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Wings Over Scotland

Reaching out from here

Posted on August 24, 2013 by

Whenever there’s a discussion of women’s voting intentions in the referendum, it’s striking how quickly it all slides into stereotyping. Maybe that’s inevitable when you set out to examine the collective motivations of a group of diverse individuals who basically have one characteristic in common. Sometimes it feels like asking what all red-haired or right-handed people think.


Attempting to speak for all women, then, is a bit like herding cats. So let’s not try.

There were some astute comments from readers on this site recently pointing out that women tend to be thought of primarily as mothers and their motivations are assumed to flow purely from that one aspect of their lives. But does that imply that fathers don’t mind much either way about their children’s future? Or that non-parents don’t care about anyone else’s?

I like to think that unless you’re a sociopath you care at least a little bit about the recent Institute of Fiscal Studies report projecting that 28% of Scottish children are heading for poverty by 2020. I absolutely refute any suggestion that you need to be a mother, or a parent, to worry about that nightmarish vision of society and to want to do something to change it.

I became a supporter of independence in the 80s during Thatcher’s second term, aged about 14. My stance wasn’t about party politics as I was only dimly aware of the SNP at that point, but I was anti-Thatcher and pro-Scottish culture and I listened to bands from Glasgow and studied the lyrics of Proclaimers songs. I was astonished and quite pleased to read in Smash Hits that Pat Kane thought of himself as a feminist. I also knew that there was a thriving traditional music scene which was distinctively and unapologetically Scottish.

And I also knew that I was not typical among the girls in my peer group at my Lanarkshire school. I was a geek and had a small clique of geeky female friends. We were interested in politics and literature, art and music, and we were marked out as different. Most of us were socially ostracised to a greater or lesser degree by the alpha females. So I learned an early lesson that to be a woman and even to be interested in politics was frankly a bit weird, boring and non-feminine. Why?

Partly it’s an issue of representation – it’s often acknowledged that a career in politics is unsuited to women’s traditional roles, and that the job is not family-friendly. Women self-select, or rather self-deselect. The proportion of female MPs/MSPs and ministers is woeful. When this situation slightly improved in 1997, we had to view the shift through the prism of the institutionally-sexist media honking about “Blair’s Babes”.

I’ve heard the view expressed that women want to hear from other women, and it’s widely claimed that Nicola Sturgeon has taken on a high-profile role in the Yes campaign to try to mitigate the First Minister’s supposed unpopularity with women.

But for me it’s not as simple as asserting that a woman will take a message on board purely because she hears it from another woman (Theresa May? Margaret Curran?) but rather that women may feel more generally that the political classes are ‘not my people’ and the conversation which is taking place is not meant to include them.

Think of the gender bias present in the Yes and No official campaigns. This site’s recent poll sought the public’s opinions on the best-known representatives on each side, and seven of eight were men. Aside from Nicola Sturgeon, where are the big hitters who also happen to be women? Campaign chairs and directors on both sides are male. Celebrities and big donors wheeled out on both sides are largely male. Thank goodness for Elaine C Smith and Margo McDonald.

However, if you scratch the surface of the Yes campaign, there are many compelling female voices, courtesy of Women For Independence, National Collective, Radical Independence, ordinary Twitter folk, Trad Yes, Labour For Independence and the excellent women who contribute to this site.

These female pro-indy voices are right now not being represented in the mainstream media. So if you have a male-dominated political system as we do, and a skewed official campaign, and a biased media, and lots of alternative and interesting stuff to be found online (where women are far less likely to engage than men), then I think you are left with a lot of women who are under-informed and who will take longer to access the arguments and information than men.

So, more women are still undecided, and if you haven’t engaged with the debate but you are pressed to take a position you are more likely to say you will vote for the status quo. That’s one of the reasons it’s actually a good thing that the campaign has been so long, because there’s another very important issue at play here that’s rarely if ever discussed.

Women often don’t engage in politics because they find it deathly dull and removed from the day to day realities of their lives. But also because to be an anorak, on any subject, requires time and head-space. And a lot of women don’t have much free time.

When you add up hours of paid work and unpaid work (childcare, housework, caring for elderly relatives) men have been found to be much better off in terms of “leisure” time than women are. And mothers are particularly affected by this phenomenon – in other words gender inequalities are exacerbated by parenthood. (See pp59-88) 

Another study found that women were more likely than men to feel stressed by lack of time to get everything done (pp 63-94). If you’re short of time, all the time, and feeling constantly stressed about the immediate necessities of life, you’re far less likely to read websites and newspapers, watch old politics programmes on YouTube, and obsessively raid iPlayer for the juiciest car-crash interviews, as rewarding as all of that stuff clearly is.

When I first became a supporter of independence it was based purely on a sense that Scotland was a nation and should be treated as other nations are, and should not have to suffer governments its people didn’t elect.

Now, as I’ve engaged with the Yes campaign over the past year, I’ve begun to think about the possibilities that independence may bring – and one of the aspects which excites me is that Scotland could become a more equal country in terms of the gender gap as well as wealth distribution, education, health and access to opportunities.

One of the things we might be able to fix is the under-representation of women in politics, which might in turn help women to feel that politics better reflects their lives and represents them, leading to greater engagement. 

The Scottish Parliament, with its family-friendly hours and facilities, has already made steps in that direction, and seen the proportion of female MSPs in Holyrood 50% higher than Westminster. (35% against 23%.)  It’s not perfect, but it’s a strong start.

So wouldn’t it be a good thing if that more-balanced Parliament was responsible for all of Scotland’s affairs (and most especially welfare, an area where polices affect women particularly acutely), rather than just a few of them?

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188 to “Reaching out from here”

  1. john king says:

    well written piece, I do hope it proves a catalyst for more women to come to Wings Over Scotland in particular and to the debate in general

  2. heraldnomore says:

    Excellent piece Fiona.  Any ideas how I can persuade my other half to read it, all the way to the end; to join in the debate?  Because I’ve banged my head off too many brick walls.
    Too often I’ve heard, from the female of the species, and indeed many a male – ‘politicians, they’re all the same’.  Generally it’s the caterwauling from PMQs that is the turn off when snippets appear on the news.
    Perhaps I should try and get her to listen to the civilised tones of our own FMQs.  Oh, wait a minute, Johann in full rant.  Now that ain’t going to spark any interest, male or female.  Is there a girlie way into the debate?

  3. Tony Little says:

    An interesting read, thank you.  I assume this is taken from a longer piece (the references to pp 63-94, for example.)  what was that, as it sounds like something I would like to read.
    The reference to “Blair’s Bases” does rather reflect the (mild/excessive?) misogynism that exists in UK politics, and the frequent dismissive criticism of the “Cannon fodder” provided by the “babes” could just as easily, and honestly, have been described to the lack of critical thinking demonstrated by “Blair’s Boys”. 
    More please, Fiona.

  4. Marian says:

    This is an excellent article by Fiona and I would agree that there is hope of a more equal and fairer Scotland if only Scots would have the bottle to separate Scotland from the institutionally  privileged male WASPish dominated preserve that Westminster is.

  5. Atypical_Scot says:

    Hmmm. As a male, I cannot really try to rationalize a females role however, the role can be analyzed. Politics is a role of power over the masses, control and making order. A vile job indeed. There are some who can see themselves as a positive contribution, and rightly so. But when it comes to Westminster, in general, there is a foul odour of sweaty back slaps and unchecked superiority that quite frankly should make any decent man, or woman physically ill.

    As for Holyrood, what’s different is it’s (albeit retrospectively not the case) youthfulness, a vitality long lost in British politics. The modus operandi is change, and change is progressive, change is good and needed. Many woman would better a many a man at dealing with that I believe.

    I think the percentage of woman in power is a two edged sword, one edge is the male orientated, misogynistic assumption that we are somehow better at power, the other edge is that woman in general are simply not as vile as many men.

  6. HandandShrimp says:

    I can’t say I have noticed a dearth of women on the pro side. In any political campaign there will be people from all walks of life and a variety of motivations. The Women For Independence group seem to be interested particularly in a written constitution that will enshrine equal rights and that seems a perfectly valid and laudable point of entry.
    It is said women are less supportive of Alex than men and that Alex being linked (at every opportunity by the MSM) to the Yes campaign may be having an effect. However, there are a number of women in the SNP and Nicola looks set to take up the mantle of leader when Alex retires as he has intimated that he would like to do at some point after the 2016 election. This campaign is a good opportunity for Nicola to take a lead and for other women that may not specifically be linked to the SNP to be given some prominence. It is not a one man band no matter how much the papers try to pretend it is.

  7. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    ” I assume this is taken from a longer piece (the references to pp 63-94, for example.)”

    Those are references to the pieces linked immediately before them. Maybe I need to make links flash in fluorescent purple or something.

  8. Sneddon says:

    Excellent article Fiona.  It cannot be stressed enough the opportunities for equality in all areas regardless of gender, age, race or sexual preference rest with independnece. The potential for a joined up approach to welfare, health and representation I find exciting. I can’t imagine Westminster doing anything unless it is dragged screaming into doing anything and to be honest anything it does do tends to be half arsed at best.

    Given the state of the country change is needed the status quo can’t continue.  Even folk who have not the time or inclination can see that?  Well maybe not.  All we can do is be signposts.

  9. Bubbles says:

    This is an excellent piece! I’ll ask my better half to give it a read through and possibly recommend it to her friends and colleagues. Once again, well done.

  10. Brian Powell says:

    “Women often don’t engage in politics because they find it deathly dull and removed from the day to day realities of their lives. But also because to be an anorak, on any subject, requires time and head-space. And a lot of women don’t have much free time”.

    On the other hand, if there is a raging fire heading toward you, it doesn’t require a lot of time to decide, I need to get out of here.

    Bedroom tax, Trident missiles, foreign wars, children in poverty, bankers crisis, extreme wealth, mass spying on citizens, food banks, falling wages, rising costs. I would say this represents a raging fire, right here, right now.

  11. Tony Little says:

    ” I assume this is taken from a longer piece (the references to pp 63-94, for example.)”
    Those are references to the pieces linked immediately before them. Maybe I need to make links flash in fluorescent purple or something.

    Oops, sorry Rev
    (very embarrassed thingy)

  12. les wilson says:

    A thoughtful piece from Fiona and more maybe helpful. Yes, I also have to agree that more women being ” involved” at ALL levels,would be no bad thing.
    However, while she makes helpful ideas to further the participation in Holyrood  and perhaps politics in general, she throws no light on how to get women to vote YES now.
    We need to convince women that a better future lies in a YES vote, that is no easy feat, as she indicates, women are generally preoccupied with the day to day necessities of life.
    This makes it  difficult for  them to focus on what Independence means to them, their families and their future.
    Yes women who are knowledgeable about the aims and benefits in regards to what we can do with Independence, and just what the Union means to that detriment, need to come forward and appeal to these undecided and get our positive vision across.
    Lesley Riddoch is one that comes to mind, but more positive women need to be heard and loudly.
    They will be a huge benefit towards a YES vote.

