SIC letter to the independence movement

In this letter to the independence movement, the newly elected Executive Committee of the Scottish Independence Convention explain why the move to create a national campaign organisation can get independence consistently beyond 50% in the polls and give Nicola Sturgeon the backing of the majority of the Scottish people when calling for a referendum.

What’s a pro-independence campaign organisation for and what would it do?

The Scottish Independence Convention is a coalition of Scotland’s national pro-independence organisations, the pro-independence political parties and, through the membership of regional forums, of Scotland’s local grassroots pro-independence groups. It is just about to launch a fundraiser to start a national campaign organisation. But what is that organisation for and what would it do?

Be more than the sum of our parts

The independence movement is brilliantly alive with a flurry of grassroots activity all over the country. But sometimes we need to come together as one.

Coordination from a national campaign organisation should be about helping people build on each other’s work, reinforce what each other is doing. It is about providing campaigners with insights and information which can help them be better at what they are already doing. It is about being able to listen to what people say they need – and then giving them it. It is about giving people strategic direction which helps them to focus on what is going to have the biggest impact in the place they live. It is about never being ashamed to say that we all have more to learn, that none of us alone have all the best ideas. That together we can do more than we can individually.

Set the agenda, change the story, get people to look again

The work of the grassroots of the independence movement has been amazing and has kept the momentum going where other campaigns would have just packed up and left – but unless we do a better job of setting the national agenda, changing the story we hear in the media all the time and finding ways to encourage undecided voters to have another look at the case for independence, we will struggle to make the breakthrough we need.

People don’t trust newspapers or television news like they used to – but it is still the media (and social media) which starts most of the conversations most people have about politics. At work, at home, at the school gate, in the pub or the cafe, at the golf club or the sewing bee, on the football terraces or at the gym, most political conversations still open with ‘did you see…’, as in ‘did you see that stuff about how Scotland’s economy is below the UK average’ or ‘did you see that thing about how there’ll be no food after Brexit’. This is not the end of the conversation, but it’s where it starts.

The independence movement needs to be more on the front foot at making our stories the starting point for these conversations, because it is the conversations undecided voters have with each other which is the most important thing. We need to find ways to set the agenda, to change the story and to get people to look at our case again.

So how will a campaign organisation do that?

Get our visual communication right

As you know, in the modern world of social media the way we communicate with people is very often highly visual. The mood you set, the tone it contains, whether it implies authority or down-to-earthness or inspires fear or hope, whether it catches the attention or merges into the background – this can be the difference between being seen or not, being trusted or not, being liked or not. You know instinctively when it works – and you know instinctively when it doesn’t. The SIC has appointed a leading design company to work with the movement and with undecided voters to come up with a name, a design style and a full set of templates and materials to help us get our visual communications right. It will provide local groups and the national organisation with a toolkit to help us reach voters who don’t stop at street stalls, join marches or read political blogs.

Our goal is to help us connect with people who don’t like politics but are ready to look again at the case for independence.

Create a strategy

Sometimes people might worry that ‘strategy’ means central control. It doesn’t – it means looking at all the possible things we could do and working out which ones are most likely to achieve the outcome you want. Sometimes we think we know what motivates other people, but often we’re wrong. People are angry at the injustices of Britain, worried about the chaos of Brexit, afraid of an isolated or insular future. They feel these things, but feeling something doesn’t necessarily make you act. Strategy is about how best to understand people’s feelings and to work out what you can do to convert those feelings into action.

It means doing public attitude research, challenging your own assumptions, coming up with creative ideas, putting together messages and images and stories that make people think again, about initiatives and ‘stunts’ which link people’s worries to a clear case for voting for independence. It is about understanding their fears and finding ways to mitigate them. It is about finding out what it is the undecided or unsure voter needs to be confident to make a different choice this time. It involves hard work and creativity – but it is how campaigns are won.

This campaign organisation will offer this strategic capacity to the grassroots movement across Scotland.

