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Pushing at an open door

Posted on February 20, 2013 by

The most interestingly consistent trend of recent opinion polls has been a significant movement away from the No vote to the Don’t Know camp. Almost every one conducted in the last few months has shown the proportion of the population intending to vote against independence dropping below 50%, but the Yes campaign has only picked up a minority, with the rest now firmly undecided.


The significance of this shift shouldn’t be underestimated. Once someone’s opinion starts to change, more often than not it tends to keep moving in the same direction, unless there’s a fundamental alteration in the reasons that caused it to start. And with the anti-independence side showing no signs of abandoning their campaign of relentless negativity, that seems unlikely.

However, it also shouldn’t be OVER-estimated. A crucial section of the populace has signified its willingness to be persuaded, but if it’s to turn the headline figures around YesScotland still has to finish the job. In order to understand how that might be achieved, we need to examine the fundamental tenets of Unionism.


Comfort – the same polls consistently show that the people most opposed to independence are those who are doing well under the current setup, and see no reason to change as a result. This category would include people with a career in British politics, the armed forces or a UK quango, as well as those engaged in significant cross-border trade. Critically, such people tend to have no shortage of willing champions in the media.

Resolution: as many of these people are genuinely threatened by independence, reassurance won’t necessarily be easy. The SNP, in its capacity as the party of government as well as the largest chunk of the independence movement, already pursues a sometimes-criticised policy of suggesting an independent Scotland will actually change little in terms of basic structure.

But the wider YesScotland campaign might be able to focus on pointing out more proactively that the careers of the vast majority of the well-off (doctors, lawyers, senior civil servants, business management) won’t be affected – an independent Scotland will still need doctors and lawyers and civil servants, and people will still want to buy all the things they buy now.

Conservatism – our first group could be reasonably characterised as “small-c conservatives”, but the second wear a large “C”, and with pride. They perhaps don’t mind independence as a concept, but fear that their fellow Scots will attempt to turn the country into a socialist paradise whilst they prefer a low-tax, neoliberal economic strategy.

Resolution: highlight the likelihood of a rejuvenated Scottish Tory party that may actually be in a position to share power post-independence. This should be a plausible sell, given that even senior Scottish Tories have in recent memory called for the party to dissolve its toxic brand and start afresh with a new name.

Britishness – love of the Queen, the BBC, London, the “British sense of humour”, British pop music, the countryside, solidarity with (depending upon your own situation) the English middle class or working class. In extreme cases triumphalism, anti-Catholicism and the infamous “cultural cringe”.

Resolution: again, this is an area where the SNP have been already been active, redefining their position of “Britishness” as a geographical rather than political condition and emphasising the social union. This also plays to the “comfort” category.

But an area of opportunity for the wider movement might be to concentrate on how multi-cultural “Britishness” already is, pointing out how absurd it is to propose that a change in governmental arrangements could somehow unpick the character of such mongrel nations as either the UK or Scotland.

YesScotland events to date have been criticised, with some justification, for being overly populated by white (and male) faces. A wider spectrum might pay dividends in undermining the No campaign’s nasty, borderline-racist rhetoric about making “foreigners” of friends and family.

Irishness – the fear that Ulster Orangeism will become the dominant force in an independent Scotland. This phenomenon was historically a cornerstone of Labour support in predominantly Catholic areas, particularly in and around Glasgow. Only in 2011 did the SNP finally win “the Catholic vote”.

Resolution: this is less of a problem than it used to be for those advocating independence. Ironically, the Orange movement’s poisonous opposition is a powerful argument in the Yes camp’s favour, because it’s counter-intuitive for Catholics to be scared of something the extreme end of Protestantism is so pathologically – even violently – against.

And while the Scottish media has frantically downplayed things like the Belfast flag protests, the news gets out. The best strategy for Yes here will likely be to leave well alone.

Misinformation – being genuinely uninformed about the issue, for example believing that Scotland would be poorer outside the Union, that we would take on the entirety of UK’s bank debt, or that we would be forced to join the Euro.

Resolution: keep telling the truth. Political arguments are rarely won by dry facts alone, but making them available (it’s remarkable how many Scots have still never heard of the McCrone report, for example), leads voters to ask why the media they trust has never pointed these things out to them.

And once people start to question the veracity/impartiality of what they see and hear in the mainstream media, the biggest and loudest guns on the Unionist side are spiked.

Lack of imagination – worry over the mechanics of independence, how trade and travel and pensions and defence will work, a general inability to conceive of anything other than the status quo. This sometimes manifests as an endless list of questions on procedure, often rhetorical and intended to illustrate the hopelessness of doing anything different.

Resolution: the notion that the status quo IS “the status quo” is a powerful but enormously misleading myth. The Yes campaign might be well served by a short, punchy list of ways in which the UK has changed out of all recognition in the last 30 years (eg mass privatisations of public utilities, the destruction of manufacturing industries, the brutal emasculation of trade unions, unaffordable housing, the astronomical growth in inequality, 24-7 surveillance, falling living standards, the obliteration of Post Offices and rural public transport, the terrifying cost of higher education, etc etc), driving home the message that the status quo is also an uncertain choice.