  13. Paula Rose says:

    If people have the impression that the politics of westminster will be duplicated (on a smaller scale) in Scotland then they won’t be interested – we need to show that this will not be the case, then not only many women, but also many men will be enthused.

  14. david says:

    no difference between men and women at all. same fears and instincts. women and men will vote for their preference for mostly the same reasons

  15. handclapping says:

    I’m glad its not just me that doesn’t pick up the links. I have to wear special glasses to read the computer screen so if the Rev feels flashing fluorescent purple and underlining is needed I won’t disagree.

  16. Murray McCallum says:

    Male dominated politics seems to be about having rehearsed answers to all problems. Maybe women see through this bullshit better than men?
    The link to the world Economic Forum gender gap report 2012 shows a clear declining trend in “Political Empowerment” for females in the UK.

  17. gillie says:

    After the Kate Higgins episode why should pro-Indy female voices be trusted more than anyone else.  Sincerity is a rare commodity these days.

  18. Sneddon says:

    gillie  you can’t hold one person responsible for a whole gender

  19. ianbrotherhood says:

    @Brian Powell-
    It’s all about ‘the weans’. How many millions of Scots have left this country because they wanted better prospects for their children? It must be the single biggest motivating factor for emigrees worldwide.
    I love living in Scotland. It’s my home. It’s not perfect, but this is where I was born and it’s where I want to live for the rest of my life. But – if we don’t grab this chance? 
    It’s fight or flight, and if we ‘lose’ – because of laziness, stupidity, dirty-tricks, or whatever other reason – then I won’t be the only one making enquiries about visas etc. 

  20. Peter says:

    People have SEX, words have GENDER!
    And women on the whole are far more gullible than men. Which is why most advertising is targeted at them.  Probably due to them being less intelligent.
        It’s a biological fact get over it. 

  21. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    Thanks, Peter. Real big help, there.

    I think we’ll call that a trolling warning.

  22. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “After the Kate Higgins episode why should pro-Indy female voices be trusted more than anyone else.”

    Not sure anyone DID say they should be trusted MORE than male voices.

  23. Dorothy Devine says:

    Did you hear a pantomime ” HISS” Peter – all yours!

  24. isleofskye says:

    Thank you Fiona for an insightful piece. I have also wondered how to engage female friends in the debate without being seen as ‘a bit weird, boring and non-feminine’.

    I’ve had some good going discussions with male friends on the yes/no/maybe side, but women are much harder to engage. However, once there is a conversation, most move from no to don’t know, and from don’t know to yes.

    As an administrator for a local YES Facebook group I have plenty of material to draw on, but when it comes to my own FB page, I feel the need to hold back on posting independence issues. It actually puts pressure on me to create some personal posts so that I can intersperse them with pro-indy links and articles.

    But, I think you have hit the nail on the head with the possibilities that independence may bring – and one of the aspects which excites me is that Scotland could become a more equal country in terms of the gender gap as well as wealth distribution, education, health and access to opportunities.’ 

    I feel a post, with a link to this page, coming on…

  25. Stuart Black says:

    What a very good article, thanks for this Fiona. My wife needs no converting, but I’ll pass this across to her, I’m sure she will find it interesting.
    I do feel that we need the likes of  Nicola, Elaine C, and Lesley Riddoch to have a higher profile, they all come across very well in the media and, importantly, I think they present as trustworthy, not a word you hear often in connection with No Better Together.

  26. Alba4Eva says:

    If we truely live in an equal society (or at least strive to), then why the focus on woman’s voting intentions to a degree that there is even a “Women for independence” organisation.   Why not equally have a “Men for independence” group?   …It starts sounding silly doesn’t it! 

  27. Elizabeth says:

    An interview with Nicola Sturgeon in today’s Guardian:

  28. ayemachrihanish says:

    Well said Fiona, 
    The guiding gender principle upon which a future Scottish should be built is that “we are all EQUALLY capable”.  
    If that principle truly is the case then, as you say, the enormous  deficit in enabling woman to have an equal role and place in Scottish society – in what every way any particular woman chooses – needs to be addresses. But not, I’d argue, based on the fashionable idea of having it all.  
    Let’s aspire to build a future Scottish society  based on equality of opportunity – for all – in all – walks of life.  People then choose – gender (and lots of other things) become irrelevant – we are all equally capable – not equally talented. We should build a society where all door of opportunity are open and the “means of entry” gender neutral. 
    Agreed – only independence offers the seeds and means of enabling this vision into a reality. 

  29. Paula Rose says:

    If we truely live in an equal society (or at least strive to)
    Strive to – still a lot to do in this respect.

  30. scottish_skier says:

    Peter: Probably due to them [women] being less intelligent.
    Ironically, readers of your post, noting your gender, would reach the opposite conclusion.

  31. Murray McCallum says:

    Don’t women seem to be keener to get involved in environmental related action?  This is usually in the form of direct action. Also, when involved in such action, they don’t seem to give up.
    The recent Cuadrilla protests in W.Sussex seemed to have a significant female presence and interestingly across a wide social and age group.

  32. tartanfever says:

    Nice article Fiona.
    I would like to know your thoughts on Johann Lamont and her constant self reference to ‘being a mother’ – is it an effective ploy on her part ? 

  33. Peter A Bell says:

    Thanks are due to Fiona Quinn for really good article. I was particularly taken by the fact that she does not resort to the argument that politics has to adapt to the needs of women. The assertion that women need a “special kind” of politics is one that I have always considered appallingly condescending. For me, it is like saying that women can’t cope because, after all, they’re just “girlies”. This must be enormously offensive to thinking women everywhere, even – or, perhaps especially – when it is said by other females.
    I don’t accept that women are innately less able to handle the hurly-burly of politics than men. To advance this as an explanation for women’s relatively lower levels of participation is to resort to a facile stereotype. And those are not good tools for thinking.
    Fiona is absolutely correct when she identifies the problem as being a matter of fairly simple practicalities rather than systemic sexism. After all, men have no more control over their socially-assigned gender roles than women. We are all, male and female alike, the products (victims?) of social constructs that simply haven’t kept pace with changes in the real world. Was it not ever so? What is different in present times is that change tends to propagate at a greater rate so that the discrepancies between “traditional” roles and the demands of our daily lives become more exaggerated.
    What is required is not that politics be shoe-horned into an accommodation with those traditional roles, or cosmetically altered to at least look like a better fit. What is needed is the political will to overcome the inertia which inhibits the pace of reform. That political will simply does not exist in the British state. Like Fiona, I am firmly persuaded that the restoration of Scotland’s rightful constitutional status is what will provide the necessary impetus.
    A nation fit for people will be a nation fit for women. Let that be our goal.

  34. mogatrons says:

    Really good piece Fiona, and timely after recent events.
    Re Peter and his gender agenda, reasonable people accept that men and women have different attributes. ‘Intelligence’ as Peter frames it is categorically not determined by gender. The way people think is. Advertising is targeted more so at women because they tend to run household finances, have a greater perception of colour and beauty, and are more socially astute.  
    It is these very attributes that are the key to engaging more women in the political debate.
    Men tend to be more dogmatic and assertive in expression of beliefs which can be off putting, as demonstrated earlier in the thread …..

  35. rabb says:

    Great piece.

    Just like heraldnomore, I’m also banging my head against a brick wall to get my wife interested in the debate.
    The only consolation is that despite her lack of interest and contempt for politicians in general she’s a stick on Yes voter. Lesser of two evils she reckons.

  36. Alba4Eva says:

    Agreed Paula, but lets be careful  not to ignore the tremendous  progress that has been made.   I work with Female Architects and women (including the top boss) hold many senior positions in the organisation I work for… and that is in construction,  traditionally a very male dominated profession.
    It’s interesting that I personally link the old style male attitudes of “A woman’s place is in the home” with that of staunch unionism.  There seems to be much in common with the ‘harking to the past’ British Empire mindset and the discrimination of woman…,  it is often the case that certain old dinosaurs (often called Lord something or other) expose their position on both these things.   Independence on the other hand is about the future and change for the better…. something you would think would have woman overwhelmingly in support of. 

  37. mogatrons says:

    Edit to add, my reference was not in regard to a certain Mr Bell, who unlike his namesake, I do hold in the highest regard. 🙂

  38. southernscot says:

    Excellent article Fiona, the only thing I could add is the confrontational nature of politics and its portrayal on TV. It comes across as a bear pit when seen on prime time TV notably FMQ’s and PMQ’s but the rarely seen debates are much more sedate. It not that appealing environment for women who (feel free to correct me if I’m wrong) are less likely to be confrontation unless in involves their children. I do so hope the gender balance is addressed and a more consensus based Scottish Parliament in an independent Scotland (fat chance with SLAB in its present form).

  39. Hetty says:

    I do see a bit of a difference in the issues that concern my family and friends who don’t have children, ( some, though not all,  seem to live more in the here and now and aren’t too bothered about the future ) to the ones that do, but perhaps that is only to be expected.
    I’d like to see decisions at the top being made by a committee of equal gender. Seems alien really to rely on mainly men to make important decisions that affect us all, male and female.

    And I like Alex Salmond, rather have a pint and a decent conversation with him anyday than look at D cameron’s ugly mug, urgh.

  40. Tufty Fluffytail says:

    a very helpful article, thoughtful and thought provoking.

     As with most things in life, generalisations aren’t particularly helpful, but I think some Scotswomen are almost embarrassed to engage in political discussions or activity and perhaps that is in part because  many of the women who have been in the frontline  recently have been memorable or influential for the wrong reasons.

    Thatcher set a tangible female breakthrough in politics back by decades. Harriet Harman could have been a reasonable role model were she not so patronising. I cannot bear to analyse the impact Margaret Curran and Johann Lamont have on any woman who might actually listen to or read anything they come out with,and don’t get me started on Jackie Baillie, So in a sense certain women who have been able to make inroads seem to have switched women off politics at the very time when women should have become more engaged and vocal.

    That effect may leave strong , honest and capable female politicians  with an uphill struggle in persuading some women to participate , listen to and become involved in the debate. So, some women have been women’s own worst enemies. Just a thought. I don’t pretend to have the answers other than to say that we need to see and broadcast more of the sturdy and forthright performances from Nicola Sturgeon, Margo MacDonald, Lesley Riddoch, Ruth Wishart and all the other capable women in the YES! campaign.

  41. scottish_skier says:

    Mrs SS is French. Fails to understand why ‘Les Ecossais’ choose to be ruled by ‘Les Anglais’ (no such thing as ‘Les British’ in France). A Yes for her is the most natural thing and not something she’d ever question. 

