By Lesley Riddoch

UNDECIDED — unsure, uncertain, doubtful, dubious, unresolved, indecisive, irresolute, hesitant, tentative, wavering, vacillating, oscillating, equivocating, dithering, uncommitted, floating, shilly-shallying, wobbling, vague, hazy, unclear, ambivalent, in two minds, torn and split.

You’d need the self-esteem of a vole to be Undecided in Scotland and yet Don’t Knows still form a quarter of those surveyed in every independence poll. How come — especially after the voluminous White Paper?

The Very Decided find the Don’t Knows baffling … even infuriating.

“Why can’t they see Scotland’s better off making its own decisions? If they want more “information” why don’t they come to Yes meetings and ask – we’ve got answers for everything.”

Very true — and completely off-putting. Certainty may work for square-jawed, chisel-featured all-American screen idols. But not for fellow Scots.  Indeed the characteristic absence of all questioning, debate or hesitation amongst Yes supporters may be a barrier to winning over waverers. If God-like certainty and resolute optimism are required to become a Yes voter, the bar has been set o’er high for mere mortals.

Reasonable folk know that change makes some things easier and some things harder in the short term. They know no scenario brings guaranteed, unmitigated happiness and they know there isn’t a quick answer for everything. They understand the ambiguity of change and expect to hear it reflected in political debate. They don’t. So they remain distanced from the cast-iron certainty that emanates from all “proper” Yes supporters. They remain Undecided.

“Things can only get better” worked for New Labour until reality set in – now that slogan rings hollow. And yet a tartan version has flown over the independence campaign since Day One.
So the first counter-intuitive thing to say about Undecided folk is that their indecision may well be the mirror image of the unnatural conviction about the future they see all around.

Certainty amongst some creates indecision amongst others. After all, unless you are rock-solid certain about the merits of independence you don’t sound like a Yes supporter.

Of course there are other reasons why closet Yes supporters prefer to remain “Don’t Knows.” An undecided friend drew up a small list;

a. They are independents not nationalists. They can’t bring themselves to be perceived as SNP

b. Life is too short to get sucked into the tedious, grinding public debate.

c. They fear the backlash from No colleagues

d. It’s professionally awkward

e. It’s a source of family division

f. There’s a “how would I do without…” factor in which losing the BBC is the most common anxiety.

Because these fears sound relatively trivial they don’t get mentioned – so they don’t get resolved.  Indeed, I’d add another category to my pal’s list.

g. Closet Yes voters fear the claustrophobic love of newly-found Yes colleagues and the insistence they too become uncritical, born-again supporters of the Independence campaign.

The only hostile questioning I’ve had after a Blossom event has been from Yes supporters. Some are irritated I’m even raising Scotland’s unresolved problems of poor health, inequality, weak local democracy and concentrated land ownership. A vocal few insist all these problems arise solely from Scotland’s membership of the Union.

They are annoyed with the observation that Scots have been half-hearted in creating the structural change needed to tackle these social ills under devolution and they are particularly hostile to the notion that independence alone will not change Scotland.

I may be completely wrong, but judging from the response of more mixed meetings I’d guess a great many Undecided folk want to talk about just such deep-seated concerns.

I intend to vote yes on September 18th because I despair of the UK ever creating a fair society and because hitting the reset button in Scotland may be the best way to create deep-seated change here too. And by gum we need it.

Without a big change in top-down Scotland, the same folk will be in charge with the same resistance to structural change. Scotland has the weakest local democracy in Europe. We have the smallest number of people owning the largest number of acres of land, lochs and rivers. We have one of the worst health records in Europe with premature mortality in Glasgow accounted for by much higher than average suicide, violence, alcohol and drug abuse.

Scotland has been run for centuries by elites – only some of them based in London – and we have hardly dented a prevailing macho culture that prompts many talented women (and New Men) to leave or stay and underachieve.

All of those issues could have been tackled in a devolved Scotland as a matter of national urgency — but they have not. And that mind-set – that tendency to pull punches, avoid conflict, stop shy of structural change and settle for sticking plaster solutions – that mind-set may simply be carried into independence if we aren’t careful.

