Emotions and the IndyRef

8 Sep

[I wasn’t going to comment more on the whole issue of Scottish Independence, but what I read in the newspaper today made me think.]

As a child, I envied Mr. Spock.

Why? The ability to suppress one’s emotions, to not HAVE any emotions, seemed ideal to me. My time at school was not happy. It would have been far easier if I hadn’t had any feelings to hurt, or no need to invest my hopes in ambitions for the future that were continually squashed. Emotions seemed dangerous to me. A person in the grip of emotion could – no, would – do dangerous things that would make no sense, in the cold light of day.

Indeed, so many problems our police forces have to solve are caused, not by cold calculation, but emotions running riot.

So I don’t trust intense emotion. Does that make me a cold fish? I don’t really have any feelings about that, one way or the other <grin>.

The ‘YES’ campaign for Scotland is basing its campaign primarily upon emotion. Independence seems a worthwhile dream for us all because … well, who doesn’t want to be independent? Not to have to put up with parents, teachers, banks, bureaucrats, lawyers, policemen and everyone else who, in all manner of ways, curb our personal independence? We thrill to movies like Braveheart (which was stunningly inaccurate, as a depiction of the real Wallace) and allow the tidal waves of emotion to push us onwards.

The SNP has taken advantage of this by invoking Robert the Bruce. This is particularly annoying to me because no one in their right mind would want to live in the Scotland of Robert the Bruce (or, for that matter, the England of Edward I, II and III.) By our standards, they were hellholes for the vast majority of the population. Indeed, the whole issue of the Scottish Wars of Independence was far more blurred than the SNP cared to admit.

I agree the stories are thrilling. And they lead to heartening emotions.

But sometimes these emotions lead us to mistakes.

I write all this because I read in yesterday’s paper that the ‘YES’ campaign has moved ahead of the ‘NO’ campaign for the first time. Personally, I’m sceptical. No one rang me and asked for my opinion. The only true large-scale opinion poll will be the referendum itself.

However, Alex Salmond has used this to boost his campaign.

I’m distrustful. No, I’m rather more than just distrustful.

Emotionally, I will happily admit the issue has a certain appeal. Cold calculation, however, suggests otherwise. Indeed, I have a feeling that Salmond himself understands the weakness of his case, because he is piling on the emotions in the hopes of making the voters drunk on them. (How many stupid decisions have you made when drunk?)

The ‘NO’ campaign has a weakness. It is, basically, campaigning for the status quo, while there are people who think that chance is always good or that they will benefit from the new Scottish order. There are few emotions to be found in the status quo.

But cold calculation calls the SNP’s claims into doubt.

The morning after the referendum, we will open our eyes to a new world. I think it behoves us to think long and hard about where we want to go – and what it will cost us to get there.

And, while we’re at it, stop thinking with our emotions.


PS – I found a pamphlet supporting the ‘YES’ campaign in Morningside Library. I’m not actually sure if it was an official publication or not, but (quite apart from the sheer level of wishful thinking) it included a section on the prospects for the pandas in Edinburgh Zoo! I think there are more important issues to think about where independence is concerned.

13 Responses to “Emotions and the IndyRef”

  1. thyrobocop September 8, 2014 at 10:00 pm #

    I do largely agree with the point about making a choice based on facts rather than emotions. And I do agree that the SNP and the Yes campaign haven’t really provided a lot of facts to back up their claims, and that their choice on relying on patriotic emotion was ill-thought out. If they were the only ones campaigning for independence, then I’d be really weary about voting Yes, and I’d be spending these next couple of days trying to look for as many cold hard facts out there before casting my vote.

    I don’t, however, agree with the fact that you’re implying that the people in Scotland are voting Yes solely on emotion and patriotic sentiment alone. I don’t think we would have hardly got to that point in the polls if that were the case.

    If you really want a more accurate picture on what’s going on, and why Yes has been continuously growing in support, then you really need to have a look at what the Yes grassroot movements have been doing. I’ve already given you a link to the Wings over Scotland blog, and its Wee Blue Book, but there are many more grassroot movements out there. Like the Bella Caledonia blog, National Collective, Newsnet Scotland, Business for Scotland, the Common Weal project, the Radical Independence Campaign, Women for Independence, English for Independence, Labour for Independence… and I’m pretty sure that’s not a comprehensive list of all the Yes supporting movements.

