Now that the 12 days of Christmas are over and the tinsel is all down, it is time to start thinking seriously about how we can win the referendum in September. We can win, but we need to up the ante and everyone can play a part. Lots of little things will contribute to winning, but I reckon three particular strands stand out.
Tell the truth about the UK
There is no need for us to tell lies or exaggerate – the truth about the UK is ugly enough. Broken Britain as a certain David Cameron described it. For broken it is, or as John Reid would put it, Britain is no longer fit for purpose. Rising debt, never ending austerity, rising inequality and an underperforming economy. A UK in thrall to the financial sharks of the City of London. While the Tories are the worst of a bad bunch, there is little evidence that Labour would make much of a difference. We just need to keep presenting people with the facts about the iniquities of the UK and the record of incompetence demonstrated by successive governments. We need to break free of Westminster to have a chance of building a better Scotland.
A Better Scotland is possible
Scotland can be different and better, we can become a more prosperous and more equal country. To win the referendum we need to inspire voters with practical visions of what an independent Scotland could look like. The Scottish government have started this with their White Paper, which outlines the SNP’s vision of a different Scotland. The Jimmy Reid Foundation has published its vision of a better Scotland with its Common Weal project. The Greens and socialists will have their ideas on how to make Scotland a better country. We need to get out as many visions of the future out in the public domain as possible. This includes the right wing alternative as envisioned by the Wealthy Nation group. The key is to convince a majority of voters that change is possible and that we do not have to remain stuck in the old, failing UK rut. A new world awaits us!
Canvass, canvass and canvass
This may turn out to be the clincher in winning the referendum. The mainstream media will continue to be against independence, so we must take our message direct to the voters. We need to get as many people as possible out knocking on doors and talking to people. There is nothing as effective as the personal touch. I have already managed to get in few turns of canvassing towards the end of last year. Very soon I expect to out again as part of the Radical Independence contribution to canvassing in Dundee. It is much more interesting and pleasant than I had anticipated. Most people are quite welcoming and many are only too pleased to have a chat about the prospects for independence. So far I have found many are in favour of independence but are still a bit doubtful, not sure how wealthy a country Scotland really is. They are there to be won over, and a chat on the doorstep is as good a way of doing this as any. So I urge everyone to join their local Yes group and get out canvassing as often as you can. It is the only way we can be sure of getting our positive message across.
Further confirmation that we can win the referendum came with the recent opinion poll commissioned by no less than Better Together. This found that only 29% of the respondents wanted the status-quo. 30% wanted full independence, while 32% wanted more powers for the Scottish Parliament. Not a ringing endorsement of the UK by any means. However the most interesting part is the 32% who want more powers. For if there is one thing we can be assure of, it is that there will be no additional powers for the Scottish Parliament in the event of a No vote. It is quite simple really, if the Tories wanted to give us more powers they could have done it already. It is only Westminster than can extend the powers of the Scottish Parliament. Labour has shown no interest in this either. So all these voters who want more powers will come September be faced with a simple choice – the status-quo or independence. If we can convince just half of this group to vote Yes, then we will win. So get out there canvassing!
To end I would recommend everyone to watch and listen to this video of Robin Macalpine’s speech at last year’s Radical Independence Conference. I was one of the participants at this conference and can assure everyone that this was a truly inspirational and moving speech, full of humour, but with some serious points. Including the need to get out and canvass!