If independence is born in a climate of denial about the deep-seated need for change and the capacity of Scots to deliver it themselves – if independence begins with such low expectations of their fellow Scots amongst politicians, the Establishment and professional Scotland – then what good will all the new powers and economic levers in the world do?  

I suspect something like this is the Elephant in the room for many Undecided folk. Certainly when I’ve voiced it at recent meetings almost every female head in the room is nodding, then looking round quickly to see if partners are nodding too.

I’d also guess many Undecided folk want a bespoke conversation that recognises their own unique personal history and life experience – not a generalised “conversion” job.

I have two “undecided” friends who hold down decisive and left-leaning jobs. One has spent a lifetime in the labour movement, connected to other union colleagues the length of the UK. He worries that the forces of democracy in Scotland may not be strong enough to resist Establishment capture after independence.

Another friend works in the women’s movement.  She observes that campaigners for independence have a shared goal but not shared values and socially conservative forces like John Mason or Brian Soutar and abusers like Bill Walker worry the hell out of her.

These lives are not identical so their worries are not identical – nor are they lightly dismissed.  You could say every political party is a bit of a mixed bag. But that’s not much of a consolation is it? The prospect of being walled up on the small boat Independence navigating stormy seas with an “auld enemy” is not a very cheery one.

These two friends are not ditherers by nature.  They just don’t hear their deepest worries being discussed by supporters of independence – never mind answered. The general response – “it’ll be alright on the night” is an insult to their intelligence. So they remain Undecided.

Many “Don’t knows” may actually know too much to make a quick decision about independence. They are not binary people. And that’s not to criticise those who found the choice easy – those the pollsters call “heart supporters” of independence or the Union. It’s just that others must weigh things up and hear the things they most fear brought into the open and discussed – honestly and without aggression.

Who will run Scotland if Scots vote yes? Will one top-down government in London be replaced by a new one in Edinburgh? Will the largest local authorities in Europe get bigger? Will Scots vote for independence only to hand massive power to an unelected cabal of money-men and senior politicians?

These are real fears of mine. And that’s why I’ve been stotting round Scotland doing Blossom gigs in any community that’s interested. The more Scots visualise the kind of society we could have after independence, the more we take control of the process and the less party-led the whole campaign becomes.

There are some ways to counter deep-seated fears about independence. But only if those fears are raised in the first place. The recent hostility dished out towards Sarah Smith – coming back to Scotland to head a replacement programme for Newsnight Scotland — is a case in point. I’d guess many Undecided women have been quite appalled at the tiny number of belligerent comments posted on social media – just because Sarah Smith is former Labour leader John Smith’s daughter. Please.

If the new Scotland is based on “I kent her faither” most modern women will not feel any motivation to votes yes – no matter how many adventurous woman-friendly policies are announced by Nicola Sturgeon.

Happily the prospect of independence has unleashed vigorous questioning about everything that’s ae been in Scotland. So the Undecideds also include a new set of independent-minded folk (especially young people) who are not inclined to accept tablet of stone style explanations from anyone.

The BBC conducted research in the 1990s which found that over 50s expect opinion to be delivered from on high by authority figures. But under 50s expect to be offered a range of opinions and will identify with the most like-minded speaker – be they a Queen, Prime Minister, janny or school-girl. 

The Yes Campaign has yet to truly understand this dynamic.

The status of the speaker doesn’t matter to independent-minded folk who don’t want to be fed a line and won’t accept business as usual after independence.  They are hearing some noises they like – but not enough. Yet.

Finally there are Undecided folk who simply aren’t Evangelical. By temperament the Scots are neither effusive Italians nor razzamatazz-loving Americans. Back-slapping, tub-thumping self-congratulatory rallies scunner the average Scot and make the Yes campaign sometimes appear un-Scottish – especially to outsiders. Just as Neil Kinnock’s presumptuous pre-election victory party scunnered undecided voters in 1992.    

Put bluntly, the average thinking, undecided Scot does not want to hear simple slogans like “Just say yes” or “Independence is the normal condition for a country” (tell that to the happily devolved Lander of Germany or the federal states of Canada) or “Independence gives us the chance to decide Scotland’s future” (when devolution’s gave us a stack of choices we didn’t opt to use) or “Decisions made in Scotland are better than those made in Westminster” (they probably will be eventually but in the meantime Edinburgh trams and the Holyrood building spring all too readily to mind).

