A Talking Point is something that politicians, and/or the media, will promote and amplify (make louder) in order to lead the debate, with the intention of dominating the discussion and directing it along a preferred course.
The SNP's Talking Points lead the Scottish media, and national debate, by the nose. Of course, such journalists will object to that, but we're about to demonstrate that they clearly are being led. It they were not led, we would be hearing our Talking Points instead.
Let's examine some of the SNP Talking Points which we've heard since the General Election on 12 December 2019.
The Role of the Media
Politics is experienced by people largely through the consumption of mainstream media, and increasingly social media. It is the media which introduces ideas into popular consciousness, keeps them in our minds (if we let it) and amplifies certain messages over others.
However, traditional media – TV especially – has an authority that social media doesn't have. Scottish nationalist domination of that medium is hugely powerful.
For example, there is no TV media host based in Scotland who would dare give Sturgeon (or any SNP personalities) the pasting that Andrew Neil (based in London) gave her. It would be more than their job was worth! The best us unionists can hope for 'on the Telly' is the occasional audience member on Question Time speaking up for us.
That's a sad state of affairs!
HOW TALKING POINTS WORK and HOW TO TURN THEM AROUND
Example 1. They say: "Boris is imprisoning Scotland"
That's the SNP's Talking Point, intended to lead the debate with the intention of dominating the discussion. Switch on the radio and the first thing we'll hear will be about Sturgeon accusing Boris of "imprisoning" Scotland.
The media is now promoting and amplifying this particular message. By doing so, it is essentially acting as a mouthpiece for the SNP.
So, all day people are asking "Is Boris Johnson keeping the Scots in their place? Do you agree or not? Has he locked us up and thrown away the key? How do you feel about being a prisoner to the Tories?"
You know, we just made up those quotes as fast as it took to write them down, but you get the idea. The particular SNP view, leads the debate and thereby dominates everywhere, especially in our heads.
But as Graham Grant pointed out: "...for as long as he honours his promise not to countenance a replay of the poisonous independence vote in 2014, he is a liberator of ordinary Scots who long ago wearied of the SNP's constitutional games." (Graham Grant, Scottish Daily Mail, 17-12-19)
Therefore, we can just as easily argue that Boris is not "imprisoning" Scotland. It is Sturgeon who is holding the UK hostage!
We could just as easily say that Nicola Sturgeon – with 45% of the vote of those who voted in Scotland and 3.9% of the share throughout the UK – is holding the majority of people in Scotland, and the rest of the United Kingdom hostage.
Are we really to imagine the whole of the UK should be held hostage by less than 4% of the electorate?
Of course not, but we don't switch on the radio and hear: "Sturgeon is holding the UK hostage and pointing a gun at its head. How do you feel about being held hostage by Sturgeon? When will the SNP admit that they have no right to hold the United Kingdom hostage? When will they admit that they have no right to hold the people of Scotland hostage? Does she have a right to hold a gun at the head of the majority in Scotland? If Nicola Sturgeon was a kidnap gang, would she be Baader-Meinhof, or the Medellín Cartel?"
The SNP's perspective, its slant on things, which is tilted deliberately to give it the momentum, gets all the amplification.
Example 2. They say: "We are facing a constitutional crisis"
No we are not. The SNP crisis is not our crisis!
We've just had a very well-behaved Election with a good turnout. Indeed the turnout in Scotland was 68.1% which is way above the usual Holyrood turnout (demonstrating as we always point out that people in Scotland have more engagement with Westminster than Holyrood).
We have just elected a new Parliament. All the MPs (except Sinn Fein) are talking their seats. The constitution has worked very well, thank you. There is no crisis.
The crisis is all on the SNP's side.
This is because, despite getting 48 MPs, the SNP failed in its two major aims. It failed to "Stop Boris". He is the Prime Minister. It failed to "Stop Brexit". We will be leaving the EU on 31st January (at which point the SNP's goose could be cooked).
So the SNP needs a new "narrative". It needs a new story. It needs new Talking Points in order to lead and dominate the debate, and for its supporters to parrot.
So they, and their supporters in academia, such as Prof Tom Devine, announce that there is an "unprecedented constitutional crisis" (see his letter in The Times, 14-12-19); which then leads to an absurd editorial on the same day which parrots his phrase, and starts fretting about "civil unrest" in Scotland.
