“I see you’ve got a Yes sticker on your car”

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by R Ritchie

“I see you’ve got a Yes sticker on your car” came the slightly accusatory comment from a casual acquaintance I bumped into on a recent trip to the supermarket. 

“Yes I have”, I replied.

“You know you’ll lose your free prescriptions if Scotland goes independent?” was the next comment. Oh here we go, I thought to myself, but I gently asked instead,

“And where did the free prescriptions come from in the first place?”

My acquaintance, a gentleman of very mature years, went slightly flushed, ignored my question and replied in a louder voice,

“Scotland’s fourteen billion pounds in debt!”

“I don’t think that’s entirely true; it depends on-” I started but was interrupted.

 “Dae you no watch the bloody news wummin?”, his voice now notably raised, as no doubt his blood pressure was too, “We cannae survive!” He seemed to suddenly check himself to the milder person I’m used to passing pleasantries with, continuing in a more conciliatory tone, “but you’re entitled to your own opinion.”

“Yes indeed”, I agreed, “and we’ll see what happens in the future”. Then with a farewell wave of mixed concern and disbelief, and some unintelligible muttering, he was off.

Why do I recount this brief and dull moment of ordinary life? Several reasons, all of which I believe independence supporters must understand and find ways to tackle.

Firstly, he was undoubtedly one of those who voted No, genuinely fearing loss of his pension. Knowing him during his former employment, I’d suggest he wasn’t a social band A or B, and I know I’m guilty of making sweeping generalisations, but he probably didn’t read as widely into the case for independence as others. He’s also showing the signs of being a devout and unquestioning follower of the Hallowed BBC and printed press. I’d be pretty sure that the internet and social media are something he considers unnecessary and dangerous. 

He’s a pleasant, kind man who has clearly worked hard all his life and just wants a secure and peaceful retirement, so of course he fears the horror of a future which the main stream media portray would exist in independent Scotland. 

This brief conversation in a supermarket car park, gave me a renewed glimpse through the eyes of people who haven’t had access to the extensive information we have online. I think we sometimes forget how scary the thought of independence can be, to those who know only what the MSM tells them. I hope that the fact he brought up the topic of my Yes sticker, and the realisation I still pursue independence, will maybe lay an ember of doubt within him.

Meanwhile, we can post pro independence material online and feel we’re doing something positive, but until we reach the people who aren’t accessing the alternative information, they will remain unionist by default. Brief conversations in the car parks of life, may be a place to start. Five million copies of an updated Wee Blue Book would be helpful too! 

More than anything, this conversation made me realise that it is up to us, every one of us, to make the case in real life, to real people, every chance we can. Of course some won’t listen, but there are plenty of people who still don’t know anything other than what they are fed by the mass media. They need us to talk to them, to open their horizons, to share other points of view and sources of information. 

Persuading the public to choose a better future for our country isn’t someone else’s job, it’s mine and yours, and it’s time we got started again.

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11 Comments

  1. Very good, I enjoyed that.

    Your experience was typical of what most of us have experienced, ie, engaging with a staunch No. I had a similar such experience just last week, in the Star Bar pub in Glasgow’s Eglinton Toll. I’d smiled and exchanged pleasantries with this wee lady on many occasions – have to confess, I didn’t know her name but it didn’t matter as she always had a ready smile for me. We’ll call her Senga

    So, pleasantries turn into colours being pinned to masts and the truth will out.

    I’m not sure how we got round to politics, but it was probably a “that Nicola Sturgeon” moment, yes, more than likely that. Odd, Govanhill – Nicola’s constituency – has a fair-sized section of the community who happen to think less of Nicola Sturgeon than they do of some-or-other bastard Tory who’d have them in an old-style tenement house with no hot running water, an outside toilet and abject poverty. I’ve heard them in the Star on numerous occasions; ‘that Nicola Sturgeon!’or ‘that Alex Salmond!’ or, as Senga claimed; ‘There’s nae oil up in that North Sea’..
    I told her from the outset I was a member of the SNP, and noted her expression change to bewilderment, suppression of deep-rooted hate for ‘us’. The bewilderment was from not quite marrying-up the nice chap who frequents the pub with her perceived learned-from-the-media vileness of the SNP.
    Long story short: we parted amicably – but not before I blew many of her pro-Labour arguments right out of the fucking water, in a nice way, of course.

    AND NOW THE SINGLE-MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE OF OUR TIMES: How do we get the good message out-there? How do we sway the information tide in our favour, irreversibly, irrevocably so that folk see the plain truth of what’s really happening in their country? Well, the paradox of being Scots is that, as passionate as we are in defence of oor-ain, we’re far too passive about actually doing something to change things. Can you imagine French ferry workers giving a shit about holidymakers when their very livelihood is being threatened? No, neither can I. And that’s why french ferry workers become a news item during the Summer months. French ferry workers will take no snash and they’re good at letting folk know they’ll take no snash. Scots need to take no snash. We need to do stuff that’ll catch the eye of other Scots – especially when we receive no favours from the BBC.

    I have a big house, bought and paid for, right on a main road, can’t miss it. I will readily hang a large, white sheet from the roof of my detached building and proclaim the great things we’ve achieved under the SNP government.. but I’m concerned about being considered a crank. I swear, if any of my neighbours did this I’d be the first to copy their initiative. I wonder how Senga would react to; ‘More social housing built under the SNP’
    ‘Hospital A&E waiting times target surpassed across Scotland – under the SNP’ etc, etc..
    She might not geddit straight-away, but then she’s not used to her-ain being lauded by ornery fowk. Senga’d come round to us.

