The National Newspaper had some questions, Elaine C Smith and Dave Thompson respond:
THE advantage the Indy movement has is our breadth and depth and energy. To harness that, it’s important that we work together. It’s important that we trust each other. And it’s vital that we hold ourselves to account to make sure that we are all working as effectively as possible to make our country the successful, independent, fair country that it should be.
For that reason, we are delighted that The National is asking questions of our plan and we are pleased to lay out our answers.
How is that strategy to be devised and delivered? What’s going to be in it? Who will draft that strategy?
EVERYTHING we do must flow from high-quality intelligence gathering. While the strategy will be drawn up by the campaign organisation, it will not be made up by an individual or a committee.
Instead, our strategy will come from in-depth research, rigorous message testing and, crucially, the insights of the many and varied pro-independence groups. Our strategy will only work if it has been developed with and by the grassroots.
Our strategy will be partly delivered through front-foot media work. That means turning the spotlight on the deficiencies of Westminster and the other side. That means telling the stories of the people, communities and businesses who are let down every day by a UK Government we did not vote for.
That means showcasing the positive opportunities offered by being in charge of our own affairs. Our strategy will also be delivered on social media, through graphics and videos that the movement can use. And our strategy will rely heavily on liaising with the wider movement and encouraging coordination.
Who will have the final say so on it? One of the new proposed employees or the committee?
THE strategy will belong to the movement. The movement will inform the strategy.
The actual work of pulling that strategy together and working out details of its implementation will fall to the employees of the campaign organisation.
It will be refined, reworked and improved by the grassroots through formal and informal consultation.
It is planned that the Executive Committee of the SIC (elected by all national and regional organisations) will act as the management board and that the strategy will be signed off by the entire Council of the SIC – which is to say everyone. But developing strategy is hard work and it is the responsibility of the team we hire to work with guidance and direction from the Council to shape the strategy.
While the staff team will be answerable to the SIC executive committee, they will understand that there is no point creating a strategy that does not involve the wider movement and that the wider movement would not want to implement.
Who will fill the five jobs they want to create? How much money do they need? How will those jobs be advertised and who will do the recruiting? Is five enough, given the huge resources that our opponents can call upon?
THESE jobs will be openly advertised and recruitment will be overseen by the SIC executive committee. In terms of “who will fill them”, we will be looking for individuals with a proven track record in successful campaigning, including those with media and research skills.
We will be looking for people who can prove dedication to the cause of Scottish independence. We will be looking for people who can work smarter than the opposition. We will be looking for people who are dedicated to serving the movement.
As for “Is five enough?” We don’t know how much we’ll be able to raise, so we are making clear the milestones on the way – how much to start a core operation, how much to add a media function, how much to add a researcher and so on. But the question will be answered by the movement. We’re starting something afresh here. We have to start from a sustainable base. There is a need now for the movement to have more research and media support.
As time progresses the scale of that may change and other areas of support may become obvious. At that point, we can review the size of the campaign organisation.
But the key point about resourcing is that our key advantage lies in the hundreds of thousands of people who are working for independence. If we build a campaign organisation that taps into their wisdom and energy then it doesn’t matter how much the other lot spend.
And, importantly, how will the SIC relate to the Scottish Government and the SNP both before and during the forthcoming referendum campaign? If it is not the intention of the SIC to be the lead organisation for Yes at the second indyref then who will it be?
WE don’t know when the next independence referendum is going to be. We do know that the wider Yes movement would benefit now from media, research and liaison support. That’s what the campaign organisation will be focused on. The purpose of this organisation is to mount a campaign that gets us to a place in the opinion polls where we can get a referendum. We have made no assumption that this organisation would go on to be the lead campaign organisation. The decision about what that organisation is lies in the future. For now, there’s plenty of work to be getting on with!
People will not part with cash until they see SIC in action.
THE SIC is nothing more than a collective, but one whose individual groups (for example Women for Independence, Business for Scotland, Pensioners for Yes) and those supporting us such as Paul Kavanagh (Wee Ginger Dug) and George Kerevan have achieved amazing things building the case for independence.
As a group we now think that our cause needs a national campaigning organisation to do work that is needed and not being performed by others. In no way does it try to replace any other independence supporting group or initiative, each has a part to play and none should be threatened by the other. We only look to add another string to our bow but a string that is essential to winning and one our opponents fear.
Finally, check out this Sunday’s National for an exclusive taste of the work that the SIC has been conducting since the conference in Usher Halls last year…
Elaine C Smith and Dave Thompson are the convener and vice-convener of the SIC