Organising the Yes Movement

My earlier blog – Proposal for Management of Yes Movement (shown below in full) has received a lot of comments both on Facebook and on Twitter as well as on WordPress, the majority of which have been very positive and supportive.

However, a number of people have misunderstood the message I was trying to get across. Some believed I was calling for another group / party to put up candidates for list seats in the 2021 Scottish election. Nothing could be further from the truth at this point in time. My call was for more immediacy with the proposed group covering the entire spectrum of the Yes movement taking control of the strategy for independence and seeking to dissolve the union without delay.

It all comes down to the fact that the Scottish people are sovereign and this is a fact over which there can be no dubiety. So when you start from this premise, then everything else follows on.

It now seems that the 2021 election will be delayed so that will allow more time to use the mandate which is still valid for the duration of this Parliament. However, we should abandon the previous strategy of going cap in hand to Boris Johnson for a Section 30. We don’t need his permission (or anyone else’s for that matter). The Scottish people are sovereign.

Another important fact is that the SNP don’t control the Yes movement and Nicola Sturgeon is not the leader of the movement. It is really quite impertinent for the SNP hierarchy to assume that they speak for the entire Yes movement and even more impertinent that they attempt to dictate the strategy for gaining  independence.

I don’t wish to deny the importance of the SNP to the movement or to dismiss the achievements of the party in governing Scotland and in particular, the contribution of Nicola Sturgeon. She is a brilliant politician, a great empath and a fantastic First Minister. Nevertheless, I am not convinced she has the determination and urgency to take us to independence.

For another thing, I personally don’t believe that the SNP leader and the First Minister should be one and the same person. There should be two separate roles, both of which are extremely demanding.

I readily acknowledge that the SNP are the largest single group in the movement with over 100,000 members. However, I would argue that there are at least another 100,000 activists in the wider Yes movement. Many of these people have lent their votes to the SNP in the interest of fighting for independence. Notwithstanding, there are many in the wider movement who, although passionate about independence, would never support the SNP.

This is not about Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP. It is not about Patrick Harvie and the Green Party. It is not about Tommy Sheridan and Solidarity. It is not about Colin Fox and the SSP etc, etc. It is about every person, every single one of us across the entire Yes movement who puts our heart and soul into achieving the ever increasingly tangible goal of independence for Scotland. Every one of us who is totally committed and prepared to do whatever we can and whatever we have to do in order to free Scotland from the chains of oppression, binding us to the UK.

The fact is there are more Indy activists in the Yes movement, outwith the SNP than there are within the SNP.

As suggested in my previous blog, 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 and everyone should be represented and this would include the SNP.

The delegates would come together and democratically elect a committee and a leader or leadership group. (An obvious candidate for leader springs to mind but it should be carried out in a fully democratic fashion).

The purpose of this leadership would be to take ownership of the Yes movement, to develop a strategy for independence and to drive things forward at speed and utilising all means deemed necessary.

There would be a determination about this group – full of fire and passion.

This would not be another talking shop.

This group must have real power and authority to speak for and act on behalf of the entire Yes movement, including the SNP.

It  should have proper organisation and be registered as a political party. This would then permit the Yes movement (under a chosen name e.g. the Scottish Independence Party) to field list candidates for the Scottish Election alongside SNP constituency candidates, if indeed the agreed preferred strategy was to fight the election on a mandate for independence.

As mentioned above, we do not require permission from the UK Prime Minister, or anyone else to re-establish our independence. There are a number of different possible routes to independence. I would not be so presumptuous as to attempt to go into any great detail about the options here. There are far greater minds (both legal and tactical) than mine throughout the Yes movement. However, I would reiterate that the Scottish people are sovereign and following on from that, two things we must achieve are:-

  1. A sound knowledge that we are taking the majority of the Scottish people with us.
  2. A reasonable understanding that when we do retake our independence, there will be an almost immediate acceptance of our status by the countries of Europe and by other major countries. Effectively, a country only truly becomes an independent state when it is considered as such by other sovereign nations.

