New campaign organisation aims to take independence movement ‘to the next level’

On the fourth anniversary of the 2014 referendum, the Scottish Independence Convention has revealed its plans for a new campaign body

THE SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE CONVENTION has announced plans for a new national campaign organisation, aiming to raise support for independence above 50 per cent.

The SIC, which acts as a cross-party, nonpartisan stakeholder organisation for the majority of pro-independence activism in Scotland, aims to unveil the as-yet-unnamed campaign body by 30 November, and will shortly be implementing a fundraising appeal to provide staff and resources for the new project.

In addition to utilising ongoing research  by the SIC on the key public opinions challenges relating to Scottish independence, the new campaign group will use these findings to formulate political strategy, as well as bringing fresh fact-checking and data-driven rebuttals to the national constitutional debate.

The campaign organisation also hopes to build links between national groups and grassroots pro-independence activists, to which it will provide training, development and resources.

A spokesperson for the Scottish Independence Convention said: “Having a movement-run independence campaign is immensely important as it will show voters in any future referendum that independence is about more than just party politics.

“It will be about the politics they see every day in their communities, delivered by people they know and see day to day and this will give us the edge. It’s the people of Scotland who will deliver independence for our country and this campaign organisation will offer every support possible to show our friends and neighbours that no matter how they voted before, an independent Scotland can be theirs as well.”

“It’s the people of Scotland who will deliver independence for our country and this campaign organisation will offer every support possible to show our friends and neighbours that no matter how they voted before, an independent Scotland can be theirs as well.” SIC spokesperson

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford welcomed the development, saying: "I am delighted with this initiative. I have a burning desire to see a fairer and wealthier Scotland and the delivery of an inclusive open society, independence offers that opportunity. We need to inspire the people of Scotland to come with us on the journey to independence. Locally Yes Skye, Raasay and Lochalsh are showing the leadership and engagement that is essential in growing the level of support for independence."

The SIC council includes the SNP, Scottish Greens, Scottish Socialist Party (SSP), Common Weal, the Radical Independence Campaign (RIC), Women for Independence, Scottish CND, Business for Scotland, NHS for Yes and Pensioners for Independence.

In 2017, ahead of the SIC conference, speculation arose that a closer working relationship with the SNP might emerge following meetings between the party and the umbrella group at the SNP’s Edinburgh headquarters. Former SIC chair Murray Ritchie told CommonSpace that this might be necessary, and argued that First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is “going to have to be a bit more cooperative with other forces that want the same objective.”

READ MORE: Exclusive: ex-chair of Scottish Independence Convention says SNP “needs all the help it can get”

Commenting further on the announcement, SIC convener Elaine C Smith said: "This is it. We don't know when the next referendum will be but we know we need to start campaigning now. We know we need to be getting on the front foot with the media. We know we need to be harnessing the power of our grassroots organisations. We know we need to be preparing to take the argument to the doorstep and the keyboard.

"Four years after the last independence referendum there is still so much energy in the Yes movement but we need to harness it if we are going to successfully listen to and persuade our fellow Scots that the only safe way forward is to be in charge of our own destiny.

"The movement has successfully crowd-funded many initiatives since 2014. But this is the chance to take it to the next level. If we are serious about winning independence then we need to start campaigning on it now. And that means backing this fundraiser when it comes.

Smith continued: "Make no mistake, we are faced with a stark choice. We can either be responsible for our own future or we can rely on the increasingly shaky and erratic Westminster set up to take us on a rollercoaster ride of chaos and disaster. Brexit - something the majority of Scots did not vote for - is just months away and yet Westminster is obsessed with infighting rather than the best interest of our country. It is clear now that Scotland going its own way is the only safe and sensible option."

A statement from SIC member organisation Woman for Independence (WFI) added: “Since 2014, WFI have relentlessly continued to campaign for an independent Scotland and to further the cause of issues particularly relevant to women. We are delighted to see the grassroots groups and the wider YES movement coming together within the Scottish Independence Convention to collaborate on research, projects and campaigns in order to steer more people across to YES.

“There’s no time like the present to make our case to the people of Scotland and to women in particular, that we can create a better future in an independent Scotland.”

"Four years after the last independence referendum there is still so much energy in the Yes movement but we need to harness it if we are going to successfully listen to and persuade our fellow Scots.” SIC convener Elaine C Smith

Fellow SIC stakeholder group Young Scots for Independence also said: "The campaign for Scottish independence did not stop in 2014. In the past few years we have seen a huge rise in political involvement from young people campaigning towards an independent Scotland. The set up of our YSI regional associations, and local pro independence groups across the country are evident of this.

"There is no better time than now to get behind this all-movement campaign approach for a shared interest - making the case for an independent Scotland."

Elsewhere, Arthur West, Chair of Scottish CND, emphasised to convergence of interests between the CND’s goals and Scottish independence, saying: “Scottish CND was founded sixty years ago to work for the abolition of nuclear weapons both here and internationally.  We decided to support YES at the Referendum because we could see that an independent Scottish state responsible for Defence would be our best chance to get rid of Trident.  

“We know the importance of working together in coalition to maximise and support the Independence Convention's drive to build a strong and effective campaign.”

Picture courtesy of Maria Nararro Sorolla

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