This won’t be a particularly wordy or thoughtful post, because I’m tired and not full of enthusiasm at the moment. I’m sensing a general fatigue has come over many of us, so I’ll keep this short and pointy.
I voted No in 2014 for a couple of reasons – the main one being that I feared Scotland would be out of the EU. Now that we really are on our way out and I can see the damage up close, my eyes are fully open to the possibilities for Scotland taking its place as an independent country within the European Union (or least EFTA). Not only can we become independent, we can become spectacular, and I truly believe we can succeed, which is why I want to see independence in my lifetime. And I believe I will.
To help fulfil this wish, I want to share some insight into my experience as a No voter. I hope these points are received in the spirit in which they are given – with a resounding Yes vote as the ultimate goal. I’ve seen quite a few assumptions about No voters since moving over to Yes, and I fear these might be holding us back. Again, this is my experience. Your mileage may vary. But perhaps it will get us talking about ways to move forward when it comes to convincing others to vote Yes when the time comes.
- Not all No voters are unionists. I’m certainly not. The political construct of the UK didn’t factor into my vote at all, which is probably why I’ve been able to change my mind. I don’t believe many true unionists would ever change their minds, so worrying about them is pointless. If you want to change minds, target No voters like me. We do not have an emotional attachment to the Union and we’re happy to be convinced.
- Prominent No voters did not influence my decision in any way. As I said before, it was almost completely down to the EU for me, so anything JK Rowling said didn’t matter one bit. Furthermore, Eddie Izzard’s love bomb made no difference. There is no point wasting time pointing out that these celebrities are wrong because it doesn’t matter. For many, they are not mind changers. People may agree with them, but they are most likely not people who are willing to be convinced.
- Project fear didn’t scare me… much. Yes, there was a niggling worry that it could all go pear-shaped if we left, but I *knew* that being out of the EU would be catastrophic for Scotland – and to be fair, nearly every fear I had then is coming to pass now. But the warnings from Alistair Darling, Gordon Brown, and Jim Murphy had no bearing on my vote. And that stupid Vow? I couldn’t even tell you what it said.
- This point is going to be hard to hear, so please remember that I’m trying to help. The Yes campaign didn’t do the best job it could to convince people like me. There was nothing emotional about the way I voted – I only wanted facts. I wanted a definitive answer on currency, a central bank, how we’d manage monetary policy, and the EU. You may argue these questions were answered, but I can assure you I wasn’t satisfied with the official information put forth. Again, I’m not trying to be difficult – but if we are to win we must make sure that any fears people have about things like pensions, the EU, currency, banking policy, etc are alleviated completely, and answers given to satisfy sceptical rather than already-accepting minds.
- This point you might like better than the last (it’s closely related) – I wanted to vote Yes. I really did. Voting No was horrible because I could see that the Yes side were voting for hope and for something better. I wanted very much to join in, but I couldn’t because I was not convinced we’d be ok. In fact, I thought we’d be worse off. It wasn’t because I didn’t love or believe in Scotland. It wasn’t because I didn’t think Scotland was capable. It was because I didn’t think there was a coherent plan for how to move forward outside of the EU.
Since moving from No to Yes, I have been so warmly welcomed by indy supporters, and for that I’m grateful. Brexit was a hard kick in the teeth, and I have very much appreciated exchanging the fear and bleakness of Brexit for the hope of a better future for Scotland. I want to help any way I can, so please – ask me anything. I will be honest. And I’ll do everything I can to make sure we win this time.