    If you have a look at the information they’ve put out (indeed, have you read beyond the summary page of the Wee Blue Book I linked to you?) you will find that a lot of them do provide many cold hard facts to back up their claim that Independence is the best choice. Indeed, you will find that Yes campaign volunteers at the official stalls are putting out lots more leaflets and pamphlets from the grassroot campaigns than they are from their own campaign. You’d be hard press to come across a Yes stall nowadays that doesn’t have a leaflet from Scottish Greens, from Women for Independence, or a Wee Blue Book (though the latter tends to disappear quite quickly from what I’ve heard).

    So Scots are getting the cold hard facts on which to make cold calculations on their vote. It’s just that, most of the time, people presented with the cold hard facts are much more likely to be voting Yes than No, at least according to a scientific study that Edinburgh University has published just recently http://news.stv.tv/politics/291269-new-research-suggests-more-informed-voters-likely-to-vote-yes/. If tweets count as evidence, then the trend of No voters who move to Yes after reading the Wee Blue Book is also rather astonishing to see, and that’s just based on those tweets that have been hashtagged with the #weebluebook hashtag.

    Tl;dr: the official Yes movement and the SNP have based their campaign on emotion rather than cold hard facts, and I’m sure that is a major point of criticism that is shared by most other Yes voters. But it’s not them that’s winning the votes for Yes. It’s the grassroot movements that are doing the job for them, and they aren’t pulling punches with backing up their claims with cold hard facts on which to make an informed and calculated choice.

    • chrishanger September 8, 2014 at 10:05 pm #

      Quick response (longer one later)

      If that is true (and I was not impressed with the last piece of grassroots paper I saw) will it be those people who are making the decisions or Salmond and the SNP? Because I think, for Salmond, that it is all about power, not about doing the best for his country.


      Sent from my iPad


      • thyrobocop September 8, 2014 at 11:03 pm #

        For what? For negotiating and setting things up for the day of independence in 2016, or after that?

        For negotiations, from what I have read the SNP will include representatives from all parties and movements for the negotiation team. Given how much the grassroot movements have contributed as a whole, and how much vocal and visible they are in social media and in the community, I’d expect there to be very vocal protests if that weren’t the case.

        For setting stuff up, the SNP do hold a majority in parliament, so I’d expect them to make most choices, although, again, I’d expect the other parties and the grassroot movements to have their say.

        After independence day… well, according to the suggested timeline for independence, there’s supposed to be a Scottish general election right after independence (it’s supposed to happen on that year anyway regardless of what happens), so Scots will have the opportunity to vote for a government that truly represents them at that stage, and they will be in charge of making the decision for the nation.

        It may well be that the SNP will be riding on the success of a Yes vote to retain their majority. Unless they mess up the negotiations or something else happens in the meantime, I’d say that’s a likely prospect. But independence could radically change the political landscape of Scotland in a few years time. It could be that the Scottish Greens or the SSP could take on all the votes from Labour and the Lib Dems, and form a coalition with the SNP. Or Scottish Labour could win at the next elections (unlikely unless they drop the likes of Johann Lamont and other Labour MSP’s who campaigned for No). Or the grassroot movements could unite and form a brand new party, or run for parliament under their own steam. Who knows?

        Personally, as a voter tending towards leftwing policies, I find that most parties in Scotland, including the SNP, have policies that I agree with, so I wouldn’t really mind if the SNP gets back into power at the next election. I wouldn’t even mind if Salmond gets re-elected as First Minister either, because I’m much more likely to vote him out and vote a new party I agree with than I am to vote a Green MP to send to Westminister under FPtP, which is one of the reasons why I am voting Yes myself.

