2007 - 2022

The Grass Roots movement needs some full time support

Huge events with hundreds of thousands of people – like the La Diada in Catalonia – have no equivalent in Scotland. We think its epic to get a few thousand to Holyrood. Now is the time to change the culture of unfunded amateur activism argues William Thomson.

Failed political campaigns the world over and filled with missed opportunities. Those involved in the campaigns rue the lack of amplification of their great ideas. They bemoan an uncoordinated approach. They see wasted resources spent on duplicating efforts. So many chances to make an impact missed. Welcome to the current grass roots Scottish independence movement.

Determination, passion and ideas are in amazing supply within the YES movement. Never a day goes by without some YES group, or group of YES activists, creating something that has the potential to enthuse, educate or motivate the movement. But almost all of those ideas or campaigns suffer from the lack of professional support. The YES movement needs a well resourced, professional, non political organisation to make sure every opportunity is realised.

So what are our opponents doing? Scotland In Union have 10 team members with four (it appears) full time staff. And of course we know they are rolling in cash. According to the most recent donations list a total of just over £650,000 was given to Scotland in Union by 168 individuals and companies dating back to 2015. This alone should tell us we need something similar.

A Twitter poll I conducted before writing this article (500 responses) supported the idea of “a professional & well resourced organisation to support and coordinate grass roots support for #indyref2” by 86% to 14%. However, even some of those who voted no in the poll seemed to be in favour of the “idea” but were dubious it could be created by the movement for the movement, a kind of “We don’t want to be telt what to do” type response. So hopefully it’s not too much of a leap to start the debate about what an actual organisation would look like and more importantly what it would do. And I’d like to start the debate with a trip to Barcelona.

I visited the offices of the Catalan National Assembly last year and I believe this organisation gives us a template for a similar Scottish organisation. I also believe that our Scottish National Assembly could be based on models that exist in the trade association and membership bodies. In brief the organisation would be a member based organisation who elect an executive to carry out the wishes of the members. The executive committee sets the agenda, targets and strategy and then paid members of the organisation make it happen.

The exact direction of the organisation would be set by members but no matter the specifics there are things that the organisation would be able to do to support the movement. The first is events.

The ANC is a campaign body but it is also one of Europe’s largest event organisers, overseeing scores of regional meetings and the million plus attendee La Diada celebrations which take place in Catalonia on the 11th September every year. The “SNA” would have a major role to play in organising and coordinating events. With access to professional organisers our marches and other events would have the right objectives and would be able to achieve them.

The second main role of the organisation would be to amplify and coordinate great campaigns from within the movement. Take for example the excellent graphics done by Colin Dunn (@Zarkwan) or videos created by @Phantom Power14. These wonderful pieces pop up in a quite uncoordinated fashion and unfortunately don’t have the impact they deserve. Week after week groups are out across the country focussing on different things missing the opportunity to make a greater impact by saying a similar message, at a similar time, across multiple channels. Another brilliant campaign has been the Keep Scotland The Brand campaign. This could be super-charged by a well resourced, dedicated and professional organisations supporting the movement.

The third role would be to carry out things that the movement just can’t do, for example scoping out an events platform and fundraising platform that didn’t suck money out of the movement.

One thing it wouldn’t do was policy. The organisation supports independence full stop. This would depoliticise the organisation.

Our movement sits without funds or resources. Independence relies on an army of volunteers and a political party. The YES movement needs an organisation led by its members to have any chance of wining the next referendum campaign. The discussion has to start now.

Comments (29)

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  1. Blair Craig says:

    Scottish independence is still a possibility in context with the Millennial Generation world plans. If UK does not participate fully in shared Internets arising with developments in 5G communications, Scots ought to have a chance to consider the pros and cons of independence again.
    Equaltity is perhaps the only ground Scots could shape the UK and the world, true parity between male and female in our political system is achievable and with it another way of governance necessary for the Millennial generation to succeed. It is time we helped ourselves by helping others remove the failed systems of our past. This is above party politics, politicians must start to design UK’s future.

  2. e.j. churchill says:

    The monkey in the room is that large, amused, silverback in the corner asking if gimmickry, smoke & mirrors and paid organisers were needed for the the Eastern Europen breakups of 70-80-90% approval v the arse-en-pee’s (there is a wider YES base is a conceit) positives hang in the low 30s.

    Wake up and smell covfefe.

    ’tis sad


  3. David Allan says:

    The movement for independence cannot merely raise it’s head and appear whenever a Referendum or Election occurs.

