On Sept 18, 2014, 85% of the Scots got off their duff, and went out to vote in a referendum on the future of their country. They had different desires, fears, unknowns to face, promises to evaluate, and over 300 years of history with Britain behind them.
Wouldn’t be interesting to look behind the positions, the emotions, etc to uncover the LAB Profile Triggers driving each side? This kind of analysis is useful to understand some of the forces driving political, social and military movements around the world.
The Yes Side used a combination:
First moving Away From the inequalities and lack of autonomy over the past. Then moving Toward the aspirations of an independent Scotland. They end with Difference and Options language to talk about the new opportunities of an independent Scotland, including oil revenues etc.
And of course, painting the pictures so that people can See compelling images.
This order is important to create movement. People who are dissatisfied have lots of emotion and energy; they are angry about the injustices they experience and want to move away from these. This is the bus stop where you can pick up them up, using Away From language: don’t want, never again, problems of the past, unacceptable, etc.
This is Push Power: Using words and images that help push people away from the things they believe are unacceptable. Here is an example where a celebrity commentator starts with a positive example to set up the Away From critique of the current UK status.
“Swedes, Norwegians and Danes remain on amicable terms; they trade, co-operate and visit each other socially any time they like. They don’t need a pompous, blustering state called Scandinavia, informing them from Stockholm how wonderful they all are, but (kind of) only really meaning Sweden.” – novelist Irvine Welsh.
If you only use Away From language several issues arise which can prevent this momentum from gaining traction. At some point people will be asking about the alternatives to the past, something to rally behind and move toward. When politicians use only Away From language, as in attack ads, they have no control over what viewers move away from. Often they just don’t vote as a result of the very negativity of attack strategies.
Following Away From words and images with Towards helps people see a desired destination. This is attractive and reassuring and creates Pull Power, pulling people to the outcome. Here is an example of both Pull and Push Power, combining Toward language while reminding people of the negative past in Away From language:
“Scotland’s Future is an exciting, informative and insightful vision of what an independent Scotland will be, without the controls, mistakes and unwanted one-size-fits-all policies of Westminster governments.” – Blair Jenkins, Chief Executive of Yes Scotland.
And of course the Yes campaign is all about selling change (Difference) and possibilities (Options). Check this Yes ad out; even the visual design is filled with Options.
Their campaign and the polls before the actual vote were convincing enough to panic all three British political parties into making last minute offerings that had never before been put on the table.
The No Campaign
The No Campaign had a different approach to ensure the votes of people who had already decided for No and more importantly to convince the undecided.
Even though their primary slogan was “Better Together”, they used Away From language fairly consistently throughout the campaign, coupled with Sameness and Difference in combinations.
Away From and Difference: for people who are afraid of change and unknowns. “Why would you take a chance with no guarantees and risk your pension?” This is from a video ad from the “Better Together” campaign:
“I will not be gambling with my children’s future.”
This is from the controversial ad showing a Mum thinking about the referendum.
And of course appealing to people who want things to stay the same; the Sameness Pattern. Here’s an ad that shows all these patterns:
The No Campaign also encouraged people to be External (needing outside guidance), by having economists and other authorities clearly state the dangers of independence.
The Scottish people will take a “massive risk” with their economic future if they vote for independence, former chancellor, and leader of the No campaign, Alistair Darling has warned.
In an interview with the Observer, Darling says that if the Scots vote to leave the 300-year-old union and then keep sterling, adopt their own currency, or join the euro, the country will be plunged into unparalleled economic uncertainty.
“The downsides are immense, the risks are amazing, the uncertainties I just don’t think are worth gambling on, Darling said.”There are times when you should gamble and there are times when you shouldn’t.”*
We know the end of the story: 55.3% No, 44.7% Yes. This tells us that moving Away From the risks and uncertainties was more popular, but only by a little over 10%.
And perhaps there will be change after all, if the British politicians keep their last minute promises for more devolution of powers.
I was so impressed with the civility of this campaign! An inspiration to dysfunctional democracies everywhere.