts to help out on sites like this), and most of those loud, assertive NOs will disappear into thin air.

    Let’s get out there and do this!

  109. Cameron says:

    @ Matt
    Timing is the issue. I wouldn’t have a clue myself about when best to go on the offensive, but it is generally a good idea to keep your powder dry. Of course, we should still continue to refute nonsense.

  110. Morag says:

    I’ve heard a lot more detail about Soapy’s reasons for being a No, over the past few years, and my main feeling about these reasons is that they’re quite unusual.  He feels British, not Scottish, as he says above.  He genuinely sees independence as breaking up his country.  He regards it much as we would regard Lanarkshire saying it wanted to be independent.
    He naturally sees no reason for independence if we’re not going to be better off.  But then, in response to explanations that there is a very good chance we’ll be significantly better off, he asks us why we want to leave England in the lurch by taking our money away.  And if the transaction is portrayed as essentially neutral, then he’ll ask “why bother?”
    He’s also a proponent of one world government, and sees the addition of even one more border as moving away from that goal.  He dislikes politicians, and wants fewer of them.  When it is pointed out that independence will get rid of Westminster, which has to be a plus in that department, I think he’d rather get rid of Holyrood.
    He’s generally rather right-leaning, and doesn’t really warm to a left-wing agenda, especially if it has anything to do with Scottish Labour.  (Being brought up in North Lanarkshire will do that to a person, I sympathise.)  He doesn’t necessarily see that a bunch of Labourites in Scotland is more attractive than a bunch of Tories in Westminster.
    I’m only saying this to save time, no doubt Soapy will correct me if I’ve got any of it wrong.  Don’t get me wrong, we get on fine.  He’s my absolute favourite unreconstructed curmudgeon.  If there were a lot of people in Scotland of his mindset, we’d be looking at a fairly definite no.  However, I regard him as a bit of a curiosity.  I don’t think there are very many of him around.
    I find this story about how few people are prepared to admit support for independence to him to be quite intriguing.  At one point, he didn’t know anyone at all IRL who admitted to a Yes inclination.  I note that has shifted more recently.  People may be getting braver.  I think Matt may have put his finger on it, or at least an important element.  A lot of Yes voters are very shy at the moment, and the constant anti-independence mantra of the BBC and the printed press has a lot to do with it.
    I noticed it myself, just the other week.  I grabbed a lighter-weight jacket to go to choir practice, because it was an unusually mild evening.  Half way through the evening, I realised I was wearing a “Yes Scotland” badge quite prominently on my collar.  Everybody and his dog knows I’m SNP, but even so, I just wanted to crawl into a hole.
    I hope Soapy will stick around and have a constructive debate.  I find the points he makes interesting, and challenging.  He may be a No, but he’s a thinking No, and he doesn’t do “Bitter Together” soundbites.  I think he’ll be a great asset here.

  111. Seasick Dave says:


    The best  timing is when they come out with a confident NO.

    Just fire back with a “Get away with ye!” and ask them, out of interest, why they said what they said.

    They won’t become YES voters overnight but their default position will have changed.

  112. Morag says:

    Soapy said:
    That last group are the ones the SNP absolutely must reach. Most of the rest are unreachable, for one reason or another.

    Two errors there.  It’s not the SNP who need to reach these people, it’s Yes Scotland.  I agree the contents of the White Paper will be crucially important, but this movement is much much more than the SNP.  And bear in mind there are still 20 months or so.  Frustrating or not, this campaign is planned, and the stage we’re in is the stage where the dafter elements of unionism are being allowed to run themselves into the sand.

    And I don’t agree with you that the groups you mention are unreachable.  The most surprising people are showing distinct signs of swinging to a Yes vote.

  113. Cameron says:

    Cognitive dissonance has been a common affliction, particularly since the inception of theocracies.

  114. Dave McEwan Hill says:

    Exactly, Morag

    We are engaged in a war of attrition at the moment rebutting increasingly panicked unionist forays into infantile nonsense.
    The fact that the polls show our support holding up and the NO vote starting to falter slightly even at the end of the most vindictive and concentrated attack I have ever known the independence cause to face gives me confidence.
    We are keeping our powder dry. The wisdom of giving us two years is being vindicated . The Norons have prematurely spent a huge amount of their ammunition and are now suffering from diminishing returns.
    Every time one of their infantile forays is exposed as that to informed people their credibility takes a hit and I figure they have used up much of their credit already. As more and more of the population recognise they have been treated as gullible fools they come our way.
    We have to establish that Scotland is readily self sustaining. That is easy.    

  115. Christian Wright says:

    Commenter says:

    “Is one of them the map currently appearing on the Bella site, because it is excellent, the best and simplest I have seen? (Although the error vav Shetland’s location MUST be corrected”

    Yes it is, that’s one of the two. I hope the creator(s) is/are in advertising, because if not, they’ve missed their calling.  