It’s not that these bald assertions are untrue. They just aren’t enough. Repeating formulaic arguments won’t cut it in this debate. “Heart” supporters of independence are already signed up. The majority of Scots want grown-up, credible reasons to up-end the constitutional arrangements of several lifetimes.

And they aren’t likely to get their own, long experienced and quite particular demons laid to rest in a public meeting – however well meaning, inclusive, cheery and open.

None of this is to criticise folk who’ve poured energy into Yes events. Some of the Undecided are borderline voters and genial folk – who want to feel part of an agreeable crowd. But they are just one amongst many different types of Undecided.

It’s time to change tone and style to communicate with the rest.  The opinions of important men who don’t necessarily shape the views of ordinary Scots.

Matt Quordrup argued in this week’s Scotsman; “Voters do not have an encyclopaedic knowledge of the issues, nor have they got time to study the small print of policy documents. But they know who they trust and who they distrust. And the individuals the voters trust are not the rich and powerful.”

That’s borne out in everyday life. Trip Advisor and Which are the most trusted sources of “information” because they are genuinely impartial, feature ordinary opinion-givers with first-hand experience and present the good and bad aspects of each product fairly and matter-of-factly.

As with holidays — so with independence.

Let’s lose the all-knowing cast-iron certainty about independence and create a more realistic vision of how everyone (not just a political elite) can build a Better Scotland. Fast.


Lesley Riddoch is the author of ‘Blossom – What Scotland needs to flourish’
Blossom can be bought in bookshops, online at or on kindle


2014-02-07 23:00

A really interesting article as usual, Lesley, but there is one point I’d disagree with – local government in the Republic of Ireland is even weaker than in Scotland. So, that hardly undermines the rest of the article. I’m not keen on using ‘tartan’ in place of ‘Scottish’ as it reminds me of Michael Forsyth’s ‘tartan tax’ slogan. I support independence because Scotland is so awful, and much of that is our own responsibility, but we only have a chance of improving things by becoming adults and accepting that responsibility. The reset button is the only chance we have. The UK has priorities other than Scotland and understandably so. We can’t whine if we vote No and things get even worse.
2014-02-07 23:28

A thoughtful and enlightening article Lesley.

I think I fall into the unequivocal optimist camp. I see independence as an opportunity for change. There is much that is wrong in Scotland, and I don’t believe for a minute that these things are going to be cured instantly on September 19th. We will likely have an uphill struggle to make the improvements necessary to build the better society that I want for my children and their children.

The great stumbling-block as I see things is Westminster. As long as it has control of Scotland nothing of any significance can change.

With independence some quick fixes (5 years scale) can be achieved. Nuclear weapons, childcare, child poverty and democracy. These alone are worthy aspirations.

As for Sarah Smith joining the labour cabal at PQ, I reserve judgement.
2014-02-08 00:10

What a bizarre attack on the Yes campaign, whom Riddoch refuses to give any latitude to because a couple of her pals desire a ‘bespoke’ solution to make them vote for independence.

I don’t think i’ve ever read anything quite so selfish during this whole campaign.

Most of the ‘negative stuff’ Lesley refers to I can read or watch perfect examples of everyday through our so called media. yet not once will Riddoch take to task the journalists and the broadcasters who provide the lazy, establishment view that permeates her friends psyche.

Their woes are not the fault of the Yes campaign, they are the fault of our collective UK society and our black and white view of politics and culture,
If I was one of your friends demanding a spoon-fed, bespoke vision tailored to my selfish needs I’d be completely ashamed.

The yes campaign has to attract a broad church, it simply cannot do what Riddoch is demanding.
2014-02-09 03:05

Completely agree with this.
2014-02-10 16:43

I agree with Tartan fever. The article is wet nat nonsense.

2014-02-08 00:11

Unfortunately, being decisive at work means little when it comes to bigger issues. In fact the structure and rules of work can make it easy for some to be decisive.
Independence calls for a broader grasp of all the possibilities.
If some one is “not going to accept business as usual” after Independence, they should also look at what they are doing now.

