X

Create an account to continue reading.

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles
For unlimited access to The Spectator, subscribe below

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles

Sign in to continue

Already have an account?

What's my subscriber number?

Subscribe now from £1 a week

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
 
View subscription offers

Already a subscriber?

or

Subscribe now for unlimited access

ALL FROM JUST £1 A WEEK

View subscription offers

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Login

Don't have an account? Sign up
X

Subscription expired

Your subscription has expired. Please go to My Account to renew it or view subscription offers.

X

Forgot Password

Please check your email

If the email address you entered is associated with a web account on our system, you will receive an email from us with instructions for resetting your password.

If you don't receive this email, please check your junk mail folder.

X

It's time to subscribe.

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access – from just £1 a week

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
X

Sign up

What's my subscriber number? Already have an account?

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Your subscriber number is the 8 digit number printed above your name on the address sheet sent with your magazine each week.

Entering your subscriber number will enable full access to all magazine articles on the site.

If you cannot find your subscriber number then please contact us on customerhelp@subscriptions.co.uk or call 0330 333 0050.

You can create an account in the meantime and link your subscription at a later time. Simply visit the My Account page, enter your subscriber number in the relevant field and click 'submit changes'.

Please note: Previously subscribers used a 'WebID' to log into the website. Your subscriber number is not the same as the WebID. Please ensure you use the subscriber number when you link your subscription.

Blogs

2013: Can the SNP move beyond preaching to the already converted? - Spectator Blogs

9 January 2013

10:31 AM

9 January 2013

10:31 AM

Alex Salmond is back in Bute House, refreshed and chippered by a much-needed holiday. If 2012 was a year in which the Referendum Guns were first deployed it was still, in the end, something of a phoney war. At the risk of exhausting an easily-exhausted electorate, 2013 should see more action.

This week’s column at Think Scotland argues that the SNP need to broaden their vision and approach the campaign with a greater sense of generosity than is sometimes seen. At present they depend too heavily – in my view – on the idea that independence is a way to Tory-proof Scotland. That’s a negative, not a positive, case. Moreover it’s one that muddles a short-term inconvenience (A Tory-led government with little support in Scotland) with a long-term reality: independence is for life, not Christmas. Are you really asking people to dump 300 years of history just because you think David Cameron a wrong ‘un? He won’t be around for ever.

Anyway, this is the thing: if anti-Toryism is the SNP’s favourite stance then what is the point of the SNP? We already have the Labour party for that kind of thing? No, Labour and the Tories are not “just the same” and no, this line does not become any less ridiculous the more often or the more loudly it is repeated.

Suppose, however, that it did not contradict people’s own experience of politics? What message are the nationalists sending? Vote Yes to “save” Scotland from conservatives who cannot – we are told – possibly have Scotland’s best interests at heart. Vote Yes to “save” Scotland from a Labour party that is – at best, we are told – some kind of bizarre collection of Tory stooges.

Now I can understand why the nationalists think this makes sense. What baffles me is why they think people who are not already nationalists will be persuaded by it. Surely it cannot be stressed often enough that the Yes campaign requires the votes of thousands and thousands of Scots who do not ordinarily support the SNP. Insulting these voters – and their intelligence – seems an odd way to go about persuading them to support the nationalist cause.

Again, I understand why this strategy might seem appealing to people who already support independence. But preaching to the converted is not enough and nor, in the end, is this kind of negative anti-Tory argument for independence. Which, again, is why the Yes campaign needs a bigger, broader, better kind of vision if it is to prevail.

Campaigns are also about signalling. A good deal of the SNP’s present rhetoric is predicated upon the suspicion that many Scots are actually “anti-Scottish” simply because they fail to see matters in quite the same way as the nationalists do. It is as though there is only one true faith and all those who fail to fall into line are heretics.

That may be a comforting view from inside the nationalist citadel but it’s not the kind of signal liable to persuade other people that the SNP are as open-minded and generous as they could or even should be. In this respect at least there are times when elements of the nationalist movement remind me of some of the wilder elements within the American Republican party. There too we have witnessed a form of what has been termed “epistemic closure” or, to put it in less fancy terms, a reliance upon confirmation bias that eventually distorts and ruins political judgement.

Whole thing here, like.

Subscribe to The Spectator today for a quality of argument not found in any other publication. Get more Spectator for less – just £12 for 12 issues.


Show comments
Close