John Mclellan brings common sense to the No argument. But it’s a despairing plea.


Show some emotion to grab voters from Yes camp’s clutches pleaded John Mclellan in yesterday’s Sunday Times.

I’ve known John Mclellan for many years in his various editorial positions in Barclay Towers and he’s always struck me a a decent and thoughtful journalist with his head screwed on (well he, like me, went to the University of Stirling so he has that in his favour at least).

So, I was slightly surprised to see him turn up as Director of Communications for the Scottish Tories but didn’t hold that against him.  Somebody had to do it.

But I was very pleased to read yesterday’s article, that entirely echoes the views I’ve been espousing for some time, in the Sunday Times

Rightly, in my view, he stated that your views of the arguments (pro- or anti- independence) are entirely dependent on your preconceptions.

Nobody, with an opinion on this debate has a neutral point of view.  Its simply not possible.  And, like it or not, pretty much all of the big (economic and constitutional) issues will be resolved post vote (if succesful) in a frenzied period of negotiation between an independent Scotland, Westminster, Europe, NATO; you name it.

So, most big head-based arguments are going to go to the finishing line as opinions, not facts.

Mclellan states that oil is a fantastic resource which could help fuel an independent Scotland for years to come or it’s a diminishing and volatile basis for a national economy.  Both are correct he says, so take your pick.  I agree.

Are pensions safer in the UK or more volatile?  Depends on what you want to believe.  There is simply no proof.

So that leaves us with a need to consider what our hearts are telling us. It needs an emotional engagement.

Check out this video that I shared earlier in the year.  It shows you how powerful emotional engagement can be in politics.

People want more good stuff and less bad stuff he argues and again I agree.

That’s what makes the No vote such a difficult one to articulate because we know what we’ve got and we don’t like it.

Yes argues that change can bring undreamed of (albeit that’s just silly) prosperity.  No just bangs on about the risks, the dangers of failure.  Who would  they be kidding if they claimed that the status quo is some sort of nirvana?  They know it isn’t so they can’t go there.

What’s more, how can Labour, Liberal and Conservative find a united voice when frankly they hate each others guts?

The Yes vote, in contrast, has a single voice (with the odd chirrup from Patrick Harvie).

Mclellan wants a sustained and positive campaign for Better Together.  I agree with him, I really do, but it’s a fantasy.  The fact is their only card to play is a negative, (pseudo) fact based one and the Scottish electorate is rumbling that, big style, right now.

‘No’ is on the rack.  ‘Yes’ just keeps smiling.

Check out Bella Caledonia and the endless upbeat, positive (often funny) commentary it shares.

Thanks John.  Great piece.