Do Better Together deep down want an independent Scotland?

yes? no? maybe.
yes? no? maybe. by Visionello, on Flickr.
Linguists have established various rules for how people interact with each another, the so-called Gricean Maxims. These rules can be broken, but they still underpin the way people interpret what they hear.

One of these rules is the Maxim of Relation, which is often described as "Be relevant!"

The consequence of this is that when Better Together ask questions of the Yes campaign, such as their lenghty 500 questions, there is an assumption that they are relevant, that they aren't just scaremongering by asking pointless questions.

In other words, Better Together are saying between the lines that they would support a Yes vote if somebody would just answer all their questions satisfactorily.

I don't believe for a second that any prominent No campaigners will change side if they get enough answers, but my point is that people interpret their questions as if they would.

Better Together are basically saying that they'd love to see an independent Scotland, but that they are concerned whether it's feasible and need some reassurances in order to recommend a Yes.

This is possibly an excellent strategy, given that this is probably quite representative of how many Scots currently feel.

It strikes me as somewhat odd, however, that Better Together don't tell us that Scottish independence is a fundamentally bad idea. If even they don't believe in the Union deep down, why do they bother?

A No campaign fundamentally opposed to Scottish independence would presumably run a completely different campaign. They would say things like "Who would make a better job at running the country -- Westminster or Holyrood?" "Would you rather your pension was in the hands of Salmond or Cameron?" "Why give real powers to a mere region?" "Don't risk losing the protection of British nuclear weapons!" "The House of Lords is a superior way to curtail the powers of a democratically elected parliament!" "Vote with your heart, vote for Britain!"

In short, Better Together have decided to run a negative "Yes, but ...." campaign instead of a positive "No" campaign. I wonder whether this was a conscious decision, or whether they just are fearties who deep down want to see an independent Scotland as much as the rest of us?

10 thoughts on “Do Better Together deep down want an independent Scotland?”

  1. Interesting. There are genuine, honest, heartfelt unionists – mostly within the Tories and UKIP – who will put forward the arguments you mention. “We believe fundamentally Scotland isn’t a real country but a region of the UK. We love UK rule because we’re attached to Westminster, the Lords, the warmongering strength of nuclear weapons and a top table at the UN and hate the thought of being a small, less powerful, more peaceful, more equal country like the Scandinavian ones: Scandanavia is boredom central, ffs!” Those genuine, honest unionists will also honestly tell you they hate the Scottish parliament, never supported it to start with, said it was a mistake and would be a stepping stone to independence, and would like to see it abolished or emasculated.

    But that honest, genuine argument would lose the referendum by a mile. Most Scots trust Holyrood far more than Westminster, aren’t that keen on nukes, do think Scotland is a country and want the Scottish parliament to have substantially more powers.

    So those who wanted devo-max, and /or who support the union but don’t subscribe to those reasons for it are in quite a tough position right now. And a huge number of those in the Labour party, and by association on the pro-union side really do seem like their heart isn’t in it and they’re struggling to put forward any case. They really are left with hand-wringing, lying, smearing and soul sapping “we cannae dae it” negativity.

    1. Thanks for your comment, I completely agree, and the “too wee, too poor, too stupid” campaign is a consequence of this.

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