As a follow up to our article ‘A case study’ we would like to publish an email we received (and our response) from someone who watched our film and wanted to raise another very important, specific and practical idea for how a National YES Registry could help him (and hopefully other like-minded activists) dramatically impact on the effectiveness of any future Indyref2 campaigning.We have at their request and for obvious reasons anonymised them.
The subject matter, as you will see, is by it’s nature an ingrained problem and so will require sustained thought and effort to come up with strategies and tactics to counter effectively. Something that a dedicated group environment, backed by the infrastructure and support of the wider Indy grass-roots, would seem an ideal set up to achieve.
Another practical example of the importance for us reaching our funding target, so please do spread the word.
I watched the national yes registry video and think you are doing a great job. I will make a donation and try to encourage others to do so too.
I’m writing to check if you might have any input on a post indy-ref idea that I’ve been thinking about. I’m a solicitor, working in the commercial world and found the indyref experience very difficult because of the very hostile reaction that yes ideas received in my area of work. It was very difficult to express pro-independence arguments when the issue came up with colleagues and
contacts. I found that senior stakeholders in particuar could be very intimidating and were generally successful in suffocating any yes arguments and convincing less senior people to vote no. I was also astonished by the lack of research and thought that quite a number of intelligent colleagues had put into their decision.
I know that my friends working in other industries e.g. finance, accounting had very similar experiences. I also know that we had some successes in making pro-independence arguments to those that would listen.
My view is that the next indyref can’t be won without a substantial shift in the views of people working in the commercial world and professional services. I know that many people in these areas have very entrenched views but there was also a trend of sympathetic no voters who simply felt as though the economic and financial arguments weren’t compelling enough for
them to vote yes. I don’t think we can win next time unless the same people can be convinced to change their vote.
My idea would be to start a yes network for people working in professional services/industry to help support them in voicing pro-independence arguments in tricky environments. I felt as though my job/career prospects were on the line at times due to my political views and was definitely held back from being as vocal as I should have been in response to intimidating anti- independence discussions at team meetings, client events, etc. Importantly, at times I missed the opportunity to properly engage with people who perhaps could have been convinced to vote yes.
I’m not sure how such a network would shape up but wondered if you knew anyone working on this type of idea. It’s a tricky one because I know for a fact that many yes voters in industry would have liked to speak out more but felt pressured into silence because they were worried about their jobs. I think the same people have a vital part to play in the next indyref because they are part of networks with large numbers of people who voted against independence and need convinced otherwise next time.
I would be interested if you had any ideas or if you could point me in the directions of anyone working on similar themes post indyref.
Thanks in advance
and thanks for taking the time to raise and try to tackle this incredibly important issue. Your experience as a professional during the referendum campaign is by no means unique. During my work at the Largs YES Shop we were contacted weekly by anonymous YES supporters being intimidated into silence (or their work being threatened with closure during talks and meetings by their senior management) all to ensure that workforces voted NO. Absolutely illegal activities of course, but without a mechanism to complain through or defend themselves with, there was very little that could be done at the time (many unions for example were in support of NO and their officials were as big a problem as the employers).
I realise that this is not exactly the same arena as professional bodies and working environments that you are addressing, but I know from my own experience (architectural) how closed and intimidating the social aspects of professional interaction can be and their absolute importance in career advancement. The underlying issues are very much the same. What I would say though is that if we could somehow create a mechanism that addresses the professional/managerial aspect of the problem, I do feel that any positive effects gained there would be magnified many times over as the equalising effects at managerial level would certainly start to restrict the kind of all out abuses that I mentioned pro YES folk were also experiencing regularly in their work environment.
Here’s the problem though, and the whole reason behind trying to get the National YES Registry up and running. Many people complain, are aware of these kind of problems and have experience of them, but seem content to wait for others in ‘authority’ to come up with a solution. I don’t think any one will, unless we ourselves do. That’s why your email and attitude toward this issue (as one of many that need addressed well before the heat of Indyref2) is so important and central to the aims of the YES Registry.
I would love to be able to put you in touch with the many other activists that feel the way you do about this issue. By contact, brainstorming, idea sharing and a ready access to an activist forum through which your deliberations can be explained and your campaigning solutions put into action (possibly even gain access to seed funding via general Registry fundraising activities). A specific, well identified but incredibly difficult issue such as the one you raise; that of gaining simple democratic equality for YES in the workplaces of Scotland, during a future indyref2, could be given the attention by a group of equally motivated activists that it absolutely requires.
At the moment though, unfortunately, I do not know of a forum or group that you could raise this issue with to try and deal with it on a practical, activist lead campaigning level. Writing an article about the subject and having it published on Bella or the like will certainly raise it as an issue, but that unfortunately very rarely results in the long term, dedicated thought and practical idea sharing required to effectively tackle ingrained workplace, societal and power imbalances such as the one you are raising (and the many others that the Indy movement is locked in battle with).
Hopefully the YES Registry will reach it’s required funding in order to try and create the necessary forum from which you could (quite easily I believe) build a group of like minded and motivated activists to attempt to tackle this issue. Until then, all I can do is try and make our membership aware of your concerns on the issue, and your willingness to try (with support) to somehow tackle it.
In fact, this is such a good example of the type of role that a successful Yes Registry network could perform, would it be possible to use your letter and this reply as a basis for an article on our website and fb page? I will remove your name if need be. What do you think?
Anyway, thanks again for raising this with us and sorry we cannot yet be of more practical help. Hopefully we raise the funds and can get the thing on the road. Not sure people really understand the basic need that the Registry will full-fill, that’s why a concrete example like the one you raise would be of such help in opening eyes to the task ahead and the tools that are going to be necessary in successfully tackling those tasks, and well before any Indyref2 campaign.
Look forward to hearing from you again,