Yes Scotland

Have the Yes Campaign been too aggressive in their campaigning?

With the two sides of the Scottish Referendum campaign making their final pleas for support in Thursday’s vote, questions have been, asked primarily about the Yes side. on whether they have perhaps been too aggressive in their campaigning over the recent weeks and months.

An online survey conducted by Opinium was published earlier on Wednesday evening showed that 43% of the 1,055 voters polled, found the Yes side were being too aggressive compared to just 29% who thought that Better Together were showing aggression when trying to convince voters to stay in the UK. Recently, if you have seen coverage of the referendum on any media, then you will have seen the intense passion being displayed by both sides. However, the question is when does this passion turn into aggression?

A huge number of people complained about the TV debates between Alistair Darling and Alex Salmond for the amount of shouting they did whilst the other side talked. Whilst Darling was guilty of some of the arguing, Salmond was the culprit here, which could be seen as one of the reasons for why some Yes supporters have started to act in a rather overconfident manner.

All across Scotland, arguments have started between supporters of opposite sides simply because they “know that they can defeat the enemy”, as one Yes Supporter in Aberdeen put it to the BBC. Of course, seeing this passion on the streets shows that the general public is informed on the issue and can only help the country’s recent crisis in political participation; but is describing Better Together as “the enemy” not going a stage too far?

A lot of these arguments on the streets have happened spontaneously. However, something which the Yes campaign has been trying to hide is the apparent “planned” attacks on Better Together street campaigns. Jim Murphy, the Labour MP for East Renfrewshire made headlines after being told to postpone his “100 streets in 100 days” tour campaigning for Better Together due to increased rates of physical and verbal violence around his stalls. This culminated in Murphy being egged, which caused Police Scotland to postpone the tour. A video, created by Better Together claims to show exactly how these “attacks” have been taking place. On the Yes Scotland Facebook pages for each region, whenever Murphy was visiting there, on more than 30 occasions, that local Yes campaign unit put out a message to their social media followers advising them to “Go down to Jim Murphy’s campaign and spoil the party” as was said on a visit to Fife. This is not a case of random voters looking to pick fights, but has actually been raised by their leading campaign managers who have instructed supporters to try to sabotage the opposition’s campaigns. How can this be allowed?

Of course, with only hours left until the vote closes, it is unlikely that anything can be done now to stop those who have acted aggressively from continuing to do so for Thursday. Although some may argue that the Yes side should have tried to calm their supporters down, opponents to independence have also claimed that voters have been scared away from voting Yes because of their actions. However, attention will soon go to Friday and after the result has been announced. If Yes voters have been that aggressive trying to convince voters to join them, how are they going to react if they lose?

Similarly, there are still passionate No supporters who will still be looking for a fight. With the polls as tight as they are, whichever way the vote goes, there are going to be unhappy people with some who will be willing to demonstrate their anger on the streets. No surprise then that Police Scotland have extra police officers on standby for the weekend…

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Ruairidh Campbell
Based in the Scottish Borders/Glasgow, Ruairidh has written extensively on everything from rugby to politics with work published in publications including the Scottish Rugby Union's website, Scottish Field Magazine and Edinburgh Rugby's match-day programmes.
Ruairidh Campbell

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