We’ve mentioned previously that one of the core tactics the No camp appears to be utilising in the referendum debate is that of attrition through extremism. It’s a strategy borrowed from the terrifying American right wing, and has two main goals.
One is to recalibrate the perceived centre-ground by abandoning any kind of moderate position and instead arguing positions so self-evidently ludicrous and dishonest that the listener is nudged towards assuming that they must be true purely on the grounds that nobody would dare to present such an audacious lie with a straight face. The other is to simply exhaust your opponents by forcing them to constantly battle over even the most basic and obvious facts, long before you get to the real debating points.
It’s a nihilistic but clever ploy, particularly effective in broadcast media where time is often very limited and such obfuscatory stalling can completely prevent the serious issues from being addressed at all. So far it seems to be pretty much the only weapon in Scottish Labour’s armoury, not just in respect of the referendum but also politics generally – a good example being the party’s absurd claims about the cost of knife crime during the 2011 election campaign.
It applies at the macro level as well as at the top end of the scale. When we started this blog we subscribed to the Twitter accounts of lots of prominent Labour activists in a naive attempt at engaging in genuine constructive debate, but were gradually forced to the realisation that the primary (or only) point of their dialogue was to deliberately waste our time and exasperate us into submission, and unfollowed them all.
So rather than be drawn into attempting to intelligently and forensically deconstruct three of the most recent outpourings of (calculated) lunacy from some of the No camp’s leading mad old men, we’re going to treat them with the amount of respect they deserve. Read the three articles below, then use your skill and judgement to decide (via the poll over in the central column) who’s the most barking-mad mental.