  116. Castle Rock says:

    Serious point, I wonder if John MacIntyre could learn something from this discussion?  I suspect not and that’s why you have respect from all sides of this debate as people believe Soapy is not trolling.

  117. Cameron says:

    Respect for others demands respect of one’s self. Once respect has been established, dialog and understanding has the chance to follow.
    Book of Pleb, Chapter 1, verse 1

  118. velofello says:

    And what is wrong with being a curmudgeon? Its my hobby! Show me a curmudgeon and I will show show a independant thinker, or a crabbit old so and so agin everything, if you prefer. 

    @ Cameron there is nought wrong with Theosophy, its taken humanity far. Its the institutionalised doctrines that may be harmful.

  119. Matt says:

    I am feeling really confident right now. I think we’ve all learned a lot from this discussion.

    Whenever we hear someone saying NO, we need to answer their concerns, we need to do so calmly, confidently, and respectfully. If we do that then there is no reason why our powder will ever need to get wet, and we should be able to break this media-led consensus. Once we do that, people will no longer be able to confidently state that they are voting NO (or YES), without knowing some of the facts first. They will have to look into the arguments, and once they start doing that, we’ve won.

  120. Jeannie says:

    I think we’re not really brought up, on the whole, to think of ourselves as individuals in Scotland and consequently find it difficult to step outside of what we perceive as the group “norm”, or at least admit to it publicly.  This became apparant to me when I moved to California for a number of years and found people there to be very different to the Scots I had known, in that Californians were much more individualistic in thought and deed, perhaps because so many Californian residents come from other places and cultures.  In other words, it was much easier to step outside the norm over there – it was almost expected of you, in fact, and was something to be applauded. 
    In Scotland, we’re taught to be “good boys and girls” and are generally encouraged to conform.  So, it takes a bit of courage to stand up and say that you disagree with the prevailing thought or opinion.  For that reason, an external sign can be very helpful to give some indication that you’re not alone.  I can offer a personal example:  in a history class last year, a fellow student noticed my “one hundred of us remain alive” bag and commented that it was a quote from the Declaration of Arbroath.  When I turned to speak to her, I noticed she was wearing a Yes badge on her coat collar.  Problem sorted.
    It’s not always easy to speak up, but once you realise you’ve nothing to fear from it, then all you need is that one daft pal at your side and you’re up and running.

  121. Christian Wright says:

    “Why such detachment? People are far more interested in whether Gordon Strachan was going to get the job as team manager than whether Alex Salmond is going to be first minister of the Peoples Republic of Nova Nova Scotia.”

    Yes, and I seem to recall this website’s greatest hits are about  The Rangers, Rangers, the Scottish football team, and the Premier league. 

    It is clear that if the creator wants to maximize traffic (page count and unique visitors) he should concentrate his efforts there.

    Of course the analytical approach he brings to the subject contrasts greatly with the ra-ra pablum served up by just about all MSM football journos and commentators. so the surge could partly be due to this website providing quality content to fans that they cannot get elsewhere.

    Certainly, I thought the difference in this respect was palpable. 

  122. Morag says:

    The only person who commented on my “a hundred of us” bag laughed and said, is that the Conservatives you’re talking about?

    It was a different person who saw my “all our base” sweatshirt and commented, shouldn’t there be full stops after the last two letters?

    Why am I cursed with the wits?

    Oh and by the way, I know Soapy IRL, and he ain’t trolling. Definitely not.

  123. Cameron says:

    Clued-up and respectful, just the ticket. I hope the Yes campaign is drumming this in to their team.

  124. Jeannie says:


  125. Christian Wright says:

    velofello says:

    “And a few pearls: Devo-max the Betamax of constitutionalism.”

    Yes, a wonderful delineation. I shall steal it often.

  126. Christian Wright says:

    Cameron says:

    “My question re. the Falklands, is where does Scotland figure in the rights over the resources that are under Saxe-Coburg and Gothaland? After all, didn’t Scottish tax payers help pay for a “task force” and the heightened military presence now in the South Pacific?”


    Of far greater import, young Scots gave their lives for it in battle. 

  127. Cameron says:

    @ vellofello
    “Cameron there is nought wrong with Theosophy, its taken humanity far.”
    I’m undecided on that one. Sounds a bit too much like creative destruction and trickle-down for me. Who is to say how humanity might have developed without them and have the ends justified the means?

  128. Cameron says:

    @ Christian Wright
    Thank you for pointing out my omission, the most important one for the immediate families, though also of potentially enormous significance to future generations of Scots.