(Indeed, perhaps more so, given that Scotland has been far less willing to abandon the post-war social-democratic consensus than the rest of the UK, and England in particular.)

This would be a less crude and perhaps more effective approach to the simple anti-Tory message often adopted by independence campaigners, and would also have the benefit of being more inclusive in respect of our second (and possibly also our first) category.

Hatred – whether of Alex Salmond, of the SNP (the latter most commonly from furious Labour activists and politicians deprived of their “birthright” to rule Scotland) or of Scotland itself (see the “cringe” again). Rage at those who would deprive the UK of the ability to “punch above its weight on the world stage”.

Resolution: let them get on with it. They won’t be persuaded, and attempting to engage with them only results in frustration, division and time wasted which could be better spent on the open-minded. Anas Sarwar pockets around £250,000 a year as a Westminster MP. Do you really think you’re going to win him over by promising to scrap Trident and spend the money on caring for old poor people? What’s in that for him?


There’s a feeling currently abroad in much of the Yes camp that the tide is turning. With the Great Patriotic Year Of The United Kingdom in 2012 over and the most favourable polls in some time, it may be correct. But an undecided voter sitting at home is no good to anyone. The success or failure of the independence movement will rest on what it does from here to get them to the polling stations, and on the right side.

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74 to “Pushing at an open door”

  1. DMW42 says:

    And, get on the front foot: don’t be caught up wasting time and effort countering negative Unionist commentary, set the agenda by getting the positive messages out first, and frequently.

  2. Macart says:

    Excellent article Mr MacDonald and wholeheartedly concur with pretty much all of it.

  3. David McCann says:

    I couldn’t agree more. WE need to get out there and get the message across. McCrone, the 6000sq  miles of stolen sea which nobody seems to know anything about. As I posted on another thread we were out on Saturday in Alloa and in the space of a couple of hours signed up over 60 to the Yes campaign. More significantly, was the fact that the majority of those we approached were looking for more information, which we were able to give them. Very few were negative. I really DO think we are on the turn.

  4. FreddieThreepwood says:

    Indeed, but we mustn’t underestimate the many and varied ways in which the unionist misinformation gets out there. And ignoring it would be folly.
    I am sure this has been brought up by others in the past (I had the misfortune to catch some of it on ‘Dave’ so it can’t be all that fresh!) – but the new Yes Prime Minister ‘comedy’ had a truly jaw-dropping scene between the smarmy PM and Robbie Coltrane playing some sort of SNP leader (I missed the start) in which an endless stream of myths, lies, distortions and straight-forward racism was delivered (unchallenged by the Coltrane figure) – each to ever-increasing whoops and cheers of delight from the no doubt English studio audience.
    The message was as unequivocal as it was entirely false and mendacious – Scotland is subsidised, paid for by English tax payers, would get a population share of North Sea oil but all of the RBS bail out debt, be forced to apply for EU membership, join the Eurozone … I could go on but my keyboard is taking a battering.
    My point is this – the British state has more ways of preserving itself than relying on Magnus Gardham and Newsnight Scotland to do the necessary. I fear it will take more than posting the truth on sites like this or standing on street corners and handing out ‘Yes’ balloons with a cheery grin to get the job done. Television in general – and the BBC in particular – needs to be brought to book.
    I will be joining in the Illuminate the Debate march in Glasgow this Saturday. I know it will be ignored, no matter how many turn up, but it’s a start.

  5. pa_broon74 says:

    Just keep pointing out the lies but be careful not to over-do the politics, it still turns people off.

    Being lied to & being taken for a fool on the other hand tends to get people’s attention.

    Is my current vote winning paradigm.


  6. naebd says:

    “the 6000sq  miles of stolen sea which nobody seems to know anything about”
    I looked into this and it seems that the boundary was changed to be a more equitable equidistance-based boundary* rather than a straight line of latitude starting at the border/coast. If so, it’s not much to get butthurt about.
    *in other words, if a point in the sea is nearer to country X, it belongs to country X.

  7. Cuphook says:

    The idea of the status quo being the result of a NO vote is a deception plied by Unionists. It is important that we point out the severe changes being implemented by the Tories and their LibDem chums, with the cooperation of Labour.
    Alastair Darling promised us cuts worse than those imposed by Thatcher, and Labour have taken that to heart in Scotland. A NO vote is an agreement that our universal benefits/services must end; it’s an acceptance of the principle that the poor must pay for the mistakes of the rich.
    There is no status quo. History didn’t stop in some 1950s postwar cosy consensus. This UK is being changed – and it’s not for our advantage.

  8. DMW42 says:


    “Indeed, but we mustn’t underestimate the many and varied ways in which the unionist misinformation gets out there. And ignoring it would be folly

    Agreed Freddie, but we can learn many lessons from Obama’s campaigns using social media for ‘debunking’ the lies and myths. For example, when Obama is criticised, he often uses mediums such as Google+ Hangouts, Youtube et al.

