Jim Sillars critiques Yes: Is he right?

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In an article published earlier in the week Jim Sillars questions whether the Yes campaign is producing enough high quality accessible information. He also questions whether Yes will produce useful information that suggests alternative post-Indy narratives from those mapped out by the SNP and Scottish Government.  Below is part of his article.  What do our readers think?  Is Jim making some valid observations?

The consistent low poll rating for independence is a testament not to the skill of the fearmongers, but to the inability of the Yes campaign to provide convincing in-depth information on why we must choose independence if we are to break free of an England in decline. The Yes leadership report card to date reads “nice people, intelligent, mean well, but need to do better”.

Part of the problem seems to be that the Yes campaign has become entangled with the SNP government, and appears to be like one of the submissive branches of the party that we are all now familiar with – echoing whatever comes out of Bute House.

Independence is not about the SNP. That party has been a vehicle to bring us to the point of decision on our future, and its efforts should be recognised and applauded, but it is not necessarily the future. If Scotland votes Yes, the political scene will be transformed. Scottish Labour, for one, will be freed from the unionist intellectual trap that has determined the boundaries within which it thinks. Europe is a good example of the entanglement. The Yes campaign simply repeats that SNP assertion that we will be in full membership of the EU on independence, and so is besmirched with the tar that now adheres to that SNP policy.

Where is the thoughtful paper for volunteers in the campaign that explains why Scotland is not a beggar at the gate of Brussels? A paper that examines the issue of what being “at the heart of Europe” means – joining the single United States of Europe, with the total loss of sovereignty that the referendum is supposed to give us? A paper that points out the alternative, the European Free Trade Area, if we find that the Franco-German driven direction of more integration is unacceptable? And a paper that reminds us that we have two years between 2014 and 2016 to decide where we might want to go?

Where is the detailed paper that volunteer activists can use that deals with the issue of the currency, setting out the options to the SNP government’s position? They do exist. Where is there information available that shows the balance of the Scottish economy between manufacturing and services, as opposed to the imbalance south of the Border? Where is the ruthless analysis of the inadequacies of devolution? Above all, where is the penetrating, scathing, scourging analysis of the state the British state is in, and why it is in this state – showing the future for Scots if they remain with failure?

There is nothing to be afraid of in a Yes campaign that reveals the weakness of what the No side is asking us to abide with, and nothing to be afraid of in engaging with people on the range of issues, and the options available, that differ from those proposed by the SNP.

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45 replies

  1. Someone tell that man about the internet.

  2. Much of what Jim Sillars says can be characterised as fair comment. Nobody is in any doubt that Yes Scotland has a great deal of work to do – least of all Blair Jenkins and his team. I would even allow that there have been areas in which the campaign’s performance to date could have been considerably better. But we should not lose sight of what has been and is being achieved.

    Jim Sillars may be unaware of just how much work is going on at local level. At this point, a lot of this work is in the early stages of organisational development and so do not yet have a high public profile. That will change very rapidly.

    I think Jim Sillars is being too harsh on Yes Scotland. Largely because he seems to have accepted without question the spin on polling figures peddled by the unionists and their friends in the media. He should bear in mind that Bitter Together stands for nothing more than the status quo. Depending on which polls you look at, support for that option stands at around 10% – 15% – approximately half the infeasibly low figure of 23% being trumpeted as the current support for independence.

    Where I would agree wholeheartedly is with is the suggestion that Yes Scotland should do more to take the fight to the NO campaign. That they have sought to keep the message positive is commendable. But the claims of the anti-independence mob have to be challenged. The true nature of their offer to the people of Scotland needs to be put under the spotlight. And the attempt to deceive the electorate with empty talk of more powers needs to be exposed for the fraud that it is.

    • Sorry Peter but I have to take issue with your acceptance that “Bitter Together stands for nothing more than the status quo”. There will be no status quo in the event of a no vote, things will change. The effects on the Barnett formula from austerity cuts will impoverish Scotland further (not counting the additional £4bn cut when the formula is reworked in 2016), The yards will be shut as orders for ships dry up (BAE are already reviewing their future). Powers will be stripped from the Scottish Parliament and given to more compliant local councils. Industry will desert us as we are removed from the EU by the power of the English voting base. Finally as the Westminster parties seek power before the good of the nation we will descend to the status of a third world country, cut off from the City State that London has become yet feeding our wealth and energies into supporting its greedy maw.

