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'I will be with you...'

We can't ignore obvious problems, for fear of repeating the same mistakes

Friday, April 5, 2024
10 mins

Awkward Questions

by Rab Clark

The article reproduced below, by Jim Sillars, raises a couple of awkward questions.

So we'll ask them.

Firstly - is there appetite for such a project? We're not aware of any single source which lists pro-independence organisations launched in the past decade or so but we imagine that the total number must run into the dozens. There is, to be sure, a 'need' for the organisation Jim Sillars is proposing, but is there any enthusiasm? Who would make it happen?

Secondly - if this organisation did gain some traction, how would the hubs operate without SNP activists' involvement? It's an unfortunate fact that the SNP treated Yes hubs/shops (in 2013/14) as their territory. Anyone belonging to smaller pro-independence parties at that time knows this to be true. (Greens were tolerated. SSP members were viewed as unwelcome horse-frightening zealots.) Would Alba be able to replace the SNP in that dominant role? How would interested SNP members justify maintaining their membership while the party is still led by Sturgeon's replacement? Who is capable of enabling any form of rapprochement between the activists of both parties?

It's not our place to pour cold water on any initiative. This site exists to do the opposite. But we can't ignore obvious problems, for fear of repeating the same mistakes. The tragic truth is that we didn't know, in the summer of 2014, that Alex Salmond had declared his intention (privately) to stand down in the event of a Yes defeat. Very few people did. And some of those people are suspected of shifting the campaign into the lowest possible gear as the fateful day approached. Whether or not they acted to sabotage the grass-roots movement has yet to be established.

Which brings us, yet again, back to the main obstacle facing the independence movement - the SNP.

Friends Of Wings on X: "Wow. This is like a special sneak peek behind the scenes of a cult. You can hear in the tone of her voice, and with the phrase repetition, that she's just churning out the expected lines without any emotion or even care for whether its just more lies. https://t.co/Ki637cH5NI" / X (twitter.com)

'I will be with you...'

Paraphrasing Jesus's final words to his disciples may or may not have been intentional but it appears (from the demeanour of the man centre-shot in the blue sweatshirt at any rate) that such messianic shite is not going down too well. That her chosen one is now embarrassing Scotland on the global stage with the ludicrous HCA doesn't help matters.

Things were relatively straightforward in 2014. 'Yes' was, to outside observers, a synonym for 'SNP' and vice-versa. And 'Yes' meant pro-independence. That much was understood.

'Yes' still stands for pro-independence but 'SNP', plainly, does not. Hence the gulf in support for the SNP as a party and 'Yes' as a movement.

This is not rocket science but is proving an extremely difficult concept for those who can still find reasons to tolerate the presence of Nicola Sturgeon. Until she has gone (along with her disciples) the schisms in the movement will remain.

That said, we hope Jim Sillars' efforts will spark the kind of discussion which thrashes out these awkward matters and that the essential repairs required can be undertaken, as soon as possible, without undue distraction.

What the Independence Movement Needs Now: A National Organisation

The SNP leadership seems to have no desire to reach out to other parts of the movement.


APR 04, 2024

Today and every other day, activists in the independence movement, in different groups, will be working on their contribution towards achieving sovereignty. There is, however, one vital component missing without which victory cannot be achieved - a national organisation.  

It is obvious that the SNP, as it rolls out documents, sees itself in that national role. The existence of others shows that it has actually lost its traditional claim to leadership. The harsh fact is that Humza Yousaf and his cabinet are no longer accepted as credible in that role.

In 2014, with Alex Salmond’s then party at the height of its power the SNP as front runner was accepted, with others piling in under the national Yes organisation banner, with its broadly based steering committee (arranged by the SNP) in control.  That is not the case today.  The SNP leadership seems to have no desire to reach out to other parts of the movement.

So, a national organisation will have to be constructed by those in the movement who are presently doing their own thing.  It is important that they do so, but unfortunately the good work one group is doing is not known to the others and so there is no coordination, meaning no coherent message being sent out to the people.

Why a National Organisation is Essential

I am not suggesting that each separate group dissolves itself into a national organisation. That is not necessary, or sensible.  Their work should continue as usual, but the national organisation can make the movement greater than the sum of all its parts.

The National Organisation:

Control: steering committee composed of a representative of each of the groups setting it up.

Funding: Crowd fund to create a fund capable of employing four full-time workers for a minimum period of three years.

Staffing: One office. Four people: one with primarily an academic ability, two with organisational ability, one with administrative skills. Person with academic ability and administrator located in the office. Other two work organising in the community.

Function 1 for the office: to receive the work done by the separate groups, and prepare information documents from these sources for the whole movement.

Function 2 for the office: re-establish Academics for Independence as a major source for work on matters not coveredby the present groups. An example is given in the appendix I.

Two Organisers. Their job is to set up and help sustain Yes branches nationwide. One concentrating in the central belt and the other taking the Highlands North East,  Borders, Dumfries and Galloway.

