Beyond Campaigning: Communities, Resistance and Change
Contributors: Robin McAlpine, Gill Bannister, Doug Haywood
To kick things off, we went round 40 or so attendees and asked if they would share their name, where they had come from, and what their one wish for Scotland would be ( aside from gaining our Independence) This set the tone for the rest of the discussions, with people from all corners of Scotland sharing ideas which varied from restructuring the education system to something more useful than preparing students for a life of work, to introducing a citizens’ income, to becoming a republic. Though answering was optional, everyone offered their ideas.
In the first section of the workshop, we discussed how we felt Indyref campaigning had evolved, and what we had learned from it. Many contributors felt that more training had been required, that more overhead coordination had been needed to ensure every area had been covered, and that Yes Scotland had failed somewhat in leading the campaign because it had appeared to be more about designing logos than directing the campaign.
The level of cooperation between groups campaigning in the same towns or cities appears to have varied across Scotland with some areas transformed into one campaign, while in other areas there was more separation between party and non party campaigners. Some hubs were open as fully operational hubs and spaces for discussion for many months before the vote, while others opened just a few weeks before but had not offered a space that was useful for conversation.
The workshop group agreed that we need more spaces where we could talk to people, offer training courses and hold planning meetings. It was felt that RIC mass canvasses had been inspirational and a good way to talk to many people in a short space of time, and that it was a good place to learn canvassing compared to a classroom. We agreed that we had been part of an incredible movement and we should not underestimate the effect of our efforts.
The second section of the Beyond Campaigning workshop looked into how we build our presence in our communities and how to network across Scotland.
There was some discussion over whether “class” should dictate areas to be targeted, and whether any targeting was required at all. There was a comment that cautioned a simplistic approach to social class i.e. Middle class people are also important in the fight for independence. Tenants associations, community food production, PTAs were all examples of how people are now more involved in their community. One example was given where a tenants’ association had grown by giving each of the core group one street to look after and keep informed of situations, then as more people became involved the organisation grew into something much bigger.
Direct action was also discussed ( an example – marching into a supermarket and filling trolleys with staple foods then leaving without paying, the food going to the needy) with a short discussion on being “arrestable” following on from that.
Although the time available for the workshop was almost two hours, the discussion could have continued for longer. Our thanks to everyone that attended and added their voice to this workshop.