    In the meantime, I’ll keep using my SNP pen (when I remove it from inside my jacket) and hope that someone suddenly loves us.

    We need to get radical, grassrooty, about processing our information to BBC watchers. I have large, white sheets just waiting to be emblazoned, my neighbours probably do, too

  2. The Scottish government or individuals should be proactive in promoting the positive stuff that having devolution has brought i.e. Free prescitions, no road tolls,borders railway etc. I have a very small business so I buy small plastic boards with basic info on it i.e. Name phone number what we do. We put them up any where we are allowed to and it gets the message across.So maybe the Scottish government could do it on a larger scale and that would go a bit of the way in balancing the bias of the MSM. maybe they could start with Did you know?then a short couple of words explaining free prescription the NHS in Scotland, Mitigation of the bedroom tax etc think what we could do as a independent country,it might make guys like you met at the supermarket think a little bit more.etc. The boards only cost between £10 and £20. Don’t know the legality of this but it’s only advertising in the same way as £350 million a week on the side of a bus. This is just a idea.

  3. We suffer from a demographic in society who are incapable of receiving information from any source other than the one they already don’t trust so why should they trust a new source who they have been told by the other source is even worse than them

    It’s even difficult just to say that

  4. I am not a great lover of talking face to face with people. I have mild Aspergers and that gets in the way. But if someone engages I push that out of the way.

    Before the referendum I spoke to one undecided voter who was open minded. He was, like me, ex military and inclined to vote no but without much conviction. I answered his questions as best I could; he worked for Erskine and had questions about how veterans would be treated after independence, as at that moment (and still) the UK Government approach to the injured and long term medical conditioned ex service is one of ‘charities will pick up the slack’ and both he and I view that as unacceptable. I said I would raise issues of veteran welfare along with that of all the people occupying what the UK Government clearly see as an underclass, but I had no actual answers for him as I hadn’t seen any information directly pertaining to ex service welfare.

    This conversation was on 17th September 2014.

    I saw him on the 19th. And he had voted yes, and was just as gutted as I was.

    He was my one and only guaranteed Yes convert.

    The importance of face to face interaction cannot be overstated. Go armed with all possible knowledge and always be aware that you might be talking to a closed mind. Knowledge is a little icepick and ignorance is a big block of ice. Little taps, little chips off the block.

  5. Oh dear, I don’t know if I could have kept a straight face! I laughed out loud at the screen reading the “you’ll lose your free prescriptions”. It is honestly laughable. I think the time for arguing with people who don’t have the arguments is over, we can politely dismiss them, hand them a handy copy of the national, blue book or other relevant literature, or I would suggest just laugh and say “you don’t still believe all that rubbish do you? Where on earth do you get your information, poor dear”. If we keep rehashing the basic old tired false arguments, it gives them value where they should not be validated. If they are silly or simply false, then lets not pay them any attention. It helps to be armed with a more thoughtful rebuttal, on things such as a Scottish Investment Bank, our future relationship with Europe, etc etc.

  6. Good article. We need to get the message to the non onliners. Needs to be through the doors, pamphlet, leaflets, free newspaper, something delivered by army of yes volunteers. Only way to get the truth out there. Need to bypass MSM and BBC

  7. I’ve been saying for 5 years now, that if we don’t reach folk who DON’T investigate, and give them incontrovertible truths to digest, then a referendum is doomed to fail, simply because the UK govt has a great mouthpiece in the BBC and most print media (except for the national and some of the internet news providers such as Independence Live and others). Grassroots MUST reach out to these isolated and vulnerable people before the next indy ref.

  8. This observation rings very true. It isn’t clear if the “too wee, too puir… plus £15BN debt” is the real reason or just a convenient excuse to mask a small-c conservatism characterised by an absence of ambition, lack of awareness, and a fear of significant change. The result of 300+ years of institutionalisation. These people are prisoners in a jail of their own construction.

    But how best to free them? That is the big question. They will try to blank out all sorts of inconvenient facts, however salient. Maybe the negative consequences of Brexit, and the ensuing humiliation of the UK in the world, will finally prise away enough of them. The best way to start, however, is to normalise independence. Just assure them that independence is on the way. Treat it as a given. An inevitable outcome. If enough of us do that in everyday conversations, they will begin to feel like the odd ones out. And by their nature they will be uncomfortable with that.

    (The “£15 billion” meme, BTW, is easily countered by simply replying: the UK debt is £1600 billion” and our debt is just our supposed share of their mismanagement. We could manage our own money far better ourselves!

  9. Totally agree. Was speaking to someone who I’d met in the pub (friends colleague). We were talking about Brexit (which we were agreeing on) and I said I’ll put my cards on the table and tell you I’m a Scottish Nationalist. Then, out came all the nonsense the MSM are famed for. He tried to tell me there had been a vote in the European Parliament to deny Scotland entry if they were independent. I inquired when specifically was this. He had no idea, it was something he’d read somewhere. This is the major issue, ppl are not engaged day to day and just read and listen to snippets of information which is usually staunchly unionist.

  10. I actually think we need to start with our own members. Give them the information to combat unionist spin and misinformation, give them info graphics to post on social media, give them newsletters to share with family and friends and give them articles to pass on to strangers. We in our branch certain need to engage and empower our own members so we have many more folk working to put across the benefits of an independent Scotland

    A member complained to me a few days ago about the spam (he actually used that word) coming from SNP HQ. The spam turned out to be emails sent out in Nicola’s name. The guy thought they were fluff when what he wanted was proper information to use as ammunition. We need to learn from such comments.

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