All that demonstrated was a Times leader writer who looks on Scotland as some sort of rebellious colony which may as well be on the other side of the world; which he hears about every few months via messages delivered via sailing ship, then homing pigeon; and which he fears needs to be treated with kid gloves lest it mutinies.
In other words, that's someone speaking who has no clue about Scotland, or indeed, the United Kingdom, at all. That's someone in the London Metropolitan Elite Bubble speaking.
Unfortunately, it is then these sorts of influential people who will go on to panic about the "crisis" and then make the claim – because they don't understand the nature of Scottish nationalism – that the answer is to give even more powers to this rebellious colony, and to the local Panjandrums who lead it, in a doomed attempt to appease them.
(As we know, Scottish nationalism will never be "appeased", not even with "independence". It will never be satisfied. That is not the nature of the beast. All you are doing is giving more powers to the Panjandrums to destroy the place prior to blaming it on you and making their ultimate goal easier.)
Anyway...back to the pretendy "crisis".
We say: The only "crisis" is the crisis among Scottish nationalists, who can see their cause disappearing over the horizon. So they have to make their crisis our "crisis".
They do this by running about screaming that there is a "crisis", when there is no crisis. Suddenly, everyone is trying to think of "solutions" to this non-existent "crisis".
Example 3. They say: "Boris has No Mandate"
A Force For Good does not support any particular political party, but we know that Boris has a mandate to govern the whole of the United Kingdom.
This is because all of Scotland took part in a United Kingdom election, and elected 59 MPs, none of whom are abstentionists, and all of whom have pledged allegiance to the Queen and have taken up their seats in the Great British Parliament.
We call this the "mandate for unity".
Indeed Boris is 100% Scotland's Prime Minister.
As Stephen Daisley wrote: "Scotland is part of that one nation and ought to be treated accordingly. He must think of himself as Scotland's Prime Minister and, while showing respect and courtesy to the First Minister, he should not be gulled into seeing her post as equal to his."
Stephen Daisley, "The Union in the age of Boris", 14-12-19 at stephendaisley.com/2019/12/14/the-union-in-the-age-of-boris/
And as AFFG tweeted out on the 13th: "Congrats to the 59 MPs from Scotland who have been elected to our collective British Parliament, and who, by taking up their seats, will acknowledge the British Parliament's perfect right, duty and responsibility to stand up for our United Kingdom and to work to keep us together!"
This won't stop the SNP and its media and academia lackeys from talking about "no mandate".
For example, Tommy Sheppard SNP MP tweeted (16-12-19) that the Prime Minister's "mandate doesn't run in Scotland". This is very dangerous talk. It is saying that the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom including Scotland, is illegitimate. This sort of talk is irresponsible and inflammatory.
We responded to Sheppard by tweeting: "The democratic mandate of the British Government + Parliament most certainly runs from the top of our United Kingdom to the bottom and from east to west. You even acknowledge this mandate for British unity by sitting in Westminster. Stop trying to destroy the peace of our Islands"
We say: The fact is, so long as Scotland is part of the UK then the Prime Minister's mandate runs throughout Scotland.
This would be so even if all the 692,939 people in Scotland who voted for him and made the Conservatives the second biggest party in Scotland, had not voted for him. His mandate as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom would still run in Scotland because we are part of the United Kingdom.
Example 4. They say: "Boris has No Right to [do anything in Scotland]"
The fact is he has a perfect right. The United Kingdom went to the polls to elect a British Parliament and British Government. All of Scotland took an active part in that effort with a respectable turnout of 68.1%. Boris and his party won. He is now the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. That means he is Scotland's Prime Minister too.
Moreover, the Conservatives are Scotland's second biggest party (which they've been since the 2016 Holyrood election, and the 2017 Westminster election). So, whatever you may think of Boris, he has a perfect democratic right to govern all the people of the UK including Scotland.
We say: Since this was a United Kingdom election then he has a perfect right and a mandate to govern Scotland. He would have "no right" or "no mandate" if Scotland was no longer a part of the United Kingdom.
The only way the SNP and their supporters can get round this fact is to pretend that Scotland is already a "different" country.
Example 5. They say: "Scotland and England are now Two Different Countries"
So they are now trying to talk as if Scotland is already independent. The National newspaper even used the phrase "A different country" on its front page on 13 December, as if Scotland is already separate.
This is an attempt to break up the idea of us being one United Kingdom in our minds, prior to breaking it up in reality.
So, this is another Talking Point which we're going to be hearing a lot of – intended to lead and dominate debate. Many in the media will grasp onto this and continue to push and amplify this particular point and try to create a momentum for the SNP.
