And then the NO vote!
Overnight Yes Scotland HQ closed. At the very point of the indy movements most traumatic moment.
Our national leadership disappeared and the grass root movement’s parlous position suddenly became clear.
Denied our central Yes HQ, what had appeared to be a ‘National’ vibrant network of Yes shops and activists groups rooted in every city, town and village of Scotland, was disabled overnight.
Each of those local campaigns, activists and shops still existed, but now found themselves without a formal ‘Network’ and alone.
The intensely local, decentralised and geographically disparate nature of the autonomous Yes groups, that had been such a feature and strength of the grass root campaign, now, denied a ‘centre’ and their simple campaigning goal (a Yes vote), found them selves adrift.
Adrift without a policy for the way forward, and worse, without even a Yes mechanism to make contact with their fellow Yes groups in order to try and quickly formulate one.
Some ad hoc informal contacts where built up during the heat of the referendum campaign, but no formal contact list or registry of our network was ever made available to the grass roots movement by Yes HQ, either before or after they disbanded.
As a consequence, except for limited unofficial email lists and FB pages, the enormous potential of the existing grass roots had no way of formulating a national strategy, that each individual group could consolidate and regroup around, and so, that potential simply started to dissipate.
As a result of the disappearance of Yes HQ, plus the total lack of any ‘post No’ planning (and the vacuum that created), activists, Yes voters and grass roots organisers, Understandably quickly fell back on the established political ‘structures’ of Yes parties and campaigning groups such as Radical Independence Campaign, Common Weal, Women for Independence, and others, who were from the start formed independently of Yes Scotland HQ.
This led directly to the surge in Yes party political membership as well as the strengthening and deepening of those independently formed Yes movement groups.
The surge has indeed been awe inspiring in party political terms, culminating in the shaking of Westminster we have just witnessed.
It has also however, unfortunately meant that the vast non party political grass root structures painstakingly built up during indyref ‘one’, are now falling fallow, with many activist groups drifting away or changing direction.
After the tsunami at Westminster and now with the real possibility of a future indyref two within reach again, It’s a position of unnecessary weakness.
It is also an opportunity to avoid repeating those campaigning mistakes made during indyref one.
This is where we are today and here is, with your support, what we propose the grass roots should do about it.
The National Yes Registry project