A Triumph within a Tragedy

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By Alex Mooney
 
After the initial shock and desolation over Scotland refusing its independence, many on the Yes side roused to anger and lashed out over the weekend.
 
Social media exploded with a flurry of vengeful blogs and some ranted on Twitter as the blame game began.  Fingers were pointed at the No voters who ‘betrayed their country’.  As a psychological release it might have been therapeutic but as a tactic it was senseless.

By Alex Mooney
 
After the initial shock and desolation over Scotland refusing its independence, many on the Yes side roused to anger and lashed out over the weekend.
 
Social media exploded with a flurry of vengeful blogs and some ranted on Twitter as the blame game began.  Fingers were pointed at the No voters who ‘betrayed their country’.  As a psychological release it might have been therapeutic but as a tactic it was senseless.

You can’t force someone to vote yes, you have to persuade them.

We have just lived through the most amazing demonstration of people-power Britain has ever seen in living memory.

In truth, none of us saw it coming.  It just happened.  Even those at the heart of both campaigns were shocked by its intensity and how quickly people realised they had real power with their vote.

That wonderfully liberating feelgood factor spread like wildfire.  It wasn’t a revolution, of course, it just felt like one.

The Yes movement was like no other political campaign in living memory.  At its heart was a life-affirming belief in fairness and common decency – not narrow nationalism.  It was inclusive in every respect.  Generous not greedy.  That’s what made it so appealing to the vast majority it attracted – from various parties and none.

It may even have been the most non-political political movement ever.  That was its core strength and that ethos must always be at its heart.  Almost half of the people eventually got it – and couldn’t understand why the other half didn’t.

Now we must build on that momentum.  This great movement will divide and slowly crumble if knee-jerk reactions and bitterness fester.  There is no room for zealots or splitters.

We need to be much smarter and focus on the long game – where the fight for independence and fairness will finally be won.  As it will.  This is a time for cool heads and astute tacticians – not for lashing out.

I recall interviewing Alex Salmond at the SNP’s offices in Charlotte Square in the early nineties as the Scotland United group’s enthusiasm was quickly waning after another disappointing election result for the SNP.

Was he as downbeat as them?  Not at all.  He insisted Scotland had no divine right to independence, it wouldn’t just fall out of the sky.  We had to keep working hard to make it happen.  If we did that then its time would surely come was his message.

So let’s look forward again for there is much to celebrate.  History will view this close run result as a triumph within a tragedy for the Union.  It cannot be seen as anything other than that because an unstoppable power was unleashed that will change politics throughout Britain.

The Union’s last-ditch attempt to save the day by offering more devo to Scotland has triggered a backlash in England, Wales and Northern Ireland whose people, quite rightly, want something similar.  With a general election and Holyrood election looming these massive constitutional problems simply cannot be resolved – if ever – in the promised timescale.

A federalist UK – Indy lite – might be the ultimate outcome.  But would it not be easier for all the countries to become fully independent and form an alliance for times of need rather than continue with a costly and redundant Union that has outlived its usefulness? Probably.  But all of this could take decades.

Another mightier force is at play though – it is this Yes movement.  In the ensuing Westminster mayhem we can accelerate the process for self-rule if all the strands stay in common cause and we learn from our mistakes.

Professor John Curtice said Yes won the battle of the badges but not the battle of the ballot box – the only one that matters.  The silent majority, which many of us feared, prevailed and we should reach out to them now more than ever.

How do we do that? A major failing was not having a tabloid newspaper backing independence.  While Yes won the social media fight – thanks to superb sites like this – the older silent majority read their papers.  Print may be in decline but it’s still a potent force for a significant amount of the ‘shy nos’.

The Sunday Herald alone backed Yes in the latter stages – and should be supported for that – but because of its low circulation it would have made little impact, if any, on the silent majority who don’t read broadsheets anyway.

Consider this.  Just two days before the vote the Daily Record ran its ‘vow’ splash with the three party leaders offering extra powers.  Was it a game changer? Absolutely.

Now, imagine if an Indy tabloid had put a vow on its front page on the eve of the vote – promising state pensions would not only be guaranteed in an independent Scotland but also increased by, say, 10 per cent.

Would that have been a game changer to trump the Record?  Absolutely.

And we would now be living in an independent Scotland.  Think about that again.

Whether you like it or not the press still has a huge influence on events.  In fact, the Yes campaign should have had a mid-market tabloid up and running at the start of the campaign three years ago.  If it had, that alone could have taken us over the line comfortably.

(And it wasn’t for lack of trying on my part but that’s a story for another day.)

Let’s not make that mistake again.  We now know there are 1.6 million potential readers out there.  If only a third bought a new paper it would easily be the country’s biggest selling title and wield huge influence to counteract the heavy bias and sneering cynicism from the London-based Unionist papers

Scotland has an abundance of brilliant content and production journalists so let’s do it.  The campaign unleashed some phenomenal writing and creative talent and that’s an awesome resource we must use.

So let me say to pro-Indy journalists out there – become involved.  We can form an editorial board to look at ways of getting this up and running and drawing in all the strands to put it together.  I’ll be happy to set up an initial meeting.

We should also look at establishing our own broadcasting and radio network and I would urge those with that expertise also to get together and move this on.

What we must never forget though is the grassroots input which, by far, had the greatest influence.  Everything we do should support that and allow it to flourish.

The SNP is gathering record amounts of new members and I would urge everyone to gather under their banner until we get this over the line.

Democracy is a numbers game so let’s all stay united and put the fear of death into the self-serving Westminster elite.  We are many, they are few.

Next time we won’t be bullied or cowed.  We’ll know what to expect and be far better prepared for the onslaught of lies and fear from the state, the media and big business.  Let them be our targets not the silent majority.  If we do that then our time will come sooner than you think.