There has been a lot of talk of the state of Scotland and how it is now divided after the independence referendum. Even Queen Elizabeth I of Scotland alluded to it in her message after the referendum result was announced, if you read it carefully you almost detect purring. So I thought that it would be interesting to take a look at these divisions in order for us to get a better understanding of where they are, how they affect us and how they may be resolved.
The most obvious division within Scotland is that between Yes and No voters. The referendum ballot papers gave only two possible answers so the divisiveness started right there. The reason that there was no Devo-max answer on the ballot was entirely down to Westminster. My guess is that David Cameron wanted to be able to offer a wee slice of Devo in the event that things were sliding the wrong way.
The effect has been to polarise the population of Scotland, people are still firmly sitting in their respective Yes/No camps. The No voters are gleefully giving us all the “what if” scare stories with regard to the falling oil price . Soon they will be doing the same for the economic collapse that is about to befall us which will be caused by the oil price crash. This division is not good for Scotland. If we ever get another referendum we will have to persuade these No voters to vote Yes. That job starts right now. We must engage with them without (too much) rancour and show them how the UK does not work for us.
The next division is among the No voters. The referendum was a single issue vote which brought people of diverse political views together under a single umbrella. Now that the issue has been resolved, these people have moved back to their original political parties.
For instance, in my constituency of Gordon, there is talk of tactical voting. Up here they are suggesting that all former No voters should vote for Sir Malcolm Bruce’s Lib Dem replacement, Christine Jardine. She would like that but the Conservative candidate, Colin Clark, sees things a bit differently. Then there is the Labour candidate, Braden Davy, who believes that only Labour can beat the Tories. All this in the constituency where the arch-enemy of all Unionists is standing, Alex Salmond. So if the No camp can’t get together here, there is no way that they will get it together anywhere else in Scotland. This is a good thing from the SNP’s perspective and should be encouraged. Just for reference here is a guide for tactical voting across Scotland.
The next division is rather more subtle, but it is real and it had a huge effect during the referendum. It is the division between those who use the internet for information and those who do not. Those who use social media and those who use main stream media (MSM). The people who use the internet for their world view are able, but not necessarily willing, to access multiple sources of information which they can then use to determine what they believe. The people who rely on the MSM, chiefly among them the BBC, are bombarded with prejudice and bias on a daily basis. These people do not have the opportunity, nor perhaps the inclination, to further their world view by seeking out alternative sources of information.
As we saw during the referendum the MSM act in concert, they funnel the words directly from the Westminster establishment to their readers/viewers without bothering to question it. Blind compliance was the order of the day. Now that the referendum is over they have partially reverted to type i.e. Daily Record supporting Labour and The Telegraph supporting the Tories. But the job they do is exactly the same, His Master’s Voice. They are like gramophones which can only repeat what the needle tells them, the needles now are the respective party press offices. But I said we saw it, did the Unionists see it too? Or did the relentless propaganda just reinforce their prejudice?
If we wish to make significant gains then we have to show these people how to access those alternative sources of information. For instance my mum voted No, I couldn’t believe it. When I asked her why she said, “I don’t really know much about politics so I voted No.” I can’t blame her, she gets her world view from the Daily Hiel and the BBC. So we bought her a tablet for Christmas, I’ll be showing her how to use it over the next couple of months. I don’t expect miracles but at least there’s a chance. This is the sort of thing that we will have to do if we wish to overcome the power of the MSM.
The next division is the most painful and the one that most of us voted Yes for; it is the division between the haves and the have-nots. We have one of the most unequal societies in the world. We have 462 people owning more than half of the country, yet we have whole towns where people are living in poverty. This is absolutely disgusting in my view. If we wish to have a fairer society then we can make a start by getting powers over welfare devolved from Westminster to Holyrood. This will only be achieved by voting for candidates who are pro Scotland at GE2015, in effect that means voting SNP.
But there are more powers coming, I can hear the Unionists cry. Maybe, maybe not. The package that the Scottish Government eventually receives from Westminster will be determined by the MPs that are sent there this spring. I believe that we can create a tactical voting alliance for Scotland, we could call it Vote Scotland. This already appears to be happening at a grassroots level, just as the Yes campaign took root. I hope that it continues and we return a decent number of pro Scotland MPs.