Mike Russell: Path to Independence

Mike Russell

Our Greater Glasgow Group invited Mike Russell, former MSP and Cabinet Secretary, to their October online meeting. Having retired from Holyrood in May this year, Mike is focussing on his job of SNP President and his recent appointment as political director of the SNP Independence Unit.

He began with some reflections on the murder of David Amess which had happened just that morning.

Then moving on to the main theme of his talk he talked about :

  • we need to have an independence campaign where we meet people, talk to them and change their minds, convert them to independence ….that is very different from the Holyrood election campaign and it won’t be possible till we’re further out of Covid
  • he stressed that Scottish Government have said clearly that they will introduce an Independence Referendum Bill at Holyrood and then it’s up to Westminster to decide what they will do.

Mike described three tasks which he has given himself in his new position:

  • start the flow of information again. The SNP is doing that and so are organisations like Believe in Scotland, 
  • establish better relationships across the whole of the independence movement. Find ways to work together positively and courteously while agreeing to differ on some issues. He has started that process by getting together with some Yes Movement groups to create a Transition Constitution for a newly independent Scotland.
  • build up the capabilities of the SNP to go into a referendum, in terms of its structures, etc.

In terms of what independence will mean, Mike reckons that we have many of the same questions now as we did in 2014. But some of those questions will have different answers now. They may need fresh answers after the pandemic and after Brexit. And we will need to provide solid information on those issues.

Listen here:

You can listen / share / download the recording of the meeting here:

Here are some of the questions and issues we discussed with Mike:

  • How will you deal with the level of state pension and the fears that will no doubt be stepped up again about losing it?
  • We need a commitment and concrete information about currency. It’s clear from our stalls that people need that commitment.
  • Is SNP still using the Sustainable Growth Commission as a basis for going forward? or are you drawing up a new approach? Which groups are you working with?
  • Has Scottish Government given up on Section 30 route and is instead going straight to a refernedum?
  • Are Labour party supporter the most obvious group of voters to target in terms of bringing  more people to Yes.
  • The UKGov commissions its own Scottish polls. Can they be forced to release the results? Could ScotGov commission its own polls?
  • Why can’t we build ferries here in Scotland?
  • Part of challenge we have is getting good information into sound bites. How do we get our own slogans out there. And also target them to age groups. Led By Donkeys has done a good job in getting people’s attention.
  • The independent commission on referendums met in 2017 and have reported on the rules of practice on referendums. They recommended against any kind of super majority or voting thresholds. Is the Scottish Government taking this into account in its Referendum Bill?

Winning the Argument for IndyRef2 – Lessons to Learn

This month, Glasgow Pensioners for Indy group invited Roger Mullin to their online meeting.

Roger Mullin is a long-standing campaigner for Scottish independence. He was MP for Kirkcaldy & Cowdenbeath the seat formerly held by one Gordon Brown. Between 2015-2017 Roger was the Westminster Treasury Spokesman for SNP. He was also the first UK Parliamentarian to enter Mosul, Iraq, during the battle with Daesh. He is a humanitarian campaigner and has contributed to international bodies like UNESCO & World Bank.

The theme of Roger’s talk is about an economic analysis project he has initiated with a small group of volunteers. Its aim is to change the narrative of the way the Indy Movement talks about post-Indy economics. For too long we have been reacting to the Unionist economic narrative which is framed as the cost of independence. We haven’t had a proper of analysis of the cost of dependence.

Roger’s economic analysis group aims to produce three analyses:

  1. a quantitive analysis of 40 years of economic data, captured from seven international database sources, looking at countries broadly similar to Scotland.
  2. a timeline of major economic decisions made by UK gov; and from that find out if those decisions have harmed Scotland prospects
  3. a timeline of decision taken by those other countries in same time period; and and see what position Scotland could have been in today had we followed their example.

The outcomes from those analyses:

  • boost confidence in need to pursue independence amongst those not yet decided
  • press opponents to explain why the Union has led us into this position.
  • publications for expert economics
  • information which can be used for leaflets, images for direct campaigning messages
  • a website for yes movement which will have all the data available to anyone who wants to, interactive 
  • the analysis will continue into the future after independence and will need funding but at moment everyone is doing it pro bono, deliberately show its independence from any particular group or political party.

