Making a start

Only a few weeks ago I would have respectfully disagreed with George Kerevan. I would have insisted that the SNP and Nicola Sturgeon had to take a leadership role in the independence campaign in order that the latent power of the Yes movement could be harnessed. I envisaged the SNP setting out a clear, concise strategy and Yes groups taking their lead from this. I thought it necessary that the SNP should be in the vanguard because, as George notes, it all ultimately comes down to the party which is in government. The entire campaign is about enabling the Scottish Government to act through the Scottish Parliament to initiate the restoration of Scotland’s independence.

My concern was that without the SNP providing leadership the Yes movement would lack the solidarity, focus and discipline that a political campaign requires. I feared that we would once again take a pillow to a sword fight. Or, more likely, a gunfight. And I was concerned that, were the Yes movement’s energies invested in some other leadership there might be a problem transferring those energies and the momentum they’d generated to the SNP/Scottish Government when this became necessary.

Events and development over the last few weeks have forced me to rethink my position. Although I still think the ideal would be to have the party of government taking the lead role in the campaign, this unavoidably depends on said party being capable of fulfilling that role. I have reluctantly come to recognise that, despite the SNP and Nicola Sturgeon having the potential to do so, neither she nor her party looks at all like realising that potential.

Which is why I now find myself agreeing with George… mostly! We obviously need a body that will fulfil the leadership role vacated – or never taken up – by the SNP. That body must derive from the Yes movement. It must have the broad support of the movement in a way that SIC has never achieved. And it must recognise the need to defer, fully and without rancour, to the SNP administration when this becomes necessary.

The Yes movement needs to become, or give birth to, a campaigning organisation. Preferably and all but certainly the latter. I am certain nobody wants the Yes movement to change. Nobody wants it to stop being a movement – loose, organic, diverse and ungoverned. But developing and managing a political campaign demands an organisation rather than a movement. In stark contrast to the Yes movement, the Yes campaign organisation must be unified, focused and disciplined.

Such an organisation cannot be imposed on the Yes movement. Rather, it must arise from it. The Yes movement has proven itself adept at ‘hiving off’ chunks of itself to provide the more hierarchical organisational structures needed to accomplish particular tasks. All Under One Banner is perhaps the most notable example. We must harness this capacity for emergent leadership to create an organisation which will run the independence campaign at least as well as AUOB runs marches and rallies.

Where I part company with George Kerevan slightly is when he talks of an organisation which “works from the bottom up”. It is an unavoidable fact that running a large and complex campaign calls for a certain amount of top-down direction. Without this, it would almost certainly be impossible to achieve the kind of coordination and responsiveness that a political campaign requires.

George suggests the Catalan National Assembly (ANC) as a model. I’m sure we could do very much worse. But I am wary of such models. Too readily, we tend towards designing the organisation to conform to the model rather than fit the task and the context. What suits the Catalans may not suit the Scots. What works for them may not work for us. So long as we are mindful of this and strive to create our own distinctive organisation rather than simply emulate somebody else’s, we should be OK.

And George leaves one important question unanswered. How do we start?

One of life’s many ironies is that sometimes it takes a ‘dictator’ to kick-start even the most non-hierarchically democratic organisation. If somebody doesn’t seize hold of the thing and batter it into some kind of functional shape, nothing gets done. So, George! Suppose you are that ‘dictator’. What’s your first move?



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16 thoughts on “Making a start

  1. SIC was the ultra-lefties attempt to manoevre themselves into a position of prominence, so no surprise that George Kerevan is supportive. But for all Robin McAlpine’s posturing about the group “engaging with the people”, the strategy doesn’t seem to have had any visible effect over the last couple of years. So what chance the same thing will work any better going forward?

    If the wider YES movement is to have any better hope of success, it has to organise coherently, with someone widely-respected and capable in charge. No small challenge for such a disparate umbrella grouping. But as the most democratic manifestation of the indy movement it makes sense.

    And what better way to move forward than to reactivate the campaign website that should never have been so prematurely shut down in the first place…?

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    1. He doesn’t seem all that supportive to me.

