Elaine C Smith: We need to talk to No voters to achieve independence


By Maurice Smith

Leading actress, comedienne and political activist Elaine C Smith says that for Scotland to achieve independence, Yes campaigners must reach out to No voters.

Smith, who served on the board of the campaign organisation Yes Scotland, emphasised a conciliatory approach, as the SNP and Labour slug it out to win dominance in Scottish seats for Westminster.

“If we get independence we have to take all of the people. I don’t mean a 100% vote, but 70%,” Elaine told Newsnet TV.

“We have to get that mandate from the Scottish people, and that means we have to speak to people who voted No.

“We failed to convince enough people that it was safe to vote Yes. People were still allowed to be scared.”

She was speaking while recording a financial appeal for Newsnet.scot, emphasising that the new media site’s political and current affairs’ coverage provided a voice that must be heard.

Elaine says that whatever the causes of that “fear” – the No campaign, the intervention of Gordon Brown and the creation of “The Vow” – the fact remained that people had voted no and that their concerns had to be tackled. She admitted that some of her closest friends were among the doubting group.

“it was hard, and relationships suffered slightly, but I still want to convince them.

“I was one of those people on the night that when the vote came in there was a relief that it was not a 51 per cent yes,  because I thought 51 per cent would have been the worst of all  possible worlds. We would have been on our fifth recount by now anyway, and the fires of hell would have been released in Westminster and the vested interests of the elites of those parties.”

Smith is currently appearing in Burdz Eye View, a TV series that takes her round Scotland chatting and performing, broadcast on Monday nights by STV.


  1. “We failed to convince enough people that it was safe to vote Yes. People were still allowed to be scared.”

    People had every right to be scared.
    The British government would have made sure our economy went back to the stone age. The stage was firmly in place for that.
    The there’s the loyalist elements that would have burned this place to the ground had the vote been yes.

    • I tend to agree with your remarks i would put these people in the same frame as the nut cases who insist we pay for allowing the yanks to park their nukes here i say their nukes i mean why continue the pretence we just get to pay for them anything else is just window dressing , I wonder if it is just coincidence regarding the timing that scotland right now is host to the largest ever NATO maritime exercise ever mounted is this a warning to Russia along with a little reminder from whitehall to us as to who is in charge as if we didn’t already know sort of two birds with one stone

      • the NATO Exercise you refer to happens yearly (sometimes more than once) in Scotland and has always been the biggest NATO Maritime exercise since i’ve known about it which is at least the last decade! who knows what they are calling it these days used to be Neptune Warrior and then Joint Warrior.

    • I think your point about putting our economy “back to the stone age” is highly relevant.

      labour and tories would have seen Scotland kicked out of union like dogs in the night with a ruined economy, no friends and no currency.

      It’s fair to outline the merits of your case in political debate, it is also fair to outline the downsides if you vote for an alternative.

      What I find inexcusable for labour is to say you vote for independence and freedom from westminster, and we the unionist parties in westminster will seek to ruin you, this is blackmail – this is project fear, part 2 which has been unleashed this week.

      Ironically, building bridges and speaking to labour will be easier after 08th May when we are dealing with the English labour party. They despise many of their Scottish labour colleagues, they now view their Scottish labour colleagues as they do Ulster unionists. One trick ponies whose reason to be is to to block Progress at any cost. Progress as desired by labour’s sister party, The SDLP.

      So yes speak to no voters, but let’s keep reminding the people what hypocrites and destructive people labour. A party who would deploy a scorched earth policy on Scotland to keep her bound to union.

      • “unionist parties in westminster will seek to ruin you, this is blackmail – this is project fear”

        History will remember the first democratic vote on the British union as one where Scots were blackmailed into voting for the status quo.

        I hope it judges them harshly!

  2. Make them laugh then when their guard is down ask what their greatest fear is. Show that you respect that view but that you’re not worried about it because you know some reasons why not to. Tell them what you know about it with examples of evidence.

  3. There’s too little humour in Scottish political debate. Think people became too po faced during the Referendum. That’s why I give thanks for the Citizen Cuddis column on Newsnet, brilliant humour.

  4. I think an honest approach works best. Not trying to claim everything will always be perfect. Like every other country there will be ups and downs. But overall, we are just as capable as anyone to run our own country, and we have more at stake in making it a success.