    And people trust it. A recent survey from George Washington University Graduate School of Political Management/ORI found that voters trust social media as much as legacy media organisations as a source for political news.

    regards to all

  9. CameronB says:

    @ Freddie Threepwood
    I’ll try and make it there myself. I’ll be the angry looking one.

  10. David McCann says:

    Albert Herring has beat me to it!
    Craig Murray addressed a meeting of the Scottish Independence Convention in Edinburgh some years ago when I was secretary and I asked his opinion on this very subject.
    Here is what he wrote to me:
    “…as I am sure you also know, the England/Scotland maritime boundary promulgated by New Labour in 1999 to the East is absolutely farcical, with at the NE tip English waters stretching well North of Dundee.  That boundary is, beyond any doubt, not within the range of feasible outcomes in any genuine negotiation, arbitration or judgement.  That is my definite, cold, professional judgement.
    Many billions in revenue are at stake.”
    He subsequently wrote on his blog about it (see Alberts link ) and I would urge you and any doubters to read it.

  11. Tris says:

    Ignorance is a huge factor. I had a guy in the gym the other day tell me that the one thing he couldn’t stand about the SNP was the terrible things they were doing to sick and disabled people… making them work for Tesco and Poundland for nothing.
    So, I got him put right, and before we were through I had a convert (my second of the day), but how many other people out there who don’t read papers or watch the tv news, are unaware that there are two governments, much less understand what their remits are. This guy, I would have guessed that he was around 20, hadn’t even heard of the Tories. Honestly!

  12. Holebender says:

    If people moan about Alex Salmond I point out that (a) if he really was the power-hungry megalomaniac some suppose him to be he’d have never wasted his time joining the SNP in the 1970s when he could have joined Labour or the Tories and been PM of the UK by now and (b) he’ll be retired and out of politics within the next 10 years and dislike of one middle-aged man was no basis for a decision about Scotland’s future for generations to come.

  13. tartanfever says:

    naebd – re- maritime boundaries
    Surely you’re having a laugh ! Tell me, if you left the port of Leith on a straight easterly direction, whose waters would you expect to travel through ?
    Obviously Scottish waters and then into International or Danish waters, not English waters. Going by the argument of ‘closeness to a point of land’ how can any part of this route be closer to Berwick upon Tweed than it is to Eyemouth or Dunbar ?
    Don’t you also find it a little suspicious that Scotland re-opens it’s Parliament at the same time that territorial waters (that contain a fair percentage of energy revenue) suddenly become English ?
    It is what it is, a pay off. Well done Donald Dewar.

  14. Macart says:

    An interesting point that about altering the maritime borders. I seem to recall it would require both parties of the treaty of union to alter any border. Now if that border was altered unilaterally by a single UK parliament bill, how could that be possible? Isn’t this in fact a case of driving a tank through the articles of the treaty of union?

  15. Cuphook says:

    Interesting link there; but again there is a generational difference in the poll. In most respects I’m not too bothered about the ‘young’ vote as I think that it will deliver itself. The ‘older’ vote, which still has faith in discredited institutions, will be more problematic.
    I can’t remember where I came across it, but, the idea of having ‘socials’ in your house is a good way of networking the ideas. You don’t try to convince them of your argument, just the normality of it and where to access information.

  16. David McCann says:

    I should also have referred to the late Ian Goldie’s book ‘The Case for Independence’ in which he covers this topic. It is available from Scots Independent publications

  17. Cuphook says:

    I thought that it might be a woman’s idea. I think that the same idea would work with older voters regardless of gender. 

    Actually, having read through that I might be getting two separate ideas mixed up. It’s still a good idea though.

  18. Alex Grant says:

    Excellent article but I can confidently say I see little evidence of a strategy designed to address this from either the SNP or Yes group – and I’m an SNP branch member ! I just hope it is a matter of timing and that they have recruited people who have experience of winning a campaign like this. It is not an election campaign!,,

  19. Craig P says:

    Whenever people think the current set up is best and shouldn’t be changed, I remind them of 1979 and the sort of scaremongering propaganda that the ‘no’ camp came up with. We were told that the Scottish economy would be devastated under home rule. So we kept the status quo… and the Scottish economy was devastated anyway.
    Despite that, in 1997, the ‘no, no’ camp reanimated all the old scare stories, but the only one that has come any where close to being true is that devolution would lead to independence…

  20. Craig P says:

    Alex Grant – it is up to us. It is true the ‘no’ camp in 2014 have the media on their side. But there is something that every advertising executive will tell you is even more powerful than television – word of mouth.
    The British state will end not by conflict, but by ordinary people talking about how they want to lead their lives.