Be better at communication

What you say doesn’t matter – it’s what people hear that matters. People may well feel insecure or worried or disrespected in modern Britain, but that does not mean that shouting ‘Britain is horrible’ at them is enough to make them choose independence.

Clever communication is about telling people stories about their lives which gently move them towards an understanding that this is not as good as it gets, that there is a better future for them. It’s about helping them to understand truths, but without barking statistics at them. It is about capturing their imagination with pictures of what could be. It’s about finding the language that lays bare for them the anger and frustration with the status quo that they already feel. No, the independence movement is never going to have the support or sympathy of the Scottish media. But clever communications tell stories that survive the attacks of our opponents, that live beyond us because people themselves remember the stories and tell those stories to others. It is these stories that change how people think.

With your help the independence side can start setting the terms of the debate.

Always be prepared, never take it lying down

The independence movement is under constant attack from powerful vested interests. Shouting ‘not fair’ is not going to stop them. Our only defence is to be ready for their attacks and to take them head-on with calm, clear, careful thinking. If they shout ‘England is Scotland’s biggest export market’, we need to say ‘look, a decent proportion of that is electricity exports which England definitely needs so don’t kid on you can manage without it’. We need to unpick the slogans they throw at us. We need to research and prepare answers to their allegations. We need to work to build up our own, better stories. We should never be caught on the hop without an answer. Rebuttal is not about saying the other side is lying, rebuttal is about telling an alternative story that is stronger and more persuasive. It’s time to do this.

If successfully funded this campaign organisation will find the best ways to offer rebuttal quickly, clearly and decisively.

Get things done

Campaigning is hard. Setting up events or initiatives or news stories takes time (as our volunteers who also work fulltime jobs know full well). Listening to what people tell you they need means you have to be on the end of a phone, that you have to get out and talk to people. Leaflets don’t print themselves, training doesn’t organise itself, media initiatives don’t just happen. We need people who are paid to dedicate the time into doing these things for and with others. You don’t win campaigns without people dedicated to winning campaigns. We need people whose responsibility it is to get things done. We need a campaign organisation.

The team

Our fundraising campaign is about raising the money to do these things. It is not about repeating the mistakes of the past – paying salaries that are far too high, wasting money on things that don’t matter, being too cloth-eared to the grassroots of the movement. It is about getting our visual communication tools right. It is about having a coordinator to do the work to develop strategy, a media officer pushing stories into the mainstream and social medias, a researcher making sure we have all the answers we need, a support officer to work closely with local organisations to listen to what they need and support them, an admin officer to get things done. We hope to be able to have a team of five people working every day to make Scotland an independent country.

But it can only happen if you support us by giving a donation. Stay tuned for news on this very soon.

With thanks,

The Executive Committee of the Scottish Independence Convention:

Elaine C Smith, Convenor

DaveThompson, Vice-Convenor (Christians for Indy and former MSP)

Rosemary Hunter, Treasurer (Women for Independence)

Mary McCabe

Iain Black (SIC Researcher, Yes Edinburgh North and Leith)

Maggie Chapman (Scottish Greens)

Jonathon Shafi (Radical Independence Campaign)

 

49 comments on “SIC letter to the independence movement

  1. Jan Cowan says:

    Exactly what we need. Thank you Sam.

  2. […] Wee Ginger Dug SIC letter to the independence movement In this letter to the independence movement, the newly elected Executive Committee of […]

  3. Illy says:

    “give Nicola Sturgeon the backing of the majority of the Scottish people when calling for a referendum.”

    Sorry. Stopped reading here. She already has this. She got it last Scottish Elections.

    Can we please stop asking for a mandate to have a mandate?

    • Anne Martin says:

      Yes she has the mandate, but, according to the polls anyway, she still hasn’t got the backing of the majority of the people. I think this is a great idea so that when she does call Indyref2 (and she will) we are well prepared, with a definite good majority to get a yes win this time.

