A guest post by Jason Baird of the National Yes Registry
Many thanks to James for the generous opportunity of a guest post on Scot Goes Pop. For all those who have not yet heard of the National Yes Registry or what we do, here is a short film giving a little of our history, explaining who we are and what IndyApp does. It was made as an easy introduction to us for the audience at the SIC Build conference last year. It includes a reference to the successful crowdfunder that has allowed us to continue finishing the IndyApp and organise our next big grass-roots The Gathering #1 Event: the real subject of this blog post.
As part of the interesting recent discussions between James, Pete Wishart MP (and others) over the optimum timing for IndyRef 2, I thought folk might be interested in some context from a grass-roots group perspective. James’ call for the Yes movement to become much more pro-active seems the perfect time to let interested folk know just how pro-active the grass-roots are at the moment and exactly what the local Indy groups have planned.
The Gathering #1 is being held just a matter of weeks before the SNP 'spring' Conference and so hopefully will not go unnoticed by those present at Aberdeen. Think how a 'sold-out' and vibrant national Gathering of the groups in Stirling will strengthen IndyRef2 options at that conference. It should also help inspire the rest of the wider Yes movement into more and wider action. A final thought before you read the main blog: the unionist Labour Party in Scotland had their conference recently with a reported attendance of 400 delegates. Our venue for the Gathering has a capacity of 450. Need we say more?
The Gathering #1: All Groups Welcome
As promised, we are now organising the first national gathering of the Yes movement’s local groups - a place where the groups can define for themselves how best to organise and work together in preparation for winning IndyRef2.
Stirling: The Albert Halls, Albert Place, Dumbarton Rd, Stirling FK8 2QL
9am - 5:45pm, Sunday the 27th of May (Bank Holiday weekend). In the evening there will be a separately-ticketed, fully licensed Ceilidh Dinner. 7:30pm -12:00pm
The Gathering: (400@) £14each. Ceilidh Dinner: (220@) £20each. Purchase codes will be supplied direct to the groups. Prices include full days catering and Paypal booking fees. No profit will be made and all event accounts will be published.
Why a Gathering?
The task is to provide a new form of participatory grass-roots leadership, one that gives direction at a national level but fully understands, protects and strengthens group autonomy at a local level. This can only be achieved through active participation and consent by all groups. Who, but the groups themselves, are capable of providing this new form of leadership?
The Gathering’s Concept
This will not be another 'top table' Yes Conference, finished when the speakers have said their piece and everyone has gone home.
Instead, Gathering #1 will be the start of a collective process of group mobilisation. One where individual participation, group consent, popular support and new technology come together to bind Yes into an effective, non-party political, campaigning force.
A process that has local groups, their members and all of Scotland’s different community needs at its centre.
This is about collective grass-roots legitimacy in action.
The Gathering is where the groups will begin to set out a practical campaign agenda for themselves and the movement, one that naturally comes with the authority of its activists.
Autonomous groups lead themselves, so the real task of the Gathering is to identify: shared experiences, campaign ideas, resources and proposals that the groups collectively feel are of strategic importance to the movement. These will then be posted on the new IndyApp for the newly networked groups all across the country to assess and decide upon for themselves.
This is the grass-root movement’s greatest strength.
The final say in local campaigning should always be in the hands of activists who know and understand their communities best. Local group autonomy enables Yes campaigners to select from the movement’s full range of valid independence messages and tailor them to suit their own community’s needs. The wider the variety of community groups participating, the more powerful our campaigning advantage becomes.
If Gathering #1 is the success we believe it will be, its format can be refined by the groups to become a regular event on the campaign calendar. Gatherings organised at local, regional and national levels, with all the new ideas generated at them, could then be accessed across the grassroots using the IndyApp National Forum.
Event Goal 1: On the day
Initial ideas will be generated by all delegates within workshops, followed by presentations of each workshop’s findings to the entire Gathering, for us all to debate and assess.
By the end of the day each workshop’s findings, presentation and identified campaign topic will be posted onto the new IndyApp National Forum, to allow every local group member across the country access and opportunity to participate.
Event Goal 2: Extending participation
All groups and all group members across the country can then participate using their group’s Local Forum on the new IndyApp. This is where autonomous group memberships can share, discuss and develop any Gathering proposals that interest them. Groups can also post their own proposals and ideas onto the National Forum for the consideration of the movement and to canvas support from fellow groups.
Organisation: It’s in the detail
Group ideas and proposals posted onto the National Forum that find support among fellow groups will need to be taken forward in a coordinated way. Turning good ideas into practical campaigns and action plans can be achieved through IndyApp facilitated National Committees.
These committees are created by (and made up of) interested group members and committed activists from all around the country. An effective way to harness the Yes movement’s wide base of specialist knowledge, experience and campaigning enthusiasm.
All National Committees will set themselves up to operate within tight time frames and remits.
Event Goal 3: Gathering Committees
The five most popular and well developed proposals will each have National Committees created at the Gathering on the new IndyApp. Made up of volunteer activists who want to help put the Gathering’s proposals into practical action, these committees are also where any interested local group member can make direct contact to join, or offer their specialist knowledge to help advance its purpose.
Event Goal 4: Accessing all talents
No good idea should ever lack support, and no activist should ever be short of a good idea to support!
The Gathering’s format together with the new IndyApp platform helps provide a simple way for all group members to easily follow, make contact and practically participate in developing ideas and proposals presented at Gathering #1. Whether they were able to attend the event on the day or not.
Equally, local groups who post ideas on the National Forum can also open National Committees of their own and encourage participation in their projects from right across the entire knowledge base of the IndyApp group network.
Calling All IndyApp Groups!
Success of the Gathering as a grassroots leadership strategy rests on each participating group’s individual ability to communicate effectively. First, within their own memberships, and then directly with one another as autonomous groups. The IndyApp has been created on behalf of the groups to provide exactly those capabilities.
Please ensure you get your entire membership logged in as soon as possible, in anticipation of Gathering #1 and the all-new communication forums that are coming to support it. If you are a member of a group on the IndyApp but your ‘front door’ is still inactive, please contact us and we will help you get your group ready for the big event.
If your group is not yet on the IndyApp but would like to participate, please complete the sign-up form and we will respond as quickly as we can.