Purpose and aim. It is the people who will decide on independence. It is through the campaigning activity of the Yes branches that the people will be met.  The better educated the Yes branch activists are, the more effective they will be in building support and commitment.  Getting out information to them and drawing on the various groups personnel to engage them in educational meetings is essential.  The aim should be to launch a National Teach-in on Independence in 2026 and make the Scots the best (and most astute) politically educated people in Europe.

The kind of thing that is critical for our activists to understand, and convey to the people, was outlined in a letter Isobel Lindsay wrote to The Herald on 12th., August 2021: “The Scottish economy is one of the most externally controlled of advanced economies. Profit streams go elsewhere, strategic decisions go elsewhere.”

It is not possible to over-emphasise the importance of creating a nationwide critical analytical ability. In 2014 with Yes at 29% in the February, the Unionist leaders thought there would be no contest, and were unprepared for the Yes surge, and the Vow was a panic measure. Next time for them will be real, with profound consequences when Scotland departs.

The UK that is left will be a much-diminished state, revealed as a second tier power (a Belgium with nukes), with its one last grip on international influence in danger: losing the permanent membership of the UN Security Council. Memos from the Foreign Office already exist which express this anxiety.

The attack from Westminster will be better planned and the best defence, with the capability of attack, will be a politically well-educated, intellectually tough, Scottish people.

National Demonstration. There should be on or around 18th. September each year a giant demonstration in favour of independence in the capital, Edinburgh.  However, it cannot be organised by the small staff. There are groups which are skilled in organising demonstrations, who should undertake the task.

Such a major demonstration will signal the continued intent of the movement to win victory. In organising and getting people to the march from all over Scotland, it will stimulate activity at the branch level, and in bringing people together will reinforce their sense of being part of a strong and effective national movement.

It will assist the branches in recruiting people for the demonstration, and provide the opportunity for additional education through information, if a special Info newspaper is available for branches to campaign within the pre-demonstration build up – which should be over a two month period.  

Appendix I

The importance of Academics for Independence

Scotland will not be independent the day we vote for it. There will be negotiations with Westminster, with an end date decided by Scots, and a transitional period. The outcome of these negotiations, set out in a treaty, will influence the shape of a range of policies that will be carried out by a Scottish government of whatever colour.

There will be issues over the international treaties we shall accede to, which will require knowledge of international law, and expertise on several of them.  Defence is an area more complex than might first appear. Of critical importance will be trade relationship with England, and for that to be properly conducted by our side, it requires analysis of the respective economies to set out where Scotland’s red lines should be, and where the other side is likely to dig its heels in.

There is no point, and it would be a built-in self -created weakness if we waited until after the result to start that work.  A detailed negotiating brief is required well before any campaign gets under way. It can be compiled and amended if required as events unfold – but it is a pre-victory essential.  There is a body of expertise within our universities in all areas that will require negotiations.

Appendix II

The following issues, which will be subject to negotiations, are by no means exhaustive, but do illustrate why it is essential now to start compiling a negotiation brief.

Trade: Hard or soft border?  One or the other of these choices will be influenced by how agreements are worked out on a number of subjects.


  • How to respond if offered continuation of the present customs union.
  • How get a free trade agreement
  • Scottish financial services relationship with the City
  • Common standards in food production and animal welfare.  Problem here on gene editing
  • Recognition of professional qualifications by each state
  • Role of agriculture: issue of subsidies on any free trade decisions
  • Need for cross-border regulation on investment, insurance, mortgages? (Scottish based insurance , and investment groups,  get most clients from England.

Division of assets and liabilities

Defining what are joint assets and liabilities, and what are individual   Scottish or English financial and physical assets is not as simple as it may first appear.

National debt – what is it really – does it include, from the Scottish point of view, government bonds held by the Bank of England as a consequence of Quantitative Easing?  Should Scotland take a share of agreed government debt, given that, legally, it is UK debt?  What would be any consequence of repudiating any debt acceptance?

Real Estate – Scotland will be entitled to its 8-9 per cent share of the value of real estate owned by the UK government here in the island of Gt. Britain, and in foreign states. That also applies to military hardware (and what about military software).

Is Buckingham Palace a joint asset and therefore put into the final asset/liabilities scale? Same with Kensington Palace, the British Library, London based national Museums, British embassies, and consulates (very valuable real estate worldwide) military installations, ships, weapons. What in Scotland is purely a Scottish asset and what is a joint asset? The rail network and Network rail ownership of real estate for example? If Scotland takes Faslane, which is a joint asset, what does that do to the overall calculations? And is its value only real estate?


Dual nationality

Free movement

State pension – transfer of qualifying entitlements

Civil Service pensions

Pension and pension liabilities in state owned enterprises like Network Rail.

What the Independence Movement Needs Now: A National Organisation (yesthink.scot)

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