        Even if he does become FM at the next general elections, I don’t expect Salmond to last longer than one term. He is, after all, going to be 60 this year. If he gets the first term as FM, he’ll be 67 by the time the next general election rolls around. I’d say that at that point, he’s probably going to hand the reigns to Nicola Sturgeon, if he hasn’t done that sooner (or the party does that for him). I don’t think Nicola Sturgeon is as power-hungry as you paint Alex Salmond to be, and I’m fairly sure that she does have the best of the country in mind more than Salmond does. So from that point of view, I see it as a win-win situation. XD

      • chrishanger September 9, 2014 at 6:09 pm #

        For both, I would have said. Grassroots movements tend to be better at seeing things on the ground, but will they be the ones making the decisions? Chris Date: Mon, 8 Sep 2014 22:03:08 +0000 To: christopher_g_nuttall@hotmail.com

    • Les Barrie September 9, 2014 at 11:38 am #

      Totally agree,the NO campaign has offered nothing new and has simply been patronising and condescending,repeatedly telling us what we cannot do,having the likes of Gordon Brown [one of the poorest attendance records at Westminster] and Jim Murphy [still milking his expenses] campaigning is a joke,these guys and their Westminster colleagues are simply saying NO to retain there seats on the gravy train.The same polls that have been predicting a NO victory predicted an SNP collapse at the last election and were over 30% out in their prediction.

      • chrishanger September 9, 2014 at 6:11 pm #

        One of the major problems with the NO campaign is uninspiring speakers. OTOH, Jim Murphy has had problems with hecklers. Chris Date: Tue, 9 Sep 2014 10:38:59 +0000 To: christopher_g_nuttall@hotmail.com

  2. wraiththirteen September 9, 2014 at 12:05 am #

    I dont know a lot about the political situation in Britian but in the states the number 1 reason to vote for something is because the alternative is worse. We call it voting for the lesser of two evils. Somehow every four years the media finds the worst 2 people in the country and then tries to get us to vote for the one who is less bad. If scotland is anything like america then all they have to do is decide that staying in britian is worse than becoming their own country. In all honesty what are the legitimate reasons they want to leave the rest of britain?

    That said personally I support scotlands independence for purely selfish reasons. If scotland can peacefully leave the UK then a lot of states in america should be able to do the same. As time goes on the states are becoming more and more different and its effecting everything from the economy, to security, to freedom of speech. If you guys can peaceably separate then we should be able to peaceably separate.

  3. grypd September 9, 2014 at 1:56 pm #

    It is the NO campaign that have used emotions they are the ones who even named it Project Fear. Incidentally it is probably a reply to the NO campaigns statement that an independent Scotland would lose its Pandas from Edinburgh zoo you read. It is not even one of the least fanciful statements that this campaign has come out with from NO politicians and duly been given front page time from the press.

    I have based my decision to vote yes on facts not the fiction department of the no campaign and in doing my own research I find the YES case is a lot more credible. I would probably have voted devo-max, if it had been made available but it wasn’t, and this is the fault of Westminster who refused to put it forward.

    I bet they are regretting that now.

  4. Thomson McFarlane September 9, 2014 at 6:22 pm #

    In some ways this is about the culture and psyche created in a Calvinist Scotland versus the catholic culture and psyche based upon the Chuch of England. From the early part of the last century up until John Smith there was a Socialist outlet, a place to vote, namely teh Labout Party, of which most Scots tend towards; the Liberals of old, Lib Dems as is, Chairlie for example, also tend towards the idea of Social Democracy. This now is in contraidiction with ever more right wing swing in parts south.

    Consider, there is no complete dual-carriageway from the central belt to Inverness, that the motorway connection of the M74 and M6 only occurred in the last five years, but HS2, Cross (London) rail, neither of which help Scotland, never mind the huge waste of money that was 2012 (is this the new 1966?), all occur. Now part of the capital investment must come from Edinburgh, but then again who holds the eventual purse strings?

    I don’t think these are heart issues, one is a difference in basic raison d’etre, the other economic, and these are only two reasons many of us believe an independent Scotland would be better.

