By Mark McNaught
As the independence referendum campaign enters the final stretch, ‘yes’ activism is reaching fever pitch.  There is canvassing in some of the most deprived areas in Scotland, encouraging people who often have never been asked their political opinion to vote ‘yes’ for a better future.  Scots’ ‘cringe’ is melting away and are increasingly realising that they can govern themselves better than Westminster ever did or will.

At the same time, the last of the gargantuan scare stories have been demolished.  David Cameron himself has said that he would help Scotland gain EU membership after a ‘yes’ vote, and an anonymous government minister has stated the obvious that Scotland could enter into a currency union after a ‘yes’ vote.

As we observe the wheels coming off the ‘Better Together’ bandwagon and slamming into a brick wall, it has become much clearer exactly what the ‘no’ campaign is; an Astroturf campaign, run by Westminster, utterly bereft of enthusiastic popular support, and relying entirely on threats and bluster to cower Scots into voting ‘no’.

It was never a ‘bandwagon’ to begin with.  They have been running on the fumes of a one sided media.  They have nothing else.

For those of you unfamiliar with astroturf campaigns, they are well-financed top-down campaigns intended to create the illusion of popular support, carried out by hired employees because no one would volunteer time for such a bleak cause.  Notable examples in the US include the National Smokers Alliance, created by a PR firm and funded by tobacco giants to create the illusion of widespread opposition to anti-tobacco regulation.

While pro-independence rallies, meetings, and canvassing are capturing the imaginations of Scots and exploring how much better things can be after a ‘yes’ vote, ‘Better Together’ has no way to counter the growing enthusiasm.  All they can do is issue threats, and blundering ones at that.

Where are the mass ‘Better Together’ rallies, which feature inspirational speeches imploring Scots to remain mired in Westminster? Where are the hordes of enthusiastic ‘Better Together’ volunteers knocking on doors in Shettleston, convincing the residents that they can keep the bedroom tax if they vote ‘no’? I really wonder, do they have any non-paid workers at all?

It’s pretty clear that Westminster has no experience running positive campaigns, nor even national campaigns.  No UK politician has even been elected on a nationwide ballot, certainly not the head of state, and it shows. The typical strategy employed for general elections, slicing and dicing the electorate and making targeted appeals to various constituencies, hoping to eke out a majority in a first-past-the-post system, is simply inapplicable to the Scottish independence referendum.

‘Better Together’ has virtually no popular support.  That is not to say that a ‘yes’ vote will be unanimous, but there is no entity capable of making a positive case for continued union, and no convincing case because there is not one to make.

Instead, the campaign is being vicariously led through Alistair Darling by the ‘quad’ consisting of David Cameron, George Osborne, Danny Alexander and Nick Clegg, aided by Thatcherite corporate lobbyist Andrew Dunlop.  However, the sociopathic characteristics required to climb the UK political ladder are ineffective in cowering Scots into voting ‘no’.

Alistair Darling has complained that the ‘yes’ campaign is better financed, to explain their inexorable slippage in the polls.  However, this understates the advantages they still maintain.

They do have the corporate-owned press and the dismal BBC who dutifully peddle the ‘warnings’ of the UK government and corporations about the innumerable calamities which would befall Scotland if they exercise self-determination.  Given that privatisation since Thatcher has sold most of the UK state to corporations, they have become one in the same.  Who cares what some random business says about Scottish independence? If they want to deprive themselves of Scottish customers, they can.

In any case, the ‘no’ advantage in the increasingly irrelevant corporate media is wiped out by the online pro-independence activity. ‘Better Together’ has nothing approaching Bella Caledonia, Wings Over Scotland or Newsnet Scotland for truly free journalism which can effectively advocate independence.  If we don’t who will? 

Now that the curtain has been lifted, we can see the paucity of the ‘no’ case.  It consists of nothing more than a few Westminster plutocrats clinging to oil revenue and a parking place for their nukes.  They never had broad popular support, just a compliant media, nothing else.  Their case is crumbling.  Their scare stories have been demolished.

Lights out UK.  It’s on to an independent Scotland.


2014-04-06 21:40

How cruel you missed out “Bruiser” Carmichael
Ben Power
2014-04-06 22:40

A note of caution. The Australian Republican referendum popular Yes view was blown out of the water when at the later stages of the campaign the conservative govt pushed the Republican Organisers into a constitutional argument about what the shape of Australia would be after a Yes vote.
The uncertainty and arguments they were able to generate completely annihilated the previously popular republican view.
This will be the ploy of the Unionist side and if not countered soon could also blow Scots Independence out of the water as well.
The current constitutional murmurings if not handled well could be the set up for a final thrust in August 2014 on constitutional uncertainty.

We should be determining our constitution after we get independence not argue about it before.

People fear uncertainty and frequently would rather vote for a bully they know and blame for inequity than standing up to the bully and determining their own destiny.
2014-04-06 22:51

‘In any case, the ‘no’ advantage in the increasingly irrelevant corporate media is wiped out by the online pro-independence activity. ”

Wish that were true, but its not.

The critical demographic that need be reached are the unengaged low-information voters who will decide the outcome of the referendum. They don’t read Wings or Bella or Newsnetscotland .

They may however buy the Sun and watch the evening news and thereby absorb snippets of information on indyref. They don’t remember the detail but the gist of it is that independence is too much of a risk.

This simple narrative is inculcated by endless repetition. The most insidious and effective propaganda is that not recognised as propaganda by its victims.