Further to the foregoing I would like to add that I believe that establishing an organised Yes movement umbrella group / party would create a “working” distance between the Scottish Government and would deliver positive benefits to the SNP such as:-

  • The SNP would be left to concentrate on their duties as the Scottish Government without interference from the Yes committee.
  • The First Minister and the Scottish Government could not be criticised for neglecting the “day job” and pursuing independence. That responsibility would lie with the Yes movement.
  • Any internal disputes within the SNP would then be seen as a party matter for them to resolve and would not reflect on the Yes movement.
  • Should at any point it be decided by the Yes committee that the correct course of action was to implement direct, non-violent, civil disobedience, then the SNP committee members on behalf of the SNP hierarchy could either abstain or vote against. If the vote was carried then the Scottish Government could publicly distance themselves from the action without preventing SNP members from taking part.

The reason I am proposing this is because I believe it presents a wonderful opportunity to engage with every sector and every faction of the Yes movement, encompassing everyone from the left to the right of the movement. It could breathe new life into the cause for independence and would allow us to engage with the entire Scottish population. However, we need to demonstrate real passion and determination.

There have been many attempts over the last few years to dumb down the natural passion of the independence movement. If we can’t exude passion about the goal that many of us have been totally committed to for a very long time, then we cannot expect those who are as yet uncommitted to show enthusiasm for constitutional change.

I perhaps shouldn’t admit this but my one of my favourite films ever is Serendipity – a romantic comedy starring Kate Beckinsale and Jon Cusack.

The Jon Cusack character’s best friend is an obituary writer for the New York Times.

At one point in the film he says to Jon Cusack that the Ancient Greeks didn’t write obituaries. After a man dies they just ask “did he have passion?”.

I have been unable to find out if this is a fact – but I would like to think it is.

Passion is the key. It is also infectious.

In this vein I would like to include a paragraph from a recent blog by Peter A Bell who sums it up in his own inimitable style –

“To my mind, attempts to purge our politics of human feelings and instincts have diminished it and us. Ironically, it has left us with a politics of fear – the most powerful of all emotions. Subtract from the sum of what makes us human that which we dream of and you are left only with what we’re afraid of. Every great social reform began with a dream. All social progress has historically been driven by aspiration and hope. No great or positive change was ever born of fear. If progressive politics has slowed, stopped or been reversed – as might well be argued – it is because we have disconnected our politics from our dreams. We have descended into a politics in which to be called a dreamer is to be degraded, diminished and dismissed.”

I genuinely believe that my proposal is viable. Nevertheless, I would solicit the opinions / comments from many of my friends and fellow independence supporters from all sectors of the Yes movement, a large number of whom I hold in very high regard.

If there is a consensus that this is workable then I would suggest that we get to work urgently with putting it into practice. There is a lot to be done, particularly in coordinating with all the various parties, groups and organisations to establish their membership list.

One final point I would like to make is that I would hope that this proposal could help to heal the rift that has developed at present between those who support Nicola Sturgeon without question or criticism and those who consider that she has not and is not doing enough to ensure our independence.

This proposal would allow her to concentrate on the governance of Scotland (particularly in this time of crisis) and would allow the Yes committee to prepare to push for independence.

Original Post

Proposal for Management of Yes Movement

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.

This demonstrates pictorially how I felt after hearing Nicola Sturgeon’s 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

Lesley Riddoch

Craig Murray

Peter Bell

Iain Lawson

Ian Chisholm

Martin Keatings

George Kempick

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.

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.

3 thoughts on “Organising the Yes Movement

  1. Peter A Bell

    I was generally enthusiastic about this proposal. It is similar to suggestions that I myself have made. But it is important that a proposal be credible and feasible in all its aspects. At the very least, it should be free from fatal flaws. Because naysayers and opponents will latch on to any weakness. And they will ignore everything in favour of the one thing that makes the proposal unworkable.

    The following is just such a fatal flaw. I am reluctant to spell out why it is a fatal flaw because the reason is so obvious that any explanation is bound to sound condescending.

    “This group must have real power and authority to speak for and act on behalf of the entire Yes movement, including the SNP.

    It should have proper organisation and be registered as a political party.”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Faye MacFarlane

    I fully support this plan including Peter Bell’s Addendum:
    “This group must have real power and authority to speak for and act on behalf of the entire Yes movement, including the SNP.

    It should have proper organisation and be registered as a political party.”



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