Make a move. Take Scottish independence to London’s streets

Follow Catalonia’s lead. Take the universal, undeniable right of self determination to London’s streets.

Typically people will read this and say, “but Scotland isn’t like Catalonia, we don’t and can’t march with the numbers they can” Well, I have had enough of that, it’s not about numbers it is about desire. With a desire to make a truly global impact with our campaigning events we can make a difference.

Once again the “Catalan question” received global coverage and once again the vehicle for that explosion of coverage was a huge rally. Above is a news report from Aljazeera. Here’s the coverage on the BBC, Reuters and The Washington Post and the list of international reports is pretty much endless.

This marks an unusual spike in coverage for the Catalan right to self determination. Every 11th September the world is reminded of the call from Catalonia during the La Diada celebrations. It was’t only the date that made this rally different it was the location: not the Catalan capital but the Spanish capital.

Around 120,000 demonstrators peacefully took over the Madrid streets on a warm Saturday evening. Just normal people, plus representatives from political parties and civic organisations from all over Spain joined the rally to highlight the desire of Catalonia to be able to democratically vote for self determination.

The demonstration had extra impact this year as the twelve pro Catalan independence  leaders, currently on trial for the ridiculously archaic charges of “rebellion and sedition”, are being held only a few kilometres from the start of the rally.

Madrid proves a new canvas for the red and yellow picture

The Catalan right to self determination is not a regional issue, it is a national and an international one and taking such a huge demonstration to the Spanish capital has powered the issue further into the international and national consciousness.

Catalonia is being denied the opportunity to hold a legal referendum on its future and a similar position is likely to arise in Scotland. The Catalans are ploughing a furrow that we could easily follow. If, if, we had the desire and the leadership to do it.

I have no doubt that many civic organisations across the UK support Scottish independence, or at least the right for a sovereign parliament to call such a vote. And I believe that London holds 10,000s of people who would support Scotland’s cause. We could take London by storm. But firstly we have to work out who would rally the “we”

I’ve written about the hope that the Scottish Independence Convention can replicate the success of the Catalan National Assembly by coordinating the YES movement, but like many, I remain in serious doubt that this organisation has the capacity, the leadership or the desire to truly make any kind of impact. Their fund raiser seems to have stalled on around £100,000 and they have one post on their website THIS YEAR.

And I am still in quiet shock from reading this back in November:

“30K will get the organisation started and branded – complete with public engagement research (so we know that undecided voters will be open  to what they see when they look at our messages and branding)”

And the movement continues to have unanswered questions about this organisation.

So if that is the “who” would coordinate the movement, let’s look at the what.

George Kerevan suggested an alternative approach to having our voice heard in London, blocking the London underground. I posted yesterday what happens when organisations have the wrong person making campaigning decisions, and hopefully this idea will be stuck on a red light forever.

I would suggest a much more successful PR campaign would be to aim for a similar event to yesterday’s march in Madrid.

It really shouldn’t be beyond our movement to organise an event like this. But we just don’t seem to understand the value it can bring. Incidentally, it could be done for the cost of the SIC set up and branding.

The Catalans not only understand how to use events to supercharge their demands but they crucially have an infrastructure to support the event.

Scotland is clearly lacking the understanding and the infrastructure to organise a truly impactful event. I hope we are not also lacking the desire.

March To Leave coverage is all about Nigel Farage

If you want media coverage for your event then just  follow the March to Leave template.

It has begun the “historic journey from Sunderland to London” A sodding Saturday afternoon and an approx 15 mile march to Hartlepool would only surely pull the most ardent of leave supporters on to a march.

And it has. Perhaps a few hundred people will make the journey today. And surely less will join tomorrow. The images circulating on line look terrible.

I have no doubt that there are millions of people who want to leave in the way this campaigns promotes, basically with a no deal. But organising a march in March to demonstrate that was pointless from the outset.  Unless of course you are all but guaranteed media coverage.

Like every event it should be designed to deliver an objective.  It is clear what the objective should be: organise something that would show the great number and incredible strength of feeling towards the “current Brexit betrayal” so that the media are compelled to show it as a act of democracy.

As you can see from any of the images posted online (from both those mocking and those promoting) it is poorly attended. The objective was to show the great strength of feeling against the “Westminster elite” so with such a low turnout it should therefore lead to a black out in terms of media coverage.

Out of the couple of hundred currently on the march perhaps, at best, there are 50 core marchers. Those are the ones really pissed off at the current Brexit process.  What an absolute shambles.

Owing to the tiny turnout, the organisers are likely now to argue it is not all about numbers. However, “we want to see as many people as possible joining the core marches” says the campaign video, and this shows that the objective was to have a large turnout.

Their “epic plan” has turned out to be the exact opposite. An epic failure.

From an event organisers perspective I’ve seen all this before. No doubt someone like Nigel Farage said “let’s organise a march” and no one said, Nigel, that’s a stupid idea.

The people running this campaign will have no event experience or if they do, they don’t have the authority to say, “think of something else because this isn’t going to work” So it happened. And it will be the disaster you’d expect.

And I bet behind the scenes it’s even worse. I await the social media updates from people saying “I was promised accommodation, food and support for my £50 but received a bacon sandwich and a can of pop” Or worse.

And how about the “whole series of mini events set to be announced” that are supposed to happen as part of the march. News Flash: there won’t be any.

So you have a poor turn out at poor event with those taking part complaining about the event. In every sense it has been a total non event. Unless. Unless……….

Unless the media play by a totally different set of rules for this “celebrity” event. Here’s the Guardian giving some air to the event as it starts off.  And Sky News too.

