By Alec Ross
“The way to win”, writes Pete Wishart, is through “quiet persuasion”.
Here’s a question.
Has anyone met anyone who was No in 2014 and who now, because of Brexit and / or the failure to deliver the “vow”, or any other factor, is now Yes? Because I have to report – I haven’t. I mean, I meet folk who are less against it, but I’ve a horrible feeling that when it comes to it, they’d still vote with the firm.
The conclusion you have to reach is that the unionist vote – and it could be as high as 35% – is rock solid. We’d be wasting our time if we spent even a single second speaking to them.
I started thinking about this during the recent election campaign. We could beat ourselves up over tactics, message and so on but I remember looking at Alister Jack standing in the street with a couple of his mates, saying hello to a couple of supporters and then buggering off – and thinking: “this guy really can’t be bothered”. And then thinking “maybe that’s because he knows he doesn’t have to try”. December 12th proved him right.
There’s a thing called empathetic fallacy, which means that we take our own logical thinking and assume that everybody thinks like us. I mean, D&G voted remain. It’s a remote, rural area for whom EU funding and access to the single market along with continuing free movement to bring us workers to fuel our economy is essential. Why would anyone think for a second that voting for Jacob Rees-Mogg’s bestie, a guy who’s a fully paid-up member of the hard-Brexit cliff-edge club and someone who would deliver precisely the opposite of what the region needs?
And yet plenty folk did. Largely I think because his core support is wealthy, rural and old. And yet, curiously, the numbers show that if you were less well off financially you’d vote for the Tories. For some, economic hardship is a price worth paying for staying in the UK – a bit like the Brexit voters I meet down south for whom leaving the EU is an article of faith. A hundred Yellowhammer reports won’t alter that.
One of the curious paradoxes of the Yes movement is that support for Yes is massive amongst young folk and small in the 55+ range. And yet every pro-independence meeting I go to? Retired folk. Where are the young people?
This squares with the GE turnout. 18-24: 47% ; 25-34: 55% ; 35-44: 54% ; 45-54: 63% ; 55-64: 66% ; 65+: 74%. There’s a map depicting the result of a hypothetical GE where only those over 65 got the vote. It’s nearly entirely blue. Through apathy, younger people continue to get the outcomes that older people determine for them.
So we won’t win by trying “gentle persuasion” on folk who frankly have made it clear they don’t want independence and would appear too happy to determine a future that they will never have to see whilst enjoying a quiet life, and the rest of you can go whistle.
The way to win is to get young people out in massive numbers to demand a future that is theirs much more than it is ours.
But first we need to get a section 30 order. We won’t get that through “gentle persuasion” either. And that’s a whole separate article.