  42. Chic McGregor says:

    I have been married for 36 years and raised two daughters and therefore can claim that although I understood very little about women when I was young and single, I now understand nothing.
    However I have observed that the difference in quality of Scottish female politicians from either side of the independence fence is even more marked than in the case of the men.
    Compare Nicola Sturgeon, Christine Graham, Winnie Ewing, Rosie Cunningham with Johann Lamont, Margaret Curran, Jackie Baillie, Ruth Davidson.
    Perhaps that is a message which might prove fruitful?

  43. Helena Brown says:

    Thank you for that, I have found that women are often less interested in Politics than men but when they are they are a force to be reckoned with. I am constantly heartened  when I look at the Scottish Parliament with the numbers sitting there. I know that the amount of activists who are women in the SNP always makes me happy as well.

  44. Paula Rose says:

    As a generalisation I would say that women ‘get’ the environment/sustainability agenda more than men who seem to think that the world’s resources are either endless or they’ll be dead when the worst happens – I worry about the generations to come.

  45. Sneddon says:

    ‘have a greater perception of colour and beauty, and are more socially astute.  ‘
    I have to disagree, I’m not sure there are differences in what consitutes colour and beauty between men and women.  I think certain types of custom motorcycles are the most beautiful things in terms of colour, function. design and ‘wholeness’ , as for interior design I could not care less as long as it’s not black or purple.  Does that make me have a lesser appreciation of colour and beauty?  I appreciate paintingss and other art but I don’t know if my tastes are partly due to my gender.     Socially astute I have no idea what that means to be honest.  Is it something to do with farting in company? 🙂

  46. CameronB says:

    That hit all the correct notes, I think. Thanks Fiona.

  47. Peter that attitude used to be used against non whites.

  48. Jeannie says:

    Well done, Fiona, and thanks for taking the time to write this article.  I use the phrase “taking the time” quite deliberately though as I think it’s particularly relevant to the issue of women’s involvement in the referendum.
    I’ve always wanted independence, but until I was lucky enough to get early retirement, I would never have had the time to be a part of the campaign.  Professional, domestic and family obligations would have used up most of the time I had – I didn’t even have much time for leisure activities.  I got most of my news from the Herald or the BBC (tv and Radio 4, sometimes Radio Scotland).  It didn’t actually affect my voting pattern because I was already firm in my view that Scotland’s people need independence.  In short, I wasn’t an “undecided”.  I was, however, very busy.
     Now that I’ve stopped working, I’m still very busy – but I’m no longer constantly in a hurry.  And this is what I’m noticing in my female friends and family who have jobs – they’re always in a hurry.  Sometimes they’re really in a hurry because they genuinely have a lot to do and sometimes they’re just full of adrenaline from telling themselves that certain things “need to” get done, but in actuality, could be put off.  They are often exhausted, don’t sleep well and can’t switch off.  It’s not that they’re not interested in politics or the referendum, it’s just that their heads are elsewhere and there’s no room to cram anything else in.
    I’ve also noticed when trying to engage women to sign up for the Yes campaign, they’re often in too much of a hurry to stop and talk.  Sometimes, when one does actually stop, it’s often with a sense of relief to get off the treadmill for 5 minutes.  And in general, when my female friends and family do have a spare moment to sit down and have a conversation, they’re trying to wind down and don’t have the energy to engage in a conversation about politics.
    I do agree they’re uninformed but it’s not because they’re apathetic or uninterested, it’s because they’re either too exhausted and in too much of a hurry most of the time to find things out for themselves.
    And I’d also echo Fiona’s point about politics and geekiness.  I know I keep harping on about this, but we do need to do more to cope with the geekiness factor and one way is to produce merchandise that women will be happy to wear.  A simple pair of earrings would be enough to get a conversation started that might otherwise never happen.

  49. mogatrons says:

    Sneddon, feel free to disagree, (perhaps on my use of terms rather than my intent….) but in genetic evolutionary terms women are predisposed to gathering and nurturing whereas men are predisposed to hunting and building.
    Our rate of social development has long since exceeded our rate of genetic development, leaving us with a legacy of gender differences that don’t match up to our social ideals.  
    🙂 at farting in company ( a really good analogy actually!) – socially astute refers to maintaining bonds, exchanges of ideas, a well developed sense of empathy and a willing acceptance of different cultures …. all essential to the role of prehistoric womanhood, but not so much to the more dogmatic primary role of hunter and combatant which defined prehistoric manhood.
    We need to understand and accept these concepts if we are to make significant progress in developing our politics to be more inclusive of women than they are at present, and thereby enhance political debate overall.

  50. John Gibson says:

    Aye, it was Thatcher who woke me from my political slumbers too. She almost certainly did more to help the rise of the independence cause than anyone or anything else.
    As to women in Scottish politics, I think they’re performing really well and I’d like to see more of them. Lesley Riddoch and Margo MacDonald are  superb, and for the SNP, members  who impress me most consistently in tv interviews or debates  are Alex Salmond, Nicola Sturgeon, Christine Grahame, Linda Fabiani and Alex Neil. God knows where we got Curran and Lamont from.

  51. Sneddon says:

    mogatrons- I think I understand where your coming from.  I think these attributes are something men have in a smaller degree than women as other men were often competitors although working together is a evolutionary necessitiy.  But i think anyone who’s been in a relationship with a woman understands the differences and learns (most of the time) from them that the universe doesn’t revolve around yourself!.. I also think life teaches you to be empathic and more accepting pf others  If not then you must work for the Daily Mail 🙂 

    Mind you I’ve had my ‘caveman’ moments often in response to threats mostly physical (I’ve been a bouncer, barman etc)  So I guess just below the surface lurks my inner Ug.

    In regard to politics there needs to be a huge shift in how it operates as the present model is based on some mental 19th century model of politics as a hobby for rich men.  For a start proper hours and job share would good let alone reforms to the political calender and behaviour.  Oversight of party links to external organisations and increased levels of accountability including recall based on criminal or civil convinctions.

    But yes we need to start somewhere and an independent Scotland would be the best place.  

  52. Jeannie says:

    Two things –
    When you use the term “intelligence”, you open up an academic hornet’s nest in terms of definition.
    We could definitely do with more public appearances from capable women like Lesley Riddoch, Elaine C. Smith, etc……it would help “normalise” the issue of independence for many women.  Although I’ve seen female politicians like the brilliant Nicola Surgeon and bloggers such as Natalie McGarry, Caroline Leckie  etc. on tv, I don’t think they are having the “normalising” effect that some better-known women could have.  Female politicians come across as “different”.  The exception I’d make to this rule is Margo MacDonald – I think she comes across well to women in general.

  53. Jen says:

    Great article and thank you for sharing. 

    Many aspects of the article reasonate with me.  I find many of my female friends not interested in politics which when I consider their lives, they have no time but they also don’t make time.  

    I don’t think all women are the same but I think it is possible to make a few generalisations, afterall, that’s how marketing and advertising works.  Segment on a few points and then start the campaign, adjust as more finer points become known.

    I work in the male dominated construction industry, few females in high places and the ones that are tend to be related to the high powered males or they are in usually female dominated roles ie marketing and HR.

    I also note that in my experience women who get to the top tend to pull up the drawbridge and behave no better than a male counterpart therefore the few that do get there are hardly inspirational. 

  54. Gill says:

    I enjoyed Fiona’s article very much.
    Jeannie your comment at 1:06 is the one I relate to most as this has been exactly my experience of trying to engage with female friends. I also sometimes feel a little guilty at the time spent following and contributing in a in my very small way to the ongoing debate.
    My middle son recently commented on my hugely increased internet activity saying:
    “Mum if you were being paid for this we’d be rich” … out of the mouths of babes.

  55. Braco says:

    “Mum if you were being paid for this we’d be rich”
    and probably at the center of a whirlwind media storm over the scandal of a self declared Independence supporter posting comments on an infamous Independence supporting Web site……. for money!   (wink)

  56. cath says:

    Great article Fiona. Trying to get female friends talking and interested is a real problem.  But, that said, I do find even though they’re quiet and don’t talk much about it, most of my female friends are queitly yes or becoming yes. Which makes the polls a bit odd to me. I can only assume the huge numbers not engaged are still knee-jerk no voters.
    Regarding the Alex Samond thing, I will openly admit to being a bit of an Alex fan. I became one after the Leveson thing. I hadn’t been tuned into politics at all, only getting into it last year with the independence debate, so my knowledge of politicians was restricted to the media. The constant bashing of Salmond in the run up to Leveson was beginning to make me think he might be the same as the rest of them and beginning to put me off – as it was intended to do; it was a political smear.
    However I did watch Leveson carefully and saw the shameful appearances of people like Jeremy Hunt and others. All the time the Scottish press and politicians were knocking Salmond, hinting he’d have a hard time. I watched his entire performance and there was nothing. Nothing at all. He didn’t “forget” anything, came across as straight up and was quite amusing. I’ve since seen him a lot more at conferences, speeches and in a variety of debates – ond and new, because yes I am a female geek with too much time on my hands now 🙂
    I think a lot of people, both male and female, dislike him purely because of what they read in the press. Those of us who’re pro-indy need to start sticking up for him a bit more, I think, and not just doing the media’s job for them by trying to “sideline because the wee women don’t like him”. He’s the only major politician who has reamined utterly consistent (more or less) in his beliefs and arguments and stuck with what he believed rather than sold out or gone for what looks popular at the time.

  57. Jeannie says:

    I also sometimes feel a little guilty at the time spent following and contributing in a in my very small way to the ongoing debate.
    I was a counsellor for many years and if I had a pound for every woman who told me they felt guilty about not doing enough, I’d be a rich woman today.  Guilt is a very powerful emotion and generates anxiety – and most people will do just about anything to make anxiety go away because it’s so unpleasant.  It’s one of the things that keeps them on the “overworking” treadmill.
    I think that’s why the Labour Party and Better Together try to capitalise so much on concepts such as “the pensioner in Liverpool will suffer if you vote for independence and thereby condemn them to a lifetime of Tory rule” or insisting that voting for independence is selfish.  It’s designed to make you feel guilty, therefore anxious and therefore to vote No.  They’re a cynical bunch and obviously know how to press women’s buttons.

  58. Macart says:

    Ditto Cath
    I admired Mr Salmond’s ability for a good while, but actually warmed to the fella over a couple of big issues, one of which was the Leveson inquiry. I think a lot of the Salmond thing though is purely media generated. If you ask someone why they don’t like Alex Salmond it is no answer at all as in: ‘Ah jist don’t’. Or the answer comes back as party sound bite du jour compliments of the usual suspects. But basically no cogent original thought arrived at by either personal experience or reasoned research. The media sound bite does have an effect, but the man is smart enough to use this to his advantage.
    Mrs Macart has always been way ahead of me politically though and was dead set independence even before me and I’ve been indy positive for thirty odd years. 🙂

  59. Marcia says:

    Thanks to Fiona for this article and I hope she writes many more articles for this website.

