The Brexit vote fatally undermined many anti-independence arguments to the extent that it takes outright dogmatism for ‘No’ voters to refuse to even re-consider their position. Yet few ‘Yes’ supporters are daft enough to think the polls would have shifted overnight. Rather, the Brexit vote made the argument for Scottish independence in Europe much more sellable over time through rational, reasonable, fair argument to people who voted ‘No’ with an open mind. Robin McAlpine of think tank Commonweal has been arguing for a practical plan to get Scotland to independence, and he’s quite right too. There’s a super Newsnet Podcast with Robin and Derek Bateman here. As a wee contribution, here are 6 groups of people (some overlapping, of course) who will be pivotal in moving Scotland from ‘No’ to ‘Yes’.

Middle-Scots who need more convincing. A relatively large group of present No voters are ‘soft unionists’. That is, they’re not hostile to independence per se and few are Tories, but in 2014 they just weren’t convinced the risk of independence was worth it. A lot work in the private sector – quite a few in oil and gas or in the supply chain. But many in the public sector too. They have mortgages and car loans; some are living off occupational pensions built-up over a lifetime of hard work. In his excellent piece (above, and podcast), Robin talks about the post-oil economy. Yet while that’s of course the right plan into the future, we should remember that most people who put green issues at the top of their voting priorities are already on the ‘Yes’ side. Persuadable middle-Scots needs to be convinced that their best chance of economic security and prosperity in future extends from being at the centre, not on the margins, of Europe. And on one final generational upswing in the oil and gas industries. That’ll depend on the perfectly realistic prospect an eventual £50+ dollar a barrel price and a serious effort by government to concentrate the benefits right across Scotland now and into the future through taking long-term economic diversification very seriously indeed. It’ll also mean showing such folk that many impartial experts already agree that an independent Scotland juxtaposed with a marginalised England would certainly benefit Scotland’s legal and financial service sectors.  In many ways, these people are the key to mainstream media support for independence.

Scots on the further left. Many Scots of the further left who feel that Jeremy Corbyn is a super thing are already in the Yes camp, and some are fans of Brexit. But quite a lot aren’t either. A chunk of that latter group believes Corbyn can win a UK election. He can’t. These people need to be persuaded of the truth that Corbyn as prime minister is a pipe dream  – all they’d be doing by voting ‘No’ again is ensuring that English Tories run Scotland for years and years to come. Of course, that persuading might be easier after the next general election, but in the meantime it’s perfectly realistic to expect such people to move to Yes through listening to rational argument. If they want politicians of the further left who aren’t hopelessly removed from a serious shot at power, the only rational choice is to achieve that by voting ‘Yes’.

Anti-Corbynite Labour supporters. Not all Labour anti-Corbynites in the centre and on the right of the Labour Party have opted for columns in the Daily Telegraph. It’s true, there’s a group of Labour folk who’d prefer Tory unionism to independence and they won’t waver. But there are plenty of regular Scottish Labour people who want Labour, or some successor perhaps, to hold power in Scotland again. They’re persuadable that with English Labour moving way to what they see as the unelectable left and there being little chance of many Westminster UK seats in Scotland, the only way of being relevant once again is by accepting independence. These people believe in social democracy and loathe the idea of a Tory ascendancy. They may not come to love the SNP, but many of them can be moved to vote Yes because that’s simply the rational way to ensure democratic values they believe in can prosper. It’s also their only way back to political relevance.

Labour politicians. Some Labour politicians already have one foot in the independence camp. They’ve made their support conditional on the UK’s situation in the EU remaining largely unchanged from the present. In theory, they’re saying; “wait ’til we see what the UK Tory government comes up with in 4 years time”. That’s a holding statement; they’re keeping their powder dry for a few months to see how things pan out with the UK Labour leadership. After that – “put our trust in the Tory right wing, David Davis, Liam Fox and the Brexiteers”? Give us a break! No, many of these people will accept very soon that independence offers them their only chance of remaining in the political mainstream. They won’t lead – they’ll follow; so if they seen movement in the areas above, they’ll move to ‘Yes’ and bring other Labour folk with them.

Liberal Democrats. In many ways, Liberal Democrats supporters are the most pragmatic voters of all. They tend to go where the influence is. In this way, they often see their role as mitigating the worst excesses of either side of the political spectrum. They’re suffering now because of their support for David Cameron’s government, yet most Scottish Lib Dems who haven’t already defected were of the centre-left, not the centre-right wing of their party.  Their only way to influence is in the context of an independent Scotland and the step from the pre-Brexit ‘devo-plus’ to a post-Brexit acceptance of Scottish independence is a short, pragmatic step which their Scottish leader, Willie Rennie, will take if he thinks it’ll help his party. In an independent Scotland, it’s easy to imagine Scottish Lib Dems and anti-Corbynites in Labour finding a common home. Whatever, most reasonable Lib Dems will be open to the argument that an independent future holds far more promise than one with Scotland under the thumb of the Brexiteers.

