Alex Salmond Snp Scottish Independence

Yeah But No But Yeah - can we have a choice about independence please?


By Billy Partridge, Director

January 27, 2012 | 4 min read

Such has been the success of the SNP political machine that we now stand on the verge of Scottish independence becoming a reality.

That may sound premature but as every day passes the SNP's Yes vote is winning hearts. Whether it is winning minds is irrelevant - it's winning that matters.

Those living in Scotland have been watching the debate for independence unfold for years - and the SNP have been making the same point repeatedly, building up a highly valuable pace of momentum.

By contrast, the unionist argument seems barely formed, let alone coherently presented. Let's be honest, all the rhetoric coming from unionists is boring, stale and frankly too negative.

That's a key point - you can promote a fundamentally negative position (i.e. Vote No) without yourself slipping into a downbeat tone of voice. It is possible - very possible - to make the No Vote a positive, desirable choice for Scots.

Where is the planning? The referendum is no surprise - the surprise is in the lack of response from the other side.

Politics and media go hand in hand and Alex Salmond is often praised for his capacity to manipulate the latter. Why hasn't the Government's opposition learnt a lesson? Why haven't they formed a singular, honest, credible alternative vision for Scotland, and launched it proactively to the Scottish people? Doesn't any opposition party see the benefits of standing out from the crowd and developing its own unique point of view?

Joyce McMillan makes this point in a convincing article in today's Scotsman - but while hers is a political statement, mine has its heart in communications strategy.

The clear difficulty for political PR strategies is planning. The world doesn't stop because you need to get your ducks in a row, and parties have to respond to events and scrutinise each other on a daily basis.

So planning must presumably be done in parallel - and that is not easy at all. Nevertheless, I was surprised to see that the unionist approach for the Independence vote seems akin to fire-fighting. Don't you think most of their spokespeople look like they're on the back foot?

How frequently has a Tory, Labour or Lib Dem politician attacked an SNP position without ending their sentence positively? That's not entirely because they don't have policies of their own - it's partially because they haven't prepared how best to communicate those policies in a positive, constructive manner. They are not offering much of a choice - yet.

Of course, it's easy to say all this from the comfort of my PC. But these are insights I have gleaned as a interested party, as a voter trying to make up his mind. And, as with many people, I am naturally drawn to positive change. If the United Kingdom is to remain intact, the No Vote has to get a whole lot more attractive, and fast.

Grayling is the second largest independent Public Relations, Public Affairs, Investor Relations and Events consultancy. We have offices in 70 locations in 40 countries across Europe, the US, the Middle East and Asia Pacific. Grayling is part of Huntsworth plc.

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