A statement that we have started to hear recently is that many Scots will be voting on the 18th September with a “heavy heart”. This is based on an assumption that there are people who wish to vote Yes but will vote No because they are unconvinced by the arguments for Yes or they do not feel confident enough in the success of an independent Scotland.


This is a disappointing situation; the likelihood that Scots who really wish to vote Yes may end up opposing Scotland’s independence simply because they do not feel confident enough about Scotland’s ability to manage its own affairs is quite depressing. However, a much more positive view is that these Scots are already half-way to Yes and all they need is a bit of help in getting there. They just need some help on the Journey to Yes.


This is not something that will happen en-masse, there is unlikely to be a moment when large numbers of people suddenly move from No or undecided to Yes. The Journey to Yes is a journey that will be taken by each individual in their own way and at their own pace. “Change ultimately happens one person at a time. Each person either chooses to engage in the change, or to resist. Each person either decides to embrace the change quickly, or wait and see what happens”, (Hiatt & Creasey, 2012). So if it is a member of your family, a friend, a colleague, a neighbour, or just some random guy in a pub or in the street or on their doorstep, try to help them on their personal Journey to Yes. Many of these people just do not know where to start the journey. Others have started along the road only to have become troubled and concerned and have given up. Wherever they are along the road, most of these people can arrive at Yes with some help.


The thinking behind the journey they need to take is not new. How people react to and deal with change has been considered and understood for many decades. It is recognised that there are a number of basic steps that everyone has to take when they are being asked to think and act in new ways. At the simplest level there are Three Steps on the Journey to Yes.


Step 1 – Understanding


The first step is all about helping people Understand why a Yes vote is the right vote.


Many people will feel very comfortable with the life that they have today, that does not mean that they have a great life, it just means that they do not like the idea of change and the upheavals that change may bring. “We all know that change creates anxiety. The current state has tremendous holding power, and the possibility of losing what we have grown accustomed to (and comfortable with) creates worry and uncertainty”, (Hiatt & Creasey, 2012). For many people No is the easy and uncomplicated answer. Many people will also be unaware of the real pros and cons of independence, informed only by the superficial drivel that is being provided by the mainstream media. They will have little idea of the damage that is being done to Scotland by being part of the UK or of the improvements that could be made as a result of independence. For others there will just be doubts about where a Yes vote will lead to, despite having a desire to vote Yes, there will be a fear of the unknown.


All of these people are in there own comfort zone, a place where they feel safe and secure. The first step in the Journey to Yes is to take people out of their comfort zone and to get them thinking about, and challenging, the way things are today. Why are we “better together” would be a good place to start.


There are many arguments why “better together” is complete nonsense! At the top of the list of why remaining in the UK is bad for Scotland are UK government economic policies. These policies are designed primarily to assist and develop London and the South East. In many ways this is quite right! London and the south-east are the most populous areas of the UK and it is where most of the wealth is generated. The problem is that by developing policies that are advantageous to one part of the UK significant damage is being done to other parts. Scotland is one of the areas that have suffered significant damage as a result of these policies. But the big problem for Scotland is that these policies are not going to change. No matter what government is in power at Westminster, Tory, Coalition or even Labour, these policies will remain the same. They have to! To change UK policies to alleviate the damage being done to Scotland would risk damaging the populous and rich south. This will just never happen, Scotland is simply not important enough; Scotland will just have to endure the collateral damage that is being inflicted or find a new way forward.


But how do we know that all this damage has been done? Well the roll-call of catastrophe that has been inflicted on Scotland as a result of UK economic policies over the last fifty years is just shocking: places such as Linwood, Corpach, Ravenscraig, Bathgate, and Rosyth have all suffered. Once familiar names that have disappeared include John Brown, Distillers, Singer, Coat’s, Scottish and Newcastle, Arthur Bell, and Scott Lithgow. These are just short lists of the devastation. As each one of these sources of employment and income are lost many well paid supporting services jobs are also lost, solicitors, accountants, IT specialists to name a few. So with the loss of all this industry and business there is a loss of highly paid managerial and skilled jobs, and the replacement jobs tend to be less skilled and pay much less. Scotland not only loses jobs it loses skill and talent and the general standard of living drops as incomes drop.


But hasn’t this all been caused by globalisation? Yes, to a great extent. However, much of the damage could have been avoided if UK governments had not embraced globalisation in such an enthusiastic manner. It can be argued that Globalisation has not had such a catastrophic impact on any other European country. This is because most other European countries have adopted much more balanced economic policies that have helped protect business and industry. As we highlighted in 2012,


when operating in a global economy the loss of national ownership of companies is to be expected, but government policies that help to support and develop indigenous companies are also expected. Relatively dynamic regional economies continue to exist and provide the main motors for national growth in countries such as Germany, France and Italy, (Baird et al, 2007). These local economies are based on regionally-anchored networks of ownership and are sustained by long-term strategic synergies in manufacturing and services. Baird and his colleagues recognised that this type of economic model once thrived in Scotland, but no longer. They highlighted the irony of this situation by pointing out that in these other countries “these regional economies are still growing quite effectively in the environment of the twenty-first century.


No such policies have ever been adopted by UK government. It is quite clear that this failure of UK government policy is at the root of much of the unnecessary destruction that Scotland has had to endure for the last fifty years.


