The Art of Persuasion

The Art of Persuasion

I have always felt that the art of persuasion was a bit out of my remit.  It comes into the same category as vanity, something to feel guilty about, something to be avoided.  Hence I have operated on a more frictional basis throughout my life.  Although, as my continuing affection for Wolfe demonstrates, I am partial to a bit of elegant persuasion, it is not something I have ever found a use for.  I prefer to be brutally honest and present a rational argument for whatever I want you to do.


Clearly however, the situation in my own country presents a new range of problems.  We now have an opportunity for change, in the form of a political situation pitching a pro-Scottish, pro independence party against the Liberal Democrats, who are largely irrelevant unless you happen to live in a comfortable rural community, and the Tories, who will continue in much the same way that Labour have continued, regardless of what the unimportant Scottish population think.


Some Scots are a bit slow on the uptake.  I myself intended to be a no voter, on the basis of the proportion of sick and unemployed people I dealt with in the course of my work, until I rethought the prospect of independence in terms of national morale, faith in the work ethic of my unemployed warrior nation, and the prospect of rebuilding the economic structure in a way that would make at least part of the UK function better.  There now seems to me to be nothing to be gained from remaining part of the UK.  Labour have opted out of their future in Scotland, even diehard labourites have seen through them, and the Tories (conservatives) have made Scotland’s less than important position abundantly clear. (and we all know how honest they are.)


Let us be quite clear on this.  45% was a very good result in the referendum.  It makes it obvious that independence is an important issue for the Scottish population.  It does not represent a football score, and it does not represent the permanent views of a population that has been repeatedly told that it is a ‘burden’ and ‘unimportant’ to the economy of the UK.  On the contrary, the conning, beseeching and lying that went on at the referendum tells you just how important Scotland is.  They cannot function effectively without us.


Those desperately trying to justify voting for the union are wary.  They believe that they will be somehow compromised by living in a country where other people have new opportunities.  They believe that a changed administrative system will damage their safe economic position, and they believe what they have been told – that Scotland is a puny plant, supported only by a few hedge fund managers in London, and their own taxes.


It is impossible to take seriously the views of Jill Stephenson, Neil Oliver, or Muriel Gray, all of whom have had a safe and tidy life thanks to their support of the UK establishment.  Muriel can bag as many Monroes as she likes, it does not make her any less self-serving.  However, the people voting no, who were brought up to believe that as long as they looked nice, supported the powerful, and climbed up the career ladder whilst minding their own money, believe that these people represent something.  They choose to believe this, because it saves them from actually thinking.  Thinking is hard.


My Tory neighbour is a case in point.  One of the last of the old school, Church of Scotland, Monarchist, military believers in Conservative British pride and empire, his real reason for his staunch refusal to think about independence is that he is an accountant, and does not want to learn a new system of paperwork.  When converting a no voter, it is wise to bear this example in mind.  They do not want to think, they do not like change, and their reasoning for their dismissal of you is that they think they own more than you do, or that they simply have no imagination to consider the opportunities that minding our own business would bring.


Most of us in the SNP are well aware how many rumours have circulated, about people not getting their pensions, about the SNP being everything from Nazis to Communists, about people being threatened with deportation courtesy of Labour.  Whoever pulls the strings in Labour does not believe that Scottish people are terribly bright.  The Conservatives are not much better, and the large landowners are terrified that collectivization will be announced as soon as we achieve independence.  I think we can all agree that we appreciate our land being kept wild, funded by private money, whatever our class delusions, and that Stalin was not a stand up guy.


Voting for the Fracking Party whilst Alberta burns due to oil sand fires is not terribly bright, so bear in mind that no matter how rich your Tory, no-voting friends are, they are not keeping up with current affairs, and they are likely to be rendered thoughtless by their easy wealth, and easy journey through the career or business world.  The fact that other people have less than them is a source of fear and pride.  Fear because the people that do not prioritize money are beyond their understanding and might take something from them, pride because they took something and you cannot have it.  You are not dealing with thoughtful people, so you have to gently approach the subject slowly.


Emotive wrangling about who they vote for, therefore, is not something you should consider in the course of your introduction to the world of actual thought.  They are likely to have been trained out of this in their Machiavellian journey through life.  Open their minds to the possibilities, and simply walk away.  Scotia, like Rome, was not built in a day.


Present the picture of Glenrothes with factories, Rothesay with a tourism industry, Kilmarnock with a carpet industry, etc etc. Tell them to picture the poor with gainful employment and spending money.  Point out just how much our country has been ravished and sent into decline.  Remind them of the hundreds of enterprising Scots who still exist, and could flourish once again, given the opportunity.  Do not discuss oil, romantic visions, and whatever else you do, do not mention that someone other than them might make more money than they do.  That is what scares them more than anything.

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