Yes Edinburgh West meeting minutes Newliston Arms Mon 5 March 2018
- Ian Grant opened the meeting by welcoming everybody, and introduced our speakers, Hugh Cullen from the SSP, Maggie Chapman from the Scottish Greens, and Bob Murray, who is unaffiliated to any party, on the subject of “How we can win our Independence”.
- A Livestream is available for people who couldn’t make the meeting.
- There were 14 attendees, with over 100 following on Livestream. Email addresses given will be added to the mailing list unless anyone objects.
- Bob Murray opened by pointing out that he was representing 99.6% of the Scottish electorate – those who are unaffiliated to any party – party members and activists are very much a tiny minority. His view is that there are 5 routes for us to win: wait and see (maybe England will want rid of us), independence imposed by the UN, winning a second Indyref authorised by the UK, winning a Scottish Indyref or election on the issue of independence followed by UDI, or UDI without a further democratic mandate. It may happen through one big event – a commitment to independence by a major celebrity or newspaper, a major meltdown by a senior politician, or a new Prime Minister (Corbyn or Rees-Mogg?). Whatever happens, the unionists have played all their cards before and can’t play them again (Vow, stay in EU, oil running out) whereas the Independence cards are still there, and stronger (democratic deficit, Trident, childcare, Westminster’s economic incompetence and social welfare cruelty etc). When canvassing, Bob confronts people’s preconceptions by stating that he doesn’t need to live in an independent country – but he does want to live in a country which is fairer, more equal, happier and healthier – and the current state is not going to give us that.
- Maggie Chapman from the Scottish Greens said she believed there will be a second Indyref, which we will win because of the Yes groups throughout the country. We will win because most people want to live in a different kind of country, with fairer social and economic policies, better environmental policies, and being outward-looking in peace. We will win because the UK state is a shambles – we can point to the evidence of NHS England, Grenfell, racism and xenophobia, precarious work, and Brexit, where it is difficult to see how the circumstances of Ireland, Gibraltar, Wales and Scotland can ever be resolved. Failure to achieve Brexit would result in an angry English electorate and a political move to the right, while Brexit will lead to a poorer economy, with reduced public services and increased taxes for lower earners. We will win by re-imagining the kind of country we want, with power at the lowest democratic level. We will win because the Scottish Parliament has become the focal point of Scottish politics, as Westminster descends into chaos. We must focus on those who can be persuaded, and recognise that there are now more “don’t knows” than before. We must avoid an adversarial tone, hone the mass appeal (e.g. basic income, industrial strategy), reach people who aren’t politically involved, who are ignored and/or shafted. We must understand our local areas and the power structures within our communities. We must build conversations with the right people, listen to them, engage them in conversation with simple local messages and a positive picture of an independent Scotland. We must stop talking to ourselves, arguing on social media and talking to entrenched “No” voters.
- Hugh Cullen from the SSP argued that independence is a progressive step, and that the independence case is as strong as ever – we are seeing the worst ever decline in real wages, a chronic shortage of affordable housing and a feudal political system. In the 2014 Indyref, we failed to convince those who were socially, politically and economically better off, and stuck too much to continuity of the current system (e.g. the monarchy). Support has waned since then, because the SNP hasn’t fought for independence enough since 2014. The SSP position is that voting to Remain in the EU was the lesser of 2 evils – it stops us making a transformational case. To win, we must not tie independence to the EU (it’s another example of the democratic deficit (ask Greece and Catalonia), and Brexit may not be as bad as predicted); we must make a compelling, inspiring economic case (including a Scottish currency); we must learn from Catalonia about the importance of an authorised referendum; we need a vision of the country we want to live in (like Scotland’s Future, but a joint effort across all independence-supporting parties); and we need to emphasise the deep crisis of the UK state – particularly its takeover by corporations and a ruling class. Karl Marx said “out of complexity comes clarity”.
- There then ensued a lively question and answer session. Peter Curran made the point that we need a helicopter view of what’s happening, to see the UK as a dysfunctional monarchical conglomerate which has never worked well, and agree our core beliefs for a country which delivers equity and justice. Gerry Mulvenna passed on some comments from the Livestream audience.
- AOCB: Ian finished with some announcements:
8.1 We are planning a voter survey and a leaflet drop in local areas in March
8.2 Ann Rayner is joining a “Scotland the Brand” event on 10 March, others welcome
8.3 Ian gave an update from meetings he had attended – the Edinburgh & Lothians conference, NHS for Yes and Pensioners for Independence
8.4 Next meeting will be 2nd April
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