      • Robert Graham says:

        The Polls ! , Aye well , the BBC in Scotland along with a complaint unionist backing media are working 24/7 making sure they dont show movement ,

        These polling organisations dont reflect opinion they try to influence people’s views by the constant dumbing down of serious events about to unfold re-Brexit and indeed this move to change the act of union itself , how many people know about that little gem eh ,, as someone on Wings pointed out most people turn off when politics are mentioned so they won’t know until they get a surprise when bad stuff happens and the media have not reported events truthfully,

        People really have to start paying attention ,bad stuff happens because they dont take the time to find out what is being done behind their back and while there is time to act . For all we know “YES” is well ahead right now , do people believe they will be informed about that , no chance .

        • James McIntosh says:

          Totally agree. Polls are a tool of manipulation used by the talking heads in the media. Until there is a viable method to prove the authenticity of a poll result I won’t believe any . Good ones for the cause includes.

          • Anne Martin says:

            I agree with you both Robert and James, but we need to be sure that yes is well ahead so that we can confidently go into another referendum.

            No one who listened to Nicola at conference can doubt that she is totally committed to independence and will go for it when the time is right. I trust her to do the best for Scotland.

          • Born 10 December 1953, he was educated at Truro School and Magdalen College, Oxford, where he read politics, philosophy and economics, and later transferred to Nuffield College as a postgraduate.

            He is a Senior Research Fellow at NatCen Social Research.[
            He serves as President of the British Polling Council, vice-chair of the Economic and Social Data Service’s Advisory Committee and is a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Elections, the Executive Committee of the British Politics Section of the American Political Science Association, and the Policy Advisory Committee of the Institute for Public Policy Research. He was formerly a Fellow at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study and a member of the steering committee of the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems Project.

            The BBC has made frequent use of him during broadcast coverage of general elections in the United Kingdom, including his accurate predictions of the results in 2005, 2010 and 2015. He has picked up a strong following on social media, and was mentioned frequently on Twitter during the 2017 election, though he shuns this attention, adding “I’ve no wish to become a media celebrity”.
            He was elected Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in 1992 and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 2004.[2] In 2014 he was elected a Fellow of the British Academy, the United Kingdom’s national academy for the humanities and social sciences.
            He was appointed a Knight Bachelor in the 2018 New Year Honours for services to the Social Sciences and Politics.[10]
            The National Centre for Social Research is a registered charity trading as NatCen Social Research and is the largest independent social research institute in the UK.[1][2][3] The research charity was founded in 1969 by Sir Roger Jowell[4] and Gerald Hoinville with the aim of carrying out rigorous social policy research to improve society.

            NatCen is best known for its annual British Social Attitudes Survey, founded by the organisation in 1983.
            The British Social Attitudes survey is Britain’s longest-running annual survey of public attitudes. It uses a random probability method and face to face interviews with more than 3,000 people to ensure that it achieves a sample that is representative of Britain. NatCen’s sister organisation, the Scottish Centre for Social Research (ScotCen), carries out an equivalent of the survey in Scotland, called the Scottish Social Attitudes survey.

            Guess who? Professor ‘Sir’ John Curtice.

            “In addition to the British Social Attitudes survey, NatCen collects a number of statistics on behalf of the UK government and government bodies. These include the Health Survey for England,[10] the English Housing Survey, The National Diet and Nutrition Survey[12] and the Study of Early Education and Development (SEED). In 2015 NatCen also launched a new panel survey called the NatCen Panel, which was the first panel survey in the UK to use a probability methodology.
            Note the UK Government funding of this ‘Charity’.
            I lifted all this from Wiki. No mention of Indyref 1, and his sudden re-appearnce at SNP Conference week, on Waffle Brewer’s wee snipe at the bad SNP.
            Polls? They provide the tune the UK Eatblishment pays the piper for.
            I have relatives visiting. Must go.
            Who is ‘Mary McCabe’?
            How do I get on to the Board of this SIC Board?
            Gie’s a job. I can do that.

  4. Luigi says:

    I think this is potentially a great development – provided the main SIC role is for support and advice and not for trying to centralise and run the show as they see fit. A grass roots movement should not and cannot be contained.