They will be helped in this by the anti-Boris, anti-Brexit and anti-British elements of the London media who will be only too delighted to try to use Scotland as a wedge to break up the UK, in order to punish Boris.
Remember that while the media in Scotland is scared of Sturgeon, a large part of the Metropolitan London Elite Bubble hates Boris, Brexit and Britain just as much as Sturgeon hates those things.
They are still enraged that a majority voted the wrong way in 2016. They hate the Conservatives and they are angry that Corbyn did not win.
We say: The fact is, we're still part of one country, the United Kingdom, and Scotland has just literally elected 59 MPs to help govern our United Kingdom from our one central, common and collective British Parliament.
Example 6. They say: "Tories, Labour and Lib Dems will deny the Scots a second referendum if the SNP/Greens win in 2021"
The media is entirely wrapped up in this SNP Talking Point, indeed consumed by it!
Yet this is a hypothetical situation. The SNP/Greens winning is something that may or may not happen in the future. But it has not yet happened, and it might not happen.
Therefore, opposition politicians should not be drawn into answering hypothetical questions based on situations which are not real.
They should avoid pronouncing on things which have not happened and which might not ever happen!
All you are doing is making the possibility of an SNP/Green victory in 2021 more likely by accepting the premise that it is going to happen!
Our advice to all the opposition parties is to concentrate on talking up your own chances right now, instead of being caught in the web of accepting the SNP's hypothetical version of reality sometime in the future.
Questions on whether or not to grant a referendum will only arise if the SNP/Greens have a majority after the 2021 election. Answer those questions then. For now, talk up your own chances!
We say: "The SNP is not going to win the 2021 Holyrood Election. We are going to work to ensure the people of Scotland vote for a party which concentrates on making Holyrood work for us all and which is not obsessed with breaking up Britain."
Example 7. They say: "Scotland has a right to another referendum."
The SNP will say that the British Government (they will personalise it and say "Boris") is attacking our democratic "right" to have another referendum. The truth is the Government is defending our democratically expressed will of 2014.
We say: "After the experience of 2014 and 2016 no responsible or compassionate government would inflict another referendum on its people, which we were told was 'once in a generation' anyway. Nor would it ignore the democratic result and try to keep holding referendums until it gets what it wants."
Example 8. They say: "Denying us another another referendum will only increase support for independence."
We say: "If the SNP keep banging on about more referendums it will only increase support for the Union. And everyone knows that if they lost again, they would simply demand another and another until they got their way. They don't, and won't respect the result!"
Example 9. They say: "Tories and Labour and Lib Dems have no right to deny the democratic will of the people of Scotland."
We say: "When will the SNP respect the democratic will of the people of Scotland expressed at the 2014 referendum? When will they admit they said it was once in a generation, and concentrate instead on running the country for the good of all? They are the ones who are denying democracy."
Example 10. They say, "Scotland has a right to independence."
Remember, the frame of "independence" is the SNP frame. Our frame is unity. The UK will stay together. We oppose the destruction of our United Kingdom. This is not just a Scottish issue, everyone is involved. Scotland is not the only actor with a "right to be heard" in this debate!
We say: "Scotland has no right to break up the UK on its own. We have no right to destroy Britain. Everyone is involved here!"
Example 11. They say: "When will the Tories/Boris/Unionists/Labour Party apologise to the people of Scotland for..."
We say: "When will Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP apologise to the people of Scotland for their constitutional obsession? When will they apologise for their divisive behaviour?"
Example 12. They say: "We, the SNP, got 45% of the vote on the day in Scotland. The UK government has no mandate here."
We say: "You acknowledge the right of the British Parliament and Government to govern in Scotland because you were elected to the British Parliament on a UK-wide vote, and you willingly take your seats. Furthermore, you took less than 4% of the UK-wide vote. How does that give you a mandate to destroy the United Kingdom? Why are you holding the rest of the UK hostage? You have no right to destroy the UK based on a vote of less than one and a quarter million people [1,242,380]! What about the rights of everyone else in the UK?"
Example 13. They say: "But Scotland voted to Remain"
We say: This would be relevant if Scotland was already separate, or part of a federal state. However, Scotland is not a separate country, and the UK is not a federal state. The UK is a unitary state.
That means all the votes go into one big pot, and the result comes out without regard to any of the specific areas of the UK.
