#PatronisingBTLady – it’s time to get angry

Posted by Euan Bennet on 27/08/2014

This video is genuinely the latest campaign broadcast from the Better Together campaign. Not surprisingly, comments are disabled on YouTube. It’s difficult to know where to start when listing what is wrong with it, but Logic’s Rock and Furcoatnaenicks have had a good shot at it. Women for Independence are reporting a surge in support after the video was broadcast. Take a look at their own video and compare & contrast the approaches:

Thankfully, the internet being the internet, the Better Together video was instantly ripped into tiny shreds by the hilarious and creative people of Generation Yes. A meme template was created and shortly afterwards the tag #PatronisingBTLady was trending UK-wide. 


With apologies to Lady Alba

PatronisingBTLady_children PatronisingBTLady_defence_welfare

Why Patronising BT Lady is bad

As much as I enjoyed the responses and joined in the meme creation, there is a very serious side to this video. A great deal of focus was given to the shocking way that the video patronises 51% of the population, and rightly so. Within the scope of this blog however, the video is pretty much our Bete Noir. 

The sub-title for this blog is “applying scientific rigour to the facts and figures of the independence debate”. In nearly all of the posts I have used classic scientific techniques like ‘examining the evidence’ and ‘past behaviour is the best predictor of future behaviour’. I have tried to set out the facts as they are established and examine the conclusions that can be made based on the evidence – in short, I’ve shown my working.

The patronising Better Together video actually disgusts me, because the underlying and explicit message from it is “don’t think, just vote No”. They don’t want people to make an informed decision. You should ignore “the man on the telly”. You shouldn’t even discuss it with your partner or children. Just go with your gut feeling and BE AFRAID OF CHANGE. Don’t ask what will change after a No vote. Don’t examine what the No campaign are saying. Stay in your comfort zone and don’t try to think. Back in your box, you fucking prole.

This attitude makes me so angry. In my day job I have had the opportunity to teach science to children of primary school and secondary school age, as well as undergraduate and postgraduate students. It’s a very rewarding challenge. My number one priority for any student is to encourage them to think for themselves. True understanding can only come when you conceive of an idea or a concept in your own mind – no one can force you to understand something. 

The referendum is the biggest decision that has ever been made by people in Scotland. For the first time ever, a democratic decision will be made about the way our country is governed. For ANY campaign group, let alone one of the two main campaigns, to advocate a message such as this of “don’t engage, just vote based on fear”, is an absolute disgrace. It says everything we need to know about the attitude of those campaigning for a No vote. They just want to keep us in our place. How DARE the Yes campaign try to improve our country?! How DARE we get above ourselves and ask if this is the best we can achieve?


This is what Better Together wants everyone in Scotland to do. Back in your box. Don’t even try to make things better.

The oil comment – pedant alert

A line in the video that bugged me for pedantic reasons rather than the intellectual insult of the rest of it, was the line “oil will pay for it all – so you can rely on oil for everything, can you?”. Literally no one in the Yes campaign has ever said that was the case. The case spelled out in the White Paper, and the message taken out onto the streets by all the groups campaigning for a Yes vote has consistently been that oil is a bonus, NOT the basis of the Scottish economy. In the posts on this blog the only times I have mentioned the word oil is in sentences like “and I haven’t even mentioned oil and gas”. 


Throughout the campaign I have asked No voters to explain why they are voting No. I have yet to get a coherent answer. In one particularly special case, a long-time friend refused point blank to engage with me because he “knows I’m a Yes supporter” and  “there is no way I’m going to read all that [my brief case outlining my reasons]” before deleting the conversation.

Based on the existence of the Patronising BT Lady video, these are the people the No campaign are relying on. They want the future of our country decided by the apathetic, disengaged voters who the tame media have managed to keep uninformed. They want the uninformed to force the rest of us to, as Greg says, “legitimise our corrupt, undemocratic, quasi-democracy”. The No campaign want to use your fear of the unknown to endorse a system that is elitist, sectarian, war-mongering, unequal, human rights-abusing, child-abusing, and above all unreformable. They want you to turn down your one opportunity to build a better country.

Are you going to let them have their way?



5 thoughts on “#PatronisingBTLady – it’s time to get angry

  1. Pingback: Euan’s Ramblings: collected for reference | The Science of Independence

  2. Matt Noble

    Great piece Euan. I had some of these thoughts myself when I watched it, but reading it spelled out like that just really fires me up to get out there and do everything I can to make sure they don’t get away with it!

  3. Luke A

    I agree totally that this video is an affront to democracy. Anyone (politician, party, lobbyist etc.) involved with the running our society should put the promotion of informed democracy above their own ideas and beliefs. This video does the exact opposite, and to an almost criminal extent – before even mentioning sexism.

    This is to me a sad indictment of UK politics and typifies the embedded attitudes of the current, corrupt systems that the NO campaign are desperate to protect. How can anyone want to maintain the status quo, when it is clear (and has been for a long time, this video just adding to the mountain of evidence) that the UK Government no longer works for the people.

    If this YES vote doesn’t come through, the next 5-10 years could get pretty interesting as the people of Scotland become further disillusioned with our situation. On a more positive note, a successful YES vote could be the first of many international dominoes with Scotland leading the charge against injustice, inequality, war and more . . .

    1. juanbonnets Post author

      Hi Luke, thanks for commenting. I watched the film Scotland Yet last week (available to watch online free here: http://scotlandyet.com/) and the last comment from Robin McAlpine strikes a chord: “If Scotland votes No because Better Together forced us onto our knees, we’ll be on our knees for a long time. But if Scotland votes Yes because we stand up tall, then the people of Scotland will stand tall very, very quickly.”


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