    If the cause is to increase public support then I entirely agree with William Thomson.

    Had a funded movement evolved from YES 2014 the many that increased the then SNP membership may well have given their financial support to maintain an alternative high profile Independence Movement.

    The movement has to become more than just the SNP if cross-party support is to to increase.

    One Movement one aim.

    1. Iain McIntosh says:

      People are the driving force, SNP and other pro independence parties are the management!

    2. e.j. churchill says:

      “The movement has to become more than just the SNP if cross-party support is to to increase.”

      Cross-party support is a dream & myth.

      Labour sees YES (properly) as an arm of the SNP on both local & national level and a vote for SNP is a lost Labour vote.

      Conservatives long ago ‘loaned’ SNP votes as a goo(er)-goo party and NOT-Labour, but separation was NEVER going to happen. Not then, not now.

      SNP/YES has a boundary of ‘natural’ voters, and that’s the boundary in deed & fact. Recruiting outside is a near-impossible proposition.



  4. Jim Bennett says:

    “The YES movement needs a well resourced, professional, non political organisation”.

    Well resourced? Absolutely.
    Professional? Of course
    Non-political? Are you joking? Really? Independence is a political issues. The campaign has to be ruthlessly political. Right at its core should be the harshest political truths we can tell.

    Non-political means small “c” conservative.

    1. David Allan says:

      Totally agree Jim ,

      I think in the article “non-political organisation” is meant in the context of non-electable not being a Political Party.

      Let the SNP get on with the day job as it’s obvious they are presently unable of fulfilling both roles.

      Expecting them to do so being completely unrealistic.

    2. David Allan says:

      Totally agree Jim ,

      I think in the article “non-political organisation” is meant in the context of non-electable not being a Political Party.

      Let the SNP get on with the day job as it’s obvious they are presently unable of fulfilling both roles.

      Expecting them to do so being completely unrealistic.

      The SNP didn’t do it alone in 2014 The YES Campaign grew public support. It was a huge mistake to allow much of that support to be absorbed into the SNP’s membership.

    3. William Thomson says:

      I mean it campaigns for Indy and not anything else and it does not have political party as members.

      1. John Hunter-Paterson says:

        William Give me a call on 01563 851267 for a wee chat

        1. William Thomson says:

          Will do.

  5. Bob Costello says:

    Err, is that not what the SNP is supposed to be for. Why can’t they simply get on with their day job as specifically explained in their constitution. A central point for information and literature and leave the grass roots groups to get in with it. They will of course have to make up their minds in the issues we lost the last referendum on or the excersise will simply be a waste time

    1. e.j. churchill says:

      “They will of course have to make up their minds in the issues we lost the last referendum on or the excersise will simply be a waste time.”

      Bob, to my knowledge (and politics is my meat & mead), the SNP is totally unique is they NEVER even attempted a ‘Lessons Learned’ exercise – not even casual & in passing.

      Even Marxists recognise and pay attention to ‘Objective Reality.’

      SNP likes ‘just so’ stories, and not a single one of them is an ‘explainer’ for that old country 10pt arse-kicking they got.

      Even a red-headed stepchild is never whipped THAT badly.

      ’tis sad


    2. William Thomson says:

      I see little evidence that the SNP or any party can do an effective on the ground campaign. They are busy being political and running the country they can’t be seen “stirring up” the natives. They have to be at arms length at best or they become the target.

  6. SleepingDog says:

    Well, it would certainly make state infiltration easier.

    1. David Allan says:

      I think there is plenty of that happening at moment ! was there ever a time when there wasn’t.

      1. SleepingDog says:

        @David Allan, possibly corporate infiltration is overtaking the state, and that may be newer. Rival parties planting agents amongst opponents, secret societies, factional subterfuge occurs too. An old politics tutor said that Special Branch used to attend every public (“political”) meeting in the UK in plainclothes. How many trade unionists have been on the state payroll? Apparently there’s a branch of MI5 dedicated to undermining that specific strand of democracy.

        My loose impression is that Spain may have a tradition of collective decision-making that we don’t have in the UK. We have (largely unaccountable) hierarchies in the UK. Democracy is almost unknown in UK society (Theresa May’s workers-on-boards blip was almost unthinkably un-British). Self-organisation may well be possible for a movement the size of Scottish independence, but not without practice.

        Many years after my feeble attempts to unionise fellow pupils dismally failed, some Scottish appear to be getting some limited say in the “How Good is My School?” programme. Perhaps collective decision-making will be the natural default for a future generation.

