Through the entire course of the Scottish independence referendum campaign the voting public of Scotland was the target of a sustained bombardment of fear, misinformation, and blackmail from Westminster and its Better Together and media partners. On the Monday after the referendum the campaign chief of Better Together, Blair McDougall, openly acknowledged to the Labour Party conference in Manchester that Scotland would have voted for independence had it not been for their scaremongering tactics. He was proud to admit that his research showed that before the vote the Better Together negative campaigning worked. It was for this reason, and in spite of the frequent calls from the unionists in Scotland for a more positive argument for the union, that the Westminster establishment continued its successful policy of frightening the elderly and vulnerable people of Scotland. We have to then accept that this disgusting abuse of Scotland was policy from the inception of the unionist campaign.
What we can learn from this is that negative campaigning works. The unionists and we now know this to be the case. When the people of Scotland get another chance to make a bid for separation from Westminster we can safely say that the same successful tactics will be employed to ensure London’s access to the wealth of Scotland. If by some miracle we as a nation manage to overcome the effects of fear, from this record of Westminster’s behaviour, we can expect the unionists to find other, equally devious, means of securing victory over and against the better judgement of Scotland. Westminster’s deliberate policy of terror cost a great deal of money. To be more exact, it cost a great deal of your money. Other than the public tax supported Westminster government and its Better Together campaign, the BBC – supported by your licence fees – put its entire weight behind the pro-union agenda. Chief executives, directors, managers, newspaper editors, and owners of business small and great were using the money they made from you to blackmail, threaten and intimidate Scottish voters into voting against independence. The awful truth of the matter is that it was your money, our money, which won the referendum for London and Westminster; rather than the over 55s or any other group. Better Together’s terror campaign cost a great deal of your money.
It is absolutely certain that if we are ever to stand a chance of defeating this Goliath then we must begin, as a community, to think and act better. We must box clever. People are rightly worried about boycotting those powerful political, media, and financial institutions that used our money to defeat us. It is true that these bodies employ many Scottish people, and therefore contribute to the economy of Scotland. Is that it then? Have we found ourselves in a trap where our very economic existence depends on the favour of those who wish nothing more than to exploit us? That is part of the trick, and it was integral to the fear tactic employed against us. Now, that so many within the independence movement are uneasy about an economic response to this tactic – for these self-same reasons – is indicative of the fact that the terror tactics worked, and that they are still working.
An independent Scotland in the future demands that each of us start living that independence right now. We can never be free, not now and not ever, if we are incapable of thinking and acting as independent people in the here and now – no longer being subject to our Scotholm Syndrome or dependent on the crumbs from Westminster’s table. Such a national transformation cannot be realised passively. It is nothing less than the awakening of a nation, and such bold gestures cannot be made reality from the comfort of a sofa or over the internet. Our independent Scotland of the future is an idea – a beautiful idea – but it will never be more than one of Bob Geldof’s “feelings” unless it is brought into the real world by action.
Every single day people write in the comments on the Butterfly Rebellion Facebook page that an economically conscious action of the people of Scotland would be a negative thing, that it would put people out of work, and that we ought to be doing something positive. All of these points are salient but still conform to the rules set by Westminster. Just whose tune are we marching to here? The international boycott of Apartheid South Africa did not ruin a nation – it changed a nation. No one, least of all the Butterfly Rebellion, is asking for a ceaseless and unforgiving boycott of industries that will destroy them and weaken Scotland. In the real world such activism – positive activism – happens with real people and in real time. Refusing to spend our money on goods and services to the profit of those companies which held us to ransom will neither destroy them (business people are smart people) nor will it increase unemployment.
Big business reacts to consumer demand and opinion. Haven’t we all seen The Apprentice? No sooner than there is an adverse change in the bottom line than the company reacts and changes policy. Scotland’s business giants, as we have all acknowledged, are in the game ‘to make money,’ not fight political battles. Our political battle can be a positive chance for each of these financial and retail industries to make money. That is win-win, and certainly a positive thing. As for the employees of these institutions, they too can play a significant role in this economically conscious action. We have all seen the massive increase in pro-independence political party membership. Trade Unions too can have a positive social and political effect on the behaviour of commerce and industry. Employees can join a Union and use their combined influence to shape the Union and place further pressure on their employer to change its political stance.
There are many things that we can do with regard to positive, affirmative action in Scotland to bring about the conditions required to win our independence when we have another chance. We can, and we are, joining political parties. We can attend local pro-independence meetings and add our presence to rallies. All of this is necessary, but the money in our pocket is still being used against us so long as we do not engage in a positive and affirmative economic action that will have a real and tangible impact on the spending money of Westminster next time round.
– The Butterfly Rebellion