Let’s spend the money on something more useful instead

You’ll forgive the sound of heavy breathing and crackling evident in this post.  That’ll be me breathing in and out through a paper bag to cope with the knowledge that there is a month – and a day – to go until the independence referendum.

Not because I’m panicked, not at all.  At last the polls are catching up with what those of us on the ground have already had a sense of – a shift among voters. But simply because there is so much still to do.

Oh I’m sure we’ll manage it. All around the country, there are Yes supporters and activists working flat out, practically round the clock, leafletting, door knocking, phone canvassing, doing street stalls, meetings (and lots of undecideds turning out for them), drop-ins. There’s activity in every nook and cranny of the land and it’s wonderful to be a part of it.

But still the cottage industry continues, of time and energy invested in stuff that makes little difference and matters scarcely a jot to securing a Yes vote on 18 September. It’s all helpful in a kind of background sort of way in creating mood music but does any of it contribute to folk voting yes directly?  I hae my doots.

If I had time, I might be inclined to read all 37 tightly packed pages of the Wee Blue Book.  But I don’t.  I have managed to skim read Your Choices but that’s only because I’m delivering it – I felt I had to be able to endorse it before handing it over.  And I do, it’s great.

The latest Wings’ fundraiser is to enable us to, “Let’s hit the streets” (with no perceptible irony, the very folk implored to give money to “hit the streets” have been doing precisely that – for weeks, months and in many cases, years now.)

I’ll make no comment on the fact that this is the third fundraiser in little over eighteen months to raise money for something that has been asked for in each of the other fundraisers. But I will make this plea.

We don’t need the Wee Blue Book at this stage – it might have been helpful three months ago.  But with four weeks to go and print and delivery times, the earliest any voter will be receiving a printed version is in early September. And I’m being generously ambitious here, knowing how long it takes for things to be printed and despatched. By the time it arrives with some, they will have already voted by post.  Moreover, most Yes groups (and all the other bits of the Yes movement too) has their four week strategy in place and know what they want to deliver and when. At this stage, folk whose feet are sore and blistered from all the deliveries made over the past few months, aren’t keen on surprises.

Clearly there is an appetite for folk to keep on giving – the £25,000 total was smashed and over £50k has already been raised.  I am in awe of people’s deep pockets, people who want to give their all and then some for a Yes vote.

So, a plea to the Rev Stu, to do something far more useful with the money raised instead.

If we had full-time organisers on the ground in these last four weeks, especially in the pockets – and there aren’t that many – where we are light on Yes activity and fit and able activists, we would be able to recruit more volunteers to help and reach far more voters directly before Referendum day. We’d also be able to ensure that in every part of Scotland, there was a properly resourced, effective and efficient effort to get out the vote.  With the best will in the world, when you rely on grassroots, bottom up, volunteer led activity, it can be patchy in terms of output.

And it would be nice to bring more volunteers in everywhere, to lighten the load on others.  Some of us need to put up great big post-its around the house to remind us to “shop for food” and that the “schools go back” and that we should “go to the doctor’s”.  Some folk have barely seen their families in months – and no, I’m not kidding.  

To pay one organiser for four weeks at the living wage would cost £1,071.  Add on expenses, on costs etc and for £1,500 we’d have someone working full time.  With the £53,799 raised, I reckon that would give us at least 33 full-time Yes organisers and campaigners reaching the airts and pairts of Scotland that will not, cannot be reached otherwise.

As someone who has done a lot of this on the ground thing over the years, I know the huge difference this resource would make. This is exactly the kind of surprise Yes groups would welcome enthusiastically because of the value that could be added to their campaign and Referendum day activity. 

I’m sure the Wee Blue Book is a great read – I will download it and get round to reading it.  But after the referendum.  When I have time.

We have enough paper in this campaign.  My canvassing bag is bursting with it; my house is full of strategically placed bags and boxes of it; people have garages and car boots crammed full of the stuff.  Frankly, we could paper Scotland from end to end – twice – with all the information that has been created nationally and locally for the Yes campaign (we could probably wrap up Europe too if we included all the no stuff).

The last thing Yes campaigners need is more paper,  But what we do need is bodies on the ground.  We have loads but need lots more.  Full time organisers for the last four weeks of the campaign would help make that happen.  

So let’s spend the undoubtedly awesome sum of money just raised on something more useful instead. On something that will truly enable us to “let’s hit the streets” but most importantly of all, contribute directly to independence being won on 18 September. 








