A defining moment for Indy campaigners everywhere
On the 27th of May a group of Yes Ross Sutherland members went to The Albert Halls, Stirling to attend The Gathering. This event, put on by the National Yes Registry, brought together around 300 members from grassroots campaign groups across the country. The objectives were to allow the various groups to meet face to face, to work collaboratively on a number of topics and to get the ball rolling on several projects, facilitated by the IndyApp, a newly developed piece of software designed as a networking tool that will encourage different groups/individuals to work together on campaign ideas and co-ordinate at a national level.
The day was a fantastic success.
After registration and a brief introduction by the event organisers we heard from the key note speakers. Mhairi Black spoke in a pre-recorded video about her strong support for our efforts and enthusiasm for the aims of the event. This was followed up in person by Dennis Canavan who reminded us that Independence is not the objective but merely a vehicle to achieving the kind of Scotland that we all want to live in – a fairer, more sustainable society that can stand on the world stage as a force for good.
Then it was down to business and the attendees split up into working groups to each discuss one of 21 topics that ranged from Economy of an Independent Scotland and Currency & National Debt to Reframing our Arguments and a mysterious ‘Big Bang’. Workgroups had over an hour to discuss their respective topics and come up with a 3 minute presentation to report findings back to the conference. There were some excellent debates and the presentations, when they came, showed that all groups had taken the task seriously with some great points raised and good ideas coming through. A YES bank to support grassroots fundraising without fees, the Pensions team reminding us that UK National Insurance has all been spent (mainly on wars) leaving a black hole for our future, Benefits talked of a Basic Income and pointed out that those in receipt of benefits are a big demographic and can’t be ignored. Good News Scotland pointed out we must publicise the good things about living in Scotland to combat the MSM’s negativity. Community Groups suggested reaching out by talking, not about Independence, but about specific issues that have an impact in the community. It was great to hear what a small group of motivated people can come up with in an hour.
After the talks we all voted on our favourites and new, volunteer workgroups were allocated to the top five topics in order to build on the ideas from the first session. While those groups worked the rest of us were treated to short presentations from Business for Scotland, iScot, The Indy Pledge and others. BfS is offering a training course for those who want to improve their canvassing skills – sounds really interesting and could make a big difference! iScot magazine is a substantial, monthly publication with news and stories from Scotland – not aimed solely at Indy minded folk so it can speak to the undecideds out there. Indy Pledge is about how we behave as individuals and groups in our quest for a better Scotland – many of us in Yes Ross Sutherland have signed (and we’ve signed as a group) already so please check this out.
Following these short pitches we were able to hear briefly from the five groups working on the high scoring topics. These groups (now designated committees) will continue to work together on their projects into the longer term using the IndyApp as a forum to structure their work and remain in contact with each other across Scotland. Peter Bell, working on the Reframing the Argument committee gave an excellent presentation on what, we have discovered, is an extremely important issue – that of the language used when talking about Independence. There is too much to explain in a short summary like this but Peter Bell provides a lot more detail on this topic here – highly recommended. The Developing as a Social Movement committee stressed the need for positivity and respect for all views, reminding us again about the Indy Pledge which will be very important in creating an open and credible movement. Simple, quick messages will be easy to use on the doorstep while more detail could be provided in YouTube videos. In the first session we had heard from an Irishman, fresh from the referendum on the Eighth Amendment, who stressed the importance of creating an inclusive social movement in achieving that momentous result. The Big Bang committee is working on an undisclosed project with two functions. Firstly, it will combat a message that has been insidiously infiltrating the minds of many over recent months and years. Namely, that “Scotland doesn’t want another referendum” or “Now’s not the time”. Pedalled by the MSM and the UK prime minister it has the power to become a self-fulfilling prophecy unless debunked for the nonsense that it is. The second function – to stir up some panic in the Unionist camp!
What a day. What a beginning! With 300 or so committed folk we achieved a heck of a lot in a short space of time. The atmosphere of the whole day was very positive; everywhere you looked there were people with a great attitude all wanting this to work, for the day to be a success. And it was. It is evident that there is a really serious movement emerging from a group of engaged and motivated people from all over Scotland. Not just those at The Gathering, there are many thousands of us. Not politicians, just normal folk with an eye to making their country a better place by taking ownership of it. The Grassroots – and we’re getting organised. Perhaps that is the biggest take-home message of them all.