This is the first of what will be a weekly column from Voices for Scotland, the non-party, civic organisation set up by the Scottish Independence Convention (SIC) to lead the grassroots campaign for independence.
Voices for Scotland is the organisation for the indy-curious, campaigning to bring people together to have the big conversations about a Scotland for Everyone, a vision of Scotland that works for me, you, your community and everyone else.
With your help Voices for Scotland will build support for independence so that when the time comes, the public will have the knowledge, confidence and belief that Scotland can stand on her own two feet and reach the potential befitting a nation with such high levels of skill, talent, education and resources.
Our campaign is the antidote to the toxic, aggressive and tribalist political rhetoric we’ve seen in recent years, particularly around Brexit. To bring people together we need respect, understanding and the ability to listen as well as speak. Now is the time to look at the independence movement in a new way.
We’re the “Yes campaign” you’ve been looking for, just with a wee bit less “Yes”. There are hundreds of thousands of people in Scotland who would vote differently to how they did in 2014 and our research shows that to build support we need to move away from ‘Yes’ and ‘No’, galvanise existing support and focus on engaging with the indy-curious and undecided on a Scotland that works for everyone.
‘Yes/No’ labelling can be divisive and implies that someone who voted No in 2014 was wrong and that they are different to ‘Yes voters’. This language can make it more difficult to start productive conversations and persuade someone that independence is the best course for Scotland’s future.
In the referendum in 2014 people made a decision about what was best for them at that particular time and no one should be vilified or made to feel bad about the decision they took then.
So it’s time to move on from the debates of the past and think about the nation we want to be. Let’s look forward to the fair, inclusive, prosperous, clean and happy country that Scotland can become when independent. To get there we need to have conversations in your community about how we create this Scotland for Everyone by talking about what matters to you.
This method of campaigning is tried and tested and will work to grow support for independence, but only if people like you get behind our campaign and get involved by talking about Scotland’s future. We need your voices and we need you to take action in your local area. We’ll be launching our event toolkit in a couple of weeks which will give you all the information you need on what to do and how to do it.
Last week I spoke at a regional meeting of Yes groups, where the frustration about a lack of progress was palpable. That feeling is understandable for those who have spent their lives campaigning, come so close and, as we sit on the precipice of leaving the EU against our wishes, barely see their hopes for a better Scotland in the far away distance. We need to harness that energy into something positive.
Support for independence is still hovering around the 48-50% mark. Going into another referendum, whenever that may come, that figure needs to be ten points higher. This is absolutely achievable if the movement gets behind a campaign that can make a difference.
To get there we need to engage people in conversations about a Scotland for Everyone, a realistic vision of our future based on bringing people together to create a richer, fairer, cleaner and happier nation.
Voices for Scotland is the campaign to facilitate these conversations and the platform where that vision can be shared.
As a movement we need to work together and use the resources we have to move the debate forward. There are so many contradictory facts and figures flying around that it puts people off, but we need to have the confidence to talk about the factual and emotional reasons why Scotland should rule itself.
Trust in politicians is as low as it has been since the early nineties, so the only way any of this will work is through a civic organisation that puts people first. The movement is nothing without its people and now is the time to come together and campaign for a better Scotland. We can’t wait until another referendum date is announced, now is the time for action.
This first column in the National is about introducing you to Voices for Scotland and our campaign. In the coming weeks and months we will be using this space to get your voices, thoughts and opinions about a Scotland’s future, so make sure you get in touch with us through our website, Twitter or Facebook and have your voice heard.
Scotland is an incredible place with incredible potential. Now is the time to grasp the thistle and work towards a Scotland for Everyone.
Allan Whyte, Campaign Organiser
(First published in The National 28 January 2020)