Scotland Matters means taking the message to the people

Scotland Matters means taking the message to the people

by Allan Sutherland
article from Tuesday 23, February, 2021

“IT’S JIST GREAT to see folk coming round wi’ oor side’s leaflets son”. So said an old woman in Brickfield, Stonehaven, a few weeks before the referendum in 2014. She had been bombarded by Yes leaflets and like many, me included, was bamboozled by the hype that the SNP were going to win while on the ground yes voters seemed very rare.

This view was confirmed when some of the Stonehaven boxes were opened they showed 80 per cent No votes and the Aberdeenshire result was 60.34 per cent No.

The silent majority had spoken, didn’t believe nationalist’s leaflets – like the one promising we’d be £5,000-a-year better off after separation – and despite a frustrating Better Together campaign, went out on the day and voted for their country to remain in the UK. 

Just like back in 2014 Scotland Matters received a similar reaction last week to our “Vaccination not Separation” billboard at road junction in Greenock. Typical comments on social media like “About time too”, “brilliant idea”, “This is just outside my neighbourhood, makes me smile when I pass it everyday”. These comments were topped by the Daily Express headline “Nicola Sturgeon shamed as humiliating billboard erected in Scotland: ‘Do your job!’”

Now, with a crowdfunder here, in the last few days we’ve raised over £6,000 in donations and received several requests from groups of local people we’ve never heard of wanting to help us find and erect billboards in their area. We’re working on it.

The “it” is simply this: the silent majority in Scotland; the people who read the papers, speak to people, see what is going on round them, go on social media and despair at the abysmal coverage of the issues and analysis of what is going wrong in Scotland.

The many people who now avoid BBC Scotland and STV news broadcasts that start every night with “the first minster sez”  – making them sick and tired and very angry, and are looking for some leadership and evidence there are people who see it their way who they can support and do their bit for.

In a different way “it” is also three million people who are oblivious to what is going on, the people for whom STV and BBC Scotland’s current affairs commentators say the news, especially the scandalous importance of the Salmond enquiry “isn’t cutting through”. Without a hint of recognition that it isn’t cutting through because they aren’t letting it.

We also need Labour, the Lib Dems and Conservatives to step up to the plate, start looking like alternative governments, tell us what their policies are for reversing the SNP death spiral and how they’ll use all the levers of devolution and membership of the UK to transform our country. 

And we need them to work together in this coming election – not splitting the vote – and get rid of the SNP. 

This means tactical voting and our own Scotland Matters Yougov poll provided clear evidence that a potential 540,000 of the people who voted Lib Dem, Conservative or Labour in the 2019 general election would support tactical voting in May.

Our billboard was a rallying call that got over half a million likes, comments, views, impressions, shares and retweets and had the National and its readers foaming at the mouth over five pages of reports, comment and letters. We’re on to something and we have the cash, energy and willing volunteers to do a lot more before the election and help turn the vote.

So who are we? Our steering committee includes the two leaders of the successful Aberdeen City & Shire Better Together campaign – Professor Hugh Pennington and Ian Lakin – myself, Mark Openshaw, Marion Ewenson (a Lib Dem councillor), and Lesley Milne (a careworker from Aberdeen).

Others who support us prefer to be a bit lower profile, for reasons that shame the SNP: they run businesses, received threats in 2014 and fear not for their lives but for the impact on their business and their employees’ jobs from a repeat of the kind of harassment and boycott threats they experienced in 2014.

We don’t have Facebook or Twitter pages, we prefer to have good relations with pages that do, such as UK Union VoiceThe Majority and Think Scotland. Brian Monteith has been a constant source of advice and encouragement. 

We have great relations and connections with personalities and members at all levels of all the pro-UK parties, including George Galloway’s All for Unity, an email list of 2,000 people, including all Scottish pro-UK MP’s, MSP’s and councillors and a fast-growing network of groups who want to find out how they can do more.

This is how the Greenock billboard came about, a group of people, including former Labour MP Iain McKenzie and Conservative Councillor Graeme Brooks, came to us in November with the idea for the Greenock billboard. They raised most of the money and dealt with the billboard company. We got the image designed and put our imprint on it and between us we let the papers and the huge pro-UK social media network know about it. 

We are planning a lot more of this, highlighting the issues, the need for tactical voting and how it works. It’s late in the day, but we know there is a large number of people who are angry, will speak out, at least to their friends, colleagues and family, and if we get them – truthfully – fired up and informed on the issues and how to vote, it will spell the end of 14 years of our Faustian, corrupt, incompetent SNP nightmare.

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Allan Sutherland is the Director of Scotland Matters – you can follow him on Twitter @sud55_allan  

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