  60. Albalha says:

    Just randomly looking through Lesley Riddoch’s new book Blossom. interesting details on all the various research about women and independence.
    She cites Fiona Mckay, Professor of Politics at Edinburgh ….
    ‘Women may also more willing to admit they don’t know and men more likely to overestimate their own competence.’
    And that the 2011 Social Attitudes Survey showed 23% of men as ‘heart’ supporters against 10% of women.
    For me it’s slow burn but I think women, who fall into the above categories, will come around. A large percentage probably would have voted devo-max or equivalent, but come the day, voting NO, I doubt it.

  61. Jeannie says:

    I know!  I just don’t get the “I hate Alex Salmond” thing.  As far as I can see, he works his socks off to try to make things better for people in Scotland.  Isn’t that what we want in our First Minister?  I think his position is honest – he isn’t looking to be promoted into the so-called “A” team at Westminster like many of our unionist MSPs, he’s not looking to hold on to power by by-passing democracy to take a seat in the House of Lords like many of our unionist MSPs.  He’s already reached leadership of his party, has achieved electoral success in achieving a majority SNP government and has been running a competent administration since 2007.  He has faith and believe in Scotland and her people that they can take their place with pride on the world stage and be the equal of any of them.  He’s shown total commitment to Scotland and all Scots and if you can’t have faith in that, what can you have faith in?

  62. Marcia says:

    If you want to see the Cheviot, the Stag and Black Black Oil click the link:
    good play mixed with interviews in 1974 with locals :

  63. cath says:

    “Or the answer comes back as party sound bite du jour compliments of the usual suspects.”
    Yes, whenever someone gives “Alex Salmond is fat and smug” as a reason for voting no, I always have a most unladylike desire to ask if they’ve ever seen Jackie Ballie 😉

  64. Jeannie says:

    I agree….slow burn.  I think once women can see what’s in it for them and their families, they’ll vote Yes.  But that’s not to say they won’t be attracted to the bigger picture issues such as civil rights, equality issues, the constitution, etc.  It’s more about demonstrating what that boils down to for the people you care about.

  65. G H Graham says:

    Positive inspiration often comes from perceptions drafted whilst observing the words, tone, appearance & actions of others.

    It’s easy then to explain the low level of engagement between women & politics & their consequential life sapping disillusionment when the media thrust upon its readers & viewers, the wholly unrealistic belief that the electorate will be better informed using images & sound bites from stairheid rammy experts & members of the Scottish Society of Fishwives which includes Jackie Baillie, Margaret Curran, Johann Lamont & Kezia Dugdale.

    And for balance, one might also consider notable members amongst the overflowing ranks of the Scottish Society of Glaikit Gentlemen. They are easy to identify because the surname is usually suffixed with the letters MP or MSP.

  66. Fiona says:

    Thanks for all the kind words. I normally just lurk on this site and try to read everything posted but I think I will try to post more comments from now on 🙂
    On the Alex Salmond thing – it interests me, because I know women are supposed to dislike him (is that true? is his personal rating worse with women?). I have always really liked the way he comes across. He is a bit of a smart arse which I don’t mind because he can back it up with substance, and I like his humour. He’s well-read, knows his history, is consistent, and obviously has massive talent. Andrew Marr said that he thought of him as a political genius (for some reason that quote was not widely reported the other week) and I agree. The ironic thing about all the dictator comparisons is that he has spent his entire political career in the SNP, for goodness’ sake. He can’t be that power mad…
    I don’t think I have heard any female acquaintances speak positively about him. In fact most despise him. The way he s portrayed in the media I’m frankly not surprised. Throw that much mud and some of it will stick.
    My mum is an SNP councillor and she dislikes him. She is very firmly of the opinion that Nicola Sturgeon needs to come to the fore to capture the female vote.

  67. Fiona says:

    Jeannie’s comment at 1.06 is spot on for me.
    I have loads of female colleagues who are just always in a rush and have a lot of guilt about not doing enough.
    I feel guilty myself about not doing more for the local Yes campaign.

  68. isleofskye says:

    Well said Jeannie. Like you, I have more time for active politics being older and also self-employed now (though I did find time to trek back and forth across the Skye Bridge, children in tow, and to Dingwall Sheriff Court during the tolls campaign). Social media has played a big part in this, as it’s easier to find like minded voices, and you can fit it into those spare minutes.

    I especially agree with the need to develop appropriate merchandise. Earrings would be great, and how about some black t-shirts/polo shirts? White Yes logo t-shirts are not the most flattering clothes item for the majority of those I’ve seen, male or female…!

  69. cath says:

    “But that’s not to say they won’t be attracted to the bigger picture issues such as civil rights, equality issues, the constitution, etc.”
    I suspect some women may become more engaged when they see the while paper, and the Commonweal comes more to the fore.
    One other thing about the Salmond hatred is that people in general, but possibly women more so, don’t like being lied to and manipulated. I think – generalising to a huge degree here – men are very vocal, tribal and often don’t like to back down. So if they’ve been loudly espousing hatred for Salmond, they may put their fingers in their ears to anything that could change their opinion. Women, by being more quiet and reserved, leave themselves a lot more room for changing their opinions. Certainly looking at the evidnece, versus what the media and his political enemies were trying to make me think made me angry.
    So women who are currently weighing up, not being very vocal, and not committing either way in a big way may come to a similar realisation they’ve been lied to and manipulated by the media next year. Angry women is something quite powerful 🙂

  70. Jeannie says:

    Don’t start me on the t-shirts!  I really wish I knew how to sew – I’d design my own or even a loose-fitting top, maybe A-shaped, short at the front, longer at the back kind of thing with a discreet Yes or maybe a saltire, in different colours or in quilting material – just something different that you could wear when you’re not going to a rally.  And I’d love a wee saltire or Yes charm for a bracelet.  Something I could wear that’s personal to me that I could wear every day for my own enjoyment.  And it IS hard to open up a conversation about independence if you’re with non-political friends, but maybe a wee bit discreet jewellery would just give us that opener – “what’s that you’re wearing?” or “where did you get that?”  There’s definitely a market here for any artistic types – especially in time for Christmas.

  71. Jeannie says:

    Maybe I’d better retract some of my views on Yes merchandise ……..with our luck somebody will design us Yes teatowels!

  72. southernscot says:

    Jeanie said
    “I think that’s why the Labour Party and Better Together try to capitalise so much on concepts such as “the pensioner in Liverpool will suffer if you vote for independence and thereby condemn them to a lifetime of Tory rule” or insisting that voting for independence is selfish.  It’s designed to make you feel guilty, therefore anxious and therefore to vote No.  They’re a cynical bunch and obviously know how to press women’s buttons.”
    For me this is one of the biggest obstacles to Independence it’s really the only argument in their armoury, as the others have been more or less debunked.
    As someone who should now be a natural Tory voter my scottish commom weal kicks in and my voting intentions have always been-
    1. Keep the Tories out.
    2. Vote for the whoever has best policies to help the most disadvantaged in society.
    Living in England this has been immensely difficult of late with very little choice i’m down to voting Green Party.
    I should say as a person of the male gender (I have some redeeming attributes, a former summer house husband) its heartening to see so many ladies commenting on this site.

  73. Jeannie says:

    She is very firmly of the opinion that Nicola Sturgeon needs to come to the fore to capture the female vote.
    I agree….Nicola Sturgeon is great (and I’m not even in the SNP).  Maybe the female SNP MSPs need to be seen more often in a group rather than as individuals.  You don’t often see them together.  I think it would make a positive statement.

  74. isleofskye says:

    And under a tenner, none of this £45 + all for prestige nonsense!

  75. wee folding bike says:

    The outdoor store Tiso have Buffs (tube scarf – can be worn as a snood, bandana, hat, balaclava) with Saltires all over them. My boys got me one for my birthday.
    You can also order them direct from Buff’s web page:

  76. Jeannie says:

    Exactly!  Maybe at the rally next month some enterprising type will come up with the goods.  I’ll be sure to bring some cash in my Wings over Scotland bag.

  77. Tamson says:

    Apropos of the actual subject, isn’t is fascinating how Fiona can get through an entire article about women and Scottish politics, without feeling the need to mention Johann Lamont or Ruth Davidson?
    Indicative of how little impact either woman makes, really.

  78. Jeannie says:

    @weefolding bike
    Thanks for that.  Noticed they say you can wear it as a pirate.  Might go for that.

  79. Seasick Dave says:

    Erm, Rev, was this you on the BBC Scotland football page?
    Wings Over Scotland: “Walker drills the ball past *Langfield* for Hearts’ goal?
    What, into his kitchen?” Haha! Eagle-eyed there Wings, we’ve corrected…

  80. Andy-B says:

    I think an independent Scotland with at woman at the helm, would be a good idea, and a step in the right direction toward equality.
    Just as long as it isnt Johann Lamont, or Ruth Davidson, which would be one step forward and two steps back, viva the fairer

  81. Macart says:

    Yes, whenever someone gives “Alex Salmond is fat and smug” as a reason for voting no, I always have a most unladylike desire to ask if they’ve ever seen Jackie Ballie
    😀 LOL I’d never dare.
    I should have said before, cracking post Fiona. Don’t be shy about a few more.

  82. The Flamster says:

    Well written piece Fiona 🙂

    The biggest problem and we all know this is media manipulaton.  I did my dissertation on the media as I have for many years recognised the blatant sensationalisation of stories.  the media do not tell you the story because they weren’t there, they report their take of the story.

    When it comes to woman and the media, the media observe woman on how they look even Theresa May wasn’t immune when all they could talk about was her kitten heeled shoes!  This happens to most high profile woman in the media – their looks get mentioned rather than what they say.

    Final word to Peter – Sex sells isn’t that what they say, one of the reasons that scantily dressed woman are draped over luxury cars to entice silly men like you.

  83. Jeannie says:

    Noticed a tweet from someone attending the Festival of Politics that Prof. Nicola McEwen of Edinburgh Uni had said that she thought that fostering uncertainty about what independence would mean was one of the unionists’ most effective strategies.
    With respect to women, I suspect this is probably true.  I know this is a generalisation, but in my experience women are less prone to risk-taking than men so painting independence as a high-risk /uncertain and low return prospect would be likely to make decision-making far more difficult.  I think we need to show that the risk is actually much lower than the unionists make it out to be and the return is higher and more certain if we want to move more women from the undecided position and into a Yes vote.

  84. Somebody says:

    I’ve spoken to plenty of people of both genders about independence, and from what I’ve gathered, the whole “women aren’t for indy” crap is just that – crap. More women than men I know are pro-independence, and I know a hell of a lot more women than I do men.

  85. ianbrotherhood says:

    As O/T as it could possibly be, but perhaps someone can come up with a brilliant analogy involving BT:

  86. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “Erm, Rev, was this you on the BBC Scotland football page?”

    Yes. Who says the BBC censors us?