  21. DMW42 says:

    I tried to post this on one of the BBC’s HYS recently, for some reason it was ‘moderated’.
    “For those who want to vote in the referendum, come, join us; live in Scotland; share our culture and contribute to our society. We have the democratic opportunity to choose an independent future for Scotland and to live in a Scotland where ambition, fairness, equity and social justice are the cornerstones of our society and where we have the people, resources and ingenuity to prosper.

    So we may not have a seat at the ineffectual UN, the G7 or G8, there are another 200+ nations that aren’t. So there are thousands of treaties that may need renegotiated; that’s what the politicians and civil servants are paid for.

    It is here that we take responsibility for our own success.

    When you recognise what we want to accomplish, demand the same. But please, don’t mock or criticise us for wanting to achieve something better than we have”.

    I guess I must have struck a nerve somewhere.

  22. MajorBloodnok says:

    O/T I don’t know if you guys have seen this but this is a map of child poverty in the UK:

    Focussing on Scotland the five worst constituencies (for % child poverty) are all in Glasgow, as follows:
    Glasgow North East – 43% – Willie Bain MP (Lab)
    Glasgow Central – 37% – Anas Sarwar MP (Lab)
    Glasgow East – 35% – Margaret Curran MP (Lab)
    Glasgow North West – 32% – John Robertson MP (Lab)
    Glasgow South West – 31% – Ian Davidson MP (Lab)
    I see a pattern emerging…

  23. CameronB says:

    @ DMW32
    Would share.

  24. southernscot says:

    Labour mantra still surviving in Glasgow
    Keep them poor, keep them stupid.
    Keep them voting Labour

  25. Inbhir Anainn says:

    In 1999 Westminster moved Scotland’s Marine Boundaries from Berwick-upon-Tweed to Carnoustie. Illegally making 6000 miles of Scotland’s waters English.

    Scottish MSP’s who belong to the parties who allowed this order must be ashamed of this order.  The shocking thing about this secret order is that it was not openly discussed in the Commons, passed by the house of Lords and then passed by a very select Labour and Liberal committee in the Scottish Office.
    This unjust act secretly passed, without the consent of the Scottish People took approximately 15% of oil and gas revenues out of the Scottish sector of the North Sea taking £2.2 Billion out of the Scottish economy.  This order was passed on the grounds of Scottish and English fishing rights.
    The SNP tried to keep the Scottish boundaries intact but the Holyrood parliament, very much under the Westminster thumb, voted by a majority of eight votes to reject the SNP motion to reverse this loss. The boundary move, supposed to be only a change in the fishing boundary, breaches international law and such a move must only ever be achieved by agreement. Professor Iain Scobie of Glasgow University declared the move illegal and also declared that it was not in accordance with contemporary international law and practice. He added that he saw no basis for the move in law or logic. The fishing industry is 15 times more important to Scotland than to England. Even more important, although at present it is only the fishing boundary that has been moved, the expert legal opinion that declared the move illegal on three grounds,

    1. claiming the only logical reason for this was to put down “a likely marker for a similar transfer of oil and gas rights in the future”.

    2. Traditionally, marine boundaries are internationally recognised as straight lines from a country’s border into the adjoining sea for a distance of 3 miles, over which each country has its own jurisdiction.

    3. Richard Lochhead MSP requested to know the suspicious reasons behind this move, under the Freedom of Information Act, but this has been continually refused as “it would not be in the public interest”. To whose public interest do they refer? One can only hazard a guess at what that means. Interestingly the Tories backed the SNP over the sea boundary papers.

  26. Willie Zwigerland says:

    MajorBloodnok > why no mention of the 7 SNP MSPs who represent Glasgow?

  27. Rabb says:

    Willie Zwigerland says:

    MajorBloodnok > why no mention of the 7 SNP MSPs who represent Glasgow?
    Is it their economic policies past and present that are the root cause of poverty?
    I think not.

  28. scottish_skier says:

    How long have they held their seats the SNP MSPs you mention? Just interested from a historical perspective as I feel that’s probably important with respect to MB’s post in terms of correlation. I think, bar one, it’s about 22 months?
    Also, do MPs not have much more clout than MSPs; being in control of Scotland’s tax collection, block grant allocation? Is it not something like 30% MSPs / 70% MPs in terms of total governmental (tax and spend) control?
    It does seem that Labour do well in areas of poverty. Cause or effect? If we factor in time, then cause becomes favoured. Hence my question.

    EDIT. Having thought about it, the 22 months indicates the local electorate have decided it’s ’cause’? Hence the change?

  29. MajorBloodnok says:

    @Willie Zee
    If MSPs actually had control of Scotland’s resources and all economic leavers that could eleviate poverty in Glasgow and elsewhere in Scotland, and after a reasonable time period had not done so then yes, I would be naming names.

  30. Rabb says:

    Can I also add that this level of poverty hasn’t materialised over the last 22 months.

    It’s been the result of years of neglect from a whole series of disfunctional and un-caring Westminster governments (Tories too BTW!!).

    These despicable statistics can be changed where there is a political will to do so. Clearly the party I once voted for faithfully has no such will.

    A yes vote in 2014 offers a different path.

