The ‘Twitter War’ has tainted the Scottish Independence Convention

“Effectively then, the start of the second campaign for independence starts now in earnest. And if that campaign is going to be ultimately successful then the Independence Convention must be involved. If I had my way they would be at the centre of the action directing strategy.”

The passage above comes from an article Kevin McKenna wrote for The National on August 2nd. The body McKenna is talking about is the Scottish Independence Convention [SIC].

Until recently SIC has been little more than a Facebook page, a Twitter account and a Website. Occasional articles in The National and Common Space have given a fleeting glimpse into who is behind it and what its aims are. But there’s been little else on which to form an opinion.

Despite this, the Scottish Independence Convention is set to meet with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon this month. In his article Kevin McKenna listed a series of points he argued the Convention should make to the First Minister. The top two points are shown below.

1. Without the Convention, the independence campaign is a non-starter.
2. The SNP have to hand over their funds and then take a back seat.

They are interesting to say the least.

Before I continue it’s worth looking at what we know of the Scottish Independence Convention.

Origins

The name of the organisation will seem familiar but it bears little relation to the 2005 organisation of the same name, although SIC claims that it is effectively the same entity and has merely been relaunched.

The driving force behind the new entity appears to be Robin McAlpine. McAlpine was listed as a member of SIC in an article in The National back in August 2016 which heralded the birth [or rebirth] of the organisation.

This was, as far as I can ascertain, the first official mention of the new SIC. However Robin McAlpine had already indicated several months earlier that he was involved in ‘talks’ to create a body to replace the now defunct Yes Scotland and relaunch the Yes campaign.

Speaking at a Radical Independence conference in February 2016, McAlpine said: “I don’t want to say too much, but we have been in talks to bring the Yes campaign back together.”

The Scottish Independence Convention got off to a rocky start on September 18th 2016, the 2nd anniversary of the independence referendum, when its launch event was embroiled in controversy after a female rap troupe referred to Ruth Davidson as ‘Dykey D’. A second more formal conference was held in Glasgow’s Radisson Blu hotel on January 14th 2017.

In March 2017 The Herald reported that there had been ‘secret moves’ to set up Yes Scotland 2. According to the article, SNP Chief Executive Pete Murrell was leading a plan to set up a cross party independence campaign.

The newspaper reported that Murrell had been in contact with SIC leaders about his plan, but added: “However, last night, a source said that while SIC would not form a Yes Scotland2 campaign it was hoped it “could give birth to it” if a Section 30 order is granted.”

It seemed to indicate that SIC and whatever Peter Murrell was planning, were going to be two completely different entities.

Despite this, SIC has presented itself as an umbrella body for the whole of the independence movement as the note to editors from a press release in April this year shows:

The Scottish Independence Convention (SIC) is an umbrella body representing all the groups (party and non-party) which support the cause of Scottish independence. Member groups include the SNP, Greens, Common Weal, Women for Independence, Scottish CND, Pensioners for Independence and Yes2. The co convenors are Elaine C Smith and Pat Kane, Vice-Convenors are Lesley Riddoch and Richard Walker.

Fast forward to now and the Scottish Independence Convention is taking on a more formal shape. It has published a list of those involved.

Conveners

Elaine C. Smith
Pat Kane
Lesley Riddoch
Richard Walker

Organisations

Women for Independence (2 Votes)
NHS for Yes (1 Vote)
Common Weal (1 Vote)
Christians for Independence (1 Vote)
Scottish CND (1 Vote)
National Yes Registry (1 Vote)
Scottish Green Party (2 Votes)
Scottish National Party (2 Votes)
Scottish Socialist Party (1 Vote)
Labour for Independence (1 Vote)
SNP Youth (1 Vote)
Radical Independence Campaign (1 Vote)
Pensioners for Independence (1 Vote)
Business for Scotland (1 Vote)
AyeScotland (1 Vote)

Other Co-opted members

Max Wiszniewski (Press Officer)
Shona McAlpine (Administration)
Irene Hamilton
Peter McColl
Stewart Bremner
Isobel Lindsay
Stewart Kirkpatrick
Mike Small
Tony McCandless

Robin McAlpine doesn’t appear on the list of members.  Asked to explain this omission when earlier newspaper reports described him as a member, SIC said: “Robin is the representative of Common Weal. Each organisation has nominated representatives they send along to full meetings and working groups. On occasion they rotate but usually the same person.”

