SNP must change tack, hope not fear will win Scottish independence - Kenny MacAskill

Hope over Fear was a Yes Campaign slogan from the 2014 referendum and was meant to encapsulate the differences between a cause seeking support through promoting a better land, as opposed to those seeking to retain control by generating fear.

The new campaign must be a positive one, says Kenny MacAskill
The new campaign must be a positive one, says Kenny MacAskill

It was brought to mind whilst watching “No” a Chilean movie which was to do with attempts by the late, but not lamented, General Pinochet to legitimatise his tenure. In what was almost an inverse of Scotland, No was opposing a continuation of the despot’s rule. But the tactics employed by that campaign were entirely positive and encapsulated Hope over Fear, in what was to all intents and purposes still a military dictatorship.

The movie’s set around those who devised the media campaign for No and did so under intimidation. Initial thinking within the No campaign was to show broadcasts of Salvador Allendes bloody overthrow, the torture and killings that followed and the repression that continued, even if significantly lessened.

Wiser counsel though prevailed, explaining that it would frighten people on both sides, polarise opinion and fail to engender the hope for change which was required. Instead what was shown was a vision of the Chile that could be, not what was or had been. Prosperous, happy, and fair with a future for many, who had been either fearful or given up hope of change. It was remarkably successful despite the threats those involved faced and helped to bring the tyrant down.

The reason I mention that is the ongoing debate within the SNP about a strategy for independence. There are those who seem to simply think that all that needs done is to sit and wait and success will land in our lap. It doesn’t matter what the Tories do as it’ll just increase the independence vote. To be fair the vote is rising though many of us believe it could and should be at a higher figure.

The danger is that you’re not engendering hope but reinforcing fear or at best creating despair and a sense of hopelessness. SNP leadership voices have been rightly denouncing Tory actions. Austerity, Brexit and now the Internal Market Bill are all an attack upon Scots and their interests.

People are increasingly feeling the consequences of an unbridled Tory majority. Every time they’re told it’s unacceptable, it’s followed by something worse. When and how is it to end? Many might well end up believing that nothing can change. The rhetoric used isn’t followed through with either action against what’s happened or a vision of what can be done about it. Instead its almost an “it’ll be alright on the night” position. Soak it up and it all come good somehow.

Hope and vision are required for the campaign, not a denunciation of Tory ills. Folk know the latter, they need the former to motivate them. That’s why many independence activists are increasingly frustrated at the moribundity that exists at SNP HQ and want action. Fear will be the opposition’s campaign, ours must be hope.

Kenny MacAskill is the SNP MP for East Lothian


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