Independence seems to be slipping down the agenda. A cacophony of debates surrounding issues such as trans rights, the Deposit Return Scheme or Farage’s bank account often seem to take precedence. While these conversations are undeniably important, there’s a risk that the issue of independence — a factor crucial to solving so many of Scotland’s problems — is being sidelined.
When independence is part of the discourse, it often turns into a discussion about the choice between referendums versus elections, or whether Westminster will manage to ignore yet another mandate.
I’m afraid the hard truth is this: if given the chance, Westminster will choose to ignore Scotland. The number of marches, the size of pro-independence majorities at Holyrood or Westminster and the outcry on social media are inconsequential if Westminster believes it can comfortably look the other way.
Though this might seem unfair, it is simply a reflection of global political realities. The international community tends to defer to Westminster’s stance when deciding whether to recognise Scottish independence. This is not because they are against Scotland, but due to their reluctance to recognise Scottish independence and face potential complications if Scotland is “persuaded” by Westminster to reverse its decision.
The strategic response to this conundrum lies in making it easier for Westminster to let Scotland go than to keep the UK united. This involves making Scotland’s independence an unignorable issue, becoming a thorn in Westminster’s side. And this needs to happen intelligently, unitedly and non-violently.
This is not a new idea – Craig Dalȝell wrote two excellent blog posts about this three years ago. He described five escalating phases (my summary):
- Phase Zero – Awareness and Normalisation: The current state of affairs where the primary task is to establish Scottish independence as a reasonable political position. Raising awareness about the independence movement and expanding the political Overton Window to accommodate Scottish independence are essential actions in this phase.
- Phase One – Confrontation: This phase necessitates an intensification in the dialogue between the advocates for Scottish independence and the UK Government. The key is more active resistance in political settings and in public forums – the advocates should insist on clear responses to their questions and not be satisfied with evasion. Other critical actions in this phase include creating a broader coalition in favour of the democratic principle, establishing groundwork like a Scottish Statistics Agency to understand Scotland’s assets and debts, and enhancing activism through letters, media presence and public dialogues.
- Phase Two – Mockery and Boycott: In this phase, artists and creatives can use their talents to challenge and humorously critique the unionist campaign. Activists are encouraged to intensify canvassing to identify and gather supporters of independence, even potentially infiltrating unionist rallies. The public and businesses could initiate boycotts against entities that fund or support unionist campaigns, disrupting their operations and visibility.
- Phase Three – Civil Obedience: This phase encourages the principle of “work to rule” to cause disruptions in various operations. In Parliament, this may involve members adhering strictly to every rule to obstruct proceedings. Activists within pro-Union parties are encouraged to work towards shifting party stance. Marches and protests need to escalate to disrupt UK governance more effectively.
- Phase Four – Civil Disobedience: As the final stage, this involves peaceful, non-violent civil disobedience. However, it’s important to stress that the hope is that the pressure campaign will never have to reach this point, due to the legal ramifications and potential sanctions associated with such actions. This phase could include public boycotting of unjust laws or UK taxes, and political disruptions like targeted walkouts and protests. However, it’s essential that all actions are carefully considered, coordinated and proportionate to the situation.
Sadly, nothing has happened. We’re stuck in Phase Zero, and potentially even regressing from it as independence seems less and less possible. I believe this is because everybody has been waiting for instructions from the Yes movement, but it is currently fragmented, and the largest party, the SNP, lost its mojo a while ago.
I believe the way to regain the momentum is to establish a new activist organisation. This should focus solely on independence, and in particular on making Westminster accept Scotland’s right to choose its own future, freeing the various pro-indy parties to pursue their own policies in other areas.
The journey towards the goal should be pursued through planned stages, as described in Craig Dalȝell’s articles. Starting with raising awareness, moving to confrontation, progressing to mockery and boycott, adopting civil obedience, and ultimately, if necessary, resorting to civil disobedience. Each of these stages ramps up the pressure on Westminster, making it clear that ignoring the Scottish independence question will only lead to further complications for them.
But how should such an organisation be structured? Traditional structures, like political parties, are vulnerable. They can be overtaken by careerists or infiltrated by Unionists. A case in point is the SNP: Although strong leadership has its merits, it can create a single point of failure. What is needed is a more resilient, flexible model.
The cell model (see the PS below for a description) offers a better solution: a network of semi-autonomous cells, each operating independently but guided by a shared mission. This offers flexibility and resilience, enabling quick responses to changes on the ground. To ensure a unified direction, all cells should adhere to statutes that set out the mission, principles and boundaries of action. They should also communicate with each other using encrypted social media.
Cells might engage in a variety of activities. Some might focus on creating social media shitstorm opposing Westminster’s dismissive attitude to an independence referendum. Others might aim to disrupt Westminster proceedings. Some may even operate from abroad, targeting public opinion in other countries to garner international support for the cause.
Guiding principles for all actions should be based on Craig Dalȝell’s phases, providing a roadmap for cells and ensuring everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet. This phased approach will also allow some cells to be semi-dormant until their specific phase begins, planning future actions meticulously in the meantime.
This is not a call to chaos. It’s about showing Westminster that ignoring the Scottish independence question is more trouble than addressing it. With unity, strategic pressure and a bit of Scottish resolve, it is possible to turn the independence question from a problem Westminster can ignore into a problem they must solve.
If enough people agree that this needs doing, the first step is drafting a constitution and statutes for both the organisation as a whole and for the individual cells.
The Unionists may believe they’ve found a way to prevent independence from ever happening, but there is always a way forward. With a shared vision, strategic pressure and resilience, Scottish independence can move from dream to reality.
PS: Here’s ChatGPT’s description of the cell model:
The cell model, also known as the cellular organisation structure, is a method of organisation frequently used in resistance movements, revolutionary groups and even some business models for its efficiency and resilience.
The fundamental concept is that the entire organisation is broken down into small, semi-autonomous groups, or “cells”. Each cell operates independently of the others, but all share a common goal or mission. The size of the cell can vary, but they are often kept small to maintain efficiency, security and flexibility.
Here’s a more detailed breakdown of the cell model:
- Autonomy: Each cell operates independently, which allows for a high degree of flexibility. If circumstances change, individual cells can adapt quickly without needing to wait for decisions or directives from a higher authority.
- Security: The independent nature of cells also means that if one cell is compromised (by an adversary or infiltrator, for example), the damage can be contained, and the rest of the organisation remains protected. This compartmentalisation limits the amount of information any one cell has about the others, reducing the risk of a single point of failure.
- Coordination: Although cells operate independently, they often follow a shared set of principles, goals, or strategies. This ensures that, despite their autonomy, they are all working towards the same end. This coordination can be achieved through various means, such as secure communication channels, shared operational doctrines, or regular meetings between cell leaders.
- Diversity of Activities: Since each cell operates autonomously, they can be tailored to carry out specific types of activities. For example, one cell might focus on public awareness and advocacy, another on logistics and supplies, and yet another on strategic planning or direct action. This diversity can make the overall movement more resilient and effective.
- Redundancy and Resilience: If a cell is taken down or becomes inactive, the structure of the organisation doesn’t collapse because other cells continue their work. This provides a level of redundancy and resilience that can be crucial for the survival of resistance movements.
- Diffusion of Power: Power and decision-making are distributed throughout the organisation, rather than being concentrated at the top. This can prevent the emergence of a single point of failure and can encourage more creativity and initiative at all levels.
In a nutshell, the cell model provides an organisation with flexibility, resilience, security and the ability to operate effectively even under conditions of uncertainty or hostility.