On Sarah Smith, I think folks are going by recent experience of imports and what the BBC has been doing, and are rightly a bit suspicious.
When the debate started I thought there would be good reporting and fair coverage, but we know that didn’t happen.
2014-02-10 12:51

I agree, my wife has a job that requires lots of decisions. She comes home and doesn’t want to make any more, happy to devolve them to me. She is a No because she is feart and utterly unwilling to examine evidence that is contrary to her viewpoint. I see no way to convince her otherwise except by drip-drip over the next 7 months.

2014-02-08 00:25

A kindly and important reminder especially as I will be attending a Yes coffee morning for undecided voters. Whilst I think I am pretty nifty in the facts, figures and political landscape, I agree a more gentle and probably ground level approach would be better received. Thanks Lesley a good article to make me more sympathetic to those who are undecided.
2014-02-08 00:34

Look at it the other way round.Despite a lifetime of being constantly told “we can’t do it” the don’t knows aren’t buying the establishment line.
2014-02-08 00:56

I agree with pomatiaH1 whether or not we vote yes or no nothing will change your business except your own outlook
2014-02-08 01:25

I think part of the problem with devolution has been that we have three main parties at Holyrood who have too close a link to the larger UK party which they are only a small part of.
Surely after independence they will have some good talented folk who will relish the chance of making Scotland achieve its full potential.
I would hope that either Labour, the Libs or the SNP would pursue a more radical change for the country from top to bottom.
Maybe we`ll end up with a coalition with the right balance of parties who knows. I would hope that the more tribal element of Scottish politics would give way to a more grown up kind.
2014-02-08 01:32

A Scottish Constitution has the potential to protect the people of Scotland, their rights, remove their fears, give them hope and opportunity. It can be embed through law and contract so that the people of Scotland know what they can expect from its elected government and any governments failure to deliver on the constitution must result in removal from office. This pledge to our peoples could and would alleviate many fears ensuring that the corrupt Westminster system will not be tolerated in an independent Scotland.

I believe a sound and fair constitution will make Scotland a very attractive place to work, live and bring up a family.…/
2014-02-08 12:50

Thank you . This is the post I was hoping to read. I am convinced that a well thought out constitution will be the heart of a new Scotland, where those elected to our administration will be held accountable also a clear policy on behaviour during parliamentary proceedings is strictly adhered to

2014-02-08 02:19

Thank you Lesley for an interesting and thought provoking article. I applaud your stance.

Having said this, let us be aware of the fact that many of the questions raised are only answerable after the independence negotiations.
2014-02-08 05:45

I agree to a point, but what venue should we use for this? In the media, uncertainty is pounced upon despite the fact that having independence means having the power to change things, so by definition, the future isn’t certain. To be certain of anything, we need to be decisive first.
I agree that Scotland risks merely replacing one set of unsympathetic overlords in Westminster for a new clique of overlords in local government and quangos. The great hardships for my business have been local in origin, and Scotland has strayed away from any effective justice. Corruption and nepotism is endemic, and there is a deeply concerning acceptance and tolerance for it which even independence won’t address.
However, it is UK rule which created Scotland, and the moral & performance benchmarks we judge our economy & lifestyle by are UK standards we have been groomed to accept.

I can’t be certain what YES means, but I can be certain I want change.
2014-02-08 06:23

A very good article Lesley, but I don’t see there’s really a problem at all!

The issue is: Why are people selecting “undecided” when polled. And the answer is simple… fear.

For too long now, the Scottish public has existed under what they very well know and understand to be an all-powerful and oppressive Westminster machine, and casting off the almost North-Korean paranoia that accompanies that knowledge is not easy.

So when face with an efficious person armed with a clipboard, the auto-response comes forth… don’t know. It’s safe that way.

But they know, and we all instinctively know, that these are the same people who, once faced with a ballot paper and a pencil in hand, will put the cross in the Yes box every time.

Fear not dear canvassers, your fellow Scots know where the sensible vote lies!
2014-02-08 07:00

The YES voters fear a NO vote, the NO voters fear a YES vote, the UNDECIDED voters fear both.

Remove the fear and our future is clear!
2014-02-08 08:24

A very good and very thoughtful article, but to me no real thought is required. Vote NO and nothing will change. Is that acceptable? Not to me. Vote YES and things might change. Is that worth a punt? Of course it is.
2014-02-08 08:33

Excellent article Lesley, I couldn’t agree more!
I think people are more interested in hearing a more balanced view from the key Yes personalities, with a more open and honest approach to discussing the issues that we’ll face in becoming independent. I know I am, and I’m a diehard Yes voter.
I also agree with the point about Sarah Smith. I read some posts yesterday that made me fume, the way people were simply brushing her off as “her fathers daughter”. If I’d been an undecided voter reading that, I would have been sorely put off. We really do need to remember that the comments we make, both here and on other media sites, are being read by undecided voters and, as such, we should write as if we’re writing directly to them.
Balance and impartiality are good! 🙂
2014-02-08 09:54

Independence, it’s an existential matter.
Unionism reshaped our identity, our culture our temperament. Independence will do the same. Restoring our sovereignty will restore self-worth and national self-confidence. It will begin on the 19 September 2014. We will name streets and squares after that date.
2014-02-08 09:57

GuitarBoy – with respect I think you are being a wee bit naïve about Sarah Smith – her mother has a seat in the House of Lords, her, much respected, father was leader of Labour in Scotland, she is going to be employed by BBC Scotland and I believe she has already made her views on Independence known. BBC Scotland have had an amount of flak recently and BT, their political wing is faltering. So change of captain but not of course, of course. Whatever way you look at it, it will be contrary to the BBC Charter!
2014-02-08 10:21

Some good points made by Ms Riddoch.
Undecideds who usually vote Labour will be vital to the Yes campaign and deserve respect.
A bit harsh on enthusiastic Yes campaigners who see the daily unionist media churning out scare story after scare story and rightly feel compelled to argue back.
Sadly some undecideds might be caught in the crossfire.But deep down us Yes supporters are just as human and humane as anyone else.
From what I’ve read one of the best ways of encouraging undecideds to vote Yes is to have a public meeting where two calm professional speakers lay out both Yes and No arguments before taking questions at the end.
An informal vote before and after might be taken.
Because of the unionist media websites like this one are also essential. These websites must be carefully moderated of course. Newspaper comment sections online can be good [The Herald for example] and downright evil [The Daily Mail]. Twitter,as ever,is a minefield.
2014-02-08 10:45

If we manage to get anywhere near a level playing field in terms of debate and media coverage, then people will begin to recognise how contrived the media coverage has been from the outset. For crying out loud, you have Kaye Adams on BBC Radio Scotland saying she’s never heard of the McCrone Report!!!
Once the people of Scotland tune in to the lies and willful misrepresentati  on of the truth, they are going to be as incredulous, and then as angry, as I was the first time I read McCrone. Heartbreaking.

We could change the date on McCrone and have it published as relevant tomorrow, with three blistering caveats:
First, we have Norway as living proof of the predictions.
Second, we have squandered 40 years of resource, but there remains enough to salvage some benefit for our young folks.
Third, we have proof that Westminster is dishonest & cannot be trusted to manage their own finances, let alone look after Scotland’s interests.
2014-02-08 11:05

Fair debate = YES wins.
Even coverage = YES wins.
Thorough review of arguments = YES wins.
Testing analysis of arguments = YES wins.
Face to face debate with Nicola = YES wins.
Face to face debate with FM = YES wins.
Alister Darling Monologues = YES wins.
Ask the common English people = YES wins.
97% – 3% biased BBC audience = YES wins. (TKO).

This is why our Unionist media is in the process of meltdown. To a vast extent, bar hardcore Unionists, only an ignorant and misinformed population will save NO.

… Though postal votes have a nasty smell about them too.

If we can expand the game to include ever more free thinking people, we have absolutely nothing to fear. The BBC and Better Together cannot let that happen.

So get your YES badges on, get out the house and talk to people.

2014-02-08 10:45

Did someone really mention Bill Walker as a possible reason for not wanting Independence?