There are some impressive names listed above. Lesley Riddoch and Elaine C. Smith are figures who command respect across the Yes movement. Indeed in May 2016 when I proposed a Yes Scotland Mk2 I suggested Lesley Riddoch as a leader.

In my article I outlined what I considered to be a key structural requirement of any new organisation:

Any attempt to resurrect the Yes movement must include all of the major players from indyref1. That includes the Scottish Greens, the socialists, the a-political and the SNP.

There must also be an open door for those within the Unionist party ranks who wish to participate. Alan Grogan caused considerable panic within the No campaign during indyref1 when he launched Labour for Independence.

The new Scottish Independence Convention has embraced this ‘all parties and none’ approach. The SNP is involved, along with the Greens and the SSP. Business for Scotland is there as is Radical Independence.

Asked by me how its members had been chosen, SIC replied: “The initial meeting when reconvened last year a selection of the organisations, mostly who were registered during the referendum, were involved in forming the constitution (reminder this is an umbrella organisation providing space for key stakeholders).”

When I proposed a Yes Scotland Mk2 last year, I also added a warning:

Ground rules should be agreed. There must be no party-politicking of any description. Everyone would have to agree to abide by a code of conduct. A Yes movement that descended into the kind of SNP sniping we witnessed during the Scottish election would collapse before the year was out.

[…]

My only concern regarding a ‘Yesurrection’ is the unpredictable radical element who have been champing at the bit to hold another referendum. These fringe mavericks could cause problems for the wider Yes movement if they decide to launch a radical equivalent to Yes Scotland 2.

Why did I issue this warning? It was prompted by an article in the Holyrood magazine written days earlier by RISE supporter Jim Sillars. Jim wrote the following:

My information is that once the EU referendum is out of the way, the Yes side will be coming back together, to rebuild its organisational structures at the community level, and start to produce policies around which the movement can re-launch an educational campaign to take us from that 45 per cent in 2014 to a winning number in the years immediately ahead.

The thought of a radical left version of Yes Scotland filled me with dread. That Jim Sillars had felt comfortable with what he had been told suggested the policies he said would be produced would be of the radical variety.

Was Jim Sillars talking about the Scottish Independence Convention? I don’t know. However this clip of Robin McAlpine speaking at the Radical Independence Campaign conference three months earlier suggests Sillars was indeed talking about the same organisation.

You can watch the complete version of McAlpine’s speech here.  You’ll catch a glimpse of Jim Sillars on the panel towards the end.

Policies and Indy

In an article in Common Space in June this year on the Subject of the Scottish Independence Convention and what it’s strategy would be, Robin McAlpine wrote: “… at Common Weal we’re trying to develop the policy work needed for that fleshed-out ‘independence proposition’ “.

But should a future ‘Yes umbrella group’ be fleshing out radical policies for any future independence proposition?  I don’t think so.  In fact I’d argue that any group presenting itself as an umbrella organisation for local Yes groups shouldn’t be arguing specific policies at all – radical or otherwise.

In the aforementioned article, McAlpine says the following:

We can’t keep trying to sell a half-finished pitch for independence. We need to decide what the answers to the big questions are – currency, pensions and all the rest.

This plays into Unionist hands.  We witnessed this during the last referendum campaign when every answer to every question was forensically picked over by the Unionist media and ‘impartial’ academics.  Once you lay out any policy, no matter how socially fair and universally popular, you are effectively leading with your chin.

And what happens if the SNP doesn’t agree with the policy but the party’s SIC members are outvoted?  What may seem like a good idea to well-intentioned yet strategically naive fellow members of the SIC voting council, may be a campaign calamity waiting to happen.  The media will, quite rightly, make hay with such a split.

The grass-roots lifeblood of the Yes movement, namely the local groups, are not party political entities. Asking them to promote what will in effect be a manifesto will dilute their effectiveness. Indeed it may lead to conflicts within the group if some disagree with a specific policy but others embrace it.  This is a referendum, not an election.

If we learned anything from the last referendum it is that the more we allowed Unionists questions to set the narrative, the more we were placed on the defensive.  We need to keep things simple next time and adopt a simple generic message that no Yesser can disagree with.  The message is simple, once we have independence then we choose what’s best for Scotland.

What currency will we use?  We’ll choose what’s right for Scotland.  What income tax levels will we adopt.  We’ll choose what’s right for Scotland.  Same on EU membership.  Same on Trident.  Same on welfare.  Same on migration.

Keep the message simple.  We trusted the No campaign in 2014.  They betrayed our trust.  Hammer it home time and again.  In radio and TV interviews.  In every statement in every press release.

