Sunday, November 17, 2013

Advantage Independence

One piece of advice you sometimes hear tennis commentators giving is that if you get your opponent break point down, the first thing you should do is go for a little walk.  Let the reality of his predicament sink in for a while.  What he wants to do is very, very quickly get a big serve in, and forget the crisis ever happened.  If you don't need to even rely on your racquet skills to prevent him from doing that, what is there to lose?

It seems to me that Alex Salmond and the Scottish Government borrowed from the same book of tactics when deciding on a long timescale for the independence referendum.  You could tell from the word go that anti-independence activists sensed the danger, even as they failed to come up with a convincing explanation for why the tactic was supposedly illegitimate.  (The faintly pathetic whine of "does Mr Salmond really have to BORE us for the next three years?" was the best they could do.)  We're beginning to see clear evidence that their fears were well-founded.  Alex Mosson's decision to become the latest Labour heavyweight from west-central Scotland to come out in favour of independence might well not have happened if Salmond had opted for a snap referendum during the honeymoon period after the 2011 election win.  In that scenario, instinctive tribalism could easily have set in across the parties, and the vote would have been over before a great many people had even thought the issues through properly.  As it is, everyone has had - and will continue to have - ample opportunity to take in the reality of the choice that lies before Scotland, and some interesting and unexpected things are happening as a result.  Below the surface of the headline opinion poll numbers (which, as we've discussed many times before, are nowhere near as favourable for the No side as the anti-independence media have convinced themselves), there is plenty of anecdotal evidence that any gradual movement going on is from No to undecided to Yes, rather than in the opposite direction.  The ever-fickle Alex Massie (I mean fickle in terms of his assessment of the state of play, rather than his politics) makes precisely that point in his Spectator blog post of a couple of days ago.

Massie also highlights the other advantage of a long campaign for the Yes side, which is that their opponents have a much more limited repertoire than they do.  Project Fear have shot the bolt too early - the public have been exposed to so many scare stories now that they're beginning to respond with a disbelieving laugh when they hear the latest claim that the Black Death would return to Scotland after independence, or whatever.  That wouldn't have been the case in a quick campaign - witness the outrageously daft scare stories that voters fell for hook, line and sinker during the AV referendum (and that, I'm sorry to say, includes members of my own family).

To return to Alex Mosson, although there are no downsides to his decision, I can't help wondering if it would have been even better if he'd stayed within the Labour Party while campaigning for Yes, as I gather Sir Charles Gray plans to do.  It's ironic, isn't it?  In normal circumstances, we as SNP supporters would be delighted if anyone 'saw the light' and departed from Labour.  But in this campaign, what will be even more valuable is the normalisation of the sight of current, card-carrying Labour members campaigning for independence.  We're getting there.


  1. Salmond has played an absolute blinder in this Referendum. Right from the outset he knew what he wanted and he had the confidence in himself to go for it. He got the Question he wanted with the positive Yes answer sown up before Westminster realised what he was up to while still appearing to be conciliatory with dropping "Do you Agree" at the suggestion of the Electoral commission... he got the timing he wanted, as you point out the onionists have used up all the ammunition they have and are now resorting to more and more desperate tactics which are generally being laughed at now. He got the 16 and 17 year old a say in the Referendum which I believe will still turn out to be a good thing.. and finally.. in my opinion... most importantly he got devo- superduper.. or whatever.. off the ballot... I fully expect the Yes Campaign to exploit the fact that its full Independence or nothing in the run-up to the Referendum... Westminster wont be offering any second prizes... as a final/final thought and as this is anonymous so I cant be laughed at too loudly... It wouldn't shock me too greatly if A Salmond wasn't the leader of the SNP at the time of the Referendum and Nicola moving up

  2. The grass is always greener on the other side until you get there - as Salmond discovered in the early 2000s after resigning in the hope and belief that John Swinney would boost the SNP's vote. I think Nicola will be an excellent leader of the SNP, but her time will come at some point after the referendum (regardless of the result).


  3. Alex Salmond has been watching the UK establishment for long enough to know exactly how they think and used that knowledge well....and the game ain't over yet!

  4. The long campaign has been judged to be the correct tactic in that it is getting voters to be actually thinking about Independence, reading about it and finding out about it too.

    The problem for those advocating a No vote is that their organisation is top heavy does not have the community grassroots that the Yes campaign has. They (No) can put negative headlines in their friendly papers but they are going to struggle in getting people to knock doors and actually speak to the votes.

  5. Completely agree with your assessment of the time period leading to the vote.

    I for one would not have been remotely informed as had no interest in politics as quite simply had turned away from looking to governments as being in any way representative of the people many, many years ago.

    When I was younger I used to stay up for the general election results wishing and willing for the Tories to be thrown out. It was more an instinctive and visceral hope that maybe just maybe Labour would get in and things would change and we would have people in who weren't attacking people who were on the 'broo' like me, or suggesting at that time, that single mothers were somehow to be targeted as the cause of social ills. Who weren't ripping the heart out of communities by destroying their livelihoods and leaving them with nothing but hopelessness. Who basically weren't turning one section of our communities against the other. Who weren't blaming citizens for their policy making!

    Then the advent of all that 'loads a money' culture crap, we all thought it was surreal and bizarre at first! The buying of council houses and flats, people thought things were improving, but all that happened was that through collective naivety we were sold an idea, helluva enticing one, it appealed to our insecurities. I used to say it's the biggest scam ever invented (like insurance), the idea that you can ever OWN anything. It's an abstract concept. It was always about divide and conquer. It most certainly was not about giving one flying f*** about people.

    While all that lovely personal distraction was going on who noticed the trap of being seduced into 25/30 years of debt and consumed by 'work' to pay it off. Who noticed the turning inward, not so much in the same boat as everyone else, it was a rather cynical maneuver; as if the measure of ourselves can be displayed by our trinkets, status, and of course works a treat!

    Some tried to put up a fight, they saw that the madness of allowing all the social housing stock to be bought and sold over and over would eventually mean there was no social housing left for those who could not or did not want to buy.

    Then I remember voting for Labour in '97 and you could sense that collective sigh of maybe this road we are on can alter, maybe some sane plan can be put together where a more fair and equal, perhaps measured approach can be applied to this rampant greed that was becoming unstoppable. But no.

    It never stopped, has just gotten worse and worse. Then the crash. Then the blame game. Same old same old.

    So, I was rather switched off to say the least. Smirk.

    Just a couple of months ago something switched on. It wasn't a huge thing, I was watching the news, which I do not do in general. There was some crap on about the referendum. I really was not taking it that seriously and in fact having gotten a bit more informed, I would now say that unthinkingly, I was not for voting yes.

    I didn't want to think about it actually, as I've said not politically engaged. Then, whatever it was that I was watching, it was brief, not much to it, but something grabbed me, I went to the computer and did a search.

    Wow! wakey wakey time! For the next fortnight it was like some part of my mind was just absorbing thirty years of political and social history in Scotland and it really affected me, it actually helped me understand myself better and where I come from. It was a relief to find so much good information, there seems to be a lot of people who instinctively get it. Non political, certainly not nationalistic in the horrible way that word is being bandied around by the no camp.

    It's really not as complicated as the msm and bt make out. They actually think people are stupid. Let them think it. There are many of us quietly finding our own way, we've had lots of practice in the face of adversity, but we are still here.

    He got it spot on.