How to persuade people to support Independence for Scotland
It can’t be done. People need to make up their own minds – all you can do is help them with facts, logic, emotion – and developing critical thinking. When enough people have an independent mind, Scotland will become independent. But the following might help:
#1 Understand how people think and what drives their view of the world, then show them how independence supports their view. Treat them with Respect. Where are they coming from – try to see things from their perspective. If they are old, they have been bombarded by the media for 50 years telling them Scotland is too wee, too poor, and too stupid to be independent. They may remember the last war, and the need to stick together. They may be totally reliant on their old age pension. They may have bought their council house for £10,000 and sold it for £150,000. They may have had a career in the old British – Airways, Gas, Leyland, Petroleum, Telecom etc. Talk about the issues that are important to them. Find out what they believe and adjust your argument. Are they persuadable? Read about the Cycle of Change. People who don’t support Independence aren’t stupid, they just see things differently, and are entitled to do so. Better to say “Well, of course you were in a position to make that decision in 2014 because no one knew about xxx.” “On the other hand…” “More people are beginning to think…”
#2 Marketing – You need to listen to people with an open mind. Target people with open minds – don’t waste time on “adult” children, and distinguish between Strict and Loving Parents – the first are conservative, like institutions, law and order, value hard work, fear change. The second are typically more left-wing and care about equality, NHS etc. Recognise when you are triggering subconscious objections, and avoid triggering them.
#3 Trust You have to be seen as somebody they can trust. Be a role model of your desired way of being within your community, your work place, and even your family. You need to know your facts, establish rapport, be confident.
#4 Start with a statement or question they don’t expect You need to get them thinking. You might express regret that the great British enterprises are a thing of the past. You might draw attention to the way that the UK State pension is no longer assured. You might say you don’t need to live in an independent Scotland, if it’s prosperous, fair, equal, green. You might indicate that you don’t agree with everything the SNP says or does. That the oil companies are making record profits despite the fall in the oil price. Why are so many small countries at the top of the international league for prosperity, quality of life and happiness? Does Brexit worry you? How well do you think the Westminster Government is handling Brexit? Do you think leaving the single market is bad for the economy?
#4 Questions, not telling Socrates used questions to try to reach the truth, and that is still the best method. Question everything. Why is Scotland better off in the UK? How will Brexit increase prosperity? What will happen to the NHS? Even better, get them to question everything. The way to the truth is a nagging doubt about their beliefs. Avoid confrontation.
#6 The lessons of selling Look for the Unique Selling Point. Not being ruled by the Tories? Keeping the NHS as a public service? Getting rid of Trident? The Brexit car crash? Free tuition fees? Free prescriptions? They’ll be different for different people. Be up-to-date on “good news” stories – sell hope rather than fear. Nobody should need to sell the virtues of independence – it’s normal. Why do people buy a particular proposition?
#7 Emotions Generally, people don’t buy a car based on the facts of cc, mpg etc – they buy because the style, colour, image etc feel right subconsciously. Similarly, people need to feel proud of this great wee country, confident in its resources and abilities – and revulsion at the cruelty and incompetence of Westminster. Close the discussion with emotion.
#8 The lessons of negotiation A good negotiator wins conditional trust by delivering it incrementally – like in a drug deal! The convention of shaking hands grew out of the need to assure people that you were not a threat. A good negotiator will look for the realistic settlement range – moving people a small bit towards your view may be the best you can hope for.
#9 Logic You need to be able to spot fallacious arguments – straw men, red herrings, roundabouts, road blocks etc
#10 Keep it simple Don’t get bogged down in detail – stick to the main issues (but avoid meaningless soundbites).
#11 Cognitive dissonance Accept that there are some people whose opinions you won’t be able to change – they are psychologically unable to accept any facts or arguments which don’t fit their deeply-held beliefs – it’s like challenging their religious faith. They are so tied to the status quo to realise that the certainty they crave is no longer available. Don’t spend any time with them. As a result of confirmation bias, we undervalue evidence that contradicts beliefs and overvalue evidence that confirms them.
#12 Depersonalise Stick to the third person – don’t make it an “I versus you” confrontation.
#13 Stay cheerful! We’re happy people – we have the right intellectual analysis of the situation, the right moral position, the most democratic and socially just policies – and we’re confident we’ll win. Smile! Be positive!
#14 Persevere! Remember Bruce’s spider. Repetition does work!