  31. clachangowk says:

     ” Anas Sarwar pockets around £250,000 a year as a Westminster MP. Do you really think you’re going to win him over by promising to scrap Trident and spend the money on caring for old poor people? What’s in that for him?”

    It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it

    Upton Sinclair, novelist and social campaigner 

  32. Craig P says:

    It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it
    Upton Sinclair, novelist and social campaigner 
    I spoke a while back with a man who works in Scotland but for a British quango. Under independence he thinks he will be made redundant. A pretty good reason for voting no, yet he was still open to persuasion. It would have to be one hell of a positive benefit for someone like that to give up their job… even though I suspect similar jobs will be available in Scotland.

  33. Cuphook says:

    Scrapping Trident is a totemic issue to the Left/Greens and it should be pushed as an issue. The march in Glasgow will be an important signal that change is not only possible but close to being achieved, so I urge everyone to get involved. 

    While Sarwar might not understand the issue (nice quote clachangowk) there are plenty of people in Scotland who will vote Yes, not because of flags and anthems, but because they want to live in a progressive country.  

    It’s a shame that the UK Government hasn’t acted on the recommendations of Ian Davidson’s committee to ‘establish the consequences of the removal of Trident as part of the whole secession agreement as soon as is practical‘ ie before the referendum.

  34. Jiggsbro says:

    While I understand that some people are exercised by the whole ‘stolen sea’ scenario – and I share their contempt for the naked theft of Scottish resources – I’m reasonably certain that it’s not an issue that will sway the average punter. Those pushing it risk looking – in ‘neutral’ eyes – like the archetypal ‘chippy Jock’, obsessed with how badly England treats Scotland. The case for independence – the many cases – can be made in a positive manner, can be about Scotland’s prospects and abilities rather than Westminster’s failings, and the relatively mundane issues such as the borders can be left to the negotiators. Independence first, fixing everything the UK did hopefully follows.

  35. Malcolm says:

    I work for a UK quango in Scotland. I’ll be voting yes.

  36. scaredy cat. says:

    Conversations at work today raised two of these issues. I was confronted with ‘we will have a pay cut with independence’. A typical argument in a UK quango as you say. This is what happened to the likes of SEPA after devolution. My reply is simply to point out that this is not more devolution. This is independence. The budget for our services is up for negotiation. Secondly, this is a short-sighted argument. Independence is forever and for generations to come. Not just about us. The response was a thoughtful sigh and not an argument. Another colleague just said I hate SNP and AS. My response? Yeah, me too, but this has nothing to do with them really. The response was like a light going on and a nod of agreement. Not a conversion. But perhaps I planted a seed. 

  37. The Man in the Jar says:

    I have wanted to join the SNP for some time. I have decided to hold off so that if and when I get the chance to debate the referendum with a doubter I can honestly say. “I am not, and never have been a member of the SNP”
    I hope this tactic works.

  38. Morag says:

    Bit late for me on that one.  I was stuffing envelopes 20 years ago.
    However, isn’t it amazing the number of people who say they hate Alex Salmond and/or the SNP, and yet the opinion polls still have the party at the 45% it achieved in 2011, and Salmond’s personal approval ratings are still pretty good.
    Where are these haters coming from?

  39. CameronB says:

    Now, I thought you were a biologist Morag.

  40. Jiggsbro says:

    Where are these haters coming from?
    The other 55%, particularly the Labour part.

  41. CameronB says:

    Sorry  for getting in the way, I hadn’t spotted you we in discussion. I’m happy if the Rev removes my post..

  42. Elizabeth says:

    This ‘hate Salmond’ thing also puzzles me. He runs circles round the opposition, makes great speeches that seem to resonate. He has the ‘common’ touch which also appeals. ( I remember on the day of the Royal wedding a couple of years ago when the TV presenters were gushing and twittering about so and so wearing this or that outfit as designed by Armani or Galliano etc., when they interviewed AS about what his wife Moira would be wearing, he described her outfit in detail and said it came from ‘Celebrations’ in Turriff and that his own suit was from ‘Slaters’ in Edinburgh. I admired him for that.  I think the hatred is based on jealousy.

  43. macdoc says:

    I actually like Alex Salmond and I believe no single person has done more for Scottish Independence than himself. I think its a terrible shame the amount of hatred being thrown  in his direction, which in my opinion is almost exclusively down the British media who view him as a huge threat. He has been attacked in some of the most absurd ways (anecdotes of denying cancer drugs to specific patients, wining and dining with the mega rich, cosying up to Murdoch etc etc. )
    The fact that he is attacked from almost all corners of the British media have made many people form the opinion they have of him. Why do people not talk of there hatred of Johann Lamont who is either incredibly thick or just a particulary nasty nasty woman. She is so clumsy and downright clueless without a script, a rabbit caught in headlights, She would be torn to shreds by any decent journalist but is almost never taken to task. she is certainly not alone amongst the Labour party in this regard. The answer is the media don’t tell the news, they make the news. People are subliminally told what to think, unfortunately for us its hatred of the SNP and AS.  
    Its a real shame that the best reply to these people is “I hate him too but i’ll still vote yes” rather than “the man is unfairly vilified by the media, some of the stories are completely dishonest in their selectivity, many greatly embelished and others downright lies.” Its near impossible to make someone like someone they already have a firm opinion of. 

