‘LITTLE impact on independence from the Growth Commission report” – this message is getting bandied about in several locations, most recently in last weekend’s Scotland on Sunday.

In this, clearly what’s being discussed is the rank-and-file voter, not what’s seemingly the target audience: the City, its financial institutions or businesses, small and large. Like the last “white paper”, it’s not something the average individual will rush out to grab.

The average voter isn’t going to read the equivalent of a good-sized novel, especially one they would be inclined to see as “politics-based”. Politics switches off the vast majority of people, and it’s not a new phenomenon. James Madison once wrote: “A popular government without popular information or the means of acquiring it is but a prologue to farce or tragedy or perhaps both” (clearly what we currently have in Westminster), continuing: “A people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power knowledge gives.” The question in any democracy is how much voters actually do know and how reliable, accurate and truthful is that information?

This was especially true during the indy referendum.

Folk tend to start with historical preconceptions, then travel or circulate in groups which support those ideas or the norms that they cleave to. Many in those “anti-independence” groups during the last referendum would never have changed their stance; others might, the issue is that they were not reached. That doesn’t mean no-one talked to them, or that information didn’t get into their homes, but that for whatever reason, nothing happened to make them receptive to it. This is incredible when one considers that the No vote meant an ongoing abdication of both personal and public responsibility, an abdication of rights and declaring a desire to continually be treated as a child. Simply observe what’s happening now.

To achieve that result took an eloquence unrivalled in misinformation and deceit, all delivered to a largely predisposed electorate. Before we can win, that abnormal and blinkered world view has to be shifted, shattered. Holyrood has the power to begin creating that paradigm shift, but largely hasn’t acted on it. We individuals also have the power. Somehow, by advertising, information and legislation, we have to achieve that re-orientation of individual world views. It cannot be brow-beaten in – the shift must be gradual, as was the original entrenchment.

Perhaps the SNP at its conference made a start, with moving to regionalisation. Consider if a case was put forward under the current electoral system that a second chamber was constructed using only list MSPs, and it was done by region, giving each region an equal voice in our government. It would be ruled “outside competence”, yes, but when it is declared so, let the cry of “we’re trying” echo loudly, so the islanders will hear it.

How about a universal and far-reaching anti-corruption bill, one applying to anyone holding an office of the Scots electorate, one demanding truth and honesty, no “fake news”, with exceptionally stiff penalties. Again, due to Westminster MPs, it would likely be declared “out of competence”, and again it would demonstrate to the Scots voter how real progress is being held back. Truth in broadcasting would be another.

There must be a dozen or more instances where MSPs could bring forward such motions – like the creation of a Scottish Review Board to challenge the most absurd of Home Office deportation decisions with the re-creation of a Sanctuary Act (Scotland) – knowing they too will be declared “outside of parliament’s competence”.

One such event is unlikely to change many attitudes, but a steady drip, as the Unionist press excelled at during the last referendum, right up until the next vote, could make a real difference, and not in just supplying more debating points.

A MacGregor

East Kilbride