  129. Cameron says:

    Sorry, that meant to read “though the resources may also be of enormous significance…”

  130. Christian Wright says:

    Well, I am ashamed to say I do not posses the keen sense of fairness and respect that all here seem to share. That is a deficit I shall have to work on removing.

    In the mean time, can I make the observation that this is a street fight we’re in, and it is only going to get more vicious and brutal. If you play by Marquis of Queensberry Rules you are going to lose.

    Were I leading this charge, I would be prepared to do whatever it takes to win. If I didn’t feel that way, I wouldn’t belong in the game.

    Sean Connery playing Malone in the Untouchables best articulates my less evolved message to the troops.

    Taking a smidgen of licence: 

    “. . If you open the can on these worms you must be prepared to go all the way. Because they’re not gonna give up the fight, until one of you is dead. ”

    You wanna know how to get independence? They pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. *That’s* the *Chicago* way! And that’s how you get independence. Now do you want to do that? Are you ready to do that? I’m offering you a deal. Do you want this deal? “

  131. Cameron says:

    Walk softly, carry big stick might also be appropriate. The stick of fact based truth of course.

  132. Stevie says:

    I agree about the ‘cybernats’ tag being utter tosh — I’ve been insulted and sworn at by the BritNats so many times that I don’t speak to them anymore.  I will add, I’ve never insulted a BritNat, not even in return for a vile insult.

    The BritNat media though just parrots any old rubbish that they feel will bolster the unionist view.  I do hope we can find that impetus and momentum for 2014.  Well, gotta keep trying.

    Interesting read.  

  133. cath says:

    Interesting discussio. I do agree Yes voters are ofetn shy about it, and it’s not hard to see why with the amount of scorn and abuse the media heaps onto the whole idea. Often if you say you support independence you’ll get an incredulous look and comments that mirror what the media says.  Also the idea that “it’ll never happen” seems to be a motivating factor for many to simply go along with the negativity and scorn.

    I think, while being totally respectful and understanding that many people still do need more information right now, we also need to start turning that back on those knee-jerk No people. Start giving them that incredulous look and ask, “why on earth wouldn’t you want your own country to be independent?” or “Why would anyone want to keep London rule when Edinburgh’s Scotland’s capital?”


  134. douglas clark says:

    Cameron @ 9:10pm 18th Jan,
    There appears to be very little debate in the scientific community. As far as they are concerned anthropogenic global warming is real. It must be very frustrating for people who have devoted their lives to studying the subject to be gazumped by political operators who are only after a sound bite. It has almost become an article of faith for the more libertarian commentators in the USA to try to debunk the IPCC, etc. My own attitude to it is two fold, firstly I am more likely to believe a scientific consensus than I am any politician and secondly that the precautionary principle should apply. (Although we should all recall the y2k scam, but that was retired programmers not scientists)
    On the latter point you might like to watch this. It’s quite old but it is my position on this whole issue:

    I have never seen a good refutation by a column B er

    (Edit to add: when it comes up on site the video link is not there, which is odd. Google U-Tube and enter The Most Terrifying Video You’ll Ever See)

  135. douglas clark says:


  136. Dave McEwan Hill says:

    Many people sail along on what they consider, without a lot of thought, to be a sensible view held by the majority.
    This cosy ignorance is very fragile.
    Sensible and high calibre people expressing a different view very readily cause them to change their minds or to question what they previously held to be the facts.
    This is important.
    What is also important is to firmly establish some unionist positions to clearly be knowingly false and untrue . When this happens and becomes widely recognised everything the unionists proclaim becomes dubious and everything is possible

  137. Cameron says:

    Thanks for your reply.
    I do not want to delve too deeply in to the subject hear, which as you correctly point out, has become something of a matter of faith. However, I do have to strongly disagree with your assertion that there is either a scientific consensus re. climate change, or on its causes. This is where the faith comes in to the equation. We know that the climate is becoming warmer (fact). We are told that we can discount the sun as a plausible cause, because the sun has never been the single largest influence on our planet’s climate. Never, even in 6 billion years. The scientists consider anthropogenic C02 emissions to make up approximately 3% of atmospheric C02. So there’s your culprit. We just have to take the politician’s word for it, that the climate is changing because of us. As it is our fault, we should naturally pay for the damage through carbon taxes.
    Anyway, thanks for the vid. I will add it to my collection concerned with climate change and risk management. I was training to become a Town Planner when Kyoto was agreed and Agenda 21 was adopted. To call the reaction to Kyoto a knee-jerk response, would be to underestimate the all encompassing scope of the philosophical about-turn on the issue of development. The antithesis of science is how I see those days now, though as a naive undergraduate I swallowed the lot. I understand and accept the precautionary principle, I just reckon it cuts both ways, now that I am older, though some doubt wiser.
    Of far more pressing concern to me, is the apparent lack of understanding the political classes have for the significance of exponential growth. For example, China has roughly 3 million homeless laborers looking for work each day. In order to provide them with work and so avoid rioting and bloody revolution, the Chinese economy must grow by 8% every year. What’s to worry about there, you might ask? Well 8% annual growth will ensure that the Chinese economy doubles in size over the next 14 years. So while the rest of the world ceases all economic activity in the vain attempt of stopping climate change, another China gets added to the equation.
    I don’t know what the answer is myself, but it surely isn’t bloody taxes.

