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.