    So yes, by all means help “coordinate” but do not try and dictate.

    Just some friendly advice. 🙂

  5. Andy Anderson says:

    In the same way that the SIC is getting us active and prepared many of you may not be aware that ‘Business for Independence’ has also been pushing this for some time. They are talking to Yes groups and running an ambassador program to fully train people to sell the message effectively.

    http://www.businessforscotland.com/

    There web site has lots of good stuff on our economy, how to explain GERS, etc.etc. It has good slides on our economy you can use. Worth a butchers

    • Cubby says:

      “How to explain GERS”

      How to DEBUNK GERS can be found in Wings Over Scotland.

      • Gers is the amount of money Westminster confiscates from the Scottish taxpayer to pay for things NOT beneficial to Scotland.

      • Andy Anderson says:

        You do not understand Gers. Read and you will see the true cost of the Union. That will help you sell. WoEs does not look at the economics

        • Kenmath says:

          Understanding what GERS does and doesn’t do is important in convincing doubters about Scotland’s economic potential. A good place to start is John S Warren’s analysis on Bella Caledonia of 18 August 2016. While I’m on about economics, is there anyone on the SIC who is well-versed on Modern Monetary Theory (MMT)? It has the simple answer to the perennial question of “all very well, but how are you going to pay for it?” That was the Achilles Heel of the 2014 campaign, but MMT explains how it’s done.

        • Cubby says:

          Andy are you saying I or William do not understand GERS. If you are saying me then I am more than happy with my understanding. You are the one who said “explain”. I say it needs debunking not explaining. ” Explaining”gives it some credibility and that is the last thing it deserves.

  6. Iain says:

    This is a really great idea, to have an overall coordinating body to tap into (but not drain) the energy at grassroots level. If anyone doubts the need for such a body, just look at what the British Nationalists have at their disposal. The grassroots movement in 2014 was fantastic and transformed this country, but it was only the start. I can see no downsides to this. Fire away!

  7. Bill Cowan says:

    ‘the newly elected Executive Committee’ – Forgive my ignorance – Who elected them and what other candidates (if any) were involved?

    • Gavin Wilson says:

      I’m with Bill on his point.

      I will also state, I don’t feel there needs to be an hierarchy, the movement is managing itself pretty well. There has been events happening on the same day and all has gone well. Those varying bodies are announcing dates for themselves well enough in advance for adjustments in people feel there is a need.

    • This is my concern. These people are self-elected. What qualifications and/or experience do they have to take on such a role? I agree there needs to be some kind of body to whom the media can go to and which might have a co-ordinating role. But we already have Business for Scotland, and the National Yes Registry with very many creatives, business and campaign-experienced folk and others involved with them who have worked incessantly to provide materials, training and advice. Now SIC comes along and looks to me (and sorry if I have this wrong) as if it has decided to take over the Yes movement.

      Sorry, but I didn’t vote for anyone on this, know nothing about it, and wonder exactly what it has done to merit this role.

      • Cubby says:

        We also have to remain aware that the UK does not have that large building in London that features in James Bond films for nothing. There is no doubt that spies and wreckers for the UK will already be in the yes movement/SNP. The more structured it is the more easily it will be to sabotage.

  8. Anne Lawrie says:

    There’s just so much info out there & when trying to persuade someone who’s “not interested in politics” it’s so important to answer the question “What’s in it for ME?” We must never try & bamboozle anyone with all the facts & figures when one or two pertinent illustrations will possibly have the desired effect.

  9. millsy says:

    Fully supportive of anything/anyone who wants to get this show ( independence ) on the road ! What we don’t need are more unelected talking heads looking to make a niche for themselves with a salary to match .
    Talking of fundraisers – I support Wings , Wee Ginger Dug and various others … can’t this be coordinated as , I am sure , there must be many others who do likewise . We have limited resources so let’s use them effectively !

    • Robert Graham says:

      Agreed , unless proven otherwise all supporters of independence should join together and put past differences aside , there is a bigger prize to gain so personalities should be left at the door , This should not be used as a vehicle for any organisation for self promotion .