  87. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “Apropos of the actual subject, isn’t is fascinating how Fiona can get through an entire article about women and Scottish politics, without feeling the need to mention Johann Lamont or Ruth Davidson?”

    To be fair, she did but I cut it out in the edit. Then again, it was a line about how invisible/ineffective they were 😀

  88. scottish_skier says:

    Some points to note.
    The ‘men are more for independence than women’ assumption comes from polls which do show a greater % of men saying ‘Yes’ with a greater % of women saying ‘No’ or ‘don’t know’ to the straight indy question.
    The doesn’t actually mean that men are more supportive of independence. We have to make the assumption that people are telling the truth.
    People tell porkies in polls all the time. They say they plan to vote Labour when they plant to vote Tory. Take for example just after the 1997 general election landslide for Labour. It was the done thing to vote Labour at that time so Labour were polling 60% even though they only got 43% in the election. Lots of people who didn’t vote Labour were saying they did / they supported Labour. They were lying.
    You see this in Scottish polls, particularly face to face and telephone where there is little or no sense of anonymity. Take MORI; it had a ‘new Labour’ effect for the SNP just after the landslide with them peaking at 51%. So a good 6% were suddenly SNP voters simply because that was the ‘right’ thing to be at that moment.
    The indy vote has a large ‘shy component’. It’s impossible to prove and calculate exactly, but you can see it in data and there just doesn’t appear to be any other explanation for it. People are saying No when, under different circumstances they say Yes.
    Now I don’t believe this accounts completely for the male-female difference in VI, but I suspect the ‘shy factor’ is higher in women. Men tend to be far more forthright in what they vote and why. Women tend to be more reticent and see this as private. My wife certainly finds this in her group of friends; nobody seems to want to touch the subject when they’re in a group. Only when she’s alone with one friend and things are more ‘private’ does the subject tentatively pop up sometimes. 
    I contrast, men are more likely to say ‘Aye, I’m voting Yes’ quite openly. Certainly in my experience.
    Worth considering anyway.

  89. Will someone ask Blair McDougall if Fiona was paid for this good article;) 

  90. Fiona says:

    re Johann and Ruth – it was funny – when I was writing it, I completely forgot about both of them. Then I went back and added in a reference, thought it was only fair. Invisible/ineffective about sums it up.
    tartanfever asked about Johann and the “as a mother” line that she peddles. I don’t think this will wash with most women. I think a likely response is “so what?” I can see what she is trying to do, but it’s so phoney and patronising. Another example of ScotLab treating the electorate as dimwits.

  91. Jeannie says:

    @scottish skier
    I’d concur with what your wife is saying – women tend not to discuss the referendum in a group – possibly because they don’t want to be the odd one out and risk disapproval because women, rather than have an argument about something, often express social disapproval by excluding the person who’s not “on message”.  So within a group, they will tend to voice the dominant group view – an example of “group polarisation effect”.  Of course, privately, they may well think the opposite. 

  92. Fiona says:

    scottish_skier – yep I agree about the shy factor. I have some friends who are pro yes but never talk about it.  In each case I’ve had maybe one clipped conversation and then it was almost like “right, we’ve got that out of the way, now thank goodness we need never mention it again” 
    In my experience this is a factor with both men and women but perhaps more so with women.
    Once I was at an event with various stalls and my husband was manning the Yes stall.  I got talking to two female friends who both turned out to be pro-independence.  I didn’t know, and they didn’t know I was either. We never talk politics. They both went over to the stall, chatted to my husband and signed the declaration at separate junctures during the morning and afterwards one said to the other “I wasn’t going to sign, but then I saw your name so I just went for it”
    There was no doubt about her conviction as a yes voter. When she got talking she was almost more rabid than me 😀 but still her instinct was not to make a visible declaration.
    This links in to the importance of normalising support for independence. I firmly believe there will be a tipping point in this regard sometime in the next few months and I can’t wait.

  93. Juteman says:

    Is this ‘shyness’ more of a social group thing, rather than a gender issue?
    As Rab C would say, “i’m working class scum, and proud of it.” 🙂
    Most women I know are anything but shy, and will discuss anything.

  94. Jeannie says:

    Out of curiosity, what are they saying about the referendum?

  95. Ivan McKee says:

    Fiona – good article, thanks
    Specifically on the Parliamentary representation issue.
    How about if we had  2 member parliamentary constituencies ( bigger than current constituencies) – but every constituency had to be represented by a man and a woman.
    So each party puts forward a man and woman for each seat. They are elected using a PR type system (STV or whatever) but once a man (or a woman) passes the threshold then all the other candidates of that gender are eliminated and the 2nd preferences re-allocated to see who gets the other place..
    Can still use a list-type system to balance up the PR like we do at the moment (but would need fewer list MSPs to get the PR balance as a lot of it will happen in the 2 member seats automatically.
    I’ve thought it through and think it works from a technical point of view – but there maybe those on here with more understanding of voting systems who can comment.
    It gives you gender balance automatically, without having to impose women-only shortlists and other forms of positive discrimination.

  96. scottish_skier says:

    Note on the subject of ‘Normalising’ independence.
    I can understand that making people open to discussing the issue would be a good thing, certainly no harm for Yes at all.
    However, it might have a lot less influence than people think. Demonising a particular political view doesn’t stop people voting that way. If people have decided they like the idea of something, they’ll vote for it no matter how much they’re told by the MSM not to. What they won’t do though, is admit it.
    The 1992 general election was a classic. Labour thought they were shoe-in because the polls had them on for a good victory. Instead they lost quite badly because although the Tories were being hammered as the nasty poll tax party in the press, causing people to not admit supporting them, these people still went out and voted Tory.
    Same applies for the SNP who have been accused of everything under the sun yet still poll landslide numbers right how (likely to be even higher but with shy SNP factor).
    Then there’s UKIP. The smearing of them up to the English local elections really worked didn’t it.? Did considerably better than polls predicted too.
    Normalising would allow better discussion with DKs. However demonising Yes won’t change entrenched views, it just makes Yes people quiet.
    In that sense the demonising of Yes by No is a really stupid thing to do as it means they can appear to be doing much better than they actually are in e.g. polls.
    Of course they are finding out the truth when trying to set up a grassroots campaign… speaking to people on the streets and doorsteps…
    The polls suggest a ‘silent majority’ should exist for No yet it doesn’t. That’s because it’s more Yes people being silent.

  97. Juteman says:

    To be honest, most folk I know, women included, are not talking about the referendum. I’m working on them, but quite a few have never even voted. And i’m talking about so called professionals, like nurses, and even the odd policewoman.

  98. scottish_skier says:

    Oh and I should note that ‘fairly solid No’ is at best just over 1/3.
    You see it in the tables for panelbase Y/N and Rev’s roundabout question.
    It’s also in MORI but due to methodology and their way of presenting, it’s lost. However, the ‘confusing’ summary from them recently was correct; in telephone (biased towards No), definite No is coming in at only 36%. 44% are yet to finally / definitely decide and don’t love the union. The rest are solid Yes.
    This is why No are bricking it. 1/3 is the best they can get on a good day when you account for likely turnout.

  99. scottish_skier says:

    As I’ve said before, No seems to have the advantage. However, it’s a very weak one masking what the real case is and subject to complete collapse at short notice.

  100. Lindsey Smith says:

    Wow, I had no idea there were so few women accessing info online!  It is my main source of any and all info on everything.  I am presuming my email address makes my gender obvious, even if my names is androgynous.  I also assumed that most women are engaged by the referendum “debate”, even if it is conducted almost exclusively on Project Fear’s terms, proffeing almost only their version of facts.
    Hope we are not really such a small group.

  101. Tony Little says:

    Ivan McKee
    Interesting idea, but I doubt it would pass EU law.  Something that might do instead is to ensure the “lists” are headed by a woman and alternate sexes after that?

  102. scottish_skier says:

    If Yes can get 1/3 of the electorate out and voting Yes, they’ll likely win. If they can get more out, they will win.

  103. Tony Little says:

    I was going to EDIT in:  If I was a woman, would I think these ideas are just tokenism?  

  104. Fiona says:

    thanks, all v interesting. God yes the 1992 election. Nightmare. 

  105. Tony Little says:

    Do you think that it is really pointless expecting people (perhaps particularly women voters) to be engaged NOW, when the issue will only become a ‘reality’ a few weeks out from the vote?  
    I have these swings of emotion wishing the YES campaign was doing more visible things, but then realising that they have a HUGE movement behind them ready to swing into action when the call comes, and THAT doesn’t generate headlines.
    Given what you say about ‘normalising’ independence, at what point will that be?  When YES consistently polls 45%?

  106. Caroline Corfield says:

    I’d concur with what your wife is saying – women tend not to discuss the referendum in a group – possibly because they don’t want to be the odd one out and risk disapproval because women, rather than have an argument about something, often express social disapproval by excluding the person who’s not “on message”.  So within a group, they will tend to voice the dominant group view – an example of “group polarisation effect”.  Of course, privately, they may well think the opposite. 
    I’m so glad I’m not the only one who sees this. Thanks Fiona for a great article, and I second the call for some reasonably priced jewellery, I was reduced to buying a Yes lapel pin but they always fall off my coats so I’d much rather a pair of earrings.

  107. Fiona says:

    @Ivan McKee
    Interesting. But I’m not sure – I think, like quotas, it could still mean that the best candidate for the job doesn’t get in.  Not that the best candidates always get selected now I’m sure. I am opposed to positive discrimination or anything that risks women candidates being accused of getting in just by virtue of being female. No special treatment. 

  108. isleofskye says:

    I’ve found that my teaching and nursing frends don’t always grasp the difference between UK and Scottish Government influences, thanks to obfuscation by the mainstream media. Council worker friends see budgets being squeezed, and blame the SNP, rather than question the reasons behind it.

    The best comeback is Blair Jenkins question as to whether you would vote to become part of the UK if Scotland were already independent. That always elicits a lightbulb moment, even if it’s only ‘I’ll need to think about that’. Then you can direct them to Wings and Newsnet!

  109. scottish_skier says:

    Given what you say about ‘normalising’ independence, at what point will that be?  When YES consistently polls 45%?
    Or higher. Likely going over 50% in polls regularly as per around the time of the devolution referendum.
    Note in no way am I advocating complacency. But a Yes is the most probable outcome and a good majority for Yes is there for the taking with effort/boots on the ground etc.
    My longstanding prediction is for a closing of Y/N in polls by the end of the Year into early 2014. Then we have a race to the finish where I expect the Yes will gradually move out in front.
    I have no reason to believe the final result could not be like Q2 in 1997 (63.5%).
    I’ll stand by this unless I see something that tells me I’m totally wrong in polling data. I’ve yet to see that.

  110. mogabee says:

    Great article and lots of astute comments too.
    We had a YES stall at MOKFEST in Campbeltown today and I am really upbeat about the referendum due to all the positive views expressed. Compared to a year ago many, many more are YES or thinking about which way they’ll vote. 
    Also heartened by womens attitudes and young people signing declaration and proud to say they will vote yes. 
    So all-in-all I am even more confidant about a good result next year.