The rule for this event? Well,  if you have someone like Nigel Farage or Boris Johnson, someone deemed “newsworthy” you will get coverage of your appalling badly planned and executed event. The rule for other events? Well, If you have 100,00s on your march, and its just ordinary people, the main stream media will give it a wide berth.

When you plan an epic event and it turns out to be an epic failure don’t fret. All you have to do it have a media darling play one small part and your event will be a success. Our main stream media will make sure of that.

All bold and italics from the official March to Leave campaign video. 

The McCrone Report another missed opportunity for the YES movement

The McCrone report has shown many things: the selfishness of the British state, the ability to hide the truth from the Scottish people and the continued potential wealth from north sea oil being the most obvious. But it has also shown the weakness of the YES movement.

The McCrone report another missed opportunity for the YES movement

I’ve tried to look at the McCrone Report as something other than a quite extraordinary example of the UK’s narrow minded and selfish approach to Scotland. But it is impossible. It is there in black and white.

The likely (not potential) revenue and benefits from North Sea oil would, had they been earned by an independent Scottish nation, have transformed the country. This is unarguably the case that you have to draw from reading the report. But I am happy to go further.

If this report had been widely publicised in the mid 1970s, it is no great stretch to say that Scotland may already be independent. It was “secret” and guarded in the Scottish Office for the most obvious of reasons: because successive unionist governments believed that it could lead to Scottish independence!

If you haven’t already taken the time to read the report you really should. I can’t think of a more concise takedown of the British State.

So if it is this powerful (and again please read it, don’t take my word for it) why will it make no more than a ripple on those soft “No” voters? Well, that’s what I wanted to consider here.

The YES movement habit of looking a gift horse in the mouth

Many in the YES movement seem to spread defeatism on their toast in the morning. Where we could see an open goal, some see the clear opportunity to punt the ball high into the stands.

One of the reasons this report won’t have any real impact is that many in the YES movement don’t see the forest for the trees. This isn’t really about oil: it is about the UK government using Scottish resources to solve UK issues. End of.

Sure there are a myriad of sub texts in this story and oil and climate breakdown are very important issues to discuss. We all have our views on those two related topics, but why on earth would you highlight those issues when you have a major, undeniable win right in front of you?

Some of the interaction on Twitter between indy minded people who actually agree with each other have to be seen to be believed.

It is almost if some see any issue as a way to bash or discredit someone or something they don’t like. This seriously weakens the ties that should be pulling us together.

No strong organisation/s to pull all those loose strings together

A massive amount of credit must go to The National for leading so strongly with the McCrone Report. However it was a massive missed opportunity that this wasn’t a coordinated campaign.

When the movement acts out of sync we have little impact. We can and do bemoan the most bizarre media structure in Scotland and with so few indy supporting media it is crucial that they try and amplify the killer messages.

It is only when we coordinate our efforts that we stand a chance of being heard outside our indy echo chamber.

So what were the alternative media doing the week of the publication? WingsOverScotland has one article (pretty much stating my main points) and in general playing the same tune as The National.

CommonSpace doesn’t have anything on the report since 2017.

Bella Caledonia mentions the report in an interesting article that includes this:

“There’s no need to repeat the epic mismanagement of this resource over time, or replay the envious glances across the North Sea to Norway and its sovereign oil fund. There’s no doubt that the lies, distortion and hypocrisy of those who simultaneously argue that oil is insignificant and then salivate at the prospects for propping up the British economy (again) are remarkable, but there are some real problems with framing the case for independence in this way.”

So that’s the top indy supporting media outlets. What about our collective yes bodies?

Well, Scottish Independence Convention continues to talk about itself and nothing much else. You won’t find the McCrone Report on their home page or Twitter feed.  There’s nothing on Business for Scotland either.  I am sure I could go on but I hope I have made my point: to highlight these important stories in isolation is to speak quietly in an empty room.  And this happens all too often.

What’s old hat for you might not be the case for many voters

What came across from many indy supporting Twitter accounts was that the McCrone Report was old news. Well, not for everyone:

A “quite remarkable” stat for sure. Just imagine the number is this had been properly amplified.

You can get a good jist of this attitude from our established commentators. Here’s a section of that Bella article again:

“There’s no need to repeat the epic mismanagement of this resource”

Well, I would argue that there absolutely is a need to repeat the epic mismanagement, as not everyone has heard it the first 50 times. It is when you see a message again and again that it starts to stick.

Repeating things is a powerful tool in a campaign. When trying to get a message across what we need to do is to REPEAT the most important points. Again and again. How the UK mismanaged this resource should be something we all repeat at every opportunity. 

There is a real danger that we speak with the same voice and to the same people, in the same way as we did in 2014. We have to move with the times and we have to be smarter and more coordinated.

An alternative coordinated approach isn’t hard to imagine

Just imagine the Editors of all of our independent supporting new media outlets got together a few months ago and decided to “make the most of the McCrone report”. So co-ordinated articles were commissioned and set to be published the same week. Interviews were arranged to add flavour and substance to the report.

A PR campaign was started with the aim of amplifying the McCrone report to the non independence supporting media highlighting the relevance today.

An outreach to Social Media activists at the same time saw @zarkwan creating several of his brilliant images to be downloaded and shared on social media, and were available to print. @phantompower14 created a one of his killer videos.

How about all of the YES groups had a McCrone week were they focussed all of their campaigning on three central issues that they picked out of the report.

Maybe an independence supporting film maker got in touch with Alan Cumming and persuaded him to don a pin stripped suit, enter a smoke filled set, take on the role of Professor Gavin McCrone, and deliver the report, in its entirety to camera.

Just imagine an actual coordinated campaign with people working together, setting aside differences and aiming for one thing: independence. Ideas like this were as powerful in 1974, the year the McCrone report was delivered, as they are today.