  10. susan says:

    Sorry but I’m a little suspicious of SIC, smells like a typical leftwing cosy group trying to take over and dictate.

    • Robert Graham says:

      After the chaos caused by certain groups in the run up to the last Holyrood election and the lost majority caused by apparently Independence supporters , who were being promoted and assisted by the Unionist media , ” lend us your vote ” won’t be forgotten any time soon , any group associated won’t be trusted again , most of us know who was involved that’s why their website and blogs as so poorly supported.

  11. EddieMc says:

    Must admit I do not quite see the point of SIC. I understood that Keith Brown was given this remit and he would be responsible for driving forward most of which SIC is proposing.

    • Robert Graham says:

      Nice as Keith is I don’t believe he will be radical enough , the more effective one would have been Tommy Sheppard , This constant reacting to things this Tory party or the Unionist parties in Scotland are doing it isn’t working , they should be worrying what the SNP are going to do next , it’s always catch up and the Unionists have the assistance of the media behind them , there has to be swift and immediate rebuttal of the constant lies that are presented every day .
      Example how many people in Scotland know the Scottish Government built more houses for social rent than a country ten times our size namely England , that information is not getting out people don’t know that is why the polls are stuck on 45% .

      • Tol says:

        @Robert Graham

        “…constant reacting to … Unionist parties… isn’t working , they should be worrying what the SNP are going to do next ,”

        You nailed it!

  12. Gregor McHale says:

    SIC need to organise events focused on talking to No voters, Yes voters who have went to No and the elderly. Something the Yes movement has forgotten about. Yes the rallies are important but talking to people more so.Abyway whatever they are doing only once they have produced their plans should they ask for funding from the Yes movement. And a big NO to them thinking they can be the main umbrella group for indyref2. We don’t need one.

  13. Scotia McScotious says:

    They are going to be asking for £150k and I will not be contributing. Grassroots means bottom up and this reeks of creating a hierarchy. I know that National Yes Registry have already stepped away from the SIC when they asked they guys to sign something on behalf of all their members.
    I also didn’t get a vote here, which annoys me. Those representing me, namely NYR and the Glasgow & West Central Umbrella group rightly felt that they couldn’t speak for all of their members. If the grassroots groups on the SIC aren’t happy to just go along with everything, then neither am I.

  14. Vestas says:

    …and RIC is involved at the “top level”. RIC that gave us the National columnist who “couldn’t be bothered to vote in the EU ref” and other tossers?

    This shouldn’t be happening given past events. That’s just bullshit and they can go swivel for the money!

  15. Peter says:

    They won’t be getting any money from me . As others have said , it reeks of creating a hierarchy and the Indy movement is awash with crowdfunders for this , that and Uncle Tom Cobley and all. Elaine c Smith is a great Actress but that doesn’t give her any political credentials in my view. Frankly I’ve had enough of dozens of ‘think tanks’ wanting money to tell us how to campaign for Indy , we have a mandate , let’s exercise it and get the hell on with things. How many leaflets delivered or doors knocked by Shafi , Smith and co in the last five years? Damn few if any…cardboard activists who love the sound of their own intelligence. No thanks