‘New Scots’. Call them what you will, this group – particularly those who came from England to live in Scotland – make up around 15% of the population. Being older on the whole, they turned out to vote and being unconvinced that change would serve their personal interests they voted overwhelmingly ‘No’. And yet these folk tend to love their new country and often – especially after Brexit, which makes them feel like their old country of England is looking rather alien – they’re looking with an open mind at being persuaded that independence in Europe – not Brexit – will give them the security they need.

Above all, Yes folk to must remember is that there’s no need to cynically separate ‘segments’ and tell them each contradictory thing – as is not uncommon in politics. Quite the opposite, in fact. Rather, what’s needed is simply to show each group why the same independent future will serve all their best interests, and Scotland’s too. Consistency and reason are key. The fear and dogma of hard unionists are sooooo yesterday.



16 Responses to Six groups who’ll help move Scotland to ‘Yes’
  1. Definitely agree with the need to convert English Scots. We tried in 2014 but just too little too late.

    This time around we’re planning a much larger campaign.
    Great articles Eric.

    • Thanks, Math. I think quite a lot of new Scots from England were swayed by fear on issues like pensions and so forth. The risk with pensions seems to go the other way, now, as with a few other things. They seem more prepared to have an open mind so this will be an important group to target.

  2. Great piece Eric! I was staunch unionist and Labour member/activist for 40 years until 2011. I had felt alien for over a decade in Labour as more and more Blairites joined the party. I started to educate myself on Independence, cancelled my Lab membership not long after meeting Miliband and I joined Labour for Indy as a last gasp hope of an Indy Labour free of WM.

    I joined SNP on 19th Sept 2014 having gotten to know many SNP Yessers working in Yes shop and Yes stall in my hometown, I felt I’d found a home, like thousands of other ex Labour folk who left around same time and a very friendly home it is at that. Yessers are such a great diverse and knowledgeable bunch of folk on matters of Scotland, politics and our history,( you are a positive addition) we are a mongrel nation and why we have an infinity with EU. As for SNP party, we’re mongrels of all parties and no parties if that makes sense.

    I feel sick at Brexit, being out of the EU is just inconceivable to most Scots for so many reasons and we must all work to keep us in the EU as an Independent country.

    • Thanks for this, Elaine. Brexit, and the things which have led us there, feel strange and queasy-making as you say. The important think, I think, is that we all agree to ‘Yes’ then maybe after that carry on our political debate in a new way. It’s an exciting prospect, really. I truly hope it’ll be a new kind of dialogue, though. It’ll be a new start in a difficult world; I think folk will put their best into it.

  3. Thoroughly enjoyed the PodCast you did with Bateman. If the YES can bring labour diehards like yourself on board. Then we must surely win the next referendum. Good to see you on our side Eric.

  4. Good summing up of the current state of affairs within Scotland , the ball is now in the SNP’s court , they have got to work a lot harder to give people a vision of Scotland post Indy . What happened to the summer push ? .I’m sure nothing will change until we know the terms of Brexit . We have not moved on much from 55% wishing to remain in the Union (although polls vary ) , these people will need to see a definite workable plan , this will be years in the making I’m afraid .

    • That’s a very fair position. I think people will move to Yes as it becomes clear that it’s the less risky option. But it will take time and of course we’ll need to see exactly what the terms are of the madness the Tories will propose for all of us…

  5. I wholeheartedly agree Eric, because if there is one thing I could bet my house on it is the inevitability of any inconsistencies to be jumped on from a great height by the unionist dominated media and their lap dog politicians. Keep up the good work.

    • Thanks, Mark. The moral argument is will independence now. The inconsistencies are inevitable in every political argument but I’m truly sure all of those arguments can be dealt with by Yes folk.

  6. Thanks for the analysis – clear and astute. It is wonderful you took that last step – knew you would. You’ll find the pro-indies a welcoming bunch. Yes, the SNP is a big party in Scottish termsbut there is room for ability and what I’ve read over the last couple of years from you shows the type of mind we need. Anyway, cheers and

  7. Great list! With former No voters like yourself arguing the case for independence, I feel very optimistic about Scotland’s future.

  8. Excellent article Eric that clarifies precisely where we are in Scotland at present.
    The damage of Union suppression is busting open and another couple of honest analysis like this will bring it down
    Not long now.


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