Let the Unionists explain why they broke so many indyref1 pledges.  Ask them what they’re going to do when Brexit leads to 80,000 Scottish jobs going.  Let’s see how Ruth, Kez and Mundell like it when we are asking the questions.

But there’s another problem that’s reared its ugly head these last two weeks.  Some commentators are calling it infighting.

I refer of course to the ugly online exchanges that followed an attack on Stuart Campbell of Wings Over Scotland in an article published by Common Space, and a subsequent attack on Campbell by the Common Space editor in the Sunday Herald.

Twitter War

The attack on Wings has spawned several similar attacks by figures with links to Common Space on other well known Yes bloggers.  James Kelly of Scot Goes Pop and Jason Michael McCann of the Butterfly Rebellion have been targeted.

This is by no means a one way street.  Kelly and McCann have each criticised Common Space and some of its more strident supporters and writers in their own inimitable ways.  However, unlike Common Space, neither make any claims as to their importance to the Yes movement and neither are linked to a body seeking to present itself as the umbrella group for that movement.

The twitter rammy instigated by Common Space has serious implications for the Scottish Independence Convention.  Common Space is funded by the Common Weal.  Thus, we have within this self-styled ‘umbrella body’ a member which is implicitly funding an attack on a very high-profile, and popular, Yes blogger.

When I made my own suggestion of a replacement for Yes Scotland I gave Common Weal as an example of a group that ought to be included in any such organisation.  I think recent events must call that into question.

Robin McAlpine is of course the director of the Common Weal – a body he created.  He is also a regular columnist on Common Space – another body he created.  McAlpine is the driving force behind the Scottish Independence Convention.  There is a very clear conflict of interest here.

Moreover one look at the Scottish Independence Convention twitter account and the close links between it and the Common Space are even more apparent.  Common Space articles saturate the twitter feed.  The only other outlet that comes close to it in terms of retweets is The National.

On the SIC Facebook page, Common Space is again the dominant outlet.  The National and Bella Caledonia are the only other two outlets whose articles receive any significant coverage.

The favouring of these outlets mirrors a speech given by one of the SIC conveners when the organisation held an event last January in the Radisson Blu hotel in Glasgow.  Former editor of The National, Richard Walker, urged Yessers to get behind Bella Caledonia and Common Space.

 

Not content with this selective promotion of two alternative media outlets, Walker also launched an attack on elements of the Yes community who had criticised these same outlets over their promotion of the now all but defunct RISE.

 

Writing at the time, I couldn’t believe SIC organisers had allowed Richard Walker to criticise elements of the Yes movement at a conference intended to promote a ‘Yes umbrella’ organisation.  In an article in which I gave my own reaction to the speech, I wrote:

Richard Walkers’ speech, for me at least, bordered on the offensive. It reeked of intellectual snobbery, of looking down on the ungrateful and vulgar Yes ‘riff-raff’ who couldn’t see how marvelous The Sunday Herald, Bella Caledonia and Common Space were. It screamed … “We know what’s best”.

You don’t have to be a genius to see the radical thread running through the Scottish Independence Convention.  As well as the clear links to the Common Space we also have Mike Small of Bella Caledonia as a co-opted member.  Other SIC members sit on the Bella Caledonia advisory board.

Asked by what means the Bella Caledonia editor had been co-opted and if any other alternative media editors had been approached to be similarly co-opted, SIC said: “It was decided at the recent constitutional change that there wouldn’t be media on the voting organisation list however Mike has been involved (previous secretary pre-referendum) in SIC for many years so is respected both in the organisation as well as alternative to MSM.”

Division

There have been three noticeable rows within the online Yes community since 2014.  The creation of RISE, Cat Boyd’s ‘Proud to vote Labour’ boast and the attack on Stuart Campbell.  Bella Caledonia was heavily involved in the RISE debacle.  Common Space has been at the epicentre of the RISE row and the Campbell attack.  Its editor has endorsed Cat Boyd’s ‘Vote Labour’ stance.

Regardless of your views on Common Space, it is pretty clear the site is seen by many in the Yes community as divisive.  It attracts support from a radical element for whom independence appears secondary to their own left-wing agenda.  The site projects defiance and confrontation.

The current twitter spat has been magnified beyond recognition by commentary in the main stream media.  Some of this commentary is by supporters of Common Space.  So bad is the situation for Common Space that Robin McAlpine is currently engaged in a damage limitation excercise which included an appearance on Radio Scotland alongside Gerry Hassan.