  44. Morag says:

    They continually carp that this is his personal bid for fame and glory, and it’s all about getting a statue.  The fact is that when we achieve independence he is the man who will, deservedly, get the lion’s share of the credit.  There probably will be a statue, although that’s an appalling thought.
    The haters are simply eaten up by that thought.  They cringe at the prospect of Alex being feted and praised and raised to a pedestal right there beside Bruce and Wallace.  They know that’s what’s going to happen, and it just kills them.  So they transfer these feelings to their argument, and assert that this is actually Alex’s motivation for pursuing independence.
    Of course, nobody with that sort of personal ambition joins the SNP in the 1970s.  He could scarcely have hoped for a Westminster seat then.  Getting thrown out of the party wasn’t a clever career move either, at the time.  Even after Holyrood was up and running, he actually tried to stand down and let others take it forward.
    But it turns out that he was the man for the hour.  Someone had better put in quite a big order for bronze, and the haters will just have to get over themselves.

  45. The Man in the Jar says:

    Never mind the statue (I agree it would be an awful sight)
    How about naming the new Forth Crossing.
    The King Alexander IV Bridge
    That would get them riled.

  46. mutterings says:

    The Man in the Jar says: 20 February, 2013 at 9:38 pm
    “I have wanted to join the SNP for some time. I have decided to hold off so that if and when I get the chance to debate the referendum with a doubter I can honestly say. ‘I am not, and never have been a member of the SNP'”
    Over half of our local Yes group are non-SNP members. You should see the surprise when people are told by a campaigner “But I am not an SNP member”. It really helps getting the message through that the Yes campaign is non-party-political. We find it a great bonus.

  47. Morag says:

    I’m a devious person.  I took the SNP sticker off my car and replaced it with a Yes Scotland sticker.  Well two actually, one at each end.

  48. The Man in the Jar says:

    Support for Indie very low around here.
    MP. Labour (big majority)
    MSP Labour (small majority)
    Council Labour
    Council ward 1 labour 1 Tory 1 SNP
    I sometimes envy readers with positive support in their area.

  49. Morag says:

    Don’t think of it as a challenge, think of it as an opportunity.

  50. The Man in the Jar says:

    It is a bit of a brick wall – head interface around here. I am not over pessimistic it is just not the right time yet. I think I will have to sit tight for quite some time. Once the tide starts turning will be when to move. Any earlier and it could look a wee bit silly

  51. scaredy cat. says:

    I agree that it’s a shame to agree with SNP and AS haters, but most people will only be swayed to independence if they think they can vote yes and still hold that opinion. I have no strong feelings about the guy. I can see that he loves Scotland which is more than can be said for some but he does seem to rub people up the wrong way. Most successful politicians fall into the love em or hate em camp. Look at Obama, Clinton, Blair and Thatcher. It shows that people listen to them. A bigger challenge is people who won’t even debate the issue because ‘all politicians are liars and can’t be trusted’. I find that this is the attitude of most of my female friends and colleagues. Don’t know how to deal with that. Pushing at an open door? I can’t even find the door. Why won’t these women engage in the debate??  

  52. Craig P says:

    Man in the Jar, I can’t tell you how good it felt in 2011, for the first time in my life, to be represented by someone I had voted for. My parents still live in Dumbarton though and I feel for them, having said that, Jackie Baillie and John McFall (can’t speak for the current MP) have been pretty effective local operators. 
    As for a memorial to AS, surely renaming a curry house would be the most suitable accolade?

  53. Craig P says:

    Scaredy cat, it is difficult to talk to people who don’t want to engage, but the ‘all politicians are at it’ meme is a double edged gift for better together. It means people are scunnered with the political process and dont engage, which you would think would be a benefit to the status quo and should reduce turnout in the election – but what if the people not turning out are predominantly ‘no’ voters?
    It is still better that people are informed and make the effort to vote, all I can say is that if people are turned off to the extent they won’t listen to a politician or the news, the only hope is they might listen to you

  54. Macart says:

    @ Scaredy cat
    This is actually potentially the easiest one of all to get round. One thing you can say to people, with all honesty, is that this is NOT a party political election. This is not about Alex Salmond, the SNP or indeed any other party. This is the first ballot that has been handed entirely over to the electorate to decide the future for themselves and their children. They need to be convinced that they, not the politicians, have the power to decide what the priorities of Scotland should be. Should these priorities be non aggressive, wealth creating, based on social justice and with the added sauce of a constitution to keep politicians in check? (tick YES). Or should they be about sitting at big tables talking about force projection, punching above our weight and increasing the rich – poor divide? (tick NO)
    This ballot is about what the people of Scotland prioritise. Peace or War, equality or division, richer or poorer, transparency or corruption, children born into opportunity or poverty………….. Holyrood or Westminster.
    See that, no politicians needed after the first dismissal. 🙂