If the situation is so bad how can independence do anything about it? Quite simply a Scottish government will be able to develop and implement policies that stimulate business and industry in Scotland. It will be able to implement policies, in line with other European governments, that are more protective in the age of globalisation. Social policies that are appropriate for Scotland will be introduced; inappropriate measures such as Bedroom Tax will be removed. Tax policies will be developed that match the Scottish economy and that are equitable across Scottish society. Above all else a Scottish Government will be able to develop policies and negotiate treaties that are most appropriate for Scotland. The Scottish Government will be responsible for ensuring that all deals that are negotiated are in Scotland’s best interest and continue to be in Scotland’s best interest.


Scotland will also be able to compete. Today it is virtually impossible for Scotland to compete effectively especially within the UK. A Scottish Government will be able to develop strategies and policies that will enable this to happen. The initial foundations for this are already being put in place. The speech Alex Salmond made in Carlisle recently is a good example. In this speech he set out a vision of how Scotland and the north of England will be able to work together and how the opportunity for competing with London, the dark star, can be achieved.  His speech also highlighted that innovation and development can take place in the north as well as the south, such as the development of high speed rail, a notion that is completely incomprehensible to the Westminster establishment.


Yes is also the right answer for Scots who see Scotland as a nation not a region. Within the UK establishment Scotland is clearly regarded as being a region, especially by institutions such as the BBC. For Scots who firmly cling to the notion of nationhood a Yes vote is the only way forward. A No vote is likely to destroy the last vestiges of nationhood that Scotland maintains today. Make no mistake, a No vote will be taken by many as the signal that Scotland no longer wishes to be regarded as a nation and that Scotland is happy being a region of the UK. For over three hundred years ordinary Scots have stubbornly clung on to nationhood but a No vote will destroy this completely. All claims to nationhood and all rights to symbols of nationhood will be lost forever. Scotland really will be a nation no more!


These are only some of the arguments that can be used to help people understand why Yes is the right answer, but there are many more. Whatever arguments are used, helping people gain this Understanding is the critical first step on the Journey to Yes.


Step 2 – Wanting


Getting people to the point where they can Understand why Yes is the right option is only the beginning, people also have to Want to vote Yes. Yes is the right answer but the right answer is not enough! “Commitment, buy-in and adoption do not stem from the right answer ... it takes more than the right answer to move people out of the current state that they know and into the future state they do not know (and sometimes fear)”, (based on Hiatt & Creasey, 2012).


The problem for many people at this point in the Journey to Yes is that understanding the reasons why Yes is the right answer can be a troubling experience. Many people will be well out of their comfort zone and starting to get quite perturbed. There can be confusion, people who have never really thought about the reality of Scotland’s predicament will want to know how it has happened and who is responsible. Why does the (UK) government implement policies that do Scotland so much damage? I have voted Labour for thirty years, aren’t they supposed to be looking after ordinary people like me?   

There will also be concern and even some fear about the future. If UK government polices aren’t going to change where will that leave us? How will we ever get well paid skilled jobs back in Scotland? What do you mean a nation no more? People will want answers to these questions, they will want reassurance. They will want to know how independence will resolve these issues.


People will want to know not only how independence can improve the current national situation but also, most critically, how independence will improve their individual life. “Before people can embrace independence, they need answers that have nothing to do with the rightness of Yes”, (based on Hiatt & Creasey, 2012). This is because the Journey to Yes is a personal journey, at the heart of the journey for every individual is the answer to one key question “what’s in it for me, for my kids, and their kids”? Nobody who is doubtful about independence will be convinced until they have an answer to this question. Many people will already know what answer they would like to hear in response to this question and if asked most will be happy to talk about it.


There can be many answers to this question and the answers will be different for every individual. For some it might be that Bedroom Tax will be abolished, for others the possibility of attracting new industries to Scotland that can provide more skilled and better paying jobs, no more Tory government, ever, might just be the hot button for some people. Ensuring that Scotland remains a nation that can stand on its own two feet in the world might be the answer for others. Whatever the answer might be this question must be answered for each individual if they are going to complete the Journey to Yes. If this question can be answered most people will be happy to move forward.


Remember that most of these Scots are already half-way to Yes and they just need to be convinced that voting Yes is the right thing to do. If the question has been answered and they have been convinced that Yes is the right answer they will not only want to vote Yes they will now understand why Yes is the right answer and they will also know what’s in it for them and their family.


This is the point in the journey where people will start to feel more comfortable. Questions will have been answered, reassurance will have been given, and they will have a much clearer and positive view of the future. The information they have gained will provide enlightenment on what Scotland can be like in the future and they will have belief that it can be achieved. They will be ready to vote Yes.


Step 3 – Reminding


Getting people to the point where they are ready to vote Yes is not the end of the journey however. With the steady onslaught of negative campaigning by the No campaign even the most resolute Yes supporter must have the occasional concern about the impact that this can have. For people who have been doubtful about Yes this constant negativity could reassert the doubts.


So whenever possible talk to people who have taken the Journey to Yes and reassure them about the decision they have made. They should be reminded about all the good reasons for voting Yes and reminded about what is in it for them and for their family. Don’t let them forget why Yes is the right answer.


In the final months of the campaign the Yes campaign will undoubtedly start to provide even more tangible reasons why independence is imperative for Scotland. Make sure that those who have been doubtful about Yes are aware of all this new information.


As even more positive reasons for independence emerge there will be many people who make the Journey to Yes. Help as many as you can! We are sure that by 18th September there will be very few Scots voting No with a “heavy heart”; we are convinced that they will be voting Yes with enthusiasm and belief.

 References: All references can be found in the Bibliography section

The creator of this blog and the A Union of Equals website has no political affiliations.