 

Out of control

Robin McAlpine created Common Space in order to promote radical ideas.  It has become a monster he cannot control.  It now threatens his other, far more important project, the Scottish Independence Convention.

The Scottish Independence Convention has been tainted through association with the Common Space.  Robin McAlpine, and others associated with SIC, have allowed themselves to be dragged into a spat that ought to have been kept well away from the fledgling organisation.

Instead of keeping their counsel and concentrating on developing the body’s Yes credentials, some opted to wade in.  No genuine Yes umbrella body can afford to take sides in this manner.

According to Robin McAlpine the Scottish Independence Convention will be launching a fundraiser in August.  The sum being sought is an incredible £100,000.  This appeal will be launched against the backdrop of the Wings/Common Space episode.

As things stand, I genuinely can’t see this target being reached such is the level of mistrust the radical fringe has generated among grass-roots Yessers.  The Scottish Independence Convention needs to take steps to distance itself from these ill-disciplined radicals if it is to have any chance of succeeding.

The steps I would take are as follows:

  • Common Weal cannot continue in its capacity as a member.  The attack on Wings Over Scotland by the Common Space means a conflict of interest exists.  This conflict of interest undermines the Scottish Independence Convention claim to be an umbrella body for the whole Yes movement.  There can be no suggestion that it, or any of its members, are taking sides in external disputes.
  • Any and all links to media outlets must be severed.  This includes alternative media outlets and traditional media outlets alike.  Indeed I cannot for the life of me work out why it has links to any media outlet, alternative or otherwise.  It is supposed to be an umbrella body for grass roots activists and organisations.
  • Ditch this idea of developing policies.  Leave the area of policy development to political parties whose responsibility it will be to draft policy after independence.  By all means make the public aware of the options that will be available, but do not endorse.  Currently your only aim is the securing of a referendum Yes vote.

Unionists will be rubbing their hands in anticipation at the dripping roast SIC will surely become if changes are not made.  Look at how they are salivating over a tiny twitter spat.

And what of Kevin McKenna’s points that the Convention should make to Nicola Sturgeon when she meets their delegation:

1. Without the Convention, the independence campaign is a non-starter.
2. The SNP have to hand over their funds and then take a back seat.

It would be better if the Scottish Independence Convention is a success.  However McKenna’s points, especially the second, are not to be taken seriously.

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36 thoughts on “The ‘Twitter War’ has tainted the Scottish Independence Convention

  1. Clydebuilt

    If McEnnema said the SIC must be involved and The SNP must hand over their cash to it ………. Then the opposite is the truth.

    When Joe 90 said that “The National does more harm than good ” this is the kind of thing he should have raised . . . . Instead of front page graphics, and letters

    It’s hard to believe that McEnnema was serious in ordering The SNP to hand over their cash to the SIC . . . .

    What is serious Is that a self proclaimed YES journalist is putting forward that an unelected body , easily infiltrated by all sorts of “Yoons” should be at the centre of the campaign.

    Early this year he was on the BBC’s Sunday morning news show as an “Expert commentator” and he said that every time Nicola Sturgeon talked about Brexit it was to avoid having to talk about the constitution.

    Do a google on his past articles in the Observer and the Guardian to see where he’s really coming from.

  2. Joe McCusker

    “intellectual snobbery”. Sums up the so-called radicals perfectly. In truth they hate the working class because we’re not as smart as them. Or so they think.

  3. Kevin

    Excellent, thoughtful piece, GAP.
    I’m loathe to fawn over your every word, but I can’t fault the piece. All you’ve said makes sense and lays out realistic changes, tweaks, for a genuine and strong umbrella group. If the SIC are serious about being a positive collective they’ll agree with your article. I hope they do, I like Robin’s work and I want to see the SIC being successful.
    Let’s see how things pan out. We’ll be watching.

    I also liked your clarity of thought regarding how Yes should approach the next Ref, ie, make the case for independence THEN choose what’s best for Scotland. We should be bossing this narrative as a simple question of Scotland being independent first and foremost then building on that.
    Also agree that those countless broken union promises should be revisited; all those lies and broken promises – in such a short space of time – make for a helluva big weapon in our arsenal

    1. Tony Little

      I agree absolutely with your pint about the message. To me Independence is about who chooses Scotland’s future. Us here in Scotland through our representation in Holyrood, or London. That is it. There is NO other message that the next Independence referendum should be about.