  16. Andy Anderson says:

    SIC achieved what in 2014

  17. James cheyne says:

    I would like to comment on the words cubby makes and I totally agree with him.My partner and I have had problems with our local councils dictatorship,so we went to our local snp,6monthes on we have are no further,so I did my research,it turns out our local snp are related to members in our local council which suddenly enlightened us both,as we had gone to our same snp last year about the people’s of Scotland sovereignty.we were told they were trying to get sovereignty for the government as that was more important, I don’t hold with this view,the sovereignty of the people of Scotland is and always has been our saviour,so we wrote directly to Nicola sturgeon and by passed our local snp.
    My point is there are foxes in our snp hen house that are just riding the wave to gain power and even if we voted for our own independent government would we get Scottish civil Tory conservatives that are already in place, or the likes of the snp who told us face to face that she would re join labour as soon as she got independence.
    Who we offer our loyalty to to lead us as a sovereign people and nation should be thourghly fact checked before we say yes to anyone..
    Meanwhile there are people like my partner and I that you have never met or even heard of that fight for Scotland’s independence in our own way to add to the yes movement, we don’t often reply on blogs much,we don’t manage to get to the rally’s much,we are the unknown,the people who don’t say much, that some think are the soft no,s.
    We are yeses and have been for years and there are many more like us,we haven’t been counted yet,Nicola already has a mandate.
    What we need is a way of delivering thousands of independently written signature,s to nicola,s desk directly.NOT as a petition as this legally is classed as only one,we have to do it individually but managed at one and the same time,Nicola says time and again that it is up to the people of Scotland.every signature should be backed up with a copy so nothing can get lost or go astray.if we wait for someone else,we will always wait.sorry for the long post.

  18. […] read the letter in detail I think the SIC are about to create an analogue organisation for a digital […]

  19. Thepnr says:

    Not for me. The last lot we had running “Yes Scotland” wasted a couple of million in my opinion. In the couple of months before the referendum just when all the undecideds would start looking they had a revamp of their website that Blair McDougal would have been proud of if he’d done it himself.

    It was an absolute disaster area and little info if any, thousands of volunteers distributed their paper which was to be mild hardly worth glancing at. The last thing we need is to spend whatever money we can afford on more full time paid up posts for administartive types.

    I wish SIC well and hope they can raise the funds and become another string in the grassroots bow but there is no way they will be running the show. We can amangae that for ourselves.

    As far as I’m concerned any money I can spare will be going to the people I can truse to do something with it and there are plenty who have proven themselves. Let’s give WGD £%0K to travel all over Scotland spreading the message as he has been doing for the past 4 years or give another £50K to Wings for a WBB II or what about a few grand to Indy Live so as we can see the WGD in Brechin at the Social club if we can’t get there ourselves.

    We don’t need leadership, we’ve already got it and it mostly comes from volunteers like the current writer of this blog and the many other small blogs that we can read everyday.

    There will be money to be spent in the next referendum just as it was spent funding Yes Scotland, I hope that money won’t be wasted on a Yes Scotland 2 type set up though of course I realise that there needs to be a figurehead. There are few who could fill that roll successfully though I can see the likes of Brian Cox the actor filling that role with aplomb and I’m sure there are plenty more.

    SIC need to earn my trust before I could part with any ,money as there is only so much to go around. Best of luck to them in the meantime.

  20. Andy Anderson says:

    https://thoughtcontrolscotland.com/2018/10/13/scotlands-falling-violence-the-facts-and-the-explanations/

    This lying gives you a good news story about the fight crime and how Scotland leads the world. Watch the video

  21. Julia Gibb says:

    I go to SIC on a regular basis and have to listen to speaker after speaker suggesting that the SNP are not “doing it right”.
    I get leaflets shoved at me from the left telling me that the SNP are no better than the Tories.
    Why is the biggest and oldest team involved in pushing Independence getting such a hard time at these events?
    One day they will truly attempt to unite the wider movement instead of having a dig..

  22. Julia Gibb says:

    SIC playing a leading role! No ThankYou!
    When I attend the AUOB marches I accept the “left” trying to hijack the event by spacing supporters every 20metres or so and handing out “their” placards to raise “their” visibility.
    Like the Greens it sickens me that Scotland comes second to pushing their profile and policies.

    Independence should always be the top driver. Unfortunately that is not good enough for some. We will gain NOTHING unless we unite to achieve the primary objective FIRST.

  23. Jo says:

    “We will gain nothing unless we unite….”

    I agree with you there. But from reading this thread I’m thinking that unity isn’t exactly shining through Julia. That’s thoroughly depressing. What chance is there to reach NO people and Don’t Knows if the YES movement functions as numerous small groups and individuals all displaying their contempt for each other?

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