    Me for my sins don’t get a vote, as I live in Wales. Howanivir, I look around at the pot-holed roads, the bi-weekly rubbish collections, bedroom taxes, and many other actions that try to support this quite broken country, and compare them to the much smaller, far better functioning countries like The Netherlands and FInland, both of which I have lived in for long periods of time, indeed I wish I lived in either now in preference to where I am. And I think, ba’ on the grun, play it smert, Scotland can dae that tae.

    • chrishanger September 10, 2014 at 12:38 am #

      I find myself both agreeing and disagreeing with you.

      I quite agree that something is very rotten in the state of Britain. Personally, I think the rot truly set in when we elected Tony Firefly Blair, but that’s beside the point.

      What isn’t beside the point is this. Scotland has had its own share of blundering government projects. The Edinburgh Trams, for example, are a hugely expensive and overrated achievement, with limitations that were blindingly obvious from the day Edinburgh started looking at ways to improve public transportation. (For example, most parts of Edinburgh will never see a tram.)

      But this isn’t a UK-backed project. This was fostered on us by the Edinburgh City Council and the Scottish Parliament. I don’t know what they were thinking.

      But what this indicates, as I see it, is that the Scottish Parliament (which has a whole host of powers already) is no more capable than Westminster of serving as an effective governing body. The rot is already infesting Hollywood; the First Minister is a showman rather than a statesman, while much of Scotland’s benefits come at a considerable cost to the Scottish taxpayer. ‘Free’ education, for example, is not free – it is paid for by the taxpayer.

      There’s a secondary problem – too much UK law comes from the EU, which – with the best will in the world – is incapable of designing laws for individual places. The independence the SNP proposes will not be ‘independence;’ the SNP wishes us to join the EU, thus forcing us to continue to accept EU rules and regulations. Indeed, Britain is in a good position to press for reform (this is another case of rot), while Scotland will NOT have any real influence. We are simply too small to affect big decisions. The price for us joining the EU will be pretty damn steep.

      The Scottish Parliament, in my view, has not shown itself capable of governing a major country. YMMV.

      I think, though, that all we will have to look forward to is a long period of instability, at the very least.


      Date: Tue, 9 Sep 2014 17:22:22 +0000 To: christopher_g_nuttall@hotmail.com

      • Les Barrie September 12, 2014 at 12:05 pm #

        Jim Murphy was “egged” by a labour member of his constituency for ignoring them repeatedly,[probably counting the rent from the flat in london he bought with taxpayers money and now rents privately whilst claiming rent for a seperate property for himself] and that other saviour of the union Gordon Brown is so dedicated to his constituents that he has only bothered to attend 12.5% of parliamentary debates in the last 4 years.The SNP government has done more for low income families in 4 years than westminster has in the last decade.If the NO campaign had fought a civilized campaign without the unnecessary scaremongering and propaganda we could just move on but the lies and hysteria when westminster eventually realised that they might lose will never be forgotten.

      • les barrie September 15, 2014 at 6:39 pm #

        Incidentally the Catholic church silently supports independence our local RC church was displaying a Yes banner yesterday

  5. marko September 12, 2014 at 10:09 pm #

    As someone whose country had to fight a war not 20 years ago to achieve that same independence (even though, constitutionally, that option was available and there was really no need for armed conflict) I am somewhat surprised to see that so many Scots are hesitant, even reluctant to regain their country. The fact that most politicans in London arrogantly thought that this ref had not a chance in hell only to get punched in the face by the most recent polls showing increased support for independence makes my heart sing. Watching them scramble now and offering concessions left and right only after the fact suggests that Scotland will always play second fiddle to them. This whole menage a quatre the UK has going on reminds me of a sort of marriage with an abusive husband (England), somewhat timid wife (Scotland) who came into a wee bit inheritance and two kids (Wales and NI). And that marriage is breaking down cause the wife has had it with being taken for a fool, the husband is now begging and saying “things will change, I promise” without actually meaning it and the two kids are not yet old/ready enough to get out of the house.
    I honestly think that going their own separate way is the best thing FOR SCOTLAND. They will be able to pick their own path, their own policies and they will be the ones who will finally and fully control their finances. No more taschengeld for them. One has to decide for him/herself what is best. Scotland finally has that chance and I wish them all the luck in the world.

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