You can listen to / share / download the talk here. Roger speaks for about 30 mins and there is a Q&A session afterwards:

Some of the discussion topics with Roger:

  • re collating data, is there enough data that is specific to Scotland? 
  • The data will be very interesting. How well will it distil into simple messages that will break through to people, particularly to our age group? and how do we get it across? MSM won’t do it, we’ll need to be creative with that. Maybe use Led By Donkeys style methods.
  • Will the project go into the kinds of priorities that a small nation  can have? thinking of defence, etc
  • Do you have any thoughts about what might be different from 2013 in IndyRef2 campaign? either from the Yes side or the No side but also the Brexit side?
  • What do you think about the manipulation of data and expectations that come from unionist side? 
  • Sounds as if your economic project will highlight bad decisions made by Westminster. Our age group are well placed to relate to those – we have lived through many fo them – and we are well placed to tell younger people about them and about the effect they had on us.

Day of Action & Local Groups’ Round-Up

Now that Covid restrictions have been eased, Pensioners for Indy have been getting out and about again and were there in force for the Believe in Scotland Sept 18th Day of Action last Saturday. Here’s what been going on….

Edinburgh & Lothians group

The stall was set out on Saturday and had a visit from Gordon McIntrye-Kemp, the instigator of Believe in Scotland. That’s him on the right. Other folk were out leafletting in the nearby streets.

Daniel commented: We were in Bruntsfield Place, down from Holy Corner. It was an interesting stall day. A lot of negative comment from very obvious Unionists. Politely refuted and sent on their ways. Almost exhausted our 400 copies of the top notch BusinessforScotland 30 pager supplement. Good effort by all involved.

Edinburgh & Lothians Pensioners4Indy, 18th Sept 2021

Ayrshire Group

Our Ayr group were also back on the streets for the Day of Action. The first time they’ve campaigned out and about since the lockdown.

Selkirk & District

Next up is our Selkirk & District Group. Again out with their stall for the Believe in Scotland Day of Action. We really like their stall signs : Yes Already? Undecided? Definitely No? whichever anyone was, the Scotland the Brief booklet was there to take away.

From Jane: following the conversations we often have at our stalls with younger Yessers, one of our group has set up a Yes Selkirk Facebook group. We hope this will encourage sharing ideas and activities across the generations.

Greater Glasgow

The folk in Glasgow have been back on the streets campaigning for some months now. On Saturday there were two stalls, one out in Milngavie and one in Argyl Street. It took some perseverance to get to their spot near Miller Street – they had to find a way in avoiding the roads blocked off for Orange Lodge Marches. But once there, they had a good time.

Mary says: On Saturday 18th, with most of the city centre closed off for Orange Walks, it took 45 minutes to drive the 10 minute journey from Dennistoun to Argyle Street but we made it in the end. Greater Glasgow Pensioners for Indy had a great Day of Action with stalls both in Argyle Street and in Milngavie (thanks to Anna Gillies!) Great chat, generous donations and a new wee dug!

And some news and changes about the Glasgow Group’s Tuesday stall: The Tuesday mini-stall at Glasgow Green with banners from the National Banner Library is moving to the same Argyle Street site as on a Thursday and will be the full-on stall with the gazebo and all.  That way we hope to have more footfall amongst the passers-by. It will also be handier for volunteers coming in from the West End.  The time remains the same: Tuesdays from 2pm-4pm.

If you’re free on Thursdays, you can find the stall from 12-2pm at Miller St / Argyl St corner. The Milngavie stall is in the centre of the town every other Friday.

Interested in helping our stall teams?

All help is gladly accepted! Just email info@pensionersforindependence.scot, tell us where you live and we’ll put you in touch with our local stall team. And if there’s not a local team, we’ll have a chat with you to see if we can help you start one. 😀

Glasgow P4Indy Indy Trailer

A couple of months back we sent out a news flash to our mailing list with details of the offer from Scottish Independence Foundation (SIF) to fund converting ordinary common or garden trailers into Indy Trailers.

Since then Alan Logue, of Greater Glasgow Pensioners for Indy, successfully applied to SIF and he’s now in the process of transforming his trailer. Here’s how it started off

Here’s how it looks now…. Note that the relative height of the transformed trailer and Alan’s garage door is crucial!

Next step will be to get the Indy Banners and Boards attached to the frame. And then Alan will be off driving round Glasgow. He has a cunning plan. He’s going to get out into the Glasgow rush hour. Driving along in slowly moving traffic will give other drivers a decent opportunity to read the banners!

We’ll keep you informed when that happens. In the meantime if you want to find out more or you’d like to ask Alan any questions, get in touch with us using this Contact Page.

Or you can contact SIF directly here. This is one of their trailers: