Hi All. In the early hours of yesterday morning I paid a late night visit to my virtual village as I often do, to find out what the chat was. On doing this I found a very intelligent, articulate, well argued post from former young Scottish Musician of the Year Paddy Callaghan.
Paddy who has still to decide how he will cast his vote in the forthcoming independence referendum expressed genuine concerns about the level of hostility which has been expressed towards the author JK Rowling after her decision to give a million pounds to Better Together campaign who wish to see Scotland remain in the United Kingdom.
In his post Paddy makes the point that both Yes Scotland and Better Together have received
£ 1 million donations from people who have decided to back their political beliefs. Surely Paddy
says the point of democracy is that we should stand up for what we believe in. This is a statement with which I cannot argue and it is really important that people listen to the voice of the undecided.
There is however one point I feel I should perhaps pick up on. You see Paddy mentions the fact that he will ‘not vote no because of JK Rowling nor will he vote yes because of East Ayrshire millionaires. Though the point itself is a good one and expressed in a fair and balanced manner, I have to say that an author of JK Rowling’s standing will have the potential to have more impact than the Weir’s on the voting intentions of those who have yet to make their minds up.
A key weakness in Rowling’s argument was that she mentioned the First Minister Alex Salmond on no fewer than four occasions. What she and a significant number of others seem to be encouraged to forget or even worse ignore is that this referendum is not about people’s opinion of Alex Salmond which is I suspect a lot higher the British press and media would have us believe. Nor is it about our opinion of the Scottish National Party Mr Salmond currently leads. This referendum is about the right of the people of Scotland to govern ourselves
In his post Paddy expressed legitimate concerns that some on the fringes of the Yes campaign seem to want to demonise anyone who supports the no campaign. To be fair I think the same can be said of the less desirable elements of better together. The only difference I would make is with better together the personal attacks some of which are amongst the most vicious and vindictive I have ever seen in any campaign are not always confined to the fringes. Indeed some of the most disgusting insults have been made by senior politicians who are usually though not always members of the Labour Party.
The targets of these attacks which border on fanatical are of course are predictable. For example our First Minister Alex Salmond, and his deputy Nicola Sturgeon come in for some very unsavoury treatment on both the mainstream and social media and the same can be said of the SNP. This despite the fact that the Yes Scotland campaign is comprised of all parties and none. However, and it has to be said, none of these attacks no matter how vile seem to be covered by a press and media which is all too willing to comply with the unionist message. Indeed Mr Salmond has been compared to former Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler, and the tyrannical Zimbabwian leader Robert Mugabe by prominent no campaigners and has received not one word of apology for this deliberate lie.
So whilst agreeing with Paddy’s post to a significant extent I just felt in the interests of balance he should made more aware of the fact that this kind of behaviour which does demean the debate is far more of a two way street than the press would have us believe. His point that he saw more about JK Rowling than he did on the horror of UKIP winning a seat in the recent European Elections is actually frightening
and unfortunately not as surprising as I would like it to be.
Also from a personal perspective though in no way condoning the attacks on JK Rowling or any other prominent no campaigner I think it does need said that there are those on both sides who would be advised to wind their necks in as it may just raise the tone of the debate. As the man correctly says smear is not evidence.
Perhaps the most important point Paddy makes in his post is that people do not believe they are well enough informed to make such an important decision. A decision which could have ramifications for Scotland for years or even decades to come. As an active campaigner for Yes Scotland it is I believe my duty to let people know that there is information out there to support the case for a yes vote. Most of this information is available on social media sites such as National Collective which is a site which should be of particular interest to talented creative people such as poets,
writers, and musicians. Bella Caledonia, and Wings Over Scotland and that is the only place you will be likely to find it.
As with the honourable exception of the Sunday Herald you will not find any pro independence stories in what passes for our mainstream news media.
I do however have to say that though I believe Yes supporters do extraordinarily well to maintain our dignity under what I consider to be relentless attacks from a hostile press and self serving media I think some people would be well advised to exercise a degree of caution on our social media sites. Speaking personally I have got to the stage where should I see a post on facebook which may come close to getting on my nerves I often use the hide story option which means it disappears from my timeline and therefore I can defuse a potentially annoying situation. Sometimes it really does take a step back to take two forward but if that’s what we have to do then I suggest we do it and I said as much when I commented on Paddy’s post.
With an articulate reasoned voice Paddy has made many valid points on both the tone and content of this debate and is correct to say that both camps need to up their game as decision day draws
nearer. However there is one key message which needs shouted loud and clear from every roof top in the land and this message is in order to win the future both sides need to talk less and listen more especially to the voices of the undecided. It is this group who going to win or lose you the vote they are the people who opinions need to be heard, respected, and valued.
If as I hope it will be, it is the Yes campaign who will ultimately be successful there is one message we really need to hammer home in the remaining three months between now and polling day and that message is a simple one. This referendum is not about one man or his party despite what some members of Better Together may think. Neither is it about any politician or personality on either side of the debate. This is too important for petty political points scoring, that can be left for other days, this is about the future of our country. To me this referendum is about the kind of Scotland we want to live in and the kind of legacy we want to leave for future generations.
It is I think fair to say that how we vote in September will not only determine the Scotland we are, it will also decide the choices we are able or indeed allowed to make and how these will impact on the future we face. So my message could not be clearer and it is summed up as follows. If you value the inclusive society we are and have hopes about the nation we can be, then regardless of what party you would normally support on any given election day. On this one occasion I would ask you not to think of the Scotland of the past,and base your decision on grudge and grievance. I would also ask that you forget about any short term gains you may make the immediate future and instead think only of the future and the Scotland you would like your country to aspire to be and then having done that, vote for the positive change needed to gain that Scotland and do it by voting Yes for not for your parents and the past but for your future and that of your children and grandchildren.
Love And Best Wishes