'The difference between Yes and No'

Extract of a speech by Blair Jenkins, chief executive of Yes Scotland, to a Yes West Lothian business and community dinner on 12 April, 2013.

by Blair Jenkins

There are clear contrasts emerging between the two official campaign groups in the independence referendum. And the last week has highlighted those differences in ethos and approach between Yes Scotland and the anti-independence Better Together.

It’s not just that Yes has been much more visible and audible throughout Scotland, a genuine grassroots movement with more than 150 local groups now up and running and new ones emerging every month. It’s not just that we hold more events, get bigger turnouts and have much more enthused and energised volunteers.

What is even more obvious is that the Yes campaign for independence is funded by the people of Scotland, while it turns out that the No campaign is largely funded by a Tory donor in the south who is not even eligible to vote here.

Yes Scotland has support from people of all parties and (like myself) none. On our board are Patrick Harvie of the Scottish Greens and Colin Fox of the Scottish Socialist Party; we also have distinctive non-party voices like Pat Kane and Elaine C Smith; and of course, the formerly Labour but now formidably independent Dennis Canavan is our Chair. Yet Better Together asserts in the face of this evidence that "Yes Scotland is simply an SNP front." The smears start here.

Yes Scotland runs a positive campaign and we never indulge in personal or sweeping attacks. Better Together says (falsely and again without producing any evidence) that we are part of a "co-ordinated dirty-tricks campaign". The smears go on.

Yes Scotland wrote to Better Together in January proposing that the two campaigns should co-operate on the timing and content of information released on campaign donations. Better Together neither acknowledged this approach nor accorded us the basic courtesy of replying.

The differences extend into social media. Yes Scotland is significantly stronger on FacebookTwitter and Youtube. Perhaps that’s because we encourage discussion and invite questions. Better Together has no such facility and routinely blocks comments on its Facebook page by contributors with dissenting points of view. We believe that the people of Scotland deserve an open, informed and courteous debate.

The Yes campaign sees the potential of Scotland and the amazing possibilities offered by independence.

Better Together sees only problems and pitfalls in what it calls "separation", with even our oil reserves considered a liability.

Yes Scotland offers a vision of Scotland playing a full role in the community of nations.  The No campaign offers what we already know amounts to real "separation" - Scotland cut off from the top tables of international institutions, such as the EU, and with David Cameron and William Hague our representatives abroad.

Yes Scotland speaks out clearly on the key economic, social and moral issues affecting Scotland's people but which Scotland's people do not yet control. We have demonstrated that Scotland can afford to be a fairer, more prosperous nation.

Better Together maintained a deafening silence on Tory welfare cuts, yet were happy to justify the unwanted Trident nuclear weapons on the Clyde as the "ultimate guarantee of our national security”.  

This is the essence of Yes versus No – hope versus fear; positive versus negative; the future versus the past.

Topics: 
Culture, Government

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