      Incidentally, if SIC is supposed to be an “umbrella organisation of all those who seek a YES vote” why is there no obvious centre-right/right wing voice. Don’t those on the right who want Independence deserve a voice too?

  4. Robert Graham

    I often wonder about the underlying agenda of these people, Rise was in my opinion were used to cause real damage to the SNP at Holyrood , the clue was in the promotion of them by media not known for their support for Independence.

    Any left wing group advocating the people’s republic of Scotland has no chance of widespread acceptance, the public won’t and never have voted for this.

    So what do they do ,they hitched a ride on the “YES” movement to promote their ideas , I believe the Independence movement contains a whole wide section of society, a mixed and varied bunch, this I believe is healthy, and democratic.

    As the article points out this attempt to steer Independence in a direction most people won’t accept is ultimately assisting the Unionist side, that’s why I question the motives.

  5. Douglas

    Thank you GAP for alerting us to this.

    I get irritated by the Greens playing silly games just to score points off SNP but this is a whole order of magnitude more serious.

    Divide and rule is the guiding principle of the British Empire.

    ‘Radicals’ fighting over ‘right’ kind of independence is a crazy distraction.

    It is madness for SIC to do detailed policy. Getting tied up with ‘unanswered questions’ will defeat us (again). There is no single blueprint for an independent Scotland that will suit everyone.

    I will have nothing to do with SIC if they end up hijacked by this agenda.

    I will, however, campaign for Independence through other channels.

    Watching carefully…

  6. liz mcclure

    I like Robin McAlpine but I don’t trust Common Space, Kevin McKenna or anyone connected with RISE.
    When Richard Walker set up The National, I bought it religiously, when he left it became more of a pro RISE newspaper, I no longer subscribe.

    Cat Boyd, Haggerty etc have their own agenda which is fine but I don’t support them or their ideas.

    Kev McKenna IMO still hankers after a Lab controlled socialist utopia, it has never existed and it never will.

    I donated money to the SNP fund. It is not their money, it is mine and others who contributed.
    If they ‘hand it’ over I will be asking for my contribution to be returned.

    Let this new group start their own fund raiser, or is Kev McKenna uncertain they will have the support to raise enough?

    For too long the radical left have fed off the backs of independence supporters, be true independents, stand on your own two feet

  7. Bibbit

    During Indyref1, I donated generously to a host of organisations which I now look at askance.

    e.g. Common Space, Jim Sillars’s minibus fund and Bella etc. I was particularly aggrieved when Sillars (Brexiteer) said he’d rather Scotland remained chained to UK and out of EU than an independent nation but still in EU! I asked him for my £100 back. He ignored my request. Hope your private minibus has a flat tyre or have you flogged it off since you went off independence?

    To me, those leftie types, like Sillars ever changing positions, all seem to have one version of what independence must mean, and if it is not that particular version of independence, they don’t want it! That, to me, is the opposite of democracy.

    I am a member of the SNP and I will continue to donate to the SNP and Wings and Wee Ginger Dug and Newsnet2 and Indyref2 and others.

    I don’t agree with all that the SNP might say or do but I am a pragmatist and after we gain liberty from Westminster rule, I trust the people of Scotland to work out what is best for Scotland. The SNP also do not attack other independence seekers as these ‘usual suspects’.

    I would not trust Sillars or Boyd etc. as far as I could throw them now. They seem very immature politically with perpetual pettitt lips.

    Not another single, plugged nickel of mine will ever go again to the nincompoops at Commonpace, Boyd, Loki, Bella etc. etc.

    To paraphrase Burns; ‘Would that God the gift would give them, to see themselves as others see them! It would from many a blunder free them, and foolish notion’.

  8. Craig Cockburn

    Wondering why there’s no Wings or Wee Ginger Dug in the SIC lineup?

    They bring great ideas, dedication and wider participation

    Independence is about having the power to make our own national decisions, and I would expect an umbrella group to have a difference of opinion within it. Healthy debate is good.
    We should embrace talent, not turn it away.

    Independence is not a left wing movement. Independence is the power to make our own decisions and when we can we can have a left wing country if that’s what the people of Scotland choose. I would prefer a left of centre country, but that’s not what independence is about, it’s about the power to choose. We need to define what is possible with independence – such as deciding our membership of the EU, deciding our monetary policy, deciding our energy grants, deciding our benefits and welfare approach, showing that a Westminster led government will hamper our progress towards our ideals, like asking Usain Bolt to run 100m with lead shoes. A better Scotland is possible, Westminster doesn’t listen. These simple aspirational aims are what we should be talking about, not personality bickering.