    And it is NORMAL. It’s not some selfish nationalistic separatist attitude to want the country we live in to be capable of running its own affairs, and getting the policies that people here vote for.
    While co-operating with our neighbours on the areas we have in common.

    What isn’t normal is being told we can only have a block grant to spend, with no meaningful powers to compete and grow our economy.
    Even now we are being told we can’t even cope with home rule within the UK. Are No voters really happy with being called dependent subsidy junkies ?

  5. The debate needs to be nuanced to your local audience. In Helensburgh we must seek common cause on issues which affect folk like the hospital. Depopulation, living wage.; Less in your face nationalism and more here to help!

  6. Elaine,
    I’m always interested to hear your views.The thing that strikes me most when canvassing is the generational divide.And as old unionists disappear from the electoral register they are replaced with young people whose minds are open to the idea of independence.

    • Sorry. I dont buy that line.
      As someone who has been an Independista for over 40 years, I hope to live long enough to realise my dream of independence.

      • You are an exception then David.
        The generation drift was huge as the exit polls show.

        I can’t think of anything that the YES campaign communicated that aligned directly with the 65+ voting blocks mindset.

        • grappler – You are wrong! I’m 81 and have supported the independence proposal since the early 50’s. Then I remember it was a major part of the Labour Manifesto and was put their by Kier Hardy. Todays turncoat Labour removed this proposal from their Manifesto like many other Socialist Proposals.
          I sincerely recommend that you read some history before tackling we “Oldies” and discuss how the Labour party has reversed its policies and turned right wing.
          I would also advise you that My family and friends are all pro SNP.

  7. I think monetary independence is a necessity. What scotland (and other parts of uk) can do right now is to develop alternative trading mechanisms away from the pro – cyclical nature of our sterling supply from private banks.

  8. There are at least 25% of no voters, who will not listen to any reason. They are the very wealthy, the underclass British Bigots, Orangeman, anti Catholic mob and the like.

    No point talking to these types. Thats just wasted oxygen. The other 30% are soft no voters. Would naturally want Scotland to be independent but haven’t the bottle. Problem is they get their info from MSM. Headlines work on these people. They are not as sophisticated in terms of their reading habits in the media. They do not seek the truth or facts for themselves. They need to be fed facts.

    I suppose that is our job. Sometimes normalising independence is the best thing to make them stop and think. Hearing of friends or colleagues who are yes or have switched to yes can influence them.

    Its a bit like me. I am a sort of part time football supporter. I am not a football anorak. I only see what’s in the headlines. Others following pasionately as I do with politics. Except bad politics or ignorance can cause poverty. Football ultimately is just a game. Some people in this country think football is more important than politics. How foolish they are.

  9. As a matter reference (and I’m not asking from a position of prior knowledge) taken over the last 5 elections (both Holyrood and UK) what percentage of the Scottish voting population voted Tory/Labour/Liberal/SNP (not seat numbers but actual votes cast %’s)?
    If we are going to win the day with larger voting numbers then it requires more acceptance that there exists a section of our voting popultation that is confidently and determindly right of centre. Nurture them don’t isolate them – some, not all by any means, but enough to make an impact, are Scottish rather than British. We won’t get their vote by constantly rubbishing them and saying in effect that there is no place for them in Scotland.

  10. The media plays a disproportionate role in the way people receive and make sense of information. Without going over old ground – bbc Scotland.

    You can discuss Scotland”s future with people kindly, diplomatically, fairly or robustly, etc, but you are not sitting in their living room in Nicam stereo with a 52 inch HD screen, telling people your, fair, impartial and their auntie bbc.

    No voters will be more easily won over if there is a level playing field. The only way for the level playing field to materialise is for Scottish broadcasting to be independently regulated by a “Scottish”.body acceptable to Scottish political parties. Not Scottish government controlled, truly independent of politics. This is one concession we must demand if we hold the balance of power in May.

  11. A large percentage of no votes were in the retired age group. I look at it as the older generation often voted against the aspirations of their children and grandchildren. There is a whole mix of reasons that they voted no: from fear, status quo complacency, to sheer selfishness.

    However I think their own families are the best people to discuss and engage with them, to show them why we are so motivated to govern ourselves and for their childrens future. Families should also reassure and address their concerns directly and highlight facts and evidence certainly

    • I agree that fear, status quo complacency, to sheer selfishness were factors for the massive 65+ voting block.
      But i disagree that their children are the best people to give voting advice.


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