Grassroots vs Astroturf

Here’s a thing that happened on Saturday.

It’s something that’s been controversial for a while, not least because it took place 5 days before a snap General Election – despite the fact the event was organised long before the election was even suggested. Some SNP candidates & supporters asked folk not to attend the rally, but to campaign for their pro-independence candidate in their individual constituencies. Other SNP figures were at the march themselves.

I’ve already written my piece on marches, but it bears repeating again: the SNP is not the Scottish Independence Movement, the SNP serves the Scottish Independence Movement. The SNP candidates are focusing on getting elected, so of course they will be looking for more canvassers, leafleteers, and campaigners. But even if something like 1 in 50 voters in Scotland is a member of the SNP, that means there are an awful lot more independence supporters who aren’t members, maybe not even voters. Obviously some people at the march will be members of the party – but pretending that independence is the sole dominion of the SNP, the Greens, or indeed any or all of the pro-independence parties, is pretending that Scottish Independence is a party-political issue.

And who does that serve?

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Mighty People of Independence

prof-dr-anna_macgillivray_macleodProfessor Anna MacGillivray Macleod of Kirkhill was the first female professor of Brewing and Biochemistry in the history of the world.

I attended the launch of The Mighty Women of Science, an alphabet picture book by Claire Forrest & Fiona Gordon, several months ago. I met Claire at the previous Glasgow Comic-Con, where she told me about the book. She wanted to publish an accessible, positive, informative book that celebrates and acknowledges the many contributions women made to the advancement of knowledge. I’m greatly supportive of such endeavours, and so I said I’d attend the launch.

The launch at Waterstones in Glasgow was very well-attended, and the talk was excellent. I’d like to share one anecdote in particular, which gave me much cause for reflection, and I think very relevant to what’s been going on recently in the world of Scottish politics.

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Winning Independence

Indyref2_Tai Chi

It seems everyone has their own ideas about “what went wrong” in the first referendum campaign. That’s good: it shows a movement with many different points of view and interpretations of the campaign.  It’s also extremely necessary, as I’ve become more and more aware that the vast majority of the independence movement – that is, the voters themselves – may not have actually campaigned for a single day throughout the first referendum. This is not a criticism: it is the current political reality in the UK, where only a small proportion of party voters will be members, and a smaller proportion still will be active members who go out and leaflet, canvass, and campaign. We’re still recovering from decades of disenfranchisement and disillusionment, to the point where Scotland’s turnout in the EU referendum can be criticised for being “low” despite it being the second highest of any referendum Scotland has participated in.

I cannot place blame or fault in those people. In another reality, I could easily have spent the most important months of our nation’s history at home, occasional comments on internet forums and online articles being the extent of my contributions towards the cause. I know I spent most of my adolescence on the periphery of Scottish politics: I kept out because I felt a lack of knowledge, a dearth of confidence, and a general antipathy towards politics in general. Given the quality of the brave new era of the reconvened Scottish Parliament was the myopic mediocrity of the Scottish Executive, can you blame me?

So, I decided to do something about it, and got involved following the official launch of Yes Scotland. After the referendum, I joined the SNP, and got involved in the last two elections, as well as the European Union Referendum. Having campaigned for the last four years practically non-stop, sometimes I forget that this is something I’ve come to fairly recently in life – sometimes I forget that not everyone who voted Yes, or SNP, or Remain, was as madly political as I was.

So, since we’re all talking about how to win the surely-inevitable indyref2, I thought I’d share some of my observations from the last four years of campaigning.

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Yes, Leave Remains No

bloody nationalists

Some eejit said “places with high leave votes were also where large numbers voted yes in 2014 indyref.” While Libby Brooks gamely attempts to rationalise this by referring to districts within local authorities, the only verifiable statistics deal with local authorities. I, like Ms Brooks, was at both counts (Inverclyde in my case, naturally) so I can provide anecdotal evidence too – but that’s all it is. All we have to go on are local authority counts, and unless we actually make a point of breaking down the counts by smaller districts (which I would be entirely favourable towards, particularly if broken down into Immediate Geographies) votes subdivided by local authority is the best we have. In any case, this statement follows previous witterings where the High Heidjit compared the Yes Campaign with the Leave Campaign, a comparison that demeans all Scots.

Nonetheless, I think it’ll be interesting to look at a few of the local authorities in question, and see what we can see.

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Metamorphosis & Ecdysis

ScotlandBallUnionHistory

Right now, the next campaign for Scottish independence is in a state of metamorphosis. Staunch Unionists are now Independence Campaigners; people who mocked and were mocked are now on the same page; our common cause – to do what is best for the people of Scotland – is clearer than it was before.

Plenty of “Was No, Now Yes” supporters don’t want to engage in any flag-waving, anthem-singing, saltire-brandishing displays of patriotic pride: I fully welcome that, as there were plenty of people with that mindset in the first referendum campaign. Other “No to Yes” supporters still love the idea of Britain, its history, its culture, and its people: they, too, are just as welcome, just like English Scots for Yes, EU Citizens for Yes, and more. We’ve had plenty of campaigns alongside Yes Scotland and the SNP who have their own ideas of what independence would look like: RIC, Common Weal, Wealthy Nation, Business for Scotland, the whole gamut of political and economic perspectives. I think a group composed of former No voters, campaigners and activists would be welcomed with open arms.

But where, then, does that leave the original Better Together – what is happening with the No Campaign?

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Staying the Course

StuAndAl

I didn’t really want to do a personal blog about Stuart McMillan, the candidate for my area. I figure his record speaks for itself, the polls are good, response on the doorstep has been greatly welcomed. In any case, a personal endorsement seems somewhat redundant, since I’ve included his name and picture on every blog post I’ve done for the past month.

Yet sometimes I remember things. Things from the referendum campaign; the General Election campaign; this campaign. One of these stories occurred to me tonight, as the campaign team met for polling day preparations.

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One Overriding Aim

One Overriding Aim

The aims of the Party shall be:

(a) Independence for Scotland; that is the restoration of Scottish national sovereignty by restoration of full powers to the Scottish Parliament, so that its authority is limited only by the sovereign power of the Scottish People to bind it with a written constitution and by such agreements as it may freely enter into with other nations or states or international organisations for the purpose of furthering international cooperation, world peace and the protection of the environment.

(b) the furtherance of all Scottish interests.

Constitution of the Scottish National Party

Sometimes it’s nice to know that I agree with Unionists on some things. For all the whispers about the SNP “backtracking” on independence, that they “never really wanted a majority/referendum/independence at all,” that it’s all about money and power and influence, it’s good to know that our most determined ideological opponents are fully aware that independence is always foremost to the SNP. Scotland in Union, Unite Against Separation, and all those other organisations who view independence as a profound existential challenge are all too aware that presenting the SNP as “soft” on independence is more dangerous to their cause than to ours – for after 80 years campaigning, no one can seriously claim the SNP are not truly dedicated to Scottish independence. Especially not now, where we are so very close to tipping the balance.

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