The battleground is for this soft vote in middle, and before we can convince them we must reach them. The BBC is already in their living rooms delivering Unionist propaganda day and night, 7 days a week.
Leader of the Pack
2014-04-07 07:05

Unfortunately I have to agree with that. As much as I admire the efforts made by NS Bella Cal & Wings they don’t have the market that the BBC and the UK MSM has captured over the decades. I still hear stupid comments from uninformed sources saying inane comments such as “Scotland is too poor to go it alone” Scotland is too wee” This mostly from young people and students. People who cannot articulate why they are against Independence but are adamant that its a bad thing. Its difficult to counter when they wont listen to fact or reason. Its an ingrained unreasoned unthoughtout mostly unaware response to what must be the bombardment of negativity from mainstream media.
Kudos to all the online sources such as NS Wings and Bella but is it too little too late? I don’t know but its looking really close. The reality is the yes campaign should be miles ahead as it is in Catalonia. Its actually ludicrous that its this close.
Nigel Mace
2014-04-07 11:35

It’s true that on rational grounds YES should be miles in front, however, the steady shifting in the monthly average of polls is very encouraging given the media/establishment blitz against us. The widespread action of people talking to people on the ground is working and calm, unprovokable perisitence with this will in the end succeed. However, I also agree that the Constitution draft is an area of great peril and I hope it is kept unimpeachably general. Details could give BT’s negativity a destructive window to replace factual and in principle debate – rational and clearly winnable – with acres of scary speculation. We need to focus on the wealth of Scotland compared to the weakness of the UK and the simple right of people to have the governments they vote for – always, and certainly not another bout of Cameron. Osborne and IDS. There will be other hurdles too from last minute ‘love/lovey’ campaigns to dirty tricks – but calm reasoning one to another will, if kept going, win.

2014-04-07 00:04

Here is a nice wee music vid I just made to counter the no message, I’m not a pro but just a yes voter, getting good feedback so far thought I’d share with you all if Newsnet allow, hope you enjoy.…/
2014-04-07 06:00

I was in George square on Saturday and apart from the growing crowd (in the pouring rain) some people who were obviously not there for the CND rally ,one had a union jack hat on, nothing wrong with that but the unifying feature of these people was the same pinched face and furrowed brow, these were not nice people , I approached one with a yes card to offer it, and was told to f off in no uncertain terms, these people are deeply worried hence the growing hate displayed ,evidence the knuckle dragger who tried to draw out the peaceful yes supports by calling them Nazis while filming them with his phone,decent Scots will have a real problem if they are no supporters finding themselves on the same side as the lowlifes who performed for the camera at the Rangers match in Forfar.
2014-04-07 10:08

Sad to say that Christian is correct in his summation. YES has a wall to break down one built by what I call the Establishment, easier than naming all of the anti democratic forces ranged against us. I would say though that one thing going for us is the Better Together Campaign. In trying to tell the Scots what they cannot do they reinforce the idea of “who says”.
2014-04-07 10:14

Such sweeping complacency when, even by the most optimistic polls, the Yes campaign is significantly behind surely indicates that the author is not entirely in touch with the campaign on the ground.

Mr McNaught mentions Shettleston where I know for a fact Better Together campaigners are out on the doors regularly week in week out. I have knocked doors in Shettleston myself in addition to being active in my own area at least twice a week for well over a year. This is no astroturf, top down campaign as he characterises it. Rather it is a cross party, and no party, campaign committed to preserving a successful political union.

It is perhaps worth noting that in the mock referenda conducted in schools and colleges across Scotland in recent months the No side has won and won consistently by margins of up to 3:1. Lets wait until September 19th to determine which is the genuinely popular campaign.
Leader of the Pack
2014-04-07 16:23

I for one would love to see or hear the level of utter garbage you must be forced to campaign with when we both know you have nothing valid or honest to offer up in support of this worthless to Scotland union of unequals and despotic rule. The priceless lie that the UK of GB is anything other than a union of Parliaments has to provide you with all manner of deceits and false statements.
I bet you harp on about how Scotland doesn’t own a share of the pound and it isn’t in the EU and Scottish students don’t pay for their tuition fees via the revenue services. Am I warm? If it wasn’t for the corruption of the media nobody would even open their door to anybody peddling the lies youre forced to work with. When you cant even tell the truth about who you are what chance have you got of bringing a shred of truth about anything else to anybody?
2014-04-07 19:09

Do you volunteer for the ‘no’ campaign, or are you paid?
2014-04-07 23:11

As with the overwhelming majority of campaigners on both sides, I am an enthusiastic volunteer.

2014-04-07 10:35

The better together campaign has had the almost unfettered access to the mainstream media for the duration under which the yes vote has grown. Although the time and space given to Darling yesterday was absurd it will not go unnoticed by most and eventually the msm will have to promote something approaching impartiality.
The article on lays out why the it won’t work. I found it pretty helpful. How many yes voters do you know who are monsters?
Darling has clearly lost his way as part of the community, running round telling everyone it’s filled with haters and dividers, saboteurs if you like, it’s horrendous what he’s doing.
2014-04-07 17:12

When you look at the broad church support the Yes campaign has along with the mass turn outs the enthusiasm of the Yes supporters and compare this with the No camp…there is no only thought is that the No vote is mostly soft, won’t vote…
2014-04-07 18:20

This campaign can only be won with hard work from thousands of people.As we get nearer voting day,people’s willingness to engage will increase.We must be ready and willing to put in the hours and the effort.We will be.And when voters go into the polling booth they’ll vote FOR Scotland,not AGAINST Scotland.
2014-04-07 19:38

I live in Shettleston and haven’t seen a No campaigner except Mad Mags Curran inside a fancy car on Wellshot Rd. I had 2 Yes people at the door and I liked the points they raised. I’m voting Yes.
2014-04-07 21:29

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