26 thoughts on “Let’s spend the money on something more useful instead

  1. I read the Headline and thought it was going to be about the cost of Trident.

  2. There is nothing I find more annoying than someone getting paid to get others to do something for nothing.

  3. You haven’t read the book but you’ve taken the time to write all this? Doesn’t make you look very good. It’s a short book. Half an hour of solid reading could do it. Why wasn’t this emailed in person as a request instead anyway? This seems rude and stroppy way to go about it. No excuse for it, certainly none provided as it should have been in the article. Why wasn’t the request made months ago if you felt that it was needed then and this stage is too late? It doesn’t make sense going by your own writing to wait until the last minute to make this public whinge. You’re undermining your own arguments and criticising someone pointlessly, while moaning about wasted time and resources yourself. It will achieve nothing for the Yes campaign. In the end the whole article is pointless negativity and mean-spiritedness when with some more time, effort and thought you could be helping your own ideas take fruit instead by reaching out with kindness, understanding and sincerity instead of criticising. The cheap shots and digs also are very poor and lower the tone of it to shoddy tabloid journo level. Anyone in the Yes campaign should know better than that as we’ve all been tarred and prodded by such cheap shots and negative writing in the media. I don’t want to get independence to replace one set of shoddy rulers and media with another that acts the same way.
    Most importantly – Asking people to donate to something very specific and then giving the money to someone else to spend on other things is highly dishonest and sure to cause outrage. If I gave money to help a good cause I don’t want it to then find out it’s been simply used elsewhere on a whim. That sounds like fraud. Ask for money to help kids with cleft palates get surgery and spend it on a car and you should end up in prison. You either spend the money on what was promised or just hand it back. Anything else is dishonest or even potentiall illegal in some cases.

  4. Desperate lines like pointing out where we (the people not just yes supporteres) are being systematic lied to… please.

  5. If there is one thing that Yes could have really done with, it’s paid organisers. People who can actually dedicate themselves 100% to the cause without worrying about keeping their professional and family lives intact. People who can afford to spend office hours sourcing the print runs and making sure everything has imprints.
    I’m not the fan of the Blue Book. It takes unnecessary pot-shots at Labour politicians and to my eye and mind serves to make Yes look more divisive than we can afford to be at this point. It’s rather reminiscent of the pamphlets my grandfather collected on Scottish nationalism in the 70s and 80s than the positivity of Yes, National Collective and Common Weal.
    Sadly, one of the biggest problems at this stage in the campaign is the grassroots campaign ourselves. Many campaigners want to know we’re winning, but no political campaign works like that so they move towards more desperate lines.

    • “If there is one thing that Yes could have really done with, it’s paid organisers. People who can actually dedicate themselves 100% to the cause without worrying about keeping their professional and family lives intact. People who can afford to spend office hours sourcing the print runs and making sure everything has imprints.”

      People who can afford to give up their job for a one-month contract – probably on a lower wage than they were on – which expects them to have all the skills and knowledge required to pick up and run a campaign from day one? Unless there’s a whole bunch of unemployed experienced organisers just waiting for such a job, then I don’t think it’s money that’s the stumbling block here.

      “I’m not the fan of the Blue Book. It takes unnecessary pot-shots at Labour politicians and to my eye and mind serves to make Yes look more divisive than we can afford to be at this point. It’s rather reminiscent of the pamphlets my grandfather collected on Scottish nationalism in the 70s and 80s than the positivity of Yes, National Collective and Common Weal.”

      I’m not a fan of the Yes newspapers, but I’m going to help deliver them anyway. I sat down to read the last one after spending an hour and a half delivering them, and I cringed at about every second page (not to mention the “free iPads!” thing…) And I know a lot of people are uncomfortable delivering them because they’re so blatantly an SNP production.

      I’ve canvassed people who say they want information, and all I have to give them is a wee booklet that skirts around any contentious issues. At least the Wee Blue Book tackles subjects that come up on the doorsteps head-on without worrying how the media will try to spin the contents. And let’s be honest, the kind of people who still haven’t made up their minds are hardly likely to randomly pop along to a Yestival event, or order a copy of the Common Weal book.

      “Sadly, one of the biggest problems at this stage in the campaign is the grassroots campaign ourselves.”

      If only we could just have one big mass of paid organisers, eh?

      • Give me some credit! Organisers for a month would have been less than useless – it takes most people a month just to get used to a new job. No, we should have had them for a year. Even if there were only 8 or 10 for the country they could have made a massive difference. Sourcing printing contracts on a regional basis, helping to organise super Saturdays and mass canvassess, preparing canvass, poster etc runs so that local organisers didn’t have to sit up in to the wee hours. Having someone who you can call on for support or advise when needed is a good thing.