  55. Barontorc says:

    Tell me, just what has Alex Salmond done that causes all of this ‘charisma’ criticism. He is the leader of the SNP and in that capacity has transformed Scotland’s image and potential for independence by light years. He has no equal in politics in this whole blighted UK and his opponents and their msm and BBC mouthpieces attack him at every opportunity through the fear and inadequacy that’s the norm of the school bully.
    There’s unrelenting bile coming from the political pygmies in Holyrood and Salmond simply  disregards it as he should do, he’s there to run a country, these callous desk-slapping jokers contribute exactly ziltch.
    People should be standing up for the politician and leader that Salmond has proven many times to be, rather than joining in this unholy cacophony. We are bloody lucky to have this man and don’t forget it.

  56. Macart says:

    Couldn’t agree more on all counts Baron. But scaredy cat makes a valid point. A good number of people are turned off politics altogether to the point where they are just plain refusing to engage. The media have done a bang up job in their demonisation of the FM and cynicism on politics abounds in general at an all time high. We are going to need every single vote from all parties and no parties. We can count on most votes from SNP members and voters to be pretty much behind the FM, but everyone else who might vote?
    We need ways to sway these voters toward independence if not the policies of the FM.

  57. Morag says:

    We are bloody lucky to have this man and don’t forget it.
    You can say that again.  Like him, loathe him, or regard him with indifference, this will be his victory when it comes.

  58. Mosstrooper says:

    I have a couple of ways of defusing the “I can’t stand/hate AS” I simply say “OH! do you know him?” When the inevitable negative response comes just ask, then what do you base your dislike on. Another reply to the IHAS scenario is to say “That’s strange, he speaks very highly of you”. Both comments give you a chance to demolish the tissue of lies that have been spun. We should consider ourselves most fortunate that such a man arose in Scotland in our lifetime
    PS. I know Alex and like all humans he can be infuriating in not agreeing with everything I say. Wee smilely thing.

  59. kininvie says:

    This is a good and thoughtful article. A couple of thoughts: The emergence of Lab/LibDem/Tories for Indy groups needs to be supported & encouraged. We can all help by using social media to publicise them as much as possible.
    When I meet someone who is undecided or doubtful, I ask them to take one of those small Yes badges and keep it somewhere, and just to look at it from time to time, but only to wear it when they want to. Runs expensive….but, without getting into cod analysis …. I instinctively think that people like having something totemic and not overtly political

  60. Macart says:

    I’ve only met him once briefly, but I found him to be down to earth, funny and very disarming. Seemed to have time for everyone about him and naturally a ready answer or a quip for any query. I just don’t recognise the man portrayed by the media.

    Put it this way:

  61. David McCann says:

    Those who put AS down are almost certainly never to have actually met him in a social context. I know and like him for being the same to whomever he meets. To watch him when he is campaiging is to marvel at the class act he is. He could charm the birds from a tree! I know he is very protective of his wife Moira, but I reckon it may be time to raise her profile a bit.

  62. muttley79 says:

    The MSM, particularly the BBC in Scotland, and the No parties hate Salmond because they themselves have been complicit in the promotion of the Scottish cringe.  Due to his political skills, and the fact that he is a Scottish Nationalist, Salmond has successfully challenged this ideology of almost self-loathing head on.  They find this very difficult to cope with as they have been the chief propagandists of the view that Scotland cannot run her own affairs.  The constant scare stories in the media are just a manifestation of this.  To be a unionist means that you have to effectively belittle Scotland, its aspirations for self-government, and its overall self-confidence, regardless of the psychological damage this entails.   

  63. naebd says:

    I don’t think so.

    Ah yes – one of the few places where any actual perfidious line is shown on the interwebs.
    There’s a couple of things with this map – first of all it’s obviously squashed horizontally, giving a bad impression of the course of the line in reality.
    Secondly, the equidistance line WILL veer northeast initially due to the shape of the UK. Further out (conveniently not shown on Murray’s map) the line of equidistance will turn eastward.

    All this grudge-stoking huffing and puffing implies that we really think that a straight line directly east from the coast is in any way fair! Obviously it wouldn’t be. Most confusing…

  64. naebd says:

    Surely you’re having a laugh ! Tell me, if you left the port of Leith on a straight easterly direction, whose waters would you expect to travel through ?

    Obviously Scottish waters, as is the case with the post 99 boundary.
    Obviously Scottish waters and then into International or Danish waters, not English waters.

    Absurd. There’s no international waters in the north sea. Your suggestion of Danish waters is hilarious and implies you’ve never seen a map of Europe 🙂

    Going by the argument of ‘closeness to a point of land’ how can any part of this route be closer to Berwick upon Tweed than it is to Eyemouth or Dunbar ?;
    This question can be answered by actually picking up a map and drawing the line of equidistance. Alternatively, pick what you want to believe, then fume and froth on the internet about it.

