Permitted Participants



Apart from the terrible language – ‘Permitted Participants’ suggests others are not permitted – the registration for the Electoral Commission is a marker of the wider movement.

Now that the Scottish Independence Convention, National Collective, GenYes have joined the Scottish Socialist Party and Yes Scotland as registered groups officially backing the Yes, we’re beginning to see the outlines of the ‘official’ campaign. See all the registered groups here.

Registered groups have rights (such as, crucially, being able to apply to be present at each of the 32 counts) but also key responsibilities (such as declaring sizeable donations and monitoring what and when they spend money on direct campaigning).

Each of the Yes groups will, I’m sure, see this as a commitment to openness, transparency and the democratic process.

There’s been some worry expressed this week about the announcement that the the chief counting officer Mary Pitcaithly wants councils to print 120% of the required ballots for both postal voters and those who vote in person at polling stations, in case any papers get lost or damaged.

To minimise delays, councils are also being directed to appoint one polling clerk for every 800 voters eligible to cast their vote in person at the polling stations.

My understanding is that this is a reasonable and correct thing to do in contingency.

My experience is that the Electoral Commission is a neutral body committed to people participating as fully as possible in the process of democracy. They are an asset not an enemy. Angry independistas risk looking as stupid as Better Together by pre-judging the process.

The fact that a number of Yes groups are registered means that the potential for coordinated monitoring is easily done.

But to jump to immediate paranoia and conspiracy is both unnecessary and unhelpful.I have written about and experienced British State dishonesty but I have no sense that this is at all likely here. The reality is that all the distortion and manipulation is plain to see.

I expect many more Yes groups to register in the next few weeks. Let’s win this, not set up excuses in May.




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  1. Derek Coghill says:

    I’ve heard people – only partly as a joke – wonder whether the U.N. should be brought in as observers. I don’t know the joke/reality ratio…

  2. Barontorc says:

    Your opinion is all very well Mike, but we will be monumentally stupid if we do not insist on absolute security over the voting process, particularly, given previous failures that are known about.

    Of course, voting fraud is only suspected after the event and it always has to be after the event when ‘foul’ can be shouted, so it’s ‘job-done-n-dusted’ and criticism and inquiry simply quashed by a ‘victorious establishment’.

    I do hope you’re right to have confidence in the EC – but that confidence is mightily strengthened if the referee knows his every move to get the process right is being closely monitored as well. And, why not involve an external body to do this, what’s the problem with that?

    1. bellacaledonia says:

      As for your last comment – that is why I specifically mentioned that ‘Permitted Participants’ are entitled to have observers at each count, that include the lead group, the Yes campaign, the SNP and each of the independent pro-Yes groups and parties. Do you think these groups are not taking steps to organise this?

  3. Alex Buchan says:

    Ian Smart blogged on this and hinted at a challenged to the official Yes campaign having a separate limit from the SNP as a party. Citing the legislation and referencing Stan Blackley’s comments about Yes Scotland and the fact that Nicola Sturgeon is on its board he suggested that under the “common plan” aspect of the legislation the two organisations could be seen to be in breech of the legislation if they both spend separately up to their limits. He concluded:

    “So the SNP could find itself using up the allowable expenditure of Yes Scotland while struggling to legitimately access their own allowable expenditure!”

    1. Balaaargh says:

      At the time of writing (following the link at the top), the SNP are not registered as participants so this argument is invalid. Well, for the Yes side, anyway.

      Both the Conservative Party and the Labour Party are registered as participants. And who should we find on the board of Better Together (…

      Why, it’s only David McCletchie MSP (CON) and Jackie Baillie MSP (LAB)!

      Now I have to clean out my browser history so I don’t get BT banner ads! Urgh!

      1. Alex Buchan says:

        As I understanding The SNP will have to register if they wish to supplement the spending on the yes side up to their own allowed limit which, again, as I understand it,is a substantially greater amount than any other party because it’s based on their vote share in the 2011 election.

        Ian Smart’s argument is that none of the unionist parties could be said to be exclusively associated with Better Together, whereas the SNP is exclusively associated with Yes Scotland, and he is using Stan Blackley’s article as evidence of this.

        I am only posting these comments as evidence that those on the no side are clearly looking to see where they can try to trip the yes campaign up.

        Fiona Laird’s Guardian article and Alan Cochrane’s latest article in the Telegraph, combined with Darling’s earlier comments about people being monstered and the bogus no border’s claims about abusive comments on the website and the interventions of David Torrance, all point in one direction which is to portray the yes campaign as unprincipled and evil. So regardless of whether there is a formal complain made to the EC about the SNP there will be attempts to blacken the SNP over funding. Fiona Laird’s assertions really needs a follow up article in the Guardian rebutting her smears about the yes campaign.

  4. Your Blogroll is missing Christians for Independence. I would be grateful if you would include it.

    1. I really don’t trust the UK Government to not interfere with the count, or even to try to prevent some people from voting. My lack of trust is based on the lies spun by Government Ministers, “Better Together”, The conspiracies of Thatcher and some of her Ministers against Scotland, Cameron, sleekit approaches to governments of Other Countries, The Failure to keep their word regarding GM crops, etc. The will stop at nothing to keep the subsidy that they get from us, and to keep Triident in the Clyde. I think we need UN observers.

      1. Sorry about the typos and inadequate proof reading.

      2. Couldn’t agree more, William. This is the British Establishment we are fighting against, and they will use every means at their disposal to gerrymander a No vote. I wish I had Mike’s confidence, but I don’t.

  5. Thomas Muir of Huntershill says:

    While it is reassuring to know that there is faith in the EC and support for the process, it would be remiss of the major stakeholders in the Yes Campaign not to ensure due diligence across all aspects and procedures of the voting process. In addition, while the power and influence of the British State has been discussed on this site and many others, and by extension the subterfuge and underhand methods currently being employed, it would be strongly advisable to never lose site of the overall objective. When it comes to winning and losing, it matters not how you play but rather the end result. Therefore, while the Yes Campaign will have observers reviewing the process, and present at each count, it will more than likely not be able to follow every single ballot paper from polling station to counting centre, nor will it be able to verify every single postal vote. And this is what may be really concerning. In other words, how do we ensure that the transportation of each and every secure ballot box from polling station to transport van to counting centre will have an official observer of the Yes Campaign present at all times? How are the postal votes verified and assurances given that there is no foul play at work? As with happened to Willie Macrae, there may appear to be no limit to how far certain organisations will go to ensure victory. As we all know, Westminster and by extension England has much more to lose in the referendum than Scotland. For example, the long term threat to over 400000 jobs in the Oil industry based south of the border; the inability of the government to leverage loans on the back of the Oil industry; the myriad threat to defence contracts and spending. Therefore, it is time to stop referring to, or using the word, “conspiracy”, but rather focusing on our opponent’s “strategy.”

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