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:
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.