  111. Jeannie says:

    To be honest, most folk I know, women included, are not talking about the referendum.
    Yup, same here.

  112. Jeannie says:

    That’s really good to hear.  Were most of the people from the area or were there a lot of visitors from further afield, since it was a music festival?
    PS:  love the beach at Southend

  113. mogabee says:

    Not so many visitors as previous, though the few that I spoke to were either in the process of moving back or fairly new residents eager for info. But even those not able to vote were broadly positive too!
    Nicer beach at A’Chleit (not biased at all )!

  114. scottish_skier says:

    …. God yes the 1992 election. Nightmare.
    And another possibility for 2015 if Scotland stays.
    The Tories should do better than they’re polling right now. Labour should do considerably worse.
    Either way, probability (and historical precedent) says the Tories will be the largest party. 
    Hence the Tories gearing up for another potential coalition with the libs. Which is no different from a Tory majority.

  115. Jeannie says:

    Oops, skip that last comment – just realised it wasn’t a music festival.  Assuming it was mostly local people then.  Even better.

  116. @ss
    ‘’ll stand by this unless I see something that tells me I’m totally wrong in polling data. I’ve yet to see that.’
    Then you’ll get a job as the BBCs phesologist.

  117. scottish_skier says:

    Then you’ll get a job as the BBCs phesologist.

    With a prediction of comfortably over 60% Yes, I’m not going to give up my day job!

    I’d be shunned in the BBC canteen…


  118. mogabee says:

    It was the music festival…Lots of tourists, just not so many visitors to the stall!

  119. Paula Rose says:

    Are we not better having a No poll lead for a while yet? – I presume you all understand my point.

  120. liz says:

    I think we need to be careful about suggesting that AS should step aside for NS.
    One of the reasons the MSM try so hard to discredit him is because he is so competent. He seems to cope well with all the flack and NS would have to take on the same level of abuse if she did take over.
    I would hope the best way to deal with the I don’t like AS because ……….. supply from a list of reasons…. -would be to ask them to explain why.
    The daftest one I heard by a country mile was from a life long Labour voter -because he looks like a wee free?!!!!
    A yes voter I know says when he hears this he asks – who do you trust most to look after your affairs AS or DC? He says it usually at least gets them thinking.

  121. John Dickson says:

    Just came back from Lochaber Agricultural Show, A well organised Yes Scotland stand and Better Together no where to be seen. A very good afternoon and I even won a bottle of Grouse in a raffle

  122. Dave McEwan Hill says:

    Read Jen;’s contribution at  1.49 and it rang several bells. I’ve worked with and among women in a very varied set of situations for most of my life. I’ve always had very warm relationships with the vast majority of them but what I have observed is that a intelligent,active and constructive woman will always meet more aggression, obstruction and competition from other women in her space and in her age group than she will meet from any male.
    In one CA in which I was convener we had three very able, very ambitious and very constructive women. You could have fried eggs at CA meetings in the super charged atmosphere at our meetings  

  123. ianbrotherhood says:

    ‘I have no reason to believe the final result could not be like Q2 in 1997 (63.5%).’
    On SSP street stalls I take every chance to ask folk, and it’s all very unscientific: I’ve no idea whether or not my enthusiasm rubs off; ‘No’ voters aren’t inclined to stop at our stall; maybe they’re just saying what they think you want to hear so they can get away etc, BUT my honest guesstimate is between 62 and 67% of votes cast would be Yes if the poll was held tomorrow. And it’s increasing.

  124. pro-loco says:

    Sorry, coming into this topic a bit late. I don’t think that the SNP have any claim to monopoly on female political talent. Jenny Marra and Kesia Dugdale who got elected almost by the accident of SNP success due to the Holyrood voting system have shown by their energy and interest in taking on actual political problems e.g. payday loan companies, a great example of gaining credibility by campaigning. Compare and contrast the ‘ability’ of Bill Walker also elected by the accident of SNP success.
    On  the other hand how do Johann Lamont and Davidson justify their positions when they are in the position of ‘leader’ only because ‘Alex Salmond has a problem in dealing with women’. Are they not both fatally undermined in their positions because in whole or in part they owe their promotions not to ability but gender politics. 

  125. Morag says:

    Ian, it depends on where you are.  Less than 50% Yes at Peebles I think.  However, we were badly hampered by the strong wind, which meant that we couldn’t “set out our stall” as it were.  T-shirts, pens and car stickers don’t sell when they have to be hidden inside the tent.

    The poor information level of a lot of No voters is a shocker though.  One very loud guy insisted that we couldn’t survive without all the money England sends up to Scotland, and wouldn’t listen to any explanation – just laughed at us.  Then announced that the SNP had backed the Edinburgh trams.  Another said he was voting No because large farmers would be badly disadvantaged by having to leave the EU.

  126. cath says:

    “The polls suggest a ‘silent majority’ should exist for No yet it doesn’t. That’s because it’s more Yes people being silent.”
    Yes SS – it always makes me laugh when I see Better Together types talk about “the silent majority” of pro-union people. The entire media, all 3 Westminster political parties, the British establishment are all pro-union and are extremely vocal about it, including denigrating and smearing those who vote Yes, calling anyone who dares express a pro-indy opinion a “cybernat” and even denigrating those who call for devo-max as “SNP fronts” – Henry McLeish most recently, Martin Sime of SCVO prevoiusly. They also issue threats and try to make sure pro-indy people aren’t able to work – Martin Compton being targetted before and Bulmer more recently criticised for the crime of charging a small fee for writing an article.
    Why the hell would they imagine the unionists are the “silent” ones? Their entire campaign revolves around making sure it’s the Yes people who stay silent. I’m sure that will fail, next year. But right now, the grassroots campaign figures speak for themselves. Better Together can only manage the odd “weekend” when they can bring people up from Westminster to man stalls. Yes is everywhere.

  127. cath says:

    fwiw I also think the denigration and silenceing of Yes types is why we’re seeing young people being apparently more pro-union. They’re far more prone to peer pressure and not wanting to be different, singled out, or laughed at. Better Together’s bullying style is working well with that age group so far. Again, I don’t think that will last because that age group is also most open to new ideas, learn most quickly, and really hate being taken for a ride.

  128. Braco says:

    Hi Fiona,
    Thanks for the article. A great read and a brilliant catalyst for so many others’ interesting posts.
    My feelings are that both women and men will come to their conclusion over YES or NO for basically the same numerous and varied reasons. They will both use the best and most reliable info available to them at the time of the vote (when the decision is forced on them).
    We are over a year out from the vote, so to the normal non political punter who is honest, undecided is probably the most reasonable position to find yourself in. Until, that is, they feel they have enough reliable info to make their decision. A decision that in my experience is openly acknowledged to be one of the most important political decisions they will ever be asked to adjudicate on, so folk will take it seriously.
    Unfortunately this reality has been used by The British Nationalist Establishment for decades as a (not so tacit), support for NO in any referendum. Happily conflating the figures for No and Don’t know to achieve their confidence boosting/sapping 60-70% ‘NO’ majorities. 
    Something this reality is not and has never been, but repetion by all MSM and Broadcasters over the years has had it’s psychological affect, ably explained by Scottish Skier as ‘the shy effect’.
    It’s been so effective in fact, that both sides now actually believe it. That’s why even the folk at the SNP who had access to their own private polling couldn’t (or wouldn’t) actually truly believe in their 2011 landslide before it happened. In comparison, Blair’s 97 landslide was known about and more importantly believed in, at least two years before that election finally took place. It was no surprise!
    The difference between the female and male YES/NO/Don’t Know at the moment seems to me to be simply down to the different timings of when the sexes access the information they need to come to a decision.
    So as long as everyone comes to their decision in time for the vote, which those that vote will (regardless of sex), and we in the YES campaign all work our backsides off getting the information out there to them, then I believe a YES vote from both sexes is inevitable. (Barring some unforseeable massive external event of course)
    The arguments for an Independent Scotland are unanswerable and have no gender.

  129. Jeannie says:

    Very well put, Cath.

  130. Dave McEwan Hill says:

    Was visiting the YES stall at Bute Highland Games today in Rothesay. Same warm welcome and no aggresive nagativity even from the non committal.

  131. Macart says:

    Hullo Liz
    Couldn’t agree more. Short of a major and unforeseen catastrophe Nicola will one day make a fine FM. How and ever we have a fine FM right now and the majority of the electorate already know it regardless of the best efforts of the Westminster parties and their pet media. The votes don’t lie at the end of the day and as skier would no doubt point out neither do the numbers. In current popularity ratings every other political leader in the UK would bite their own arms off for his scoring.
    Basically whilst there is this fostered myth amongst the opposition that the FM is not liked amongst the electorate, nothing could be further from the truth. The truth being of course they don’t like him. Who knew? 🙂 

  132. ianbrotherhood says:

    ‘…it depends on where you are.’
    Agreed. The streetwork I’ve been involved with has been in Irvine or Ayr, the former pretty solidly Labour, the latter a rare Tory stronghold, so I’m guessing (hoping?) that the aggregate is a pretty close mirror of the ‘typical’ voter, or as close to that creature as anyone could reasonably be expected to find.
    Dunno – maybe it’s just wishful thinking on my part, but one thing’s for sure: Labour in Scotland is in its death-throes, and the anecdotal stuff I’ve been hearing from folk (who, like yourself, have been active for decades, and are on  first-name terms with some of their staunchest opponents) is damning – Lamont is a hopeless case taking orders from stuffed shirts in London who can’t see beyond whatever’s happening in Millbank; the personal attacks on AS/SNP are embarrassing and counter-productive; the demonisation of LFI has the potential to shatter the Labour movement in Scotland once and for good, etc etc.
    From a selfish SSP point of view, it’s all great, because we’re picking up new members who simply can’t stomach the abuse they’d get from Labour ‘comrades’ who’ve circled the wagons – it’s really hard, for ordinary, disengaged punters, to understand how powerful a force Labour tribalism is in these parts. It’s easier for these people to leave the party altogether rather than be subjected to the ‘fifth-columnist’ shite.
    I’m not doing a McDougall here, bluffing that it’s all going our way – maybe you just get to an age where you can look someone in the eye and know if they’re bullshitting you or not. Gut-feeling an aw that. 

  133. Bobby Mckail says:

    Since the loose consensuses of the reasons given of why women are undecided or are by default a No voter as their starting point, Maybe we should accept that women will turn their attention to the issues when they really have to. That maybe the 16 weeks of official campaigning in the run up to the referendum. Maybe someone should look at the ’79 and thew ’97 referendums to see if women were as cautious before the referendums as they are reportedly are in this one. Rev?

  134. cath says:

    One thing I found interesting recently was the admission by the NO camp (can’t remember where now – most recent poll, I think) recently that solidly working class areas were a majority pro-yes. Those are also the solidly Labour areas.

