Tribes and How to Win Them
Today everybody’s gone tribal. Prompted by Gerry’s account of Labour’s extended huff (A nation defined by more than party prejudice) and this rather generous advert by the BBC for the No campaign (Scottish independence: Better Together targets voter ‘tribes’) Bella brings you a breakdown of the various tribes within the Don’t Know and No voters …
1. Don’t Know Yet Brigade: some may be waiting for the White Paper, some may have entirely legitimate questions they don’t yet get, some may be intrinsically cautious. Just be glad they haven’t been overwhelmed by the deluge of darkness thrown at them by Project Fear
Suggested Yes tactic: listen and avoid ramming certainty and essentialism their way, it’s bound to be completely unproductive. Important question for all Yes campaigners: how do you distinguish between scare stories and legitimate questions?
2. Trapped Tribes of Alba: trapped in their own tribe despite all exposure to logic many people are left on the wrong side of the debate despite agreeing with 90% of the Yes campaign. Think: members of the Labour Party and progressive people who have spent 40 years campaigning against Trident or for social justice. Commonweal project has released many folks looking for an excuse to make the move but stuck in anti-SNP headlock of their own making.
Suggested Yes tactic: engage engage engage.
3. Who Moved my Cheeseites: implacably resistant to any change whatsoever, this group is pathologically against notions of movement. They have a fixed view of the universe in which the Queen is the Head of State and all things are good as they are. Motto: nothing must ever change.
Suggested Yes tactic: study management manuals for answers. These Cheesers need to think they are the agents of change, which, unparadoxically, they are (!)
4. Yesterday Was Better: trapped in the 1950s this group long for the days when tv ended with the national anthem and women knew their place. Helpfully this group’s worldview is played back to them on a continual loop by publicly-funded celebrations of enshrined feudalism, monarchy, street parties, ‘Look There’s a Princess’ wall-to-wall media coverage, repeat-Jubillees, constant remembrance, Kirsty Allsop TV and bunting-based boosterism.
Suggested Yes tactic: roll out the shortbread tin and portray a future Scotland as a couthy place where gentlemen wear plaid troose and ladies serve coffee cake and Black Bun. Have to overcome base deference. Present Bullingdon Club Cabinet as ideological revolutionaries destroying the fabric of British society (shouldn’t be difficult). Motto: for things to stay the same everything must change.
5. Low Aspiration Unionists: operating on a very low frequency and addled by decades of managed decline, this group can be persuaded to consign their country to rule by others with only four letters: UK:OK.
Suggested Yes tactic: suggestions welcome.
6. Swithering Jenny’s: people who believed Skyfall was a good film, or decided they were British Loyal Subjects because they saw someone row a boat in the Olympics. Change their mind every other day depending on what’s on Call Kaye.
Suggested Yes tactic: the Ryder Cup should do it.
7. Don’t Know Don’t Care Won’t Vote: a huge untapped group – need inspiration and not-so-subtle tactics. But while it may be easy to write this group off, they may also be a sub-set of another group who articulate: ‘I’ve not seen any reason to vote Yes yet’.
Suggested Yes tactic: need genuine inspiration combined with practical reasons for change. Voter registration also essential.
8. Apolitical Cultural Scots: in the opening to Unstated Scott Hames wrote: “Over the past three decades, it is commonly argued, Scotland achieved ‘a form of cultural autonomy in the absence of its political equivalent’ (Murray Pittock) – a transformation led by its novelists, poets and dramatists.” There’s a danger here that the extent to which we have (an element of) cultural autonomy people feel there is no need for political change. The start of #TradYes and the intervention of Ally Bain may be helpful, but the reality is people need to move beyond identity politics..
I believe that all decisions regarding Scotland internationally and at home should be made by people living in Scotland that have our nations interests at heart. For too many years of my life I have lived under Westminster governments who neither I, nor the majority of Scottish people voted for, and I fail to understand how this is acceptable.
– Ally Bain
A subset of the culturally-inspired but politically apathetic are perhaps 90 Minute Patriots who will get very exercised about all Scottish sporting activities but seem un-bothered that we’ve seen a massive rise in Foodbanks because of benefit changes from a govt we didn’t elect. Less face-paint more elbow-grease required.
Suggested Yes tactic: engage engage engage. Open culture wars but also need to continue to stress the prospect of endless austerity.
9. Bitter Togetherists: Led by the unholy triumverate of Willie Bain, Michael Kelly and Brian Wilson this is a set who have a tribal hatred of the SNP and even if an independent Scotland was a guaranteed utopia, they would oppose it on the grounds of narrow party politics.
Suggested Yes tactic: avoid entirely and allow them to cook in a ceviche of their own bile.
10. First Time Voters: young and very young voters engaging with these big issues face a real challenge. We’ve never done this before. Many will have an instinctual desire for change but if you’ve never personally looked after yourself it’s difficult to imagine your country doing so.
Suggested Yes tactic: inspiration, education and registration. Use different channels and platforms. How many 17 year olds watch Question Time?