      • I take your point. But would insist that the status quo is what Better Together STANDS FOR, i.e what they actually campaign for. Their core message, if you like.

        Confusion arises, of course, because in addition to this core message there is also what they PRETEND to stand for, i.e. more powers/better devolution and, as you so accurately and comprehensively point out, what a NO vote actually entails.

  3. What are Mr Sillars answers to the questions he raises, can he help in producing the papers he thinks are necessary?

    • I agree. Come on Jim, give us your ideas. If you beleive in Scottish Independence, then join the Yes group and make a difference.

    • Aye Jim Sillars could help out….Instead of pointing out the problems he could be part of the solution. However he would need to fit in with the present team. I think he can do that.

  4. Jim Sillars is more than entitled to his opinion but there is an element of he would say that wouldn’t he. SNP authoritarianism, tick, Euroscepticism, tick, Scottish currency, tick, need to be more belligerent, tick.

    I think the SNP screwed up on the EU legal advice, but I am encouraged by the leadership shown by Nicola Sturgeon. It does not look to me that Yes Scotland is too SNP dominated and it is good to see that there have been a range of non-SNP voices coming out for Yes.

    I think grassroots and positive is the right strategy although I do think there is work to do to encourage the media to also question the case for No – the Electoral Commission today was most helpful in that regard.

  5. Spot on analysis. As I have said on a number of occasions I have everything crossed in the hope that it is only a timing issue and the Yes campaign have been keeping their powder dry!!

  6. Jim Sillars had every opportunity to serve at a high level in the SNP from where he could have provided his valuable advice. There are thousands of us doing the work at the moment, on the ground and in the communities and I don’t remember Jim congratulating us on it or congratulating the SNP leadership on its inspired journey to where we are today without his input.

    • Aye Dave Jim’s part has been more of a snipping from the sidelines approach….Plus i’m not convinced that the YES campaign should be taking a fight to the bitter together mob. That’s straying back to negative campaining. Listenning to Ruth Davidson and Johann Lamentable taking the fight to Alex and Nicola is much worse than a turn off.

  7. I would say that Jim Sillars has a point in several areas. There has been no real critique of the awful consequences of Westminster rule for Scotland from the Yes campaign, or the limits of devolution, which has not really featured as yet as well. Connected to these two things is the reliance of the Scottish Parliament on the block grant from Westminster. This restricts imaginative politics because the Scottish Government at present can only really allocate spending in accordance with the block grant. The lack of taxation powers means that accountability for spending is severely restricted. It also means the debate over spending is far less dynamic than it would be under independence.

    I think Sillars also as a point when he talks about the need for the Yes campaign to be much more robust in spelling out the consequences of a No vote, and the weaknesses of the No campaign. Their complete lack of ambition and vision for Scotland needs to be emphasized in a powerful way to the electorate. The dangers of the N.H.S in Scotland being privatised in the event of a No vote need to be strongly argued as well. The Yes campaign can’t afford to make the mistake of thinking that they have to be positive and nice all the time. If they do this then the electorate will not have been informed at all about the limits of devolution, the glaring inadequacies of Westminster rule (austerity, governments we did not vote for etc), and the dire, dire consequences of a No vote for Scotland.

  8. I think he is wrong on his euro-scepticism but I think the Yes Scotland campaign is lacking focus, direction and a strong plan on the ground. furthermore some of its online material looks somewhat amateurish compared to Better Togethers fancy graphics and even non independent pro indy groups like National Collective

  9. I would also say it feels like Yes Scotland always on the back foot needs to be putting Better together under pressure and highlighting uncertainty in UK not just positive possibilities of ind. Lastly disagree with criticism that YEs scotland just a submissive branch of SNP. Snp gov will set legal framework for indy scot but YEs scotland has been given much freedom and scope for the campaign imo

  10. Jim is right about the thoughtful papers on Scotland’s Future – they are out there, but not promulgated by the media. You can find some of them at the website of the Scottish Democratic Alliance
    http://www.scottishdemocraticalliance.com/policies-section

  11. Yes Scotland is a grassroots’ campaign, politicians like Jim Sillars should take the fight to the No campaign if they want to.
    We, in the Yes campaign will keep on taking the positive message to our neighbours, friends and family. The vision for an Independent Scotland is a share vision from everyone who signs the declaration at our community stalls across the nation.
    The Yes campaign is and will stay a bottom-up and positive campaign right up to polling day.