  135. ianbrotherhood says:

    ‘The arguments for an Independent Scotland are unanswerable and have no gender.’
    Great line.

  136. Braco says:

    thanks min. 
    I just thought to myself……now how would Peter A Bell put it?

  137. Braco says:

    Bobby McKail,
    that would be very interesting wouldn’t it? I wonder what the final breakdowns between the sexes were in the actual votes as well. Of course it won’t be directly transferable info, as some folk voted NO for devolution as they believed the ‘kill nationalism stone dead’ line being spread about by one half of the YES campaign at the time. Something not needed to be factored in on this vote I would imagine! (weesmiley)

  138. ianbrotherhood says:

    In a tweet, perhaps early today, you issued a wee reminder that you’re always open to contributions i.e. articles etc.
    I’ve asked this before  (and didn’t get much of a response) but are there any lawyers following WoS who could knock-up a definitive Q & A regarding non-payment of the wretched BBC Licence Fee?
    There’s still so much confusion about this, and it’s a perfect metaphor for the whole No Scotland/Project Feart campaign – if only people had the facts, it’d be so much easier to make that big decision and simply stop paying the fecking thing. No illegality is involved – a minor lifestyle change is all that’s required, and the benefits are something which could be separately covered by people who’ve gone ahead and done it.
    Any legal ‘lurkers’ up for it?  Help us oot, eh?!
    We could take our unrenewed licenses along to Calton Hill on Sep 21st and burn them (in a strictly-controlled area, with due regard to Health & Safety etc etc).

  139. ianbrotherhood says:

    @Linda’s back-
    Aye, the type of stuff I’m on about is in the comments (800+?!) following that article, but we need someone to distill it all, preferably in a way that would lend itself to an announcement on Sep 21st.
    This all ties-in with the subject of this thread – the people responsible for paying the Licence Fee in most households are, I daresay, women. If they’re to disregard the obnoxious threatening letters, advertising campaigns etc, they need solid fact-based advice.   

  140. Braco says:

    Ivan McKee@6.18,
    I always thought it was a real missed opportunity, when setting up Holyrood, to not create each constituency with a representative MSP from each sex.

    This way gender parity would have been structural at Holyrood from the start, just as gender discrimination was at the formation of Westminster, and still is to this day.
    Of course, if parliament’s main chamber was decided by lottery (hobby horse alert! 18 March, 2013 at 3:55 pm) then random chance would take care of the problem of true national population demographic representation in our parliament over a very short time frame.

  141. Hetty says:

    Remembering that in Scotland you cannot go to prison for debt, even if you don’t or can’t pay for the tv license, but you can in England.  However, you can be locked up for non payment of fines in bonny Scotland, so if you don’t pay your license…pay your fine…or cut your aerial in half so it has no signal at all, bliss.

  142. Angus MacC says:

    A very well written and thoughtful article Rev.
    I would just like to add that Finland has a an equal number of women in power and positions of authority, they are a very advanced nation, and Scotland should project aspirations similar to our Scandinavian neighbours.

  143. gillie says:

    I see Jeane Freeman of WFI has done a Kate Higgins. 

    I think there 45 minute nationalists in our ranks. They have declared their loyalty to the team, kissed the badge, now at half time they have been discovered betting against their own side. We should give these people free transfer, they can go and play for the unionists because it looks like that is all they have ever done.

  144. john king says:

    o/t heres a little quote I just thought up for a billboard 
    In 1979 Alex Douglas Hume laid a concrete path to “something better”
    but dont walk on it
    its not set yet

  145. Bubbles says:

    @ gillie
    Oh, how I wish I hadn’t followed your link.

  146. gillie says:

    Here is one of NewsNetScotland’s original exposes of political deflection involving the BBC Scotland and Scottish Labour. Note the names.

    Susan Stewart former chief press officer to Jack McConnell and former director of communications at YES Scotland who left last month, Jeane Freeman former special advisor to Jack McConnell, and Glenn Campbell the man who was front and centre for BBC Scotland during the Megrahi affair.
    It would appear these people had the means, motive and opportunity to undermine the Yes campaign.

  147. joe kane says:

    I thought this recent article in the English language Norway Post might be of interest –
    Women’s rights – Norway at the forefront 
    22 Aug 2013 

  148. gavin lessells says:

    Gerry Hassan has terrific piece on Newsnet re Marr, Noughtie et al. Coincidentally, Gerry is on BBC Scotlands “Headlines” at 0900. Might be well worth a listen. Ken MacDonald tries to be fair and objective.

  149. Fiona says:

    Gillie – your tinfoil hat is showing. 
    By all means disagree with those on the Yes side who hold a different view. I certainly don’t agree with Jeane Freeman here. But please don’t jump to the lazy conclusion that they must be infiltrators. Baseless accusations like that make you no better than those on the other side trying to smear LFI members. 

  150. Winging it says:

    Completely o/t, sorry. If you’re considering buying clothing from the WOS Megastore, engage your brain when choosing the sizes, unlike me. Absolutely no complaints about the quality or service (both excellent) but unless it stipulates men’s or women’s sizes, it’s unisex. I know, it seems so obvious now!  
    See you all on Calton Hill on 21 Sept – I’ll be the one wearing a two-man tent with arms and a hood. Pop in and say hello!

  151. gillie says:

    Susan Stewart was central to a BBC Scotland deflection story that strongly suggested that Scottish-American relationships had been badly damaged Megrahi’ s release. This was at the same time that Gordon Brown met Gadaffi in 2009.
    Susan Stewart left YES Scotland in July in what was headlined as being under difficult circumstances in getting the campaign’s message out to people.

  152. Albalha says:

    BBC Radio Scotland Headlines, just started, with Ken McDonald will be discussing independence and the debates online. Are we all just talking to like minded people etc.

  153. gillie says:

    It seems Jeane Freeman takes great umbrage over rejection of her partner Susan Stewart.

  154. scaredy cat. says:

    I agree with much of this and have said so in previous posts. Women are interested in current affairs, but perhaps not so much in party politics.
    I do not read women’s magazines except at the hairdressers or dentist’s surgery. It might surprise some men (and women) that they are not all full of celebrity gossip.
    I recently read good pieces on women’s rights in Egypt, female genital mutilation, forced marriage and youth unemployment. All serious issues. I did notice the use of personal experiences throughout the stories so maybe women prefer the personal touch ( perhaps we really do have more mirror neurons than men).
    Anyway, I don’t think these magazines are produced here in Scotland, but if someone could get an article in one of them it might spark interest, especially if it contained some personal experiences.
    On the issue of t shirts. Try the zazzle and cafe press websites. Great stuff for women and kids. Lots of styles and colours and great designs too.

  155. alexicon says:

    O/T. Rev, any chance of enlightening us on how to get by the paywall of the newspapers?

  156. Albalha says:

    Wings over Scotland given namecheck by BBC’s Ken McDonald in discussion with Mike Small about the media and the debate.

  157. Boorach says:

    Thanks for that link to ‘the Cheviot………’
    That’s an hour and a half of my time I definitely do NOT want back. Excellent play which produced a full range of emotions, predominately anger I’m afraid but the humour kept me balanced. Thanks again

  158. gillie says:

    It would appear that the Scottish media are in “soul searching mode” – ” Why does not anyone trust us?”
    After a journalist was caught with illegally obtained information gotten by criminal means, whereby, and by what followed, was a pack mentality in which the victim was beaten up by journalists. 
    Pro-independence groups have learned a hard lesson this week you cannot trust the media nor some of those who declare themselves as supporters of independence but are more than willing to run to the media to say otherwise.
    I think today we have a better idea who our friends are, who are definiely not and those who pretend otherwise.
    Time to move on.

  159. scottish_skier says:


    Cyber attack lasted months
    EMAIL accounts linked to the Yes Scotland campaign have been hacked for several months, sources close to an investigation into unauthorised access believe.
    Thousands of emails are thought to have been vulnerable during the cyber attack which continued until late on Wednesday evening, after the campaign team thought their system was again secure.
    It has also emerged that the Yes campaign, which has been working with digital forensic police, is conducting a full security sweep of its Glasgow headquarters which is expected to look for electronic listening devices.
    Informed sources say the evidence uncovered since police and BT were called in to investigate the possibility of email hacking suggests illegal activity on a large scale may have occurred.

  160. Albalha says:

    Bloody hell, listening devices possibly as well, of course on the up side the ‘spies’ must be worried.

  161. southernscot says:

    I guess if they can’t find the person or organization behind this its a euphemism for state sponsored.

  162. Marcia says:

    A view from one the Yes HQ team:

    Compared to 1999 when the SNP campaign, in many respects, crumbled in the face of a lesser assault, the Yes movement has not only stood up to this unprecedented onslaught, not only held its ground, but is beginning to push back. How do I know this? Because I see the numbers. People are moving up the support scale, including in key groups that we need to attract to win. Those campaigners on the doorstep know exactly what I am talking about. Numerous people have told me that they sense a shift, they feel the movement in our favour. Despite all Westminster’s might, today, more Scots are undecided than No and more of those undecideds are moving to Yes than to No. The No campaign’s relentless barrage of uncertainty and fear is by no means finished but their attempt to overwhelm and crush has not succeeded.

  163. MajorBloodnok says:

    How did BT and their stooges think they could bury this criminal activity story with a four day contrived and co-ordinated stooshie about the fact that YES Scotland paid a freelance writer £100 for his written opinion?
    And all based on information apparently illegally obtained via the said illegal hacking.  As I’ve said before, my God they must be desperate.

  164. Luigi says:

    My wife is a bigger fan of Alex Salmond than I am.  I don’t agree with the “Alex Salmond has a problem with female voters” narrative.  It is so much BS – pure propaganda.  What I do think is happening is that BT are targeting women, in the mistaken belief that they are generally still undecided (maybe) and therefore persuadable against independence (no).  BT are attempting to normalize the natural female opinion to be against independence, hence all the dodgy poll results showing that they are more inclined to vote no.  It will not work, however.  As the author of this article correctly states, female opinion is diverse, and at the end of the day, similar proportions of males and females will vote YES next year, regardless of the final outcome.

  165. alexicon says:

    Got to agree there.
    I have noticed over the last few days that the Herald (weekly editions) has calmed down its anti YES/SNP attacks since its obvious biased and spin against the YES campaign over the Elliot Bulmer article.
    Maybe they’re trying to look less obvious to the wider audience?
    Also noticed that there are less comments being posted now, no doubt as a result of heavy censorship. I know I’ve been censored many times this week as a result of pointing out the obvious to the Herald.
    I doubt very much Gardham will be doing much soul searching as he sold his soul to the Labour party a long time ago.
    One of the worst things the Herald ever done was employing that overtly biased pro unionist propagandist.