In that regard, the combined "Leave" vote from Scotland and England was slightly greater than the Leave majority on the day, so we could just as easily say that it was the Scottish and Northern Irish votes which swung it for the UK to Leave! Consider the figures:
Leave - 17,410,742
Remain - 16,141,241
Majority = 1,269,501
Scotland for Leave - 1,018,322
Northern Ireland for Leave - 349,442
Total = 1,367,764
HOW TO PROTECT OURSELVES IN THIS WAR OF ATTRITION
The SNP has declared a "War of Attrition" upon Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom.
That is, they aim to grind us down over time. Wearing us down is a deliberate strategy, and to the extent that people begin to feel helpless, and to the extent that they do not see their own people "fighting back", then it can work. Make no mistake – it can work!
We need to protect ourselves. Here's how.
1. Understand and Avoid those with an Agenda
As above, many in the media – both in Scotland and London – and many of the people who appear "objective observers" on TV actually have a deliberate agenda to exploit the constitution for their own ends, particularly Scottish nationalists, English federalists, and the anti-Brexit brigade.
The former, as above, will talk up our (non-existent) "unprecedented constitutional crisis", while federalist organisations (including even Conservative newspaper columnists) will continue to propose various thoughtless ways to bugger-up Britain even worse. All these people, and more, have a deliberate agenda to promote.
Academics or authors may appear to be "objective". They may frame their apparent concern about a supposed "constitutional crisis" in objective ways, but they are promoting their separatist agenda.
Learn to spot them because virtually none of the above are objective observers. We should not be fooled.
The media leads the debate in favour of the SNP by using its Talking Points. Come to understand that subtle but hugely important point. See and hear it in action. When you do, you will know what they are up to, and you can protect yourself psychologically.
2. Take the Moral High Ground
The SNP's message is a belligerent and angry one. It is all about "no mandate", and Scots being "imprisoned". It is highly negative. We put them on the back foot by being highly positive about the UK and its unlimited potential. When they go low, we go high.
You know, most of us did not vote for Sturgeon and the SNP, but we are prepared to accept that they run Holyrood. Yet these SNP people did not vote for Boris and the Conservatives yet they are not prepared to accept that they run the UK.
That's a very bad attitude.
It's encouraged by the SNP. Yet it is not how democracies are meant to operate. In a democracy, we are meant to accept that we have sufficient in common to accept government by people we didn't vote for. When that attitude breaks down, then society starts to break down. Politicians should not encourage that process.
3. We Pull Together. They try to Pull us Apart
The British View is the positive one. It is about the 4 corners of the UK working together to get the job done. About all of us pulling together to get through Brexit; whereas the SNP message is about negativity, and pulling us all apart.
4. Beware the London Metropolitan Elite
Far too many commentators in the London media clearly have no idea about anything north of the M25. And that's the ones who don't have a deliberate agenda to destroy the UK!
These people could still ruin everything.
There are signs that the know-nothing-about-Scotland London brigade will continue to advocate further appeasement of the ScotNats with ivory-tower notions of "federalism".
Their view hasn't evolved beyond "Just give the Nabobs in the colonies some more powers and they'll be happy" – and that's the well-intentioned ones! At the end of the day, of course, we here in Scotland know that the Nats will just spit on anything they are given, bank it, then pretend like they never received it.
5. Complacency could be our Doom
There is a huge element of complacency in the pro-UK field. This is largely because being "unionist" or pro-UK isn't really a thing.
Prior to 2014, it was just called "being a normal person going about one's day to day existence." We include ourselves in that description!
It was only the Scottish nationalists, with their obsession about separation, which forced the issue upon us and forced us to choose sides.
Consequently, many "unionists" would rather this all went away, and at best, that leads to an unwillingness to get involved, and at worst, an opting out.
Many Nats are possessed with a revolutionary fervour to up-end the system. Most unionists are just trying to keep the ship on an even keel.
Many people who are for the Union just imagine it will be alright on the night. Well, there is no reason why it should be. There are problems ahead. So let's stand up for Britain!
Thankfully, everyone connected with AFFG is energised.
Please note, we will be standing up for the Union (quite literally), raising the profile of Britishness in Scotland, and flying the Red, White and Blue, when the SNP supporters march through Glasgow on Saturday 11 January 2019.
If you can stand with us, please get in touch. If you can't stand with us please take this opportunity to support our very modest Yule Britannia Christmas Crowdfunder, which will help us take the fight to the Nats in the first 6 months of 2020. Please click here.