As someone who is ambivalent to the Scottish independence issue – and a floating voter for the 2014 referendum – I find myself increasingly frustrated by Alex Salmond.
What I want, between now and September 2014, is an honest, adult discussion of the pros and cons.
What we’re getting from Salmond is, unfortunately, fairy stories. Instead of a credible argument that explains why independence is better, we’re being sold the laughable idea that an independent Scotland would be a land of milk and honey.
And I suspect this is going to hurt the campaign for independence.
I’d suggest Salmond should pay attention to two marketing maxims…
#1: “Without belief, nobody buys”
The great copywriter, Gary Bencivenga, once tested the headline, “Why the price of silver may rise steeply”, against the headline, “Why the price of silver will rise steeply”. The result? The former beat the latter by 200%.
Making promises that are too big to be believed lowers conversion. By painting a picture of an independent Scotland that’s beyond reason, Salmond is turning off floating voters like me.
#2: “A confused mind doesn’t buy”
The second problem with Salmond’s approach is the way he’s being unclear about so many issues.
Would an independent Scotland have to apply to join the EU? Well…
What about NATO? Err…
What currency would we use and under what conditions? Hmmm…
Confusion leads to inaction. It encourages people to stick to what they know. Which means lack of clarity on these issues helps the Unionist campaign.
What I’d like to see
As someone who doesn’t like politicians, I don’t want this to be about politicians… their personalities, their crazy ideas of what it takes to persuade people…
I don’t want the result to be distorted by the incompetence of one of the campaigns…
I don’t want there to be a “no” vote just because the “yes” campaign couldn’t be trusted.
Instead, I want it to be about the issues.
Firstly, I want an honest economic argument.
Something like this:
(1) Scotland does contribute more to the UK budget than it receives back
(2) Independence would result in various economies and diseconomies of scale
(3) Properly set up and managed, an independent Scotland should, over time, be roughly as prosperous as it is in the UK.
(4) However, there would probably be a few years in the beginning where things were a bit harder.
Secondly, I want the details of how things would work: would we have a border control? Under what conditions would we join the EU, NATO etc.? What would we do with the oil money?
Thirdly, I want to know how assets would be divided up between Scotland and the UK.
Surely these things aren’t too much to ask, when I’m being asked to vote on the future of my country?
And, Mr Salmond, if you don’t give these things to me, then without belief, and with a confused mind, don’t expect me to buy what you’re selling.