        The newspapers, like a lot of political leaflets, are marketing trickery. It’s all about getting the impression of the front or rear page in people’s minds to create casual associations. I agree they are content light, but plenty of people – even supporters – won’t bother reading past the front page anyway. It’s why the My Choice leaflets are designed to be warm and welcoming, with the better quality paper, pastel colours and photos with advert-like inserts. It encourages people to open and read it. It’s soft text because it’s meant to demonstrate that people just like the undecided reader are voting yes. Yes it doesn’t work on no voters or cynics, but very little works on those two groups, much like how you are unlikely to persuade a veteran party political voter to vote for another party if they haven’t already been considering it. Campaigning is all about enabling people to make their minds up and saying yes, it’s a big change, but we’re going together on this one and it’s going to be great.

        Oh god no, although charging an hourly rate for leaflet deliveries (maybe in beer) would be nice. Grassroots should be connected by a network to help us work together and to provide support and advice – hence the name. Social media has taken up some of that slack, which is great, but there is an organisational level missing between branches and HQ, which is irritating because it also means we don’t have enough channels for feedback about the campaign to reach HQ.

      • A month is too short but there are volunteers out there who could shift to being paid and full time at a moment’s notice. Folk doing the work voluntarily but as and when they can allow – making them paid full time would still make a difference.

  6. The wee blue book is at least as useful as the newspapers, of which we have 2 more (2!!) issues to get out between now and the referendum. Maybe some of the money used to produce these could have been used for something more useful, as per your idea, or maybe some of the money spent on swanky yes offices in Hope street. We could go on like that all day, it doesn’t actually help one bit. We have what we have, and must make the best of it, and I’m sure the wee blue book will be a welcome addition.

    • P.S: You seem to have time to post this. The WBB is a quick read. You should have read it before writing this divisive post.

  7. That book is about confidence. It gives me the ability provide answers to the questions we hear again and again, where there isn’t room inside my head for all of them. when the printed one is here and I fully expect it this week I’ll be able to leave those thoughts for people who won’t go near the internet for them to digest.

    I don’t even understand the argument about printers taking ages, in this day when it’s already set up , a second run is done by pressing a button.

    This latest fund-raiser has happened because demand has far outstripped the supply of the first runs. people want hard copies because it helps them, it gives them confidence.

  8. I donated to Wings specifically for the purpose of getting more printed versions on the streets. If that excess goes to doubling or even trebling the print run then I’m all for it.

    Wholeheartedly support the views of Peter and Doug above.

    I doubt Kate Higgins would reciprocate if the roles were reversed.

  9. Anne it may be a Largs thing but I don’t think so . Among many of my friends (from North Ayrshire) and regrettably many of my extended family there is both an inability to articulate their No position and an irrational anger that anyone should be supporting Independence. They have it appears lost the ability of even affording civil discussion on Scotland’s future.

    The common factor is they are all middle aged or retired, well educated , comfortably off, and as you might guess ,Conservatives. Their unreasonable antagonistic attitude towards the SNP and all things Holyrood has clouded their judgement and ability to accept any reasoned debate on the Referendum. They are a lost cause.

    Whilst every No is a disappointment the Referendum will not be lost by these votes but won by the many who remain out with a comfortable social bubble where change is seen as a challenge and not a threat. There should be a comfortable surfeit of Yes in the Garnock Valley & Three Town areas to see off the West Kilbride to Largs Tories.

  10. “It’s all helpful in a kind of background sort of way in creating mood music but does any of it contribute to folk voting yes directly? I hae my doots.”

    Of course it does. Setting the mood leads on to a YES vote. Why do you think large selling outlets provide mood music? Because it has been proven to work. We wouldn’t be anywhere near a YES vote without RevStu and others on social media constantly fighting and producing material for the cause. We all help in whichever way we can. And the huge responses to Stu’s appeals is because YES voters know how effective he has been in countering the lies and mis/disinformation of the NO campaign and its attack dogs in the media so they see a contribution to him as being more worthy that to other organisations.

    As an aside, Surely the YES campaign and the SNP should be providing the cash to provide the sort of help you would like. Isn’t that what the many millions of £s they have received in donations are for?

  11. If people thought the fund raising was not for a worthy cause would they have donated surely it would be determined by public reaction.