  12. $$”The consistent low poll rating for independence is a testament not to the skill of the fearmongers, but to the inability of the Yes campaign to provide convincing in-depth information on why we must choose independence if we are to break free of an England in decline. The Yes leadership report card to date reads ‘nice people, intelligent, mean well, but need to do better’.”

    We’ve only just being told the question and that question has never been asked in any poll. Even if it had been asked nobody would attach much importance to the answer at this early stage.

    “Part of the problem seems to be that the Yes campaign has become entangled with the SNP government, and appears to be like one of the submissive branches of the party that we are all now familiar with – echoing whatever comes out of Bute House.”

    This ‘entanglement’ is at the moment an optimistic artefact of the Unionist media but it could become true if the Yes campaign is not careful.

    “Independence is not about the SNP. That party has been a vehicle to bring us to the point of decision on our future, and its efforts should be recognised and applauded, but it is not necessarily the future.”

    Agreed, nem con.

    “If Scotland votes Yes, the political scene will be transformed. Scottish Labour, for one, will be freed from the unionist intellectual trap that has determined the boundaries within which it thinks. ”

    Love the image of Labour in an ‘intellectual trap’. A mouse fallen into a tiger pit.

    “Europe is a good example of the entanglement. The Yes campaign simply repeats that SNP assertion that we will be in full membership of the EU on independence, and so is besmirched with the tar that now adheres to that SNP policy.”

    It isn’t an SNP assertion and the Yes campaign doesn’t repeat it. ‘Independence in Europe’ was a policy of Jim Sillar’s invention, if memory serves. I can’t remember him ever mentioning ‘re-negotiation’ as the SG does and has done for a long time.

    “Where is the thoughtful paper for volunteers in the campaign that explains why Scotland is not a beggar at the gate of Brussels? A paper that examines the issue of what being “at the heart of Europe” means – joining the single United States of Europe, with the total loss of sovereignty that the referendum is supposed to give us? A paper that points out the alternative, the European Free Trade Area, if we find that the Franco-German driven direction of more integration is unacceptable? And a paper that reminds us that we have two years between 2014 and 2016 to decide where we might want to go?”

    Mental image of activists (scum like me) going round doors with ‘thoughtful papers’ on this and that, inviting the voter to brush up on European process and procedure. We don’t do that, Jim, it ain’t how it works. I guess you never met any of us, or any voters.

    “Where is the detailed paper that volunteer activists can use that deals with the issue of the currency, setting out the options to the SNP government’s position? They do exist.”

    If you want alternatives to the Scottish government’s position (you’ve been watching too much BBC News when you call it the ‘SNP Government’) you have an embarrassment of riches: all the print media and all the broadcast media. In what sense is this inadequate?

    “Where is there information available that shows the balance of the Scottish economy between manufacturing and services, as opposed to the imbalance south of the Border? Where is the ruthless analysis of the inadequacies of devolution? Above all, where is the penetrating, scathing, scourging analysis of the state the British state is in, and why it is in this state – showing the future for Scots if they remain with failure?”

    Everywhere. Here, for example. Get your GP to reduce the tranks.

    “There is nothing to be afraid of in a Yes campaign that reveals the weakness of what the No side is asking us to abide with”

    Strongly agree. Let’s not miss them and hit the wall.

    “and nothing to be afraid of in engaging with people on the range of issues, and the options available, that differ from those proposed by the SNP.”

    Again agreed, nem con.

  13. I disagree with Jim’s view that the YES campaign is an extension of everything SNP stands for and whilst he has been magnanimous in crediting AS and his team for delivering the referendum, he can’t help but qualify it by claiming SNP are controlling the YES campaign. In my opinion, having voted SNP, I am more excited about the vision being presented by the YES campaign than central SNP policy. I hope for a Scotland of more consensual politics in the future, which may be too big a challenge for Jim but the country will need capable people like him in the new age of enlightenment. ‘Mon the Yes’s!

