From The Economist:
Separatists are excited, though the polls are misleading. Whereas one-third of Catalans are convinced separatists, many others are simply enraged by their tax money propping up poorer regions.
Also from The Economist:
The separatists are back
So…following the precedent, how does The Economist refer to the Scottish campaign for er…separation?
So would an independent Scotland be an impoverished backwater or a land flowing with oil and money?
The Economist is objective and by logical extension, pro-Union in the UK context. It is also, however, dependent on the free market for survival.
And so, in this particular case, the separatists/nationalists/ freedom seekers win the terminology battle but only because The Economist has completed the costs benefit analysis and decided that a “Scottish independence” will lose potentially less subscriptions than a “Scottish separation”.
A loss for the pro-Union side then?
No. Read again those links; The Economist has methodically destroyed the SNP’s argument by using a fact-based, emotion-free approach. We may lose the battle but in this case (to date) are winning the PR war.
I have previously stressed the importance of political terminology and not just with respect to the present Scottish debate- the other example I alluded to was the attempt by Irish Republicans on Wikipedia to control “the debate” and ultimately output. This controlling ranges from the petty (eg “McClean, an Irish national, has been quick to correct those who mistakenly claim he is “Northern Irish”.) to the much more serious (eg the systematic removal of the names of the victims of the various attrocities carried out by Irish republicans).
In both cases, it has been fully understood the need of directing and controlling the framework of the debate but due to over-enthusiam and over-emotion, they (ie the Scottish nationalists and Irish republicans) have not been 100% successful in achieving their final aims.
What can we now do, as Unionists, to capture the informational high ground?
- Provide people with a narrative that replaces the gap left by false information
- Focus on the facts you want to highlight, rather than the myths
- Make sure that the information you want people to take away is simple and brief
- Consider your audience and the beliefs they are likely to hold
- Strengthen your message through repetition
There isn’t anything particularly revolutionary there- simple, brief facts strengthening our narrative through repetition.
For me, however, Point 4) is the key.
Our target audience is not the Pro-Union, it is also most certainly not the Separatist. It is the undecided, unconvinced, non-Pro Union, non-nationalist potential voter and when we write posts or comments on blogs, letters to the papers, contribute to Twitter or Facebook, speak on the radio or television, it should be remembered each and every time that not one nationalist is going to be persuaded to change sides by our arguments. Indeed, “engaging” them on any other basis than the objective or factual is ultimately a waste of our most precious resource, that is the resource of time. When a reply is to be posted on any forum or in any format, be it on the subject of the Scottish Referendum or on the history of the Troubles, that basic truth should be remembered.
As far as possible, we should imagine each time what is going through the head of the uncommitted as they read the debate- we may feel deepy about our causde but if we can keep the subjective feelings and emotion to a minimum and and simply supply the facts, we will win many more battles than we will lose.Share on Facebook