    1. Jon

      Similarly why does STV, BBC and The Sunday Herald turn to Haggerty of Commonspace for the pro Independence voice.

      A person who attacks GAP and The Rev. But defends Boyd after voting Unionist.

      Very suspicious of Commonspace. Appears to be being used as a wedge to cause splits in the Yes movement.

      The previous go to person for the voice of tge Yes movement was Alex Bell who was sacked as a special advisor to Alex Salmond.

  9. Scott Egner

    Firstly I think those constitent parts of the indy movement are invaluable and I would hate to see anyone alienated. Commonweal filled a vacuum left after indy1 and I have a huge amount of respect for the work and the ideas of robin mcalpine.

    I’m also grateful that we have all these different factions who are motivated by the prospect of an independent scotland.

    I agree that having a group with a defined set of policies running the show might not be a good idea.
    Perhaps everyone could agree to adhere to a basic broad constitution. For example, financial reforms should be at the heart of a successful and stable economy. We might not agree how we get there but surely we can agree that city bankers should no longer be determining the direction of our economy. Same with human rights, immigration etc.

    There is a huge amount of talent at our disposal and we need to harness that (I’m including all of you involved in twitter spats).
    We need you all and must not lose any of your talents.

    So surely a consensus can be reached on a common set of values – the what and the why- not necessarily the how.

    Britain lost its values to neoliberalism and that’s what drove me to vote YES.

    This isn’t rocket science guys. It’s a team game.

  10. alanski

    Message to the divisive radicals: Grow up, control your over extended egos and do something for Scotland, instead of promoting your own agenda. Ask yourselves a question – do you really want independence? If so, then treat the grassroots movement with respect.

  11. Scott Egner

    One more point.
    Better together – a Tory, labour, Lib dem alliance were united (unashamedly). They portrayed themselves as disparate parties setting aside their differences to ‘save scotland’.

    We can do the same. Saving Scotland should be our mantra. We can surely agree on that.

  12. kininvie

    The real point at issue is the utterly undemocratic and unrepresentative nature of the SIC. Who elected the Conveners? Who agreed the number of votes for ‘organisations’? And where are the Yes groups, who are already organised and working? If they are supposed to be represented by National Yes Registry (with whom I have no quarrel), than a single vote is derisory.

    But I’m not fussed. As in the latter stages of 2014, Yes groups will campaign in the way they see best, and ignore anyone trying to claim some authority over them.

    There may or may not be a need for Common Space and SIC. But if the people involved spent as much time talking to voters as most Yes groups do, they might realise their opinions don’t carry much weight

  13. JimD

    The whole row could have been settled neatly by sacking Angela Haggerty. Robin McAlpine could then have invited Stuart Campbell to join as a convener, as well as Paul Kavanagh. The tone would then have been set.

    Can’t agree with the ‘we’ll figure it all out later’ line. This wouldn’t be good even if there was more balanced media coverage. It’s precisely that vaccuum of thought which allows the MSM to portray independence as a hard-left inspired lurch into the unknown. We want to ‘boss the narrative’, as a poster above put it – we can’t boss it if we say we don’t have a clue. We can’t boss it if we ask again for a currency union that the UK state will not accept and which would leave us economically subservient to the UK anyway.

    McAlpine said this work was like putting together the materials, tools and skills needed to build a kitchen, not specifying what the kitchen will look like or exactly what you are going to have in it. Richard Murphy has recently said much the same thing. Exactly what the tax structures will be in an independent Scotland will be worked out when we are independent, but to have control of your tax structure you need to have your own currency.

    Because of the colonial media, this is a ‘damned if we do, and damned if we don’t’ situation, but if we have credible answers to the key economic questions asked on the doorstep, the nervous No’s become less nervous, and we are much better placed to put the Unionists on the back foot and highlight their short-changing of Scotland.

  14. J R Tomlin

    One thing Nicola Sturgeon does not ‘have’ to do is take orders from Kevin McKenna. Or did someone elect him to First Minister (or anything else) while I wasn’t looking?

  15. Thomas brotherston

    if paranoia were a party we could all join! There is a genuine need for an umbrella organisation. It needs to be founded on the simple premise that independence is the goal for ALL subscribing organisations
    Here’s my first point. How can this convention be described as speaking for Scotland when the Scottish Trade Union Congress is not included, Solidarity not included. TUSC not included. The organising core smacks of ” family and friends only”
    It needs to be truly broad. Those who choose not to join are those who elevate personal or party political purity or whatever above the needs of the people of Scotland.and will be judged by them accordingly.
    As to answering the political questions raised by the 2014 referendum of course we need to address them.