  12. Surely a genuine “genuine plea” would have been made in an email, starting off something like “Stu, I realise we’ve had our differences, but I’ve had an idea…”?

    Instead, we get a public blog post that still manages to fire a few accusations at him, essentially calls the thing he’s spent the past few weeks slaving over useless, and suggests that he should tell all those folk that donated money “actually, I’m going to spend the money on this other thing instead. Sorry!”

    It’s been clear for well over a year that Wings just needs to start a fundraiser and people will donate. Surely the time to try and harness that fundraising ability to fund paid coordinators was several months ago, and not four weeks before the referendum, after he’d already raised the funds for something else?

    • I hadn’t noticed this sneaky wee lie before:

      “I’ll make no comment on the fact that this is the third fundraiser in little over eighteen months to raise money for something that has been asked for in each of the other fundraisers. ”

      No it’s not. The Wee Blue Book was first cited in our March 2014 fundraiser, with a budget of £15,000. We’re actually going to be spending several times that much on it, so we asked for top-up funds to make up the difference. This is therefore the SECOND fundraiser relating to the WBB, not the third.

  13. Not convinced about the ‘paid organiser’ idea being a better way to spend the money raised by Wings. Would probably end up most of the organisers being the usual “commu-ity” activist and/or politico suspects, i.e. people who many of the unengaged and missing million have ignored/avoided for the past few decades+. I agree timing tight, but many voters are only now (and in the coming weeks) giving the referendum their growing/full attention, so the Wee Blue Book is/will be reaching them at a time they will read (and talk about) it, not just put it in a pile of other stuff, leaflets etc.

    I also think (and have experienced) that Wings is reaching and bringing new, previously non-politically-active, people into the Yes movement, people who are confident and prepared (for the first time in their lives) to put their heads above the parapet (e.g. give the Wee Blue Book to friends and strangers). 2 key things about them: 1. they probably wouldn’t have done this a few months nor even weeks ago (too busy with life etc) and 2. they are more likely to be the people that undecideds and wavering ‘No’s are going to meet and/or calmly listen to in normal conversations than in-your-face ‘experienced’ campaigners.

    In my opinion the Wee Blue Book is already and is going to be a major tool/focal point/catalyst for the peer-to-peer part of the Yes movement/campaign which is, in my opinion, the critical one. So getting the Wee Blue Book printed and given to voters is an invaluable addition, not a distraction nor a use of Yes movement resources which could be better spent.

  14. Yeah, thanks for the advice. But surely nobody would accept money from a vile, abusive misogynist like me?

    • Stu, this is a genuine plea to spend the money you’ve raised on something that will help the grassroots campaign hugely. And help deliver a yes vote. I’m sorry that you can’t see that nor listen to the arguments for putting the money into something other than a publication.

      • I have no respect for your opinion about anything, Kate. You’ve done nothing but tell despicable lies about me in public for the last two years. But I also can’t imagine anything more unethical than having people donate money for the specific purpose of printing copies of a book, then turning round and saying “Actually, I’ve decided to spend it on something completely different and unrelated, so screw everyone who donated in good faith for that purpose.”

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  16. We might have hoped that, by this late stage in the campaign, we would have got beyond independence supporting commentators telling independence campaigners that they’re doing it wrong. Frankly, after the work that Stu Campbell has done for the Yes campaign and the success that he has had, it is gratingly presumptuous and impertinent to be so dismissive of his judgement on matters of his own campaigning strategy.

    This whole piece begs a very obvious question. If Kate Higgins thinks having full-time local organisers is so crucial, why have she and those who agree with her not made the effort to raise the necessary money? What makes them think they are entitled to a free ride on Wings Over Scotland’s fund-raising efforts?

  17. The money raised by WoS was raised for the specific purpose of printing and delivering books, so it wouldn’t be feasible to use it for anything else, even if they agreed with you. However, I don’t see why you don’t simply create an Indiegogo fundraiser for paying full-time organisers for the last month. I’m sure many people would support it.

  18. You don’t have a spare 1/2 hour to read the book?

  19. Great idea, I would support it whole heartly!
    Also, in my area (Largs) I’m finding No voting women (former friends) who cannot articulate WHY! As a woman myself I’m frustrated at the strong (almost angry) attitude of most of my friends? They won’t discuss the Ref. and claim to HATE Alex and Nicola? I’m pretty sure they haven’t (and won’t) read anything that Yes has produced.
    I find No voters and undecided are more likely to LISTEN to cheery, positive, smart Yes voters at the door, in a pub, cafe or other accidental meeting place.

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