  14. It’s pretty potent stuff, and it reflects a lot of my own concerns about the Yes campaign. We should bear in mind, however, that Sillars criticised the SNP all the way through the 2007 and 2011 campaigns and was wrong then. I suspect he is being a bit disingenous with the 23% figure for his own ends – he knows better than that. Without doubt, Sillars is a great loss intellectually to the SNP, but his temperament means that his present situation on the fringes of the debate seems, sadly, inevitable. From my own perspective, I have been very much heartened to find out that the Yes campaign have been spending a lot of time visiting various community groups and getting the message out on the ground, particularly considering the media’s abject failure so far to adequately cover the debate.

    Here’s Sillars’ appearance at a Yes Scotland meeting in Morningside where he speaks at length on several different occasions – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rUpFfCLvCvw

  15. This comment is posted on behalf of Peter Curran who was having difficulty with Word Press…

    In a great deal of what he says, yes.

    It seems to have adopted a traditional model of stalls, canvass and leaflet strategy, all very worthy and necessary, but shows little sign – in my limited experience and contacts – of being open to more radical ideas and approaches. It seems to lack edge, and worryingly, this seems to be a mode consciously adopted. Dorothy Grace-Elder has also commented trenchantly on this aspect – confusing ‘niceness’ with effectiveness and vigour with aggressiveness

    I get a feeling – I hope I’m wrong – of a wish to control rather than empower, to play safe and avoid volunteers who don’t fit a certain mould, and perhaps just the hint of the emergence of a bureaucracy. I have contributed modest financial support, offered to meet local costs in my area within limits, suggested new initiatives and offered resources. So far, zero …

    I have now been trying to get some help from various sources with identifying activists and supporters in my area for some time now, including recent direct telephone and email approaches to YES Scotland, with nothing as yet.

    But I’ll do my own thing regardless, as will many other committed supporters of independence, although I would have been happier with some involvement, despite my limitations of health, etc.

    Can I say that all of this parallels my experience of the SNP when I was a member, so the charge that YES Scotland is influenced unduly by SNP party political agendas in contrast to broad church independence values has a certain resonance. What wins elections won’t necessarily win a referendum, and the lessons of the 2011 election have limited – and maybe declining relevance to 2014.

    But all hands to the pumps, regardless!

    Peter Curran

    • “I get a feeling – I hope I’m wrong – of a wish to control rather than empower, to play safe and avoid volunteers who don’t fit a certain mould, and perhaps just the hint of the emergence of a bureaucracy.” – Peter Curran

      Totally wrong! If anything, Yes Scotland is too “hands-off”. HQ is at such pains to ensure that the campaign is driven from the bottom up that it risks not providing enough in the way of guidance and support. Local groups are pretty much left to their own devices.

      And volunteers are not vetted. Other than an informal effort to encourage those who are not members of the SNP to become actively involved, there is no selection process of any kind. Anybody who comes forward is welcomed. The intention is that the Yes Scotland campaign should be broad-based and local. and that is exactly how it is developing.

      Unfortunately, this is a much slower process than establishing a more traditional top-down organisation. But I sincerely believe that the benefits of building a popular campaign – in the truest sense of that word – will more than compensate for the early teething problems.

      • Peter, I think both you and Peter C are more in agreement than otherwise.
        Like Peter C I have seen a reluctance certainly by the SNP to use free skills when offered. Both the SNP and the YES teams need to have a well thought through strategy to be deployed through a good command and control structure allied to proper training. I have said on many occasions to colleagues in the SNP that there is n army waiting to ‘go over the top ‘ but they are not being given good enough ammunition. Handing out more anodyne leaflets won’t wash and this is not another election campaign where the message s relatively simple.
        As already stated I hope it is only a timing issue?

