For the umpteenth time, Bella Caledonia has issued an olive branch to No voters, inviting them to explain themselves:
As we stagger about the burnt-out shell that is post-indyref Scotland, we are trying to make sense of it all. So next week we are offering a space for No voters to have their say.
Understanding what the hell just happened before we all disappear for Christmas Pudding and box-set bliss is important – so we’ll be giving over space to allow No voters to express themselves now we are three months on.
If you voted No – what do you think and feel now?
You might want to apologise. You might feel vindicated. You might have realised you were being lied to all the time. Does the oil price prove we would have been an economic basketcase? Or does the pensions revelations prove that propaganda won? Did the Vow wow you?
Whether you changed your mind or feel it was the right thing to do, we want to hear from you.
Best of luck to Bella, it’s very magnanimous of them. But I’ve spent enough time being accommodating to No voters.
No voters have had two years to express themselves. They have had two years to host rallies, hold marches, start blogs and websites, write music, perform plays, to sell their idea to the world. They had two years to reverse the mounting Yes movement with a Positive Case for the Union. They have had two years to say to the world “we are better together.” And they’ve had almost the entirety of the media falling over themselves trying to help them. Remember the BBC gushing about Vote No Borders as if it was a genuine grassroots movement? Remember “Flowers for the Union,” Hands Across the Border? Remember the stramash made over four words said by Kate Moss in accepting David Bowie’s award? The 2 million Scots who voted No had every opportunity to speak up.
But they didn’t. They kept their head down. They kept quiet. They let the politicians and the corporate juggernauts and the business tycoons and the media lords and the sectarian hate-gangs speak for them. They had no Calton Hill. They had no Yes Flashmobs. They had no Yes from Above. Just career politicians, eager journalists, rabid idiots, clueless millionaires and bigoted thugs. On the 19th of September, when surely we should have had jubilation from the 2 million who voted for what they thought was best for their country, we got this:
No voters had two years to come up with something – anything. They came up with nothing. And the vacuum was filled by hatred.
Already they’re making excuses. In the comments for the article, we see people complaining about the “confrontational” language of putting “you might want to apologise” first, before “you might feel vindicated.” Really? Really? Is belief in your vote so worthless, so fragile, so indefensible that you’re going to let that stop you from speaking out? Have you no faith that you did the right thing? Is your desire, your passion, in proving that voting No was the right thing to do so pitiful that you balk at a pro-independence site’s choice of paragraph structure?
There’s this thing in psychology called “confirmation bias.” Simply put, it is a cognitive tendency for individuals to only acknowledge or interpret information in a way that confirms their own beliefs or hypotheses. This can take many forms: belief perseverance (even after that belief was proven to be false), irrational primacy (where earlier information is more important or reflective than later information), attitude polarisation (where the same evidence shown to opposing sides actually strengthens their respective resolves) and illusory correlation (where two unrelated events or situations are falsely associated).
We can see this well in evidence in the wake of the referendum – on both sides. Anything negative – falling oil prices, pound value, job losses, pension cuts, NHS crises – is viewed by No voters as proof that Scots could never go it alone, or at least, that we’re “better together” where the burden could be “shared” with the UK rather than risking it as a separate nation; alternatively, to Yes voters, it’s proof that the UK cannot guarantee anything regardless of Better Together’s protestations to the contrary. And since it was a No vote, the last thing most No voters want is to realise that they might have voted the wrong way.
Confirmation bias is easy to sustain when the entire media is confirming your bias. For all the No side’s demands that Yes voters put the referendum in the past, they seem hell-bent on making the 2015 General Election a re-run: continuing the demonisation of Alex Salmond, extending Project Fear to more devolution as well as full independence, covering up for the establishment’s sins, even encouraging tactical voting (New Labour advocating a vote for Neoliberal Democrats, Tories voting tactically for New Labour, New Labour still pretending they’re not just the Anti-SNP Party) all aimed at stopping the SNP. It’s easy to feel assured and confident you did the right thing when about 30 out of 34 newspapers are still carrying on with their nonsense as if the referendum never happened.
A while back, I said a No vote was not evil, but it was a vote to enable, encourage and facilitate evil. Since the referendum, we’ve seen the UK parliament overwhelmingly vote in favour of airstrikes in Iraq, where already there are reports of innocents, including children, confirmed dead. We’ve seen the Conservatives propose to tax disability benefits, bring in the humiliating benefits card scheme, and to repeal the Human Rights Act. We’ve seen Jack Straw demand that future referendums be outlawed. We’ve seen New Labour promise to cut Jobseeker’s Allowance for young people. We’ve seen the UK still refusing to acknowledge the devastation it’s causing to its own people. No voters must defend their vote of confidence in that system – for what else is it but a preference to keep that system in power over their lives, than to take it into their own hands?
So I understand that we must try to convince No voters over to Yes: we’re not going to do that by bullying or alienating them. But neither are we going to get anywhere without acknowledging that we are trying to convince them that they were wrong to vote No on the 18th of September. The idea that you made the wrong choice in the most important vote in the nation’s history is a monumental challenge to them, and they will resist for their own peace of mind. And that is normal.
People don’t like it when their views are challenged, especially when so much hinges on those beliefs. I don’t like it either. But part of being an intelligent, functioning human being is recognising that life is all about challenges – to your viewpoint, to your happiness, to your safety, to your existence. To shy away from challenge is not only unfortunate and limiting, but often dangerous. The very act of challenge is what makes the human race human, for how can we learn or adapt if we do not acknowledge that there is more to learn, or that there are things to adapt to?
Yes voters have been challenged at every corner: No voters have not. The media are not going to challenge No voters any more than they’re going to challenge the New Labour party: it doesn’t suit their interests to undermine their own side. Neither are the establishment, businesses, or other entities which relied on a No vote. All that is left is us. Challenge is painful, but it is also necessary: either your views will stand tall, or they will collapse. A view that collapses under challenge is not worth a thing, any more than a beloved fence your father built is any use in a flood: it’s better to tear it down and build a brick wall, than pretend your fence is going to stop the water from destroying your home.
So by all means, talk to No voters. But never, ever, fail to challenge them.