Monday, 7 April 2014

A wee busy spell.

I haven't had the chance to post much of anything for one reason or another; using up spare leave from work, managing parents (having elderly parents is like having children) and a more fortunate conflation of other pleasurable visits, dinners and outings.

But its back to normal now, not quite like returning from a proper holiday mind but we're all back in to the usual routine. (Although the schools are now out for Easter meaning quieter roads and more chance of a parking space.) But enough humdrum domesticity - I did something new at the weekend:

I went to a Yes Scotland 'grassroots' meeting in my local village.

The village is Longniddry, I grew up there and still have links. I would say its probably more No than Yes - people are pretty comfortable for the most part (although you never know for sure what goes on behind closed doors.) The crowd (if I can call it that) was a mixture, I would say as many no voters as there was yes voters (about five or six each) three or four don't knows, four SNP/Yes activists and what I began to call the Three Horseman of the Apocalypse up the back in the form of one Labour Councillor (who I know) one posh chap clutching a Scotsman article and another corpulent face I recognised from the village.

At one point, the evening began to feel not so much like a Yes Scotland event but some weird BBC/Scotsman-esque meeting in which Better Together rules of reality applied. The posh chap started parroting Better Together Mantra, the well fed one sat reclined in his plastic seat, legs crossed and arms folded and held forth on a number of issues at length and the Labour Councillor gave a speech (entirely without irony) about how well his family had done in a Scotland within the Union.

(One of his sons is a diplomat and had worked in Iraq, he assured us how fair the entire escapade was and how much the benighted people of that country appreciated Team GB's efforts to free them from Saddam's evil control. He went on to say how much better Iraq was and that he had no doubt about this because his son said it was so.

There was the odd snort.)

I would have been disappointed if there was no counter-argument, I suppose the night's only saving grace was; where the meeting was a bit too SNP-orientated in the first instance, the No arguments where the usual array of vapid soundbite and tired rhetoric. It was gratifying to see undecided voters (both of them) roll their eyes when the posh chap reeled off all the companies who'd be leaving the country if we vote yes.

Its difficult to go into detail, the meeting wasn't overly well chaired, Fraser McAllister was a moderate voice but not strict enough with some speakers. The lady who spoke about pensions was excellent and was the only speaker who talked uninterrupted for the duration, I didn't get her name but she worked in a big pension provider's HR department dealing with employee benefits. She was erudite, matter-of-fact and not in the SNP, she also made the crucial points around pensions that needed to be made - the Three Horsemen had nothing to say in reply.

They then had a chap up to talk about the economy, he obviously knew his subject but used China as an example of good economic practice when in the video we watched at the beginning, it was held up as an inflexible economic behemoth. After that, the well-fed chap (still reclined with legs and arms crossed) started to hold forth on a number of subjects each one more boring and less pertinent than the last - the rest of the small crowd (even some of the no voters) ended up telling him to 'be quiet'.

Over all, I don't think it won any new voters for either side, it may actually have put them off. It could have been more slick (for example, how difficult can it be to fit the image your projecting on to the screen you're using?) And it should have been less about the intentions of political parties and more about constitutional change. (At no point did any one say after a Yes vote you could vote for who ever you liked and that after a no vote, you're vote in Westminster elections would continue not to count.)

A lot of time was wasted on Labour/SNP/Tory intentions. As we know; its not about the left or right of it per se, its about the framework in which our politics operate.

Of course its easy to carp from the sidelines, I could have put my hand up - I probably should have put my hand up. It would be obvious what side I was on as soon as I started to speak but since most of the other questioner's views were obvious, I'm not sure why I didn't.

If I was to stand up at one of these meetings, I'd want to talk about the terms of the debate. There's still far too much 'whataboutery', far to much hyperbole on topics that are strictly secondary to the vote in September. People need to understand the rules of the debate if they are to understand the substance of it.

I did say (if only to myself) that nearer the vote I'd move more toward the face-to-face campaigning and away from the safety of the internet.

Maybe its time to start?


  1. I heard this morning that Iraq is the most unhappy country in the world (UN stats).

    Well done the US/Brits and the few other right wing nut jobs that joined in.

  2. Aye.

    Nobody bought his explanation.

    It was an odd moment because I know the guy and always thought he was quite sensible & intelligent (which he still must be in most areas.) Its odd to hear someone who is otherwise pretty normal talk such shite.

  3. Pa

    I haven't been to any(other than one I helped organise for young people) meetings but from people I have spoken to who have been the no side really struggle in the main. They always appear to resort to fear then things like family, war and killing people and the NHS. Basically I think, as most of us with an interest in this know, they have nothing of any note to say and I really sense the tide is turning as people see that there is an alternative.

    Things that would help this summer would be the Tories / UKip doing well in the euro elections, England doing well in the World Cup (the press will piss everyone off), no Scots in the Ryder Cup Team and the Tories doing well in the polls. All of this would remind people of Scotland place in the UK and couldn't only but help in my opinion.


  4. Hi Bruce.

    Certainly the no people at this event were all about the fear and I totally discount anecdotal stories about family members doing well.

    I have to say, you're totally right about the world cup, England doing well in that alone I think would swing a yes vote quite easily.

    I shudder at the mere thought of it.

  5. Pa

    Normally I would hope England get totally pumped at the footie due to their media but on this occasion I hope they win the thing. It will be shoved down our throats like you wouldn't believe, but if they do a Scotland and go out in the group stage then no doubt flipper Darling will be saying ' look they're just like us, shite at football '.


  6. I used to (very quietly) hope they did well, but because of the media coverage and the terrible hubris, hype and having it all continuously shoved down our throats - I now hope they get thumped.

    Not as you say too early, just somewhere in the middle, once the frothing press have started saying things like "Could this be England's year?" Then I hope they get humiliated.

    Not very sporting or neighbourly right enough but there you go.


Thanks for comment as always and I apologise if you have to jump through any hoops to do so. Its just that, I'm still being spammed by organisations who are certain I can't get it up or when it is up its not big enough or that I don't have anyone to get it up for.

Who knew blogging could be so bad for ones self-confidence?