The famous campaign to “woo” No voters continued this week and digital clouds once again gathered on Scottish Twitter over an issue of extreme national importance to many in the independence movement.
Incidentally, that issue was also one which almost nobody else cares about.
This time it was about anti-BBC billboards or something. Some people have paid to have billboards erected that claim the BBC is “mis-Reporting Scotland” and other people think it’s a stupid idea that will alienate No voters.
If you look closely at the “mis” in “mis-reporting” it looks vaguely like MI5 – which I’m sure was deliberate.
It’s the sort of invigorating public discourse that reminds me of my 7-month-old son laughing as he urinates in his own face.
These skirmishes, confined to the internet, represent the agonal gasp of the Summer of Independence; a well-intended but thoroughly botched SNP initiative to inspire a vibrant and inclusive culture of democracy in which one exclusive, tightly controlled group make all the decisions. Surprisingly, nobody outside the Yes movement bothered to turn up.
Beyond the confines of our own increasingly circular thinking, everybody else is moving onto the imminent political Armageddon, starring Russia and Donald Trump, relieved that the threat of indy has dissipated for now. In fact, many seem happier to take their chances in the Tory dystopia than gamble their future on an independence movement that’s not only at odds with itself, but increasingly inaccessible – and often hostile – to anybody that doesn’t think Nicola Sturgeon is the living embodiment of God.
But the contentious question of whether Scotland should be independent isn’t necessarily what is driving people away. In fact, Brexit has caused many No voters to quietly re-examine the situation based on new circumstances.
Strangely, in this most opportune moment, where material circumstances have changed and some No voters are more willing to reconsider the constitutional question, it’s a section of the Yes movement itself that forms the central impediment to meaningful dialogue. This is a body of opinion that sees No voters as mere obstacles to be removed, “charmed” or manipulated, as opposed to people with valid and informed opinions worth engaging.
Here’s a radical idea: If we want to engage No voters, we might want to start by not using language like “wooing” when describing the process in which we’ll attempt to persuade them to relinquish their most deeply held beliefs in favour of adopting ours. Not least because we’ve spent two years lampooning them for expressing concerns even SNP politicians have since admitted were valid. Call me cautious, but I suspect they may find that pretty off-putting.