  7. Wul says:

    It is noteworthy that so many people come to these pages to tell other people that their cause is a waste of time and that they have no chance of success.

    Why do they do this?

    What is missing in their own life?

    I don’t think they know themselves. It gives me great hope.

    1. e.j. churchill says:

      It’s called ‘constructive criticism’ in some circles:
      – pointing out serious, consequential, costly flaws and issues that remain un-addressed;
      – defects in plans & tactics;
      – intellectual dishonest and sheer laziness;
      – etc.

      One learns so, so very little from the amen chorus.

      In 4 years, there been little save for ‘do more of the same losing thing we did last time’

      Einstein’s Dictum, re-deaux.

      ’tis sad


  8. William Thomson says:

    So…..would people actually support a body or similar as
    suggested? That’s the answer we need. Then we can do something about it.

    1. David Allan says:

      I would support such a body.
      One that pulled together all other NON-SNP pro-indy groups. As I said earlier the SNP in their current set-up have demonstrated that campaigning and governing are things that cannot be achieved simultaneously.

  9. Jason Baird says:

    Think the real issue is: How many people reading and commenting on articles and websites like this, essential as they are (and all over social media too) are actually members of local pro- Indy groups, organising and putting their erudite political thoughts into action? Seems to me that there are many who think ‘below the line comment’ is political action. I suppose it is, but horribly limited action.

    We do not need to hire professionals to somehow organise things for us, we just need to get a little more committed and understand that our online social networks are not enough. We need to start doing the hard work of building proper campaigning networks on the ground, in our communities and across our communities. They exist already but need mass support to be effective. If we do that then the resources, experience and money is all there for us.
    But… it needs done. No one will do it for us.

    Join a Group, come to the Gathering and work out collectively, with fellow members, how best to come together as an effective campaigning network. That’s the task and we have very little time.


    1. SleepingDog says:

      @Jason Baird, perhaps “below the line comment” is today’s philosophical street-fighting, possibly also a very early and crude form of globally-networked decision-making still buggy with partisanship, false flaggery, ego-burping, nostalgic dreaming, social terrorising and hate-mongering?

      If there was a way to move beyond such speech or single-point statements to a more complex symbolic logic expression of ideas, backed up with chains of reason and evidence, then these semantically-sound comments might combine far more productively.

      With cross-border digital psy-ops the (cheap) rage, it makes less sense to me to carry on social struggles within national boundaries. Take it global, make it machine-processable, strip the rhetoric and nail those theses to the doors of world imagination.

  10. Mark McNaught says:

    Critically in Catalonia, the Catalan TV3 publicizes the events. This institution must also fund and publicize Independence Live and other online platforms, because the BBC is clearly not ever going to play a positive role.

    1. e.j. churchill says:

      Oher than observer/reporter, what role should BBC play?

      enquiring minds …

    2. William Thomson says:

      I would tend to agree. I have an idea about this in relation to the make up of the organisation.

  11. Terence callachan says:

    We lost the 2014 Scottish independence referendum because a quarter of a million English people voted against Scottish independence , that’s right , yes a quarter of a million people who are from the country that Scotland wants to become independent from were allowed to vote against Scottish independence.
    What do you expect.
    If you allow your giant neighbour to flood your country with its people and then allow them to vote on whether or not you should be independent, take what you get.
    English people say to me “but you would then lose the EU citizens living in Scotland who vote for Scottish independence”
    I reply no ,of course we would not lose their votes,their country does not control Scotland and that is the crucial difference, we should not be letting people who come from the country that controls us to have a vote on whether or not their country should continue to control us.
    English Scots for yes is a scam to fool you into thinking they want Scottish independence ,they are onside simply because labour isn’t in power in Scotland, if labour were in power in Scotland English Scots for yes would not exist.
    If English people had not been allowed to vote in the last Scottish independence e referendum Scotland would now be independent.
    Forget the battle for the votes of the elderly it’s the English votes that prevent Scottish independence .

  12. Welsh Sion says:

    For all those marching in Glasgow, today – Good Luck!

    25. (of 60.)

    The sun and the snowflake

    “Ha!” said the sun one day. “How weak and insignificant you are, little snowflake! Why, I could melt you with one wink of my eye.”

    “Perhaps,” replied the little snowflake. “But you’ll find it much harder to get rid of us when thousands and thousands of us cover the land.”

    The sun set an angry red colour.

    Parables for the New Politics

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