One of my favourite things about the independence referendum was the amount of really decent and invigorating conversations with no voters who decided to engage on the doorsteps. It is important to find out what drives someone’s point of view, what has brought them to the point where they are willing to cast their vote one way or another.
I asked them why they felt as they did and many of them gave me interesting responses ranging from the economy, through Europe, to fighting alongside the rest of the UK during the world wars. I listened respectfully, with empathy even, as I examined their path to a No vote. Then I told them my reason for voting yes and being on their doorstep that evening.
“I’m 35 years old, for two thirds of my life we have had a government Scotland didn’t vote for. I don’t believe it is unreasonable that in a democratic country we should get the government we vote for every single time.”
The amount of wide-eyed genuinely surprised looks as they processed this information was astounding. The idea that the United Kingdom that they had chosen to cast their lot in with was a less than democratic place seemed to be a hammer blow to some and they promised to think carefully about what I had said. I’m not saying that this argument swayed a great deal of people but it gave them something to think about, a chink in their armour of certainty.
If we are to win a second referendum on independence, it will be won on the doorsteps, with non-antagonistic language and understanding shown to those who started out as No voters. We are all on a journey together and the polls are showing an uptick of support for independence. It will be won or lost on reasoned argument and good humoured exchanges on doorsteps, in pubs and on public transport.
Social media is a valuable tool but can largely be an echo chamber. We have to reach out once more beyond Facebook and Twitter to the places people congregate. Organise coffee mornings, listen to and gauge people’s views. If they hold a different opinion, ask them if they can explain it for you. Some of the reasons are astonishing, some of them are the product of a bygone age but neither yourself nor the cause of independence will be the worse off for genuinely engaging with No voters.