“The mainstream media is very powerful in swaying public opinion, and its misconceptions must be challenged. Break out of your comfort-zone and get involved with those who share your vision.”
With Independence Day only two years away, Jalal Abukhater, of Radical Independence Student group at Dundee University, looks at how we can all ensure that YES becomes a reality.
For the 24th of March to be celebrated as the day of Scottish Independence, you have a mission to undertake: Become active, talk to people, and encourage them to become active too. Today, most opinion polls continue to show varied results, but the most common pattern is a growing support for ‘Yes’, while support for ‘No’ is either stalling or falling.
Poll results usually indicate whether a certain campaign has an influence on public opinion, but they don’t provide any assurance for campaigners on either side that a certain trend in public opinion is to be taken for granted. For supporters of an independent Scotland, the main concern should be approaching the undecided voters, rather than boasting about the growing support for ‘Yes’ or the falling support for ‘No’. I’m writing this today hoping to reach out to all the enthusiastic campaigners and non-campaigners who have one thing in common, the hope to achieve a ‘Yes’ vote on the 18th of September. For this aspiration to be achieved, every person should realize that their role is pivotal in winning or losing this referendum.
Firstly, I’d like to encourage you to adopt this as a main tenet for campaigning: Your duty is to convert the No voters to Undecided, the Undecided voters to Yes, and the Yes voters to active campaigners, and so on. At the University of Dundee, different pro-independence student groups on campus have merged efforts in talking to students about Independence; canvassing student halls; inviting influential speakers; as well as participate in multiple debates aimed at students.
However, I personally believe that talking to random students on campus is the most effective way of approaching the mainstream student body. You have to take initiative to talk to people, reach out to the uninterested, and explain why the outcome of this referendum matters to every and each one of them. If they intend to vote ‘No’, I enquire; If they are undecided, I answer their questions; and if they’re intending to vote ‘Yes’, I encourage them to join me and involve other students and colleagues in this conversation.
However, away from the student atmosphere, a far more important method of approaching people is through participating in canvassing sessions and weekly street stalls. While social media; blogs; writing in newspapers; organizing debates and public meeting are all important, I can’t emphasize enough how important talking to members of the public is. Unless exposed properly to the referendum debate, most members of the public will fall in a default category of ‘no opinion’ or ‘no’. We could change this before September comes.
Many of us often waste more energy preaching to the choir over and over again. By now, most of us know which side holds a positive vision for Scotland and which side argues against the interests of Scottish people. But, we need to break out of our bubble. Scotland is a small place, but those who will determine the outcome of the referendum will not be your family, friends, and colleagues.
You, the person reading this, have so much power to make this dream become reality. In your free time, join other members of your community in reaching out to the people who you wouldn’t interact with during your routine life. Talk to strangers, ask them what they think, and engage in conversations. The mainstream media is very powerful in swaying public opinion, and its misconceptions must be challenged. All the scare headlines about businesses leaving Scotland; Scotland being left out of the EU; and meteors crashing into Scotland on its day of independence could only be countered by enhanced grassroots engagement with members of the public. Break out of your comfort-zone and get involved with those who share your vision. Establish trust relationships and march on!