Really, really, really?
Flower of Scotland
2014-02-08 10:49

I have been politically minded for 40 years and voted SNP with my first vote . Living through all the hard years of Thatcher , Blair and Brown I cannot understand labour voters who say no,no,no,we couldn’t manage on our own . I try to discuss Scotland’s finances ,but I’m afraid that this is a mind set especially in the Labour Party that they just don’t or won’t get it . Reminds me of Labour MP Hood who would vote no even if we were better under Independence!
Hopefully Labour for Indy will influence these people but I doubt it .
2014-02-08 11:26

Exactly FoS.

Ok, you have two messages:

One says: Lets vote for independence, let’s rebuild a nation as we see fit based on a fairer society. You can have an input, we want a written constitution etc etc.

The other says, thanks to Jim Hood MP – I don’t care that you could be better off, be healthier, happier and safer, we owe our allegiance to Westminster and that trumps all, we cannot be independent.

And, if we are to believe Lesley Riddoch, some people have a difficulty in choosing between those two messages ?

2014-02-08 11:10

A YES vote is only the start point. The real campaign to effect the changes we all desire,starts on 19 September!

We have to get more political get involved in local party politics influence and present new candidates who will deliver the type of transformationa  l change that will gradually bring about the Independent Scotland we can all be proud of. A Nation that future generations will continue to shape to reflect Scottish Values.
2014-02-08 11:39

It is very difficult for yes campaigners to be accepting of unionist “proud Scots” lying to them and the wider public with impunity for their own personal gain, whilst Scotland’s wealth, its people, their children’s future and it’s future is being squandered by a foreign government of millionaires that don’t give a fig for Scotland and it’s people. That is a bitter pill to swallow.

The referendum is about not the politics but where the power lies. Independence will allow Scotland to make the changes needed, that will make Scotland and her people prosper.

Do your friends want to live in a rich country (Scotland) that can address societies ills/wrong’s or do the want to live in a poor northern region(UK)and suffer the austerity policies of millionaires who don’t give a toss about you giving you no hope of salvation? If you are undecided ask yourself who are most likely to meet my needs?
Peter A Bell
2014-02-08 12:00

We are all by now accustomed to Lesley Riddoch constantly bleating about how we’re doing the referendum campaign all wrong. If she is to be believed we have the wrong people talking to the wrong people about the wrong things in the wrong way. If there are any other ways that the Yes campaign might be wrong then I’m sure we’re all guilty of that as well.

If Ms Riddoch’s assessment of the independence campaign is even close to being realistic then it is a wonder that we managed to get a referendum at all, far less that the support for a Yes vote is steadily increasing. And, in the face of the absolute hash we are apparently making of things, it is totally inexplicable that there should be such a proliferation of groups clamouring for a place under the Yes Scotland umbrella.

But no matter how stubbornly the reality refuses to conform to Ms Riddoch’s portrayal, the incessant background drone of complaint goes on.

2014-02-08 12:31

That’s a bit harsh Mr Bell.

My issue isn’t the arguments she puts, just a gnawing feeling that they might resonate even louder on the far side of a YES vote. – but it’s subjective, I feel the same way about those pushing now for a written constitution. Yes,yes, yes, but first things first.

I’m guilty of the same things, expressing aspirations which no SNP Government would share, & I bite my lip hard sometimes not to assault the SNP when I would dearly like to. This is not the time for dissent. Keep it black & white.

But once we’ve taken our independence, it will be the prevalence of free thinkers, innovators, and the occasional heretic who determine how radically we change our society, perhaps those who are the very definition of loose cannons to some people.

There is space for us all beneath the YES umbrella. I WANT our Second Enlightenment to happen almost as much as I want independence. Personally, the two are inseparable.
2014-02-08 13:48

I agree with you Peter.

A lot of this article comes straight out of the unionist playbook.

“They know no scenario brings guaranteed, unmitigated happiness”

Yes are promising a land of milk and honey.


“The average thinking, undecided Scot does not want to hear simple slogans like ‘Just say yes'”

The Yes campaign has no substance.


“socially conservative forces like John Mason or Brian Soutar and abusers like Bill Walker worry the hell out of her.”

