Any vote has to accept the legitimacy of those who vote against you. If you reject this basic proposition, you should refuse to legitimize the ballot by boycotting it, calling on others to follow your example. If you deny voters the right to vote whatever way they deem fit, then the process is a farce from start to finish.
Scottish independence supporters who descend into dismissing all NO voters as traitors are a disaster from a strategic point of view. Is it wrong in principle to call NO voters traitors? That depends what is meant by the question.
If we are dealing with a blanket condemnation of everyone who votes against independence, then yes, it is wrong in principle. However, I don’t think we will win the referendum if we don’t accept that the NO campaign is being lead by all the most reactionary forces in society: Orange Order, xenophobic Thatcherites of UKIP, British Intelligence, those who gave us MI5’s dodgy dossiers, with all the loss of life in Iraq, which has made the world a much more dangerous place, with those more extreme than Al Qaeda knocking at the door, and victims of NATO’s war against Muslims driving the oppressed into the arms of a different kind of reactionary. Apart from helping corrupt war criminal Tony Blair make a hundred million pounds in ill-gotten earnings, what have these people done for anyone?
Obviously, not everyone rejects independence for reactionary reasons. There is the question of the economy. If Project Fear is having an effect (and it undoubtedly is), then obviously those who think independence will turn Scots into paupers are not doing anything reactionary by voting against this. It is not them, but the BBC bosses, members of the CBI, effectively an arm of the Tory Party, that is burying the truth about economic reality.
Some socialists will vote against independence because they haven’t thought things through. They want to protect our English brothers and sisters from a relatively stronger Tory vote at Westminster. What they are doing is wrong, but they are doing it for the best of motives. This doesn’t make them ‘traitors’.
The way to win the referendum is by convincing those who have fallen prey to BBC lies, and to the lies of SKY News and Channel4 News. It is about explaining that the forces of reaction oppose independence for specific reasons of self-interest.
Attacking JK Rowling the way she was attacked damaged us, and there is no point pretending otherwise. She did not become a bad writer because she gave her money to the wrong campaign, a fact that is obvious the moment we ask how she would have been treated had she given the money to us. JK Rowling has every right to vote they way she intends, and she has just as much right to be open about doing this. It is not her fault that the BBC makes a big deal about one author siding with the BBC’s NO Campaign, while turning a deaf ear to the 95% of authors who back the YES Campaign.
If JK Rowling has reasons for her decision, and wants to use to them to convince others, then her arguments should be debated. If her arguments are poor, it is not trolling to say what we believe is wrong with them. Not if we do it correctly, rather than lie about how poor her writing is. Neither is it wrong to explain why the rich, of which JK Rowling is a well-known representative, are overwhelmingly opposed to Scottish independence.
Tories, Lib Dems and UKIP won’t get a sniff of power in an independent Scotland due to their association with wretched right-wing policies. Ed Miliband’s Labour Party is being outflanked on the left everywhere. And not before time. The rich fear Scots in an independent state will vote for redistributive taxation. And we certainly will, regardless of whether Alex Salmond wants that or not. The rich on both sides of the border fear this, and their anxieties are well-founded, and not only in Scotland. Scots in an independent state will foment a rise in the forces of the left in England also. The BBC know this. They just refuse to let their viewers and listeners hear the arguments.
What we are dealing with is a debate about strategy and tactics, and principles too. I think one of the problems the YES Campaign now has is frustration that the BBC’s Project Fear has dented the progress of the YES Campaign more than we expected, and time is rapidly running out.
People want to express their rage at the BBC, and I am all for that. But those we have not convinced are becoming collateral damage in a justified war of words against what the mass media is doing. This can’t possibly help the YES Campaign. When it comes to our target audience (that being most ordinary Scots), we need to patiently explain. And that means being respectful to those we have yet to convince. Unless we do that, we will so anger them that they won’t merely sit on their hands and say ‘a plague on both your houses’; they will turn up on polling day to make sure we are defeated.
Only by being respectful to ordinary Scots who disagree with us will we win their ear, then give ourselves a chance of talking them round in the closing weeks of this once-in-a-generation referendum. Telling voters they are traitors if we don’t convince them, is the daftest thing we could possibly do. Please, gonnae no dae that.
[The inspiration for this post came from a thread started on Citizen Smart’s Facebook, which I liked, and which I consider very timely: https://www.facebook.com/CitizenSmart/posts/10152654319708060]