Over the last few months I have felt the passion and the commitment amongst the Yes supporters ramping up with every event that took place.
It was hard not to become very optimistic over the prospect of indyref2 happening imminently. Then Nicola Sturgeon delivered her speech on 31st January 2020.
I felt totally deflated. I suspect that this is also what many others in the Yes movement have been feeling.
From the comments already appearing on social media there appear to be two camps – one which will refuse to accept any comments whatsoever which they construe as being negative about Nicola Sturgeon. They are urging patience and charging everyone to work hard to convert no voters and wait until we have enough support so that we can persuade Boris Johnston to grant a S30. The other camp is feeling very let down that indyref2 was promised for 2020 and now that is looking extremely unlikely. They are also very concerned that they longer we wait, the more time the Brit establishment has to come up with dirty tricks to prevent us ever getting another referendum.
I have been a member of the SNP and an active campaigner for independence for over 50 years. So I am not about to give up on the SNP now. Nor do I want to encourage any division in the Yes ranks.
However, I do feel that Nicola has an awful lot on her shoulders. She is managing the governance of the country and doing it extremely well. She is an excellent manager. However, I think that her other role of planning the strategy to take us to independence should be shared with others from the wider Yes movement.
I don’t think that this is unreasonable to suggest for the following reasons:-
• Given that we are polling over 50% (I believe this to be conservative) we have around 2 million supporters in the wider Yes movement.
• From the numbers that take part in Yes marches, I would reckon that we have around 300,000 activists in the movement.
• While it is recognised that the SNP are the party of government in Scotland and have been the leading organisation and political party for independence over the last 60 years plus, the membership make up less than half the number of Yes activists.
• We have some extremely capable politicians, astute minds and passionate orators in the wider Yes movement. There are many natural leaders among our numbers. Scotland always has had a wealth of talent in all fields and it is no different today. We have an abundance of people perfectly capable of leading and contributing to our drive for independence.
The achievement of the SNP in getting us to this point has to be acknowledged, however, the SNP does not own the cause for Scottish independence, nor do they have any divine right to dictate to the people of Scotland. The Scottish people are and always will be sovereign.
My proposal is that all parties and groups in the Yes movement put forward delegates to form a Yes convention.
There are numerous diverse groups that make up the Yes movement. I have listed some below along with some of the more prominent and very talented people we have in this movement:-
Scottish Greens – Patrick Harvie
All Under One Banner
Scottish Independence Convention – Maggie Chapman
Common Weal – Robin McAlpine
Young Scots for Independence
Pensioners for independence
Solidarity – Tommy Sheridan, Pat Lee
SSP – Colin Fox
Wings Over Scotland
Women for Independence
Labour for Independence
Business for independence
Elaine C Smith
This list is by no means exhaustive and I apologise for any omissions.
As mentioned, the convention would comprise delegates from all groups as well as SNP MSPs, MPs, MEPs, Councillors and party members.
It should also be open to members of other parties who genuinely wanted to advance the cause for independence.
The delegates would then elect from within their number a committee to act as the governing body for the entire Yes movement and a leadership group who would act as spokespersons for the movement.
This committee would not be a talking shop but would develop strategy and drive the fight for independence forward.
This committee would not have the remit to interfere in the affairs of the Scottish Government but would help to take the pressure off Nicola Sturgeon and allow her to proceed with the good governance of Scotland.
This committee would also help to create a bit of breathing space between the Yes movement and the Scottish Government which given the current situation regarding Derek Mackay, would be no bad thing.
This new organisation would be driven by the single issue of delivering independence.
I believe that this would be a truly democratic way to take the cause for independence forward. Everyone in the movement would feel engaged and included and would have their voices heard.
There would be unity in the movement and the ensuing passion and determination would strike fear into the hearts of our opponents.
We would look to engage our young people, our elderly people and generally people of all ages.We would ramp up the passion and take to the streets in a campaign of non-violent direct action, including strikes, boycotts and other acts of civil disobedience. This is what many prominent Yessers have been advocating.
The Scottish people are “champing at the bit”. They are waiting to be led – led all the way to independence. The support is there, just waiting to be harnessed and fired up. Anyone who says differently is being deliberately misleading.
We went from 28% to 45% in 2014 (that is if you refuse to accept the possibility that postal votes were rigged, in which case it would have been close to 50%).
We are now starting from a (conservative) poll of 52% before the campaign even begins.
Doing nothing and sitting back and allowing the SNP to dictate the pace will end badly. Rest assured, Boris Johnston will not be sitting back and waiting to see what the SNP’s next move will be. He and Cummings will as we speak will be plotting to shut down all significant powers of the Scottish Parliament and integrate Scotland as a region of their vision of the new British Empire.
Let’s do this. Let’s get organised and drive this movement forward.
I would genuinely welcome as many views as possible on this proposal – even if you think that this idea is a non-starter.