Within Our Grasp: Summary

Overview —

This is a summary version of Within Our Grasp: A Campaign Strategy that will apply maximum pressure on the Westminster Government and achieve independence within three years of its commencement.


Robin McAlpine

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The independence movement is now at a crucial juncture. For five years many people believed there was a straight line from where we were to independence via a referendum agreed with the UK Government, awaiting only an electoral mandate. Too much faith was placed in a straight-line path opening up; the history of social and political change  suggests there are very few occasions where it occurs in simple ways or by following a route which it was possible to identify at the outset. Social and political change is almost  always found at the end of more complicated and less straightforward paths.

The independence movement should not have assumed that there was any likelihood of a process which involved asking for a referendum from a position of minority support in the polls, that referendum being granted and then won in the space of six months with minimal  preparation. It may have been reassuring to believe in a quick and simple shortcut that delivered the outcome that was so desired but the biggest impact of holding that belief has been to suppress a much-needed focus on preparation.

Despite this, delivering Scottish independence in three years is entirely possible if, as a movement, we do the right things now. All the raw materials of a coordinated campaign and the environmental factors which will enable that campaign to succeed exist in Scotland. It is in largely in the independence movement’s hands if we want to make rapid progress towards independence.

That is a much more optimistic opening position than that faced by many campaigns which went on to succeed. We start with enormous advantages; we just need to start using them.


― The independence movement has many strong advantages just now but needs to be more realistic about its weaknesses. By far and away the biggest weakness is that we still do not demonstrably and consistently carry a majority of Scottish voters with us. Until that changes the lack of majority will become a barrier sooner or later and since there is no prospect of a close-at-hand referendum there is no case for postponing further the development and execution of a campaign designed to achieve a consistent, substantial pro-independence majority.

― The final goal of an independence movement is an agreement with rUK. The easiest way to do that is to agree mutually on a binding referendum and negotiation process (effectively a Section 30 Order) but there are other routes to reaching that agreement – so long as we remain focussed on getting there.

― The only routes to independence that should be categorically ruled out are anything that involves violence or anything that expects it to be achieve under UK law but without a public vote. The former is simply unacceptable, the latter is an illusion that won’t work.

― They can then be ranked in desirability but we should not make too many assumptions about ‘which one will work’. They all lead back to negotiation with rUK – even a unilateral declaration of independence would have the goal of quickly achieving an agreement. The only mistakes would be either to rule out options or to pursue them too quickly.

― An escalating Pressure campaign implemented in a properly coordinated way will make it harder for the Westminster Government to continue to refuse the democratic mandate of Scotland.

― The campaign will be escalated as quickly as the Scottish public allow and to the point where it becomes politically more “painful” for the UK Government to refuse independence than to recognise it.

― A non-party campaign vehicle should be formed to coordinate the pressure campaign and a “Transition Council” of experts charged with beginning the process of setting up the infrastructure of independence would serve both to signal that we’re serious with our campaign and to build public confidence in the transition to independence.

― It is estimated that it would take around three years from the commencement of the campaign to build sufficient pressure to result in independence. The longer we wait to start, the longer it will take to finish.

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