    It needs to be remembered that the SNP LOST the 2914 referendum. Not only did they not have all the answers but they steadfastly refused to discuss why they didn’t have the answers.
    That was hardly a way to build the confidence of the Scots that the SNP were listening to them
    We won’t win independence by stealth. It will be won by convincing the people of Scotland that independence is THE ONLY solution to the madness that surrounds them.
    Indeed the very need for the Convention is a response to the retreat by the SNP into itself. It needs to ” do a Corbyn” and get out and campaign AMONGST THE PEOPLE.
    We can and must imbue in our fight for independence some basic goals. A publicly funded NHS politically enshrined in a constitution. A state funded pension guaranteed by statute.
    A right to state funded universal education.
    A welfare state that MEETS the needs of those who need it fully funded by those who don’t.
    Unlike those film extras in Braveheart, the Scots will not be motivated by the cry ” FREEDOM”

    1. grizebard

      A publicly funded NHS politically enshrined in a constitution.

      Sorry, but no. Important an issue though it is, that’s not what a constitution is about. It’s about the fundamental ground rules of how the system operates, not a rag-bag of special pleadings. It’s about rights, not politics. Well-intentioned but muddled thinking like this will not persuade people that we know what we are doing.

      1. Peter A Bell

        I agree. If you want a lesson about enshrining policy in the constitution, look at gun law in the USA. Great caution is required lest we burden future generations with intractable problems.

  16. Scott Egner

    “Because of the colonial media, this is a ‘damned if we do, and damned if we don’t’ situation, but if we have credible answers to the key economic questions asked on the doorstep, the nervous No’s become less nervous, and we are much better placed to put the Unionists on the back foot and highlight their short-changing of Scotland.”

    Couldn’t agree more. Economic freedom is a sovereign currency.

    1. Macandroid

      Here’s one answer to the currency question, quote McCrone to them:

      “in the event of independence … its currency would become the hardest in Europe, with the exception perhaps of the Norwegian Kroner”

  17. Jim Rodden

    At this point in our independence campaign there shouldn’t be radical left, right or upside down,there should just be independence campaigners looking for the big prize. When we are independent we will choose whom we wish to govern for us. That is the whole fecking point of independence, that we get to choose. It doesn’t matter who we choose only that it is us that chose them. Same goes for policies, we will elect the party who we think has the best manifesto to take Scotland forward. No doubt all party’s will be represented through PR.
    The idea that we need to have all the answers to all questions has to be Better Togethers most effective tactic to date, whoever thought if up saved their bacon in 2014, we need to recognise that that’s all it is, a very effective tactic indeed and if we don’t learn from 2014, then we’re destined to fail again. As GAP so eloquently says, our campaign spokespeople can put forward ideas, not policies as they will be decided by us post referendum. If we can all campaign as one then maybe we can do this.

  18. Alan Crerar

    I though at the time on reading McKenna’s article with those two final points; I donated to the SNP’s referendum fund. I didn’t donate it for it to be given to otherwise unemployable careerist lefties or their unrecognised establishment infiltrators to use it to fund furthering the split of Yes movement.
    I am still of that opinion.

  19. grizebard

    A great article, and very timely too.

    I went along to the first public reconvention meeting of SIC with a great deal of hope, but did leave with a slight but definite impression that it was something of an attempt by the radical left to have more influence in the coming indy campaign than their basic support warrants.

    In the end, the composition and influence of SIC should reflect what each member brings to the table in terms of the real (not imaginary) support they can muster and/or the inspiration that they can provide to ordinary people during a campaign. Above all people with sound judgement and no axe to grind. Instead as currently proposed it has something of the feel of a top-down elitist kind of operation, you know, “we are all equal but some are more equal than others”.

    Paul Kavanagh, for example, is an unrepentant “leftie”, and his beliefs clearly inform the stance he takes on everything, but he very carefully doesn’t let that intrude into the general message he delivers, so his message is acceptable to a very wide swathe of Scottish opinion. Why he has been omitted from the ranks of SIC is just cannot understand. He is an examplar to the kind of campaign that SIC should be promoting.

    It almost seems to be the reverse. The recent attacks on the likes of Stu Campbell have all the hallmarks of political operators attempting to carve out territory and exclude anyone who is not “one of us”. I agree with Peter, that if such manoevering is allowed to succeed, it will be fatal to the independence movement. Ordinary people will see right through that as a political partisan operation, and if they don’t like the politics, whatever they may be, they will have all the excuse they need not to support it.