  16. I think the YES campaign is doing everything just right., The unioniists are firing all their ammunition and they are streadily running out of anything vaguely credible.
    It takes a wee while for the mince (or the tripe) to be universally recognised as that but that is now a distinct possibility.
    Having gone off too soon the Worse Apart campaign is floundering already. The YES campign on the other hand is steadily and quietly building up an impressive strength on the ground and has kept its powder dry for when it will be devastating.
    Those who wail that the YES campaign is not combating Worse Apart nonsense energetically enough appear to have conveniently overlooked that virtually everything we say is not published in the MSM and there is nothing we can do about it.
    We will win this battle online and on the ground amd if the reaction we are getting in our YES centre is anything to go by that is what we are doing.
    If we get to 40% or above we will win the referedum on a differential turnout as our people will come out to vote (and we will identify them and be able to dig them out to vote) because we have the troops to make sure this happens.
    I was completely gobsmacked to see Dorothy Grace Elder quoted as if she had the calibre and political intelligence to say anything sensible to us in political terms. Anybody who had the misfortune to read her vicious and politically incoherent anti-SNP ravings weekly for several years in the “Scottish” Daily Express would,have difficulty speaking her name. I have seen nothing then or since to match the bile she produced and had published, huge parts of it directed against Nicola Sturgeon

  17. I shouldn’t quote Dorothy Grace-Elder because someone disapproves of her views? As for bile? Well, we’ve just had an example of it directed against Dorothy Grace-Elder, someone for whom I hold no particular brief, although I agreed with her on this particular comment.

    Peter Curran

  18. To Peter A. Bell

    I’m glad I’m wrong on that one, Peter – you clearly have more direct experience of the operation of YES on the ground than I, and I accept your assurance on that point at least.

    Peter

    • I’ve been doing some work with Yes Perth & Kinross. I wouldn’t pretend that it’s all hunky-dory. But it’s coming together. One of the issues is the sheer numbers of people who want to be involved. At some point, more formal management structures are going to be necessary. But that puts some people off. Difficult to get the balance right.

  19. Which particular “bile “are you talking about. Or is using the word “bile” to describe the unpalatable and very often vicious personal remarks directed against another person and erstwhile colleague “bile”. I don’t think so.
    I assume you didn’t read any of the stuff.

  20. You assume wrong David. I didn’t post here to comment on Dorothy Grace-Elder’s output on other matters – I quoted a comment from her that I agree with, on the subject under debate. And, yes, the tone of your attack on her did sound bilious to me. Neither did I post here to get involved in this kind of irrelevancy.

    Peter

  21. Sillars never misses on an opportunity to pick away at the old scab. Dogs, mangers and stolen scones all spring to mind here. Never a team-player, he would only ever be happy in a party of two. Himself and his well masaged ego!

  22. My opinion is simple for I am simple,what questions are raised and where are the answers,I believe that when the SNP produce (and timing is most important) the white paper answers will be there if you want to be privy to these answers prior to them being published you need to be close to the heart of the government.No use pre-empting all questions and answers,when you know that a time-table is being followed.Jim,s article gives some good points but I think a little premature.

  23. Peter
    The fact is I didn’t direct any bile against DGE. I merely recorded the bile she directed against the SNP. It is entirely possible that DGE has made some sensible statements.
    Doesn’t alter the fact that she spent four years producing bizarre, demented and often vicious anti-SNP propaganda every week in the Daily Express. In the huff.

  24. Peter

    I have no desire to continue this irrelevant stuff nor any intention to offend. Had you said “Oddly enough Dorothy Grace Elder…” or “a repentant sinner Dorothy Grace Elder ” had said such and such I would have smiled and moved on.

  25. Jim’s questions are relevant but like others I can’t see why the need to be so combative. We’re all in this together to get what we want for our country through discussion, debate and agreement. Why act as if you’re outside the tent when there’s no need to be? Write those papers!

  26. ”The consistent low poll rating for independence is a testament not to the skill of the fearmongers, but to the inability of the Yes campaign to provide convincing in-depth information on why we must choose independence if we are to break free of an England in decline. The Yes leadership report card to date reads ‘nice people, intelligent, mean well, but need to do better’.”

