Wednesday, 27 August 2014

the debate Better Together won

In the lives of ordinary voters, it's No supporters who win debates because the Yessers are fearful of debate, they only ever want their own points heard one-sidedly. Show you have an answer to them and they make a fast getaway.

Of course, the picture does actually favour us at the TV debates'level as well. Darling won the first debate, on actual substance, and what he established then about our chaotic unformed fiscal prospects in Salmond's hands still stands without any further answering in the second debate which consisted mostly of noise and shouting down by Salmond indulged by the host. Some one just said BBC Scotland want to be the head TV and Radio producer in Scotland and that is why they are leaning over backwards with the Yes voters: anyone hear this? Today's Times p4: "BBC Scotland have a proud history of ensuring that every audience is stacked with nationalists and that every question is plucked from the nationalists' greatest hits. They did themselves proud on Monday." Another source said "Alistair said he looked out and all he could see was folk growling."

But with the world of TV debates being a general turn-off, especially to swing voting women, and remote from our own lives, look at what debating with nats is like at grassroots level.

Here is what happened when Jim Murphy's speaking tour for Better Together visited South Queensferry last week. It took place outdoors, by some restaurant tables on the sea front. His message was well received by the voters who were there. A good natured discussion was going on, when there arrived 2 men wearing Yes badges, who asked to offer a couple of questions.

They proceeded to talk non-stop, and never paused to hear more than half a sentence of anything anyone on the No side said. They would promptly interject with another point of their own or even another question spontaneously changing the subject. They were simply hooligans, this approach was a disruption. Telling them so made no difference, they were practiced in this way of behaving and being in a pair as soon as one came to a halt the other would start.

It was more than disruption of a No event from taking place properly. The content of what they said was full of scaremongering Yes arguments of the type that could be stated quickly in brief. Their obvious purpose was a hope to influence some voters by it - and in a way where no reply arguments would be heard and no debate would happen. Also they made a false accusation that the event had not been advertised, which the voters present rebutted and took a dim view of hearing, and they performed a stunt of making a mobile phone call which they claimed was to an office number for Murphy's tour, who they claimed were not telling them where he would be next day - this when it was already billed online where he would be next day. We could not see who they were phoning if indeed anyone at all, or hear what was being said to them, there was no evidencing of their claims, they were able to entirely pretend the whole thing to attack the host's character. They did this in a tide of non-stop talking in the face of being told they were disruptive and needed to listen as well as talk.

They did not even stop when the whole group of us around Murphy regrouped further away from them. But here is when they did stop, straight after that. They got up and left VERY quickly - as soon as I showed I had an answer to their point on Tory governments and started to make it. THEY LOST THE DEBATE THEY STARTED, as they fled from treating it as a debate at all as soon as their question was answered.

This type of behaviour from nats matches the experience around Better Together street stalls. There is always a nat who comes along and picks a debate with individuals in the stall team, probing our strength, testing whether you can stand up to a set of prerehearsed statistical arguments. The last one I got blew his own argument when shown our economic arguments, just airily snapped "that's just propaganda" - entitling me to do the same to all his claims. Wanted his claims scrutinised but not willing to scrutinise ours - so lost the debate, again. That is the whole nat approach to debate. Shout down, disrupt, seek to generate peer pressure, run away from listening, have a double standard of expecting to be heard but not to hear the other side. That is not a character of movement fit to vote a country's future into their hands. That is not a democratic standard. How in their new state would they debate the country's problems and the austerity created by their own actions? That is a prospect to be repelled away from now, by the character they show trying to create a cultural pressure in their favour from intolerant behaviour.

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