    Those who have attacked the likes of WoS, the biggest and most effective promoter of independence since the first referendum, are clearly not acting in the interest of the wider yes movement, and have effectively disqualified themselves from any right to be represented on SIC. As a corporate body, SIC must be resolutely apolitical.

    The only point I might disagree with Peter upon is on the issue of currency. I believe a pathway to the introduction of a new currency, underwritten by a neutral group of respected economists, has to be settled in advance of the campaign. Otherwise BT2 (whoever they are) will exploit the uncertainty mercilessly, and it is an issue that has traction among hesitant voters. (Ironically, if things proceed with Brexit as they appear to be doing, the quicker we abandon a sinking UK pound – at parity with the euro and heading down to parity with the US dollar, the better. And no-one but the wildest UK zoomers will object.)

    For the same reason, we should also agree to maintain “status quo” with the EU into independence. This guarantees the necessary stability that the UK is so recklessly abandoning, and is fully compliant with the EU referendum result in Scotland (whether Cat Boyd likes it or not). It will bring many more converts to Yes than it loses. But campaigners can always make clear that this, like anything else, is always subject to review in the new iScotland, provided sufficient support exists for it.

  20. grizebard

    Correction, I should of course have written “GAP” instead of “Peter”. Apologies to all concerned!

  21. Geacher

    “We can’t keep trying to sell a half-finished pitch for independence. We need to decide what the answers to the big questions are – currency, pensions and all the rest.” McAlpine is correct because if you do not fix the things that broke Indy1 then they will surely break Indy2.
    You say “…Once you lay out any policy, ….” Jeez, have you no faith in the policy makers, or do you think that the problems we would face as an independent nation over currency, pensions, and all the rest are un-fixable?
    ” We’ll choose what’s right for Scotland.” …you seem to be of the one of the many that think that if independence happens, then everything will be alright on the night, well just because it will.
    At least McAlpine & co are facing up to the big realities and problems that independence will face initially, which is more than you are.

  22. jlbps

    This is a helpful article and timely discussion.
    Unlike the last referendum, any referendum called in this Parliament is unlikely to have the weight of a new White Paper and independent research commissioned by the government behind it. Alex S presumably hoped these would give credibility.
    So the strategy for Pro-Independence campaign re policy positioning is different this time. Reluctantly, I think there has to be a recognition that not all questions can be answered in advance. Options for an independent Scotland can be given, from current policies of existing Scottish parties, on current Westminster matters eg Trident, The well researched legal position on pensions, building on info from last time, and the latest research on currency, can be presented as options for a post referendum election campaign to determine. We definitely need a better way of handling discussions of a plan B on any subject.
    If we look at the Brexit referendum, we realise that there seems to be no need at all to have a plan for implementation in advance in order to win.
    The work which has been done by all the various media over the past 2 or 3 years is helpful as it ensures we can build on a better informed activist base and electorate.
    It does seems to me that SIC is very dominated by media people. Perhaps this is inevitable if it has to be led by people who are well known to the public and perceived as not belonging to a political party. How realistic is it to imagine that the electorate will think that anyone other than Nicola leads a campaign in the current context, with presumably the help of Patrick Harvie?
    It would be lovely to imagine that known Lab/Lib and even Tory activists will be part of this, but they are way ahead in forming an anti-Independence coalition.For Lab/Lib/Tory voters, they may have to follow where so many others have over the years and decide to lend their vote to an SNP (and Green) led coalition.

  23. Pingback: SIC: A broken umbrella? – Towards Indyref2…

  24. Kenny MacLaren

    Well said. How many YES activists were asked about who should be on SIC – who decided that practically the whole McAlpine family (Robin, Shona and their mother) should be included? who decided that the press officer would be Max – the campaigns officer for CommonWeal – no surprise then that Common Weal/ Space are their favoured tweets? Who chose Bella Caledonia over all the other YES websites – where is Wee Ginger Dug, Peter Bell, GAP, James Kelly, Derek Bateman?

    This SIC group seems to be self selected group of people who are keen to push their own profiles – what you want in an umbrella group is someone who looks outward, who not only respects others views but encourages others to get involved and contribute – from what I’ve seen of the majority of the SIC members I believe they will be too busy pushing their own agenda and demanding others follow.

  25. Pingback: My last ever article – Towards Indyref2…

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