Disappointing reasons to vote No

A response to Ewan Morrison’s “Yes: Why I joined and why I changed to No“.

Ewan Morrison discusses why he was turned off the Yes campaign. 

To summarize, as faithfully as I can:

(1) Morrison joined the Yes camp in the hope of finding some debate. Instead he got rah-rah. People were not interested in hearing awkward questions (there are plenty!). (2) Morrison came to see the Yes movement as something other than a campaign for independence. It was a barely-clothed power grab. It was the sum of opportunist parties hoping to be big fish in a smaller (post-independence) pond. (3) These ambitions will come into the open in the event of a Yes vote, (4) are incompatible and (5) will show Scotland in a poor light.

Some highlights, again trying to be faithful to the essay:

“[T]here is no way that the groups under the banner of Yes could actually work together; they’re all fighting for fundamentally different things.”

“The … factions within the Yes camp are all dreaming that they will have more power in the new Scotland ‘after the referendum.’ Bigger fish in the smaller pond.”

“The dream will die as soon as the singular Yes gets voted and Scotland then turns into a battleground of repressed and competing Yesses. Once the recruitment machine has served its purpose it will collapse and the repressed questions will return with a vengeance.”

“What makes this worse than remaining in the UK is that Scotland will be fighting out its internal battles on a world stage after demonstrating it intends to run its new politics on an illusion of unity, a unity that breaks up even as it is observed.”

My response:

For each of these quotes, my reaction is, Why is this a ‘bad’ thing? Why is the prospect of unruly politics surprising, much less a reason to maintain the union? My succinct response to this essay is that ‘messy politics’ is the whole point! Let the arguments spill into the open. Let the best case be made. Let people advance arguments and let people make decisions via the ballot box — post independence. The vote on Thursday is about independence. Cameron likes to remind Scots that it isn’t a referendum on Tory rule. Nor is it a referendum on Alex Salmond.

Some specific responses to the summary points as I discerned them:

(1). The Yes camp is throttling awkward questions / it’s a cult

This reminds me of the person who shows up to the wrong meeting. There are meetings where policies are discussed, and there are meetings where campaigns are discussed and organised. Someone showing up to the latter expecting the former is going to have a hard time. There was a policy dialogue and a chance to comment on the white paper setting out the outlines of an independent Scotland. That’s where the questions needed to come. The yes campaign is about … well, getting a yes vote. By all means keep asking awkward and tough questions, but the setting is key. The white paper is human-made, it is flawed. There will be much arguing over it. That should be welcome.

(2). The Yes camp is a sum of parties (and people) seeking power

Granted. But I do not see the problem with this. I wouldn’t expect it to be otherwise.

(3.) These ambitions will be exposed after a Yes vote.

That will be helpful — one hopes that better policies will result.

(4). These parties will find their aspirations are incompatible.

Again this is right and correct — and expected in a democracy.

(5). This will show Scotland in a bad light.

The author states that “what makes this worse than remaining in the UK” is that “Scotland will be fighting out its internal battles on a world stage”.

If this is the reason to stay in the UK, then there is no good argument for staying in the UK.

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