This paper will make a single core argument – that Scottish independence cannot be achieved without a unified strategy. A unified strategy does not mean conformity, but it does mean that everyone is pushing in broadly the same direction and everyone understands why they’re pushing in any given direction. It means that someone has responsibility for everything that needs to be done. It means a shared resources base (from tracking information on public attitudes to providing comms support to supplying briefing materials). Campaigns do not win without a unified strategy because they either fragment or push in opposing directions.
This paper will set out a structural framework for a strategy to achieve Scottish independence and then seek to populate that framework with specific approaches. The framework is based on clear evidence of what needs to be done and why; the content inside that framework is a creative attempt to flesh out the structure. It is intended as the basis for discussion of what a unified strategy should look like; it is not intended as a non-negotiable statement of ‘what must happen’.
The paper will take a simple structure. It will begin by setting a context of how to create a strategy by asking (from first principles) what it is a strategy has to achieve. Having set out where we need to get to it will assess where we are. That will throw up a series of four specific tasks which need to be completed to achieve independence, each of which will be explored individually and solutions put forward. A final section will then take the total of what has been proposed in the paper and will look at how we can build the infrastructure and content to deliver the strategy and assess how quickly we can achieve it.
― Gaining Scottish independence means international recognition and the best way to gain that is to gain a recognition agreement from the UK – our ultimate task is therefore to drag the UK to the negotiating table. Everything else is the means of reaching that goal.
― To win the “Settled Will” of the Scottish people means understanding how and why people make decisions and how we can influence those decisions. The best proxy indicator that the ‘will’ of the Scottish people has been reached will be for independence support to overtake the total number of votes cast for No in the 2014 independence referendum.
― Persuading people who currently do not support independence means listening to what they think and feel. The best evidence suggests that many such voters like the vision of a ‘better Scotland’ that the independence movement puts forward but broadly do not believe that we are prepared to create it. We cannot improve confidence in our ability to deliver through better slogans or by making independence ‘less exciting’.
― Listening to our target audience reveals that the problem is not with the vision of independence itself but with a balance of hope versus fear. People can be convinced by increasing the fear of not supporting independence, by improving the benefits of changing their mind and increasing their hope for independence or by reducing the fear involved with changing their mind.
― Many policy issues such as currency, managing borders and national finances require clear and evidenced answers as well as a means of building confidence in the delivery of those answers. A National Commission should be set up to actively prepare Scotland for independence and be seen to be doing so effectively.
― In terms of campaigning, the most powerful means available to independence activists is direct, peer-to-peer engagement backed by a structured campaign. Modern methods developed in the US for this type of campaigning have been shown to be around 3 times more effective than traditional door-knocking campaigns and 30 times more effective than advertising on Facebook.
― The mechanism of demonstrating the ‘Settled Will’ of the Scottish people must be democratic and may but needn’t be another referendum. The mechanism is not the goal, the goal is to bring the UK to the negotiating table. Other mechanisms may be a plebiscite via a UK General or Scottish Parliamentary election (though these routes have problems), or may involve other options such as a mass petition similar to the Scottish Covenant run between 1949-1951.
― Should these options fail, then the Scottish independence movement would begin an Escalating Pressure campaign including the strategic and coordinated use of Non-Violent Direct Action. These actions will only be possible once the ‘Settled Will’ target has been achieved and the broad consensus in the Scottish public is that there are no options left except to begin to escalate the campaign.
― The independence movement has got lost. It has been following a ‘strategy’ which wasn’t a strategy at all and has gone so far up a wrong turn that we need to work our way back to the beginning and start again. The faster we get to that place, the faster Scotland will become an independent country.