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.