  166. scottish_skier says:

    I guess if they can’t find the person or organization behind this its a euphemism for state sponsored.
    Or maybe they were supposed to be caught?
    What if it does link back to e.g. MI5?
    If you want to ensure the inevitable is neatly and quickly sorted in 2014, then ‘MI5 Hacked Yes Scotland’ would be a good headline.

  167. Albalha says:

    Interesting read though shame he’s so selective in his recommended sites advice.

  168. scottish_skier says:

    I might add that the general silence on the hacking story by the Scottish MSM is quite telling.
    This story is very damaging for no. Could be fatal if it turns out things do lead back to London.

  169. alexicon says:

    I was speaking to someone at a YES  campaign stall yesterday and he was saying just about the same thing, things are on the up. I just hope we don’t peak to early.
    I was pleased to see many people (mainly middle aged/elderly) visit the stall to find out information and sign the declaration.
    Looks like folks are circumventing the biased media for their information and getting the truth at source. Good for them.

  170. Edward Barbour says:

    I’ve felt since the start , at the time of the referendum being announced that this would be like a war. It would be about the London establishment and London based political parties fighting for survival using any and every means available to them. The  war is a propaganda one. We had a ‘cold’ war with apparently not much propaganda. Now we are seeing sustained attacks using the media and now the other means are being used, those means being spying technology. Is MI5 involved? I think they may be being used. Don’t forget MI5 have been used in the past

  171. rabb says:

    I’m going to stick my neck out and say that this attack WAS carried out on UK soil behind a proxy.

    The proxy gives the illusion that it has come from somewhere else in the world.
    There are two chances of someone in Peru or Japan being interested in Yes Scotland’s email – None & fuck all!!

  172. cath says:

    SS- Or maybe they were supposed to be caught?
    Gillie – I think today we have a better idea who our friends are, who are definiely not and those who pretend otherwise.
    Even as a previously non-political person, fairly new to the independence campaign, I’m aware of the dirty tricks that have previously been used by the Britih state, and well aware they’ll be used again. That would include hacking, bugging, infiltrating, sowing discord within Yes groups, introducing extremist elements etc as well as full on media attacks, smears etc.
    If I know this, I’m happy to trust those leading the independence campaign, with far more experience of it than I have also know this, and have a far better grasp of it than I do
    As a result, I feel quite relaxed, maybe even happy, that this has come to light right now, just as “the phoney war” is ending and we’re about to go into the real campaign. Seems like perfect timing really.

  173. alexicon says:

    If anyone thought that the YES campaign’s/SNP’s activities wouldn’t draw such outside interest from the Westminster Government and no campaign, then sadly they’re mistaken.
    Not to sound too critical, but the YES  campaign and the SNP  should have anticipated this a long time ago.
    @rabb. Have you seen this?

  174. Angus says:

    No cyber skills required to trace what is going on-just think about the journalists involved and anyone else from any anti Independence organisation and the serious criminal activity…..traceable by others knowing their names and people do know their names and ‘protection of sources’ is not an excuse especially post levenson because the criminality behind this is far far bigger than that and jail term s beckon to a few people who would shit themselves if they had the brains they were born with.

  175. cath says:

    “Not to sound too critical, but the YES  campaign and the SNP  should have anticipated this a long time ago.”
    What makes you think they didn’t?

  176. scottish_skier says:

    As a result, I feel quite relaxed, maybe even happy, that this has come to light right now, just as “the phoney war” is ending and we’re about to go into the real campaign. Seems like perfect timing really.
    I was thinking the very same.

  177. alexicon says:

    @ cath.
    “What makes you think they didn’t?”
    By virtue that their computers were hacked.
    Seems that it has been going on for sometime now, if so why has experts not prevented it or screened, on a regular basis, for hacking.
    Prevention in this case is better than reaction.

  178. southernscot says:

    Yeah seen that, ever wonder how they manage that. I mean its incredibly difficult to tap optic cables without direct access. You literally have to splice into them at points where they come ashore as in Bude in cornwall or under the sea like in the middle east.
    S_S still not convinced of that premise they want rid of us although it does make life considerably easier for the Tories. The British state hates losing power and influence.

  179. Edward Barbour says:

    Perhaps it might be an idea to contact Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian journalist based in Brazil
     If you recall it was Greenwald’s partner, David Miranda that was stopped and held by the police at Heathrow , when transiting from Berlin to Brazil. During Greenwald angry reaction, he intimated that he had a lot of information concerning the security services spying activities within the UK on UK citizens. I’m wonder if he could be persuaded to elaborate if he has any information that he got from Snowden on spying activities on Scottish pro-independence groups
    By the way the story that appeared in ‘The Independent’ newspaper regarding a middle east secret internet-monitoring station, may be false. As Glenn Greenwald is claiming that story could have been planted by the UK government its self!

  180. scottish_skier says:

    S_S still not convinced of that premise they want rid of us although it does make life considerably easier for the Tories. The British state hates losing power and influence.
    Note this is not my premise (although there are a good few Tories which would be happy enough to see the back of Scotland). The Tories don’t have any choice. They can’t win and keep Scotland, as polls show (we should have another one on this topic soon). If there was a narrow no vote and the Tories formed the main party of government again / or looked like doing so we could end up with an SNP majority of Scots MPs in the 2015 GE leading to independence. Then there’s the 2016 SGE and the possibility of another referendum…
    You can’t stop the inevitable. Better therefore to get it over and done with rather than the tail continuing to wag the dog.

  181. southernscot says:

    I do get the Tories reason for wanting rid of Scotland with most polls looking like coalitions at the UK 2015 GE and possibly beyond.
    I should have made a bit clearer that the present government coalition is only part of the apparatus of state they maybe in favour of Scottish Independence but the British state i’m not so sure. Is there friction on this issue in the corridors of power? I really don’t know how the civil service, foreign office etc feel about this but pretty sure the MOD is totally against it.

  182. cath says:

    “By virtue that their computers were hacked.
    Seems that it has been going on for sometime now, if so why has experts not prevented it or screened, on a regular basis, for hacking.”

    Speaking purely hypothetically, obviously, because no one has the faintest clue what actually happened here, but…if you know something is going to happen anyway, you could argue there may be gains to be made from using that fact.

  183. cath says:

    @southernscot I don’t think “the British state#” is for independence at all, or the Tories, or any part of the establishment. They’re all deeply against, imo, because it represents a change they have no control over, and would cause problems with Trident as well as many other things.
    However, I do have a feeling some of those in the Tories/Lib Dems might be being straight up about the fact they don’t want more devolution. That would be understandable. Westminster can’t be constantly at low-level war with Holyrood, with Tory governments with no representation irritating Scotland, more demands for power.
    If it can’t be ended by a no vote – which it won’t – I could see them honestly preferring independence to the alternative of decades more devolution/independence debate. I would also trust those kind of people to be a bit more honest about the results of a no vote – ie we do not support independence or more devolution, and want a massive no vote to give us the mandate to bring back powers to Westminster or abolish Holyrood to put an end to the above situation.

    I kind of buy S-Ss theory because for those who genuienly don’t want more devo, or long drawn out devo debate, a narrow victory for NO, won on promises of more of it would be the worst possible outcome, especially if in the process huge wedges have been driven between people in Britain. So I can see them being quite willing to undermine the Labour line – partly to avoid that, and partly because its in their political DNA to undermine Labour anyway. For the Tories, the whole thing is win-win in a way: a no vote and Cameron “saved the union”; a yes vote and they’re rid of several problems and a lot of Labour MPs.
    In my more optimistic, still holding to the idea there is a bit of British decency left, I do hope that if it looks like no can’t win, or can’t win more than a very narrow victory based on lies, smears and scares, there will be some wiser heads in the UK civil serivce who can “vision” what Britain will look like for the next 20 years after a narrow no, compared to what opportunities there could be with a newly independent Scotland.

  184. alexicon says:

    Sorry cath a wee bit too deep for me on a hazy Sunday morning.
    I think we can all safely establish that the YES campaign’s computers have been hacked by an outside source.
    YES have said so already.

  185. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “O/T. Rev, any chance of enlightening us on how to get by the paywall of the newspapers?”


  186. sneddon says:

    Cath -you can be hacked and never know it if the hacker is using a legimate password/user name. In the case of YES the first thing they knew is when they got a query from a journalist about a matter that was not known outside the organisation.  There are other methods but nothing is safe if it is networked.

  187. lumilumi says:

    I’m sorry to return to this so late. I tried to post the below piece yesterday but for some reason it disappeared in cyberspace. I thought maybe the good Rev was cencoring me a bit or whatever, I didn’t have time to wonder about it.
    Still, I think this has some relevance to the debate so I’ll try to post it again.
    Thank you, Fiona, for the interesting and thoughtful article, and also to all commenters. This comment obviously caught my attention:
    Angus MacC says: 25 August, 2013 at 12:56 am
    I would just like to add that Finland has a an equal number of women in power and positions of authority, they are a very advanced nation, and Scotland should project aspirations similar to our Scandinavian neighbours.
    It made me think why this should be so, and one explanation that springs to mind is that our political culture is very different. Finland got its own Parliament in 1906, and right from the beginning there was universal suffrage and right to stand as a candidate (althought the age limit was originally 24, gradually lowered to 18 by 1972), regardless of sex and without any property constraints. In the first Parliament, 19 of the 200 MPs were women (one of them a distant relative of mine!). Today the share is 114 male (57%), 86 female (43%), though I think it was more balanced in the previous Parliament. The government (cabinet + ministers) is usually around 60/40 for men.
    Another difference is that from the beginning, the Finnish Parliament has been elected using proportional representation, which produces parliaments with a greater number of “major” parties (3-4) and a half dozen medium-sized or smaller parties. Which in turn means that no party has ever won an absolute majority, and all our governments are coalitions – that’s viewed as a good thing in Finland, one-party governments so typical of the UK are abhorrent to Finns. This also means that right from the beginning, there’s been more emphasis on consensus-seeking (to form workable coalition governments) rather than confrontation.
    If it’s true (and I’m not sure it is) that women “typically” prefer consensual rather than confrontational situations, this type of political culture is more attractive to women than the UK political culture. Holyrood is a system of PR but old UK political culture is still deep rooted in Scots’ minds, IMO. It’s not helped by the fact that almost only glimpses of politics most ordinary (non-anorak :-D) viewers ever see are brief snippets of PMQs and FMQs. They’re enough to put anyone – man or woman – off politics.
    The PMQs in the Finnish Parliament are very boring. Most of the parties agree on most of the things anyway, it’s “unparliamentary” to get personal, there’s hardly any of this confrotational/adverisial fight so typical of the UK political culture. Everybody thinks it’s better to find consensus wherever possible to efficiently govern the country for the best of its people. A totally foreign concept in the UK party political culture.
    Sorry for another rant. I just think that any Scots (devo-maxers, pro-indy) who now look to Nordic countries should know that our (political) history, which produces our political culture today, is very different.

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