  65. scaredy cat. says:

    My colleague has his own reasons to dislike/distrust Mr. Salmond. His reasons are based on experience not media coverage. It is not for me to defend him. The point I made to him is that it doesn’t matter as far as independence is concerned. The bigger challenge is to engage with those (mainly women in my experience) who just don’t want to discuss it. Their opinion is that all politicians are dishonest and out for themselves, so what does it matter whether they are in Westminster or Holyrood. I try but the conversation is shut down (subject changed) before it even gets started. 

  66. NorthBrit says:

    What you label Comfort and Conservatism is essentially pragmatism. It is not ideological.

    In the attached link 47% wanted higher taxes on the “wealthy” to pay for better public services.  A further 29% wanted higher taxes on everyone – i.e. 76% in favour of higher taxes.  67% of respondents indicated that they wanted to move to local income tax.

    On these points I suspect that most of the posters here would probably be in agreement with Grahamski, Terry “Avanti Poplo” Kelly and Councillor Braveheart and you would have to be a very optimistic doctor or lawyer to conclude anything other than an independent Scotland equals large and potentially extreme increases in your tax bill.  To say that the well off would be unaffected is absurd.

    Given that it appears that the rest of the population would change their vote for £500 you shouldn’t be surprised if the Scottish middle class stays unenthusiastic about a gamble which is likely to make them considerably poorer.  

  67. CameronB says:

    @ scaredy cat
    Perhaps you could suggest that Yes means our politicians will be closer to us, and so easier to keep in order. We will also have a written constitution, so will not be reliant on the good will of the Wasteminster pantomime, to ensure our civil liberties.

  68. naebd says:

    OK folks, here is an actual map.
    This compares the line of equidistance (coloured dots are nearer to that coloured country) with the Murray map taken from his blog post. The one that the maritime boundary perfidy brigade always quote.
    There is a discrepancy, but given the half-assedness of the Murray sketch (for example, it weirdly starts off south of the border giving a chunk of waters to Scotland that are off England) I’m not sure much should be read into the discrepancy. Murray’s map is clearly a rough sketch and should be taken as such.
    BTW I bought the book referenced above a while ago but have not got round to reading it. Does it have a good map of the new boundary?

  69. David McCann says:

    I dont know if Craig Murray is in the country or not, or in touch via email, but I have asked him to comment direct.
    With regard to the late Ian Goldie’s book, I do know that he got the co-ordinates, from a Government document. These in turn were taken to a retired Merchant Navy
    captain,  who meticulously plotted the co-ordinates, and this formed the basis of his article in his book.

  70. David McCann says:

    I have now seen the Admiralty chart referred to in my post above and can confirm that in fact Craig Murray’s map is accurate for a sketch, and that you are, as I suspected completely wrong. I’m not sure how you calculate the border, but the co-ordinate as defined by the Continental Shelf (Jurisdiction) Order 1968, is 55° 50‘ N’ (S of Eyemouth and N of Berwick-on-Tweed) extending at right angles until it reaches the UK/Germany sea border. The order to change this went through Westminster two weeks before the Scottish Parliament was elected without any debate in the Commons.
    I also have a copy of the 21 map references making these changes and can confirm that Craig Murray’s sketch is accurate. It stops approx. at 56°27’ N for obvious reasons of space. The line actually ends up further North  at 56°36’ 36’, taking in strangely enough, six oil wells in the process. Happy co-incidence?
    So  its your observations which are ‘half assed’!
    But tell me this? Are you happy that  our great ‘Better Together’ parliament, annexed over 6000sq miles of Scottish water to English jurisdiction?

  71. Craig Murray says:

    You know not of what you speak.  The reason the “equidistance line” veers so far North is the effect of the heavy indent of the Firth of Forth.  However the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea specifically provides the right for states to draw straight baselines across the nouths of estuaries and across heavily indented coastlines and to use those to determine the median line.  This is accepted practice by every state and the UK did this to negotiate its boundaries with our European neighbours.  I was the head of the Maritime Section of the FCO and took part in the negotiations.
    The equidistance line used here is not correctly modified by baselines – either none are used, or it is right up the Forth and much too far west. 

  72. David McCann says:

    Thanks Craig. Much appreciated.
    I think ‘naebd’ has probably slunk off to troll somewhere else!

  73. Craig P says:

    Craig, an interesting point re baselines. Had a quick google search but couldn’t find the map of UK estuarine baselines, though it seems they are already defined (as indicated on p5 of the document linked below). The document mentions a map but shows only the West Highlands graphically and not anywhere else.

    It seems there is a map “Foreign Fishing Rights and Concessions within the Fisheries Limits of the British Isles”, I guess that would entail a visit to a reference library.

    Edit: found a map. The Forth baseline (the baselines enclose dark blue water) stretches from St Abbs Head to Fife Ness, the Tay from Boarhills to Arbroath,

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