Three days ago Women for Independence tweeted saying:”@WomenForIndy So, in the next few weeks you will see us, @myYesScotland @WeAreNational & @ScotIndConv all as registered Yes campaigns. More to follow.”
He writes: “Unionists (unnamed) are concerned a long list of pro-independence groups linked to the main Yes Scotland organisation will be recognised as official campaign bodies after the Electoral Commission yesterday approved one, the Scottish Independence Convention, as a so-called “permitted participant”.
Now this is very strange.
In 2004 the Scottish Independence Convention was formed as a cross-party organisation campaigning for Scottish independence. So it pre-dates Yes Scotland by a decade. It has NO links with Yes Scotland. It receives (sadly) no funding from them or anyone else and is a completely distinct organisation. Had Gardham had the gumption, courtesy or professionalism to contact us, he’d have known all these facts before publishing.
But this would have stalled his botched smear of SIC and other groups.
Anyone who alleges this as Gardham has, has an embarrassingly poor understanding of Scotland and its politics. If you know anything at all about this campaign you know that every one of these groups organised themselves and raised their own money. It’s not our fault the No campaign doesn’t have any pals.
As well as being strange, what these ‘unnamed Unionists’ are suggesting is also beyond it’s reach. As Lallands Peat Worrier writes (‘Can the Electoral Commission legally “block” Yes organisations?’):
On the basis of the Act, this talk of “blocking” and “approval” is a nonsense. If the Commission purported to “block” a qualified organisation from registering as a “permitted participant” in the campaign, it would be acting beyond the powers parliament has given it, awarding itself discretion where the law gives it none. A trip to the Court of Session would be in order to set matters right.
But why would a commission who invited groups to be compliant resist them being so?
This smacks of being a formal attempt to exclude legitimate groups from participation.
Readers will recall the desperation the Unionists feigned to have the Electoral Commission involved – a demand happily accepted by Salmond in the earliest discussions. The commission, you’ll remember was invited by the First Minister to regulate the referendum. Setting out his plans in a consultation document and draft bill, Mr Salmond said the referendum should meet “the highest standards of fairness, transparency and propriety”.
It was in that spirit that the SIC felt that, even though we are highly unlikely to spend even the £10k it was important to be open and transparent during #indyref debate. This is about plurality, openness and accountability, in stark contrast to the Vitol escapade or the CBI omnishambles.
So how exactly will being registered with the Electoral Commission, which requires groups to report monthly and declare major donations adversely affect ‘policing’?
The question journalists should be asking themselves is why is the No campaign dominated by political parties and without a credible campaign on the ground anywhere? What has caused the spontaneous creation of dozens of pro-indy groups and the biggest revival of political activity in decades? Why does this seem such a threat to democracy?
For the politically illiterate journalists out there: it’s called a movement.