      “Unfortunately, despite a lot of goodwill, SIC’s federal structure has proven too bureaucratic and too limited by the dominance of the SNP leadership.”

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Uhuh, I read that article afterward. I like his justification: not the fault of the useless strategy, oh no, just their “structure”! Oh, that and the SNP. (Dominance in SIC? Whit?) Seems he was only ever a party member on sufferance, for lack of anything better.

        Those ultra-lefties, no popular traction, and always ready to find someone else to blame.

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  2. I think everyone in the movement feels scunnered at the moment.

    Anything to get us out of this morass.

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  3. As an aside. I see Wee Willie Rennie is calling for the voters to have their say on Mackay. I quick search: the voters didnt get their say on the conduct of Mark Oaten who remained as an MP for several years after his dalliance(s). I also see he was able to rejoin the libdem last September. Chris Huhne didn’t give voters the choice either. He resigned and got £17,000 severance.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I’m not sure how some of the Independence -supporting groups who are members of SIC (e.g. Women for Independence, Pensioners For Independence, Business For Scotland, SNP, Labour For Independence, The National, Scottish Greens etc) will react to the ludicrous allegation of being ‘Ultra-Lefties.
    As I see it, we have three choices as a movement
    1. Let the SNP set up the next campaign,
    2. Strengthen SIC do that it can lead the next campaign or
    3. Pray that there is time to constitute a brand new Yes campaigning organisation out of fresh air
    To me Kerevan completely fails to understand how much effort it has taken to get SIC to where we are today and that nobody will support reinventing the wheel to support Option 3.
    Kerevan – please stop pissing into the tent!

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    1. Where is the SIC today? I haven’t seen anything that might persuade me the SIC is capable of formulating a referendum campaign to run in parallel with whatever the Scottish Government does when it finally decides to do something. I’ve seen a fair bit of crowdfunding and glimpses of a campaign strategy which, let’s just say, failed to impress.

      George Kerevan should definitely stop pishing into the tent. It’s already full.

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    2. Where are the SIC today? From their website, front page, latest article, August last year:

      “Elaine C Smith elected first President of SIC
      2019-08-22 By: scotconv On: August 22, 2019
      In: Convention With: 0 Comments

      At our AGM last Thursday, we elected Elaine C Smith …”

      Waht else does it have? A link to “Voices for Scotalnd”. What does that have? This:

      “Give £5 per month until Scotland is independent. ” Well, a lifetime pension, how nice.

      I never hear of these people except if threatened by some other potential “umbrella”, or if looking for funds. And funds, for what exactly?

      The groups you mention are independent groups – they’re not controlled by SIC. Thank God.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Refer to James Kelly as being autistic again and you’ll have more than the fucking referendum to worry about.

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  6. SIC are an organising body controlled BY their participating bodies in a stakeholder model. Their working groups are run by delegates from these same organisations. I’m not aware of any notable independence-supporting organisations who are not a member. If there were, they should be urged to contribute.
    Think about it for a minute. You are a member of a grassroots organisation working together to design and develop a campaign to take Scotland out of the Union.
    Would it be in your interests to publicise your campaign plan and actions to the world? Why would it be important that your activists were ‘weel-kent names?’
    Given the lessons learned from Yes Scotland, we need to come together under one umbrella. No point in buying a second umbrella when we have one already.

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  7. I’ll leave the pleasure of writing these foul mouthed, angry and divisive comments and the last word with you Peter.

    Once Scotland has become an independence nation we will all have more time to read your thoughts on what you could have done better

    if you had only stepped away from your keyboard.

    Best wishes brother

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  8. ”And George leaves one important question unanswered. How do we start?”

    FGS we start or should have started long ago by trying to convince people, such as soft No’s, to support independence. You know get the numbers up to the point that we see the white of Johnston’s eyes and we have the whole world behind us, but no what have you done for the independence cause with your SNP/other bloggers Baad mantra? Bloody-well nought. In fact less than nought as you have made it your sole objective to turn people against the only party capable of getting us our independence. Looks as though your ego is bigger than your belly, charlatan. Then again I’m left wondering who or what actually makes you tick. Just remember that when we get our independence, as we will, it will be no thanks to you Mr.

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