Someone pointed out to me today that someone on social media has been wondering why independence publications, sites, and bloggers like myself, Bella Caledonia, Wings Over Scotland, Scotland Goes Pop, iScot magazine, Indylive etc, do fundraisers and ask for donations whereas the British nationalist representatives on social media generally don’t. Now I should point out that – donate button notwithstanding – this article is not a plea to you to give me money. It’s intended as an explanation of why the independence movement has to be a lot more public and transparent about its fundraising activities than anti-independence campaigners need to be. Anti-independence campaigners can raise money in ways denied to pro-independence campaigners, ways which are less obvious to the public, and that means that they can falsely claim a moral high ground to which they are not entitled.
There are some very simple answers to the visibility of fundraising on the part of independence supporters, and the invisibility of fundraising attempts by opponents of independence. Partly it’s because if you support and defend the status quo, it’s because you’re already doing well out of it, and because you can rely upon the support of others who are likewise doing well from the status quo. People who are already comfortably off and who are supporting a particular constitutional stance because it creates and supports the conditions of their financial comfort don’t need to do fundraisers. Independence challenges the status quo. Independence is seen by the rich and powerful as a threat to their financial interests. That means that the rich are going to oppose independence, and will fund groups and individuals which campaign against Scottish independence.
Organisations like Scotland in Union can fundraise by asking a small number of very rich people to give it money, but the Duke of Nawbaggery or the Red White & Blue Hedgefund Management Company Ltd are highly unlikely to dig deep into their vast funds and toss a big wedge of banknotes to the independence cause. Independence campaigners rely on small donations from a large number of ordinary people, and that in turn means donations buttons and annual fundraising campaigns. It’s a lot more work to raise a large number of small donations than it is to raise a small number of large donations. You have to be a lot more open about it, you have to advertise the need more widely. This is one of the differences between being a part of a genuine grassroots movement, and being a part of an astroturfing outfit where the only grassroots thing about them is the claim they make on their website.
If you can get two large donations that run into five figures, then you don’t need to ask thousands of people to give you a couple of quid each. The independence campaign is a genuine grassroots movement. We don’t have links to big business. We don’t have links to the superwealthy. We are most definitely not a part of the establishment. The establishment controls the wealth, and the establishment will use its wealth to protect its own interests. The British establishment is going to fund anti-independence campaigners in ways that pro-independence campaigners will never have access to. When you rely on a small number of large donations, you can fundraise in quiet. When you rely on a large number of small donations, you have to fundraise in public.
Some opponents of independence may have access to other sources of funding, sources which are most definitely denied to pro-independence campaigners. In the January 2017 issue of iScot magazine the writer and broadcaster Tom Morton wrote about his decision to back Scottish independence in a future referendum although he’d been a vocal supporter of the No campaign in 2014. Discussing his previous writing in support of Scotland remaining a part of the UK, he said, “I received peculiar invitations to come to London for discussions with someone who apparently specialised in crisis PR for sensitive political situations. They’d pay me to write more pro-union blogs. I never really got to the bottom of that …”
Tom declined the opportunity to write anti-independence blogs for payment and never met with the people who offered him the “peculiar” invitation, saying in his piece for iScot that the whole thing sounded “dodgy”. Without any shadow of a doubt the people who approached Tom Morton will have approached others who wrote or campaigned against Scottish independence. They may not have been the only group making such offers. Some opponents of independence will not have been as suspicious as Tom Morton was about accepting the invitation. They may very well still be writing and blogging in opposition to independence and for all we know may still be receiving payments for doing so.
Now, for the sake of clarity, I have no idea who any of these people might be, and am not pointing any fingers at any individuals. I don’t know who they are. I am certainly not suggesting that everyone who writes in opposition to independence on social media is in the pay of some secretive organisation, just that it is highly probable that some of them will have been approached and made offers by such a group. No doubt the usual suspects will accuse me of being a conspiracy theorist for discussing this, but the point is that it is a matter of record that shadowy groups and organisations have offered anti-independence campaigners money in order to write in opposition to independence.
Even if someone has accepted such secret payments, they’re certainly not going to admit to taking money from some “dodgy” outfit in London, but they will condemn independence writers and bloggers for running crowdfunding campaigns. These are probably the same people who accuse pro-independence writers and campaigners of being stooges of the Kremlin. If they take a secret shilling from suspicious people, they don’t have to run crowdfunders or donation campaigns and so can condemn independence campaigners of supposedly only being in it for the money.
There is a greater need for full time pro-independence writers and campaigners on social and digital media in order to counter the anti-independence bias of the great majority of the Scottish media. Those who oppose independence have the support and backing of the great majority of the media, they do not rely on social and digital media to get their message out to anything like the same extent. There is far less of a need for full time anti-independence campaigners on social and digital media because anti-independence campaigners are already gainfully employed and well paid by the Daily Mail, the Scotsman, the Express, the Daily Record etc etc and dispiritingly etc. Those publications, and the broadcast media which takes its news agenda from them, are far more likely to offer paid writing opportunities and appearance fees to opponents of independence than to supporters of independence. When was the last time James Kelly of Scots Goes Pop or yours truly were on the telly talking about independence? Yeah. Exactly.
The visibility of fundraising efforts within the independence movement is a sign that the independence movement really is a grassroots popular movement. It means that this is a movement that ordinary people in Scotland own and control, not big business, the aristocracy, the super-rich, or shadowy “PR organisations”. The lesson here is that the only way that the independence movement can continue to grow and flourish is if ordinary people put their hands in their pockets to support it.
The Wee Ginger Dug has got a new domain name, thanks to Indy Poster Boy, Colin Dunn @Zarkwan. http://www.indyposterboy.scot/ You can now access this blog simply by typing www.weegingerdug.scot into the address bar of your browser, the old address continues to function, the new one redirects to the blog. The advantage of the new address is that it’s a lot easier to remember if you want to include a link to the blog in leaflets, posters, or simply to tell a friend about it. Many thanks to Colin.
Wee Ginger Donations & Speaking engagements
Or you can donate by making a payment directly into a special bank account, or by sending a cheque or postal order. If you’d like to donate by one of these methods, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send the necessary information. Please also use this email address if you would like the dug and me to come along to your local group for a talk.