The SNP as Tartan Tories.

To be honest I suspect Leslie’s hostility is based on the fact that like Gerry Hassan she’s been bypassed by events.


2014-02-08 12:16

And a brilliant lesson for Mr Aaronovitch on the wireless this morning too. Bravo Lesley. And Bravo NNS, more please.
call me dave
2014-02-08 13:04

Heard that and agree.

I also am onboard with the sentiments expressed in the posts from Breeks.

2014-02-08 12:22

A good article, and something we should all take into account when talking to undecideds. But I do think it fails to understand one problem which leads us here, and that is the relentless negativity in the media.

I share all of your concerns and, if I ever had sleepless nights over whether campaigning for a Yes is right, it’s over “will we have the democratic strength to really change?” “How can we prevent the same neo-liberal interests taking over?” These are big questions we should worry about and address.

But doing so publicly and among media and “no” politicians it would be used simply as a fear mongering reason we shouldn’t be independent. That’s not what this element of debate is about, but how we can strengthen democracy, engagement and create real change.

It’s a very fine line.
G. P. Walrus
2014-02-08 13:48

I read Blossom and really enjoyed it. I do find it annoying when Lesley writes as if the political and constitutional state of Scotland is down to a personal failing I have, or we collectively have, as Scots.
The issues of localisation of power that Lesley champions are absolutely important and many of us hope to be building that better Scotland. Lesley falls into the same trap as SNP “fundies” who opposed devolution and criticises Yes for not espousing her vision of Scotland’s future. But the job of Yes is to put us on the road from here to there. They are arguing that we should make our own decisions. What we do with that is a different issue. It can and should of course be discussed but it is not the main job of Yes to do so.
This is a two step process. First we take back the power, then we re-imagine ourselves.
2014-02-08 14:10

I agree, G.P. Walrus. By and large, I like Lesley’s articles, but she does tend to wallow in the uncertainties and unknowns. Life is full of them: sometimes you just have to get on with it. If Yes campaigners were as touchy-feely as this article suggests they should be, they’d be shot down in flames by the unionists for being vague and indecisive. It’s the certainty and confidence that independence is the best option for Scotland that has sustained and built the movement over the years, and brought us to this referendum now.
2014-02-08 16:00

Good job keeping your cool with Mr Aaranovitch and putting him right.

Yes, a lot of Scots are swithering. A guid Scots word:…/….

For that reason I don’t think blithe acceptance of lovingly crafted unionist mythologies really helps.

Example, the trams and parliament building, neither of which would have happened if the only Scottish Government we have had, had been in charge.

Both of these were products of London controlled parties in Scotland and both with arguably the potential for SNP bashing baggage attached at their inception.

Also, I think there is far too much blaming the duped going on, rather than blaming the dupers.

And the duping process does require, and has, a largely compliant media.

The media must accept responsibility for that
2014-02-08 18:21

” Edinburgh trams and the Holyrood building spring all too readily to mind). “

Trams were a local authority decision.

Holyrood was a) a guid few years ago and b) a previous administration.
2014-02-08 20:43

I think Lesley is letting her two friends off the hook a bit. They seem to fall into the category of actually knowing that a YES vote is the sensible thing to do but searching for a reason, any reason to vote NO. Often these people would have no difficulty in openly supporting YES if its champions included the ‘Official’ Labour Party or some other group they have supported for life. That sort of support is not critical but is on the same intellectual plane as supporting a football team. The “My Team, Right Wrong” school of thought. Just tell them to Vote as they think is right but to be honest about it and not to blame others for “stopping them voting YES”. They have the power until the Polls close on 18th September. If they use it badly that is on their conscience and nobody else’s. You should make that clear to them, Lesley.
2014-02-09 14:37

