Not proven

The comparator countries have been selected because they have higher GDP capita than UK – that’s why (for example) Portugal, Greece, Czech Republic, Slovak Republic are not included. Why not ask; what does Scotland have that these countries do not? Answer: an SNP government focused on grievance and division.

(I guess this is why they don’t include data for Scotland on their graphs.)

Kevin Hague, These Islands

Kevin Hague is, of course, a British Nationalist bigot. But he does nicely illustrate a serious problem with Nicola Sturgeon’s approach of trying to ‘prove’ a case for independence. And it is a problem which she would have been aware of had she taken the trouble to properly analyse the 2014 referendum campaign. All that was achieved with the publication of ‘Scotland’s Future’ – the Scottish Government’s so-called ‘independence white paper’ – was to provide Kevin Hague and other British Nationalist propagandists with a huge number of targets to take aim at for the purpose of generating doubt and/or aggravating existing doubt. Better Together’s winning strategy was not Project Fear but Project Doubt.

The First Minister is making the same tragic mistake again. Whatever the content of this series of papers the exercise as a whole is simply ‘Scotland’s Future’ revisited with the most significant difference being that it is to be published in instalments. It would be gratifying to think that it was being done this way because Sturgeon thought it would be more effective – which is probably the case. I strongly suspect, however, that the new ‘white paper’ is being published as a partwork solely because no preparatory work was done. The instalment plan is just buying time.

I confidently assert that not a single mind was changed by the original ‘white paper’. For various reasons – including that it is being released in readily digestible chunks – the new version MAY be marginally more effective in winning over people to the idea of independence. But I very much doubt if the effect will be significant.

This lack of persuasive power has to be balanced against the extent to which ‘Scotland’s Future II’ aids the new Project Doubt. Because if there is one certainty about the coming campaign it is that the British Nationalists will use precisely the same tactics as brought them success in 2014. The time so graciously afforded them by Nicola Sturgeon will have allowed the anti-independence propagandists to hone their skills and improve their methods. But the strategy will be the same. Having the advantage of the referendum being framed so as to make independence the contentious option rather than the Union, the British Nationalists will simply contrive to cast doubt on every word uttered or published by the Yes side. This can be done simply by asking questions about it. There is no need to refute or rebut the contents of the revised ‘white paper’. To trigger doubt it is necessary to do no more than pose questions. They don’t even have to be sensible questions.

As Kevin Hague has already demonstrated, detailed ‘proof’ can be undermined in its entirety by questioning just one of the details. For each detail presented there are many ways of generating or aggravating doubt. While the Scottish Government has burdened itself with the task of ‘proving’ its ‘case for independence’ the British Nationalists are not required to make any case for the Union. They are not even required to ‘disprove’ the Yes side’s case. They need only make it seem less convincing. Something which is extremely easy to do. We know this because even Kevin Hague can do it.

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2 thoughts on “Not proven

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