Yes campaign needs to improve argument for independence, says Alex Salmond's former chief of staff

Written by Staff reporter on 15 March 2017 in News

Writing in Holyrood magazine, Geoff Aberdein says “we know efforts are under way to augment the economic case and improve in other areas”

Ballot box

Ballot box - photo credit: PA

Alex Salmond’s former chief of staff has said that the Yes campaign will need to make “a number of improvements” to its argument for independence if it hopes to win a future referendum.

Writing in Holyrood magazine, Geoff Aberdein, who served as Alex Salmond’s chief of staff during the 2014 independence campaign, said “we know efforts are under way to augment the economic case and improve in other areas”, while calling for strict discipline in the tone adopted by the Yes campaign.

Arguing that the SNP will come under a higher degree of scrutiny than the parties within the No campaign, Aberdein warned that “all SNP parliamentarians have a particular duty of care”.


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Aberdein said: “They must lead from the front and realise that what they say and write on TV and Twitter is immediately endorsed by their followers and supporters.

“To win this referendum – and to win it well – will require a narrative that transcends party politics, providing a reset from previous held allegiances.”

Nicola Sturgeon this week announced her intention to seek approval from the Scottish Parliament to seek for a Section 30 order from the UK Government and then hold a second independence referendum between autumn 2018 and spring 2019.

The Scottish Greens then backed the First Minister’s plan, with Patrick Harvie saying: “The people of Scotland deserve a choice between Hard Brexit Britain and putting our own future in our own hands.”

However Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson claimed the FM has “ignored the majority in Scotland who do not want a referendum and has decided instead to double down on division and uncertainty”.

Writing ahead of the SNP conference, Aberdein cautioned against re-running arguments from the 2014 campaign, saying voters “need to hear a detailed case for a better future based on the reality of now”.

He said: “The EU referendum result has thrown up a change in attitudes amongst some that mean previous ‘No’s’ have shifted to ‘Yes’ and vice versa. The last thing these swing voters want to hear is an aggressive ridiculing of the position they previously held.

“Nor do they want their current ambivalence to be treated with anything other than respect by politicians of all persuasions.”

He adds: "From someone that was on the inside during the 2014 campaign,  I know there are a number of improvements to be made to the argument for independence if a ‘Yes’ vote is to prevail next time." 

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