Infantilisation of the electorate

The subtext of some of the key arguments against a ‘Yes’ vote is infantalising. For example:

‘You shouldn’t be supporting a vainglorious leader/party’ i.e. Alex Salmond/SNP. 

‘You won’t have a currency union, and there’s no Plan B’.

Even if these are true (and the second one certainly is), why is that a reason to vote ‘No’? Basically the subtext to these warnings is: ‘You are passive participants in the life of your/our nation. Other people (leaders) do things for you. If they and/or their plans come up short, vote No.’


What’s wrong with this? Firstly, it says ‘you are not enfranchised — you cannot do anything about these deficits’ (either in people/parties or policies). This is infantilising. With 97% of Scots registered to vote, and turnout projected to be over 90%, there is every reason to expect people no longer to stand aside passively and ‘let’ bad things happen. Not happy with Salmond/SNP? Boot them out! Not happy with the currency strategy? Elect a party with a better plan.

The point is that this is a bigger issue than the immediate policy programme. Naturally that’s important — it’s huge! But it is human and it is fallible. The whole point is to get engaged and push something better if there is something you don’t like.

And that’s the fundamental reason why I support independence. It holds out the prospect of responsive politics, which is more feasible at a smaller scale.  

So stop with the “What if” scaremongering. What ever it is, it’ll be in the Scots’ hands to make it better.

There’s another way in which the campaign against independence is infantilising. Predictions of doom contain the subtext: Others might do this, but you probably can’t. Put differently: Scots are less able than [insert successful petite country here]. 

What motivated me to write this essay in the first place was still another form of infantilisation being encouraged among the electorate. This is the notion of ‘guarantees’. It goes like this: ‘You can’t guarantee me X, therefore I should vote No.’ This line of argument encourages people to think like children, relating to a state that either can or can’t give them candy.  

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