History is a good guide to the future. There are certain known knowns as Donald Rumsfeld pointed out, so we know what it will hold:
A century of depopulation of our brightest, the shut-down of our heavy industry, leaving two generations idle, disenfranchisem  ent, with the government acting for the South East of England only, Westminster lies about our off-shore wealth (buried McCrone report), MPs’ expenses abuses, the iniquitous 40% rule denying us a Scottish parliament, the squandering of our offshore wealth with no Scots benefit, the ‘subsidised scrounging parasite’ allegations, Trident parked in the Clyde estuary near Glasgow, illegal wars, poll tax, bedroom tax, PFI, and finally, the crash – all from a feudal Parliament that is no longer fit for purpose With NO, the kown knowns are that this will continue.
Yes, Lesley, the YES campaign has a lot of inferiority complex to overcome, indigenous Scots having been treated like serfs of the London baron class for over a century.
2014-02-09 16:17

Heard Lesley take on David Aaronovitch on Saturdays GMS. Radio Scotland. She demolished this defender of Westmonster. Also impressed to hear that Lesley had been President of Oxford University Student’s. Lost respect for Aaronovitch when he attacked a Friend of David Kelly asking for his death to be investigated. Jon Snow couldn’t believe his ears, and said so.
2014-02-10 07:59

The problem of the undecided is far wider: the many people for whom none of this engages. Not fear, irrelevance. Many are locked into the work-leisure cycle (or just work-work), some may be civicly active through charity collection, through sports clubs or whatever, but the referendum is just something happening somewhere else for most people I talk to at work, at the football or at family occasions. This is not to say that they won’t head for a polling station come September, but they are effectively de-politicised and resistant to evangelical enthusiasm. They may go yes, they may go no, but either way, without engagement into the ideas of creating something different, the danger is a business-as-usual outcome.
2014-02-10 10:54

Lesley is correct in that you’ve got to go with people at their own speed. A lot of people are only just starting to think about the issue and probably still trust the press. We might be way ahead of them but it is more useful at that stage to give folk a gentle nudge or two in the right direction. I have been surprised for example to find strong reactions against Wings Over Scotland by undecideds. Wings is apologetically – and robustly – pro-indy and that level of partisanship turns off some agnostics. They would probably benefit more from starting with undecided/soft indy voices like Gerry Hassan or Kevin McKenna. (Or Lesley herself?)

After all, it is not easy to break down decades of assumptions and identity, or accept you’ve been lied to by authority figures you trusted.
Jo Bloggs
2014-02-10 11:50

You make a good point, Blanco. But I ask myself, where have these people been all their lives? Why are they only starting to think about it now? Many of us went through all this agonIsing decades ago. I certainly did. So now I’m seen as dogmatic, even fanatical, and I ‘unquestioningly  ‘ promote Independence. But once you’ve done all your questioning and agonising, what else is there but to choose your side and state your case?

2014-02-10 11:18

What I find encouraging is a lot of people whose reflex position would have been ‘no’ are now, finally, thinking about the issue. And we all know what happens when people start thinking about it for themselves!
2014-02-10 18:17

Great article. This is the way ahead, a game changer for YES.

C’mon Lesley
2014-02-11 08:46

The first thing which came to my mind when reading this article was a quote by William McIlvanney, in response to the doubt and the fear and the uncertainty and the lack of confidence and the what ifs when we were debating about whether or not we should have a Scottish Parliament. He simply said:

‘It is an act of self belief to vote for this parliament’.

The same holds now, it is an act of self-belief to vote for independence. The one certainty amidst all the doubt is that Scotland would be in charge of her own future and make her own decisions. It’s up to the people of Scotland to decide whether or not they believe in themselves to do a better job.
2014-02-11 16:54

The reasons Lesley gives for people being DKs seem to revolve around embarrassment, e.g. ‘Independents’ not nats and upsetting colleagues and family. Surely a case of theold ‘Cringe’?

And the stuff about not changing poverty and land ownership under Devo..surely she knows the SNP have only had a majority for the past three years? Remember the previous stonewalling of just about everything by the opposition’ 2007-2011?

Try explaining the lack of open, clear discussion on the REF. by the total lack of Democratic speech by the msm with the consequence of the ‘YES’ campaign being driven to street canvassing and internet sites such as this?

Try telling your two pals to consider three hundred years of colonialism and deliberate diminution of our very identity as a factor.

As for Independence supporters not ‘sharing social values’ and post-independence Scots suffering ‘Establishment capture’?
What the hell are we suffering under just now?

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