50 delegates attended (the wild weather stopped a few other groups) representing areas from Orkney to the Borders. Attendees were committed and enthusiastic.
Jason Baird gave an introduction, explaining how he thought the Yes Registry Forum would work – with power at a local, collective grass roots level, responsible for deciding on all issues, from running the organisation to deciding on policy issues. Jason has been full-time visiting Yes groups all over Scotland.
Ken MacDonald then gave an overview of how he set up i-Scot, a high-quality magazine “for those o’ independent mind” in response to media coverage of Scotland. It can be used for fund-raising.
Kevin Gibney then gave an overview of Independence Live and its basic purpose of citizen journalism, again in response to media coverage of Scotland – see their events on Facebook. He also explained the equipment needed to make your own videos – so people don’t have to attend events in person.
We were split into 6 groups, and each group asked to discuss a particular topic, after which a delegate of each group summarised the discussions (and any conclusions and recommendations). The delegates then reported back to their own groups. The idea was to model how the national Forum would work – topics would be raised by local groups (things to do with startup such as Name, Crowdfunding etc – but also to define important policy areas such as the Economy, Land Reform, Taxation, Trident, Energy etc). The following topics were discussed at the first meeting:
Name for national body
It was felt that National Yes Registry was too bureaucratic, and Yes Forum or Yes Scot Forum would be better
a necessary evil for local groups, because of the need for a bank account – but there is no need for all local groups to have the same Constitution.
Which bank should we use?
Who? – activists, new voters, young voters, WFI, RIC, SNP, Greens, Commonweal etc.
Broad estimate of people budget needed – £5,100 i.e. £850/month for 6 months) – if local groups agreed by 28 January 2016, the national body could start from 28 Feb
Estimate for building and running Forum not known (volunteers may be available)
Funding from political parties / branches / companies OK if no strings attached
Individual and local group donations
Funding for local groups
Budget for campaigning – e.g. production of literature or hire of meeting rooms
By fundraising, donations (individual, company, political parties/branches)
Suggested timescale was for launch after the Holyrood election (aiming to be better prepared for a second indyref by 2018?). However, we should start small and grow organically. Also, we may not have the luxury of such a timescale – if the EU referendum is held in July 2016 and Scotland considers that a “material change” has taken place.