  138. Dave McEwan Hill says:

    “We know that the climate is becoming warmer (fact)”

    No. It’s not.

    Global warming stopped over decade ago ago,remained static for some years and there has been a slight drop over the past few years.
    Around 97/ 98% of the CO2 now comes from the sea and there has been considerably more CO2 in the atmosphere at several different points in the worlds history when there was hardly any human beings here.

    What we do know is that climate change has been a continuous feature in the world for all the millions of years of its existence and it continues today as weather patterns around the world continually move and change. 

    My remarks should not be misconstrued as an attempt to excuse pollution or attack the development of clean renewable energy production. That is the only sensible way forward as we must inevitably run out of all non renewables

  139. Cameron says:

    “My remarks should not be misconstrued as an attempt to excuse pollution or attack the development of clean renewable energy production.”
    Neither should mine, and thank you for addressing this matter seriously.
    All to often, dissent from the orthodox belief that climate change is driven by human activity, is dealt with in a remarkably similar fashion to those who doubt the official version of events concerning a particular August day in Manhattan. Anti-science appears to have trumped science.
    Thanks for the fact check on recent temperature trends, I thought that one might have been beyond my ability to “sell the evidence“. My attempt at irony re. the sun appears to have crashed and burned.

  140. Scott MacVicar says:

    This is not a referendum on political lines. It doesn’t matter if your a capitalist or commy, suppport the SNP, Tories, Liberals, Labour or not. It’s much bigger than that.
    This will effect us and all future generations for hundreds of years.
    It’s about what direction our country goes from here, and where WE want to take it.
    And we must not take the short sighted view.
    As far as I’m concerned I don’t think we could do any worse a job than the Westminster Parliment has done in running the UK over the last 100 years or so, and who knows, we may do a better job.
    The world is changing and I for one would rather change with it than reply on the old tried, tested and failed policies and indecisions of the UK, and the EU for that matter.
    There is a war of independence going on right now – with the same thing at stake as the wars of independence in which Wallace and Bruce fought. It’s just that nowadays we dont hack each other to bits.
    I’m not an Alex Salmond fan or a member of the SNP but I believe in Scotland and that we have an oppertunity to change the course of history at a time when the balance of power on the globe both economically and militarily is shifting.
    Someone once said “In order to know where you’re going you must know where you’ve come from” – Scotland has a proud history, we have emigrated to every corner of the earth, we are liked and respected as a nation everywhere.
    We have contributed more per capita of population in science, trade, exploration, invention, economics, industry, democracy, medicine, etc. than any other country in history.
    We’re all banging on about how things need to change. We have that chance now! We must find our courage, our conviction, and our confidence and move into the world with our own new determination to succeed.
    We do have the skills, and we do have the people – now and as yet unknown – that can take us forward as a nation into the future.
    It’s not about Salmond or Cameron or half the cretins that are MSP’s and MP’s at the moment. New politicians and new policies will come. But they will be picked by the poulation of Scotland for the Scots.
    I for one will be in battle in this war fighting the myths, untruths, and propaganda that keeps telling us we’re to poor, or too small, or not intelligent enough to succeed as an independent nation again.
    I hope you will help in the battle and hopefully we will win the war and once again stand proud with our heads held high as a nation state. 

  141. Cameron says:

    @ Sott MacVicar
    “The world is changing and I for one would rather change with it than reply on the old tried, tested and failed policies and indecision of the UK, and the EU for that matter.”

    You won’t get any argument from me, simply a little caution that we do not tie ourselves in unbreakable shackles in the process.
    “We must find our courage, our conviction, and our confidence and move into the world with our own new determination to succeed.”

    Hopefully a world in which Scotland decides on its future, guided by science and not political/economic dogma.

  142. Kate says:

    Moran said..       “Correspondents who replied to me did so in terms suggesting that as I was an SNP member, then clearly my biassed views weren’t worth paying any attention to.  I thought, the hell with it, and joined the SNP.”  Lol I really got a kick out of that Morag, 
    As for the whole story, well done Cath, I agree with another commenter that it is people like you, publishing articles like this, that will persuade the don’t knows into voting YES.

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