Better Together have started to publish videos from ordinary people in Scotland explaining why they intend to vote “No” in the referendum. The first one of the series that they announced today is here:
I think this lady is very brave to go public with her views and they should not be dismissed lightly. What she is saying is that she worries that independence will put at risk the access to free education and healthcare that she benefited from. She fears that her younger brother and sister might not have the same access in an independent Scotland that she did.
She has a different perspective to many because her family is from abroad and has benefited from access to public services which (I am assuming) they didn’t have in their country of origin. So the contrast with a severe lack of access to healthcare and education is based on very real and personal experience.
I’ve laid into English celebrities on this blog for supporting “no” based on pure emotion and no analysis of the issues. I guess I find it disappointing that Better Together is sponsoring a broadcast from an ordinary Scot which also has no analysis of the issues.
It’s a good technique to start off discussing an issue by expressing fears, feelings, and impressions. It’s also good to conclude by expressing opinions. But between those two steps, there must be some kind of analysis to explain how you have formed your opinions. Not doing so fails to convince the serious reader. Or it convinces readers on the basis of emotion rather than reason. This is at best, due to ignorance and at worst, manipulation.
In this case, some consideration of the positions of both sides on healthcare and education would have been in order. On healthcare, the Better Together website suggests that an independent Scotland will lose out on about an extra £1bn per year of UK government funding and current cross-border arrangements for some specialist care and medical research may be put at risk.
On higher education, the Better Together website suggests that leaving the UK puts at risk free tuition for Scottish students and a disproportionate share of UK funding for research.
But no-one in the official “No” campaign has suggested that independence could lead to third world levels of provision of healthcare and education. Their estimated “union dividend” of £1,400 per person per year would not in any case be consistent with this. This video is vaguely suggesting extreme scenarios for healthcare and education which are not in line with Better Together’s own predictions.
Anyone can upload a video on YouTube with their own opinions, normally with little circulation. When it goes viral, this puts the broadcaster in the public eye and makes them vulnerable to criticism on a scale they need to be ready for. And so, I have an accusation to make against the Better Together campaign:
You have sponsored a broadcast from one of your ordinary supporters for your own PR purposes and which will consequently be seen by a much wider audience than otherwise. This video lacks any analysis of the issues. You could have informed her of your own campaign material, and coached her on how to make a reasoned contribution to the debate. You could have added commentary to refer viewers to the relevant material. I am sure you have people with the ability to do that. If you didn’t have the time, you should have waited until you did or not bothered at all.
I hope your subsequent broadcasts improve upon this one, if only for the sake of the ordinary people who are putting their reputations on the line to help you. In the meantime, please delete this video from your website. If you do, I’ll pull this blog article so that we can all forget about it.