    I think there is a lot of sense in Jim Sillars piece. But it I don’t agree with the negativity about the SNP involvement. The SNP is the backbone of the YES campaign and it is the only outfit available to produce credible commentators on TV programmes. The public listens to politicians when they speak, not to unknowns from the YES campaign. The latter is being caught constantly on the back foot, always playing catch up with the negative scare stories produced by the Bitter No-Men. The YES campaign IS much to ‘nice’. What we need is some firebrand politicking and forthright agression. And we should at the very least have a ‘think tank’ of our own produce material to hammer Westminster and the Bitter mob. This is a nasty campaign and it will get nastier. The YES campaign also needs to become more proactive and to complain loudly and bitterly about media bias when it occurs, particularly on the BBC and STV, the main locations where ordinary people receive their news and views. And for God’s sake let our people be properly briefed and ready for negative questioning and talking over by presenters. There are many, many negative things happening and going to happen in the UK over the next two years. Let’s attack the NO campaign HARD. And let us have no qualms about attacking and criticising policies emanating from the Westminster Government and Opposition. It is no use sitting back smugly on the YES blogs sites on the internet thinking the job is done and complaining about media bias. On the blogs we are talking to each other!
    Some here say that the YES campaign is working away quietly building up support at grass roots level. Well I’ll believe that is useful when I see the polls starting to move towards us. It is imperative that they do so soon.

  27. I agree broadly with James Coleman’s useful and pertinent comments.

    The problem with suggestions of SNP dominance – true or false – lies in the fact that the SNP is anathema to some independence supporters, and viewed with wariness by others (I am an SNP supporter and voter!). Blair Jenkins has recognised this and is at pains to distance himself from them or indeed any specific political party, while gently pointing out that it was the SNP that got us to the point of the referendum, and they are the largest independence party by far – AND the government of Scotland.

    For a significant number of people, however, notably Labour supporters and trades unionists committed to independence, but also to a rejuvenation of their party in an independent Scotland, any suggestion or feeling that the YES campaign is unduly influenced by the political priorities of the SNP as a party who hope to duplicate and extend their dominance in Holyrood after independence in 2016 rings alarm bells, not to mention the distinct possibility that the complex SNP/UK negotiations after a YES vote will NOT be concluded by May 2016 leaving an election campaign to be fought for the existing devolved Parliament.

    It is incumbent on the SNP, YES Scotland and all of us to put these fears at rest, not by simply denying their existence, but by reaching out to non-SNP indy supporters in a dialogue, as I try to do on Twitter, through YouTube and in emails and direct contact.

    Peter

  28. As someone who has worked within the MSM media machine I offer these thoughts. I can see that, for example the BBC in Scotland appears to come from a Unionist, status quo perspective. Are all the individuals named as being obvious NO supporters, maybe, but maybe not.

    I see it as similar to the MSM reporting on Israel and Palestine. There are constant calls for fairness and balance BUT the problem is that through the lens of the UK based media Palestine starts with a deficit, so it’s never fair. If you start off at minus 10 and the other side, if you like at plus 10 then ‘balance’ is never achieved. You only have to read the work on it by the Glasgow Media Group. Who gets the final say, what labels are used, are they accurate etc.

    So in this case the minus 10 is independence, but I think it’s changing and, although there have been various critics in recent days, I see Blair Jenkins as an asset, and hopefully there will be others. People are wary of polticians, whoever the party. I listened to Blair Jenkins on Good Morning Scotland today and for me he adopts the tone of someone who can win over the anti-political party voters.

    And maybe his BBC credentials will help, unappeasing at that may be to many. I have spoken to all manner of people, and so often their unease about saying YES is that they don’t ‘like’ Alex Salmond, Nicola Sturgeon however, particularly among women, is more popular. As has been said many voters see a YES as being a vote for the SNP.

    A lot of commentators here and elsewhere may see that as facile, but in my experience it’s a reality and many voters will never engage in the cut and thrust of poltics and its analysis.

    My mantra to the don’t knows and naysayers is that we’re not voting for the SNP, we’re voting for a future Scotland, an opportunity to be a decent and fair society.

    Now, I know, my positon can be seen as ‘twee’, not quite tough enough,but that’s where I’m at. I actually get the critics of my position, and it’s fine. It will take all types to deliver a YES vote.

    One final plea can people stop bringing up Ali Hassan al-Majid, AKA Chemical Ali when sending up the BT campaign spokespeople. Iraq is, in my lifetime, is the most hellish travesty of anything and everything decent we in the West lay claim to.

    • I saw and listened to Blair Jenkins on Newsnicht the other night discussing the Electoral Commission’s Report. And yes he was good and gave good answers to Gordon Brewer. But I saw him as the ‘good’ cop in the debate. What we also need is a loud and ‘bad’ cop who will not be so reasonable and who will pick fights with the No-Men.

  29. I’ve just had a long, highly constructive conversation with a YES campaign organiser, and I’m hopeful of a productive involvement with them in my area.

    Peter

  30. I think the real grassroots opportunity is for people inclined to hear what YES is about, to put away the politics for now. Community groups can engage the unengaged by creating a vision of what could be possible and that alone is too big an opportunity to let pass.
    It really is time for the Scottish people to put up or be prepared to shut up for a very long time.
    For starters; are we really saying the continuation of a widening between have’s and have nots is what we want, are we really going to take any more of these banking scandals being revealed and still let them announce bonuses, do we just accept that high speed rail has to cover the South of England before Scotland gets one line of track, are we going to continue to let “our UK Gov” do nothing to sort connection costs to the national grid while we establish a world leading renewable industry, are we about to accept the opening up of the next ill advised foreign escapade in Africa under the cover of supporting France.
    I could go on, but I don’t really believe that most decent minded Scots, with the huge never ending HP payments hanging over us for our schools and hospitals, don’t believe we can create a better way for this rich and innovative country. The people can make it what they want but they just have to want it enough and that’s where we can build it from the roots up. ‘Mon the people!

  31. I’ve never liked Sillars. However I’m disturbed by that photograph of him. He doesn’t look a well man. I know lots of people who would have manned barricades for him even though their assessment of him wasn’t much better than mine. I hope he’s OK.

  32. Sillars has a key point. The alternative narrative of a future Scotland. At the moment, the YES campaign output looks like something desogned by the Scottish Tourist Board, all “Niceness”, “Nice people”, and anything nasty swept under the carpet. I think that there is zero imagination shown about a different kind of Scotland. Can I suggest We need a vision of a new Scotland that is a “Transformational Society” and a “Developmental Society”……..not more of the same. So what does that mean: Simplified, it means that a “Developmental Society” was the main ideological engine that drove the programs that transformed the Republic of Ireland from a third World Country into a modernised social democratic state. Likewise, “Transformational Society” is what Chavez, (adapted to local conditions) was trying to do in Venezuela. Combine those two, and you have a vison of huge potency. But I am now of the opinion that the SNP leadership has been captured by the right, to some extent…..nothing radical allowed, (It might upset some old biddies, somewhere) and there is blank incomprehension or hostility when you say things to them like: “Can we please have a land reform program in Scotland that is at least as advanced as that of Bolivia?”……or other fundamental changes to Scottish society of the kind that a large number of scots would support, if tghey realised it was possible. As it is, you can guarantee that an independent Scotland is already being sabotaged into something like the 1922 “Irish Free State”, (which was none of these things, actually, and was established by severe violence and repression (financed by England) against those who had actually fought for the countries freedom. At the moment, the plan is a “Scotland” that has the pound as its currency, (so the economy is controlled by house prices in South East England) the Queen as head of State, nuclear NATO bases, foreign military bases, and decaying nuclear reactors that the Scots will be made to pay for, and 18 million acres of land that are owned by just 9 people, (who do nothing with it). many more things like that I could make a long list of. In other words, the policy is that “Everything must change, so that actually, everything stays the same”. No plans of course, for a Scottish National Oil Corporation, like Venezuela, (In case this upsets certain delicate middle class people in the SNP leadership) or using the opil cash to utterly transform Scotland’s poverty, social problems, and culture, in a single generation. (Especially the last bit). So what then, is independence for?…..answer: So the country does not really become independent. that’s what. Horrors, if there was real imagination, the place might start to change into something a certain high level class of people in the UK and Scotland would be horrified of.
    Sorry, real Scottish freedom has been postponed. Enjoy your “Scottish Free State”. (Which will be none of those things.)

    • “Can I suggest We need a vision of a new Scotland that is a “Transformational Society” and a “Developmental Society”…

      Can I suggest that we need the widest possible support to get to independence which is exactly what is being fashioned at the moment and anybody who suggests otherwise may be trying to create division

      My I also suggset that if Jim Sillars wants to bring his formidable presence to the table he can do so at SNP conferences , SNP National Councils and SNP branch and constituency meetings. like the rest of us. I speak as one who slept in his car in Langlands Road, Govan to help at the by election which elected him

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