Emptying the pool

As a Yes supporter, and activist, I often feel that combating the anti-independence lies and deceptions is like emptying a swimming pool using a teaspoon, you'll get there eventually but it takes an awful long time. It isn't that our arguments are poor or that we don't have the skills to present them, it is just that we don't have access to the means of mass communication. No sooner do we make some progress than the mainstream media turn on their taps and the pool rapidly fills again.

I was reminded of this recently in a Twitter exchange with Peter A. Bell when he expressed his frustration that the public remain blind to Westminster's treatment of Scotland and of our representatives. The public aren't blind, they just haven't seen. The problem, of course, is that very few people are aware of what really happens at Westminster. For those with the inclination it is possible to watch Parliament TV or the BBC Parliament channel and get the raw information from a primary source, but that is only for the dedicated politics geeks. Every other source is filtered: TV channels can edit clips, newspapers can ignore inconvenient truths and radio stations invite "experts" to put the news in context. Even the veritable Hansard is flawed because it may archive the truth of the spoken word but cannot convey the feel of debates and committees. If only the undecided or soft No voter could see the rows of empty Tory & Labour benches as important debates take place or hear the jeers whenever a Scottish MP rises to speak.

People who do not actively search out political news, and those are very much the majority, still get fed a diet of misinformation through accidental consumption of the mainstream media. This is the power of the TV news trailer as people wait for Eastenders to start or the misleading newspaper front page headline seen from a distance. I can still recall vividly the feeling of elation after a day's campaigning, in 2014, as I felt we had really got our message across to the undecided voters we spoke to. My elation was short-lived however when I encountered the wall of newspaper front pages displayed at the local fuel station, every headline was a dire warning about independence. It wasn't just my home town area, every fuel station, supermarket and newsagents across the country would have had the same display; our efforts seemed puny in comparison.

Perhaps our small scale, activist led campaigning against the mainstream media machine is a complete waste of time and we should all just admit defeat now before the referendum has even been announced. Except, we have two huge advantages on our side: firstly once people convert to Yes it seems very few ever return to No and secondly there are potentially thousands of us out there just itching to start campaigning. Put these two things together and we've got a winning combination. We came close in 2014 but this time we win.

To really make our activist led campaigning successful we need to ensure that our alternative media is properly funded and this leads me on to a suggestion that might be really difficult for some independence supporters. It might involve going cold turkey on your Eastenders habit. Instead of funding the mainstream media use your money to help the indie supporting websites, magazines and new media organisations. Cancel your subscription to that daily newspaper (but not The National or Sunday Herald, of course), stop paying the BBC TV tax and instead use the money to help fund your favourite indie organisation. To give you some ideas we have listed three well known indie groups who are currently crowdfunding and are certainly worthy of your support.

There are many more worthy groups out there and you'll know who they are. Feel free to add any names in the comments section below.

Let's make it a win-win for independence by withdrawing our funds from the mass media propaganda machine and get our new media funded instead. We may only be armed with teaspoons but we have the power of thousands on our side.



Comments

Jo Craven 1 year, 9 months ago

I agree with your point in that there are many worthy indy groups out there needing our financial support, however I would take exception with independence live. This is a group I donated to in previous crowdfunders, however no longer. I think some folks may think that when they give to independence live, all the volunteers benefit from this, nothing could be further from the truth. There is one ‘coordinator’ and all the funds go to him. Others who may volunteer to live stream have to cover their own costs. This includes equipment, travel and of course these streams use up their personal data allowance for their mobile broadband. These people make a huge investment when they volunteer! This may be the reason that independence live has had a very difficult time recruiting volunteers around Scotland. One other thing that really concerns me with this group (and others) is the lack of transparency when it comes to financial accounting. These groups rely of donations, however many are not registered (as a charity or community group) in any way and no accounts are published for public scrutiny. . This has to change. We need transparency when handling other peoples money.

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Editor 1 year, 9 months ago

@Jo
Thanks for the comment. My assessment was based on viewing some Independence Live output rather than their internal structure & funding arrangements of which I have no knowledge. We would welcome any comments from representatives of Independence Live who may want to put their side of the situation.

On the general point about financial transparency for groups seeking funding I would agree that would be a good thing. As I stated in the article there a probably thousands of groups and individuals who campaign and a good proportion of those will raise funds not only through crowdfunders but also raffles, street stalls, coffee mornings etc. I have no idea who would have the resources, influence and motivation to enforce some transparency. Caveat emptor? Due diligence?

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Marjorie Wilson 1 year, 9 months ago

The main problem for the independence campaign is the biased coverage by the mainstream media - most newspapers and the BBC. It is great that we have pro-independence print media such as the National and iScot, as well as several internet sites; but it's not enough. I doubt if they are read by many people who are not already Yes supporters taking an intelligent interest in current affairs. They don't appeal to the very people we need to persuade. If we could raise enough money, what is needed is ideally our own TV channel, and certainly our own pro-independence tabloid newspaper, to provide an alternative for those who don't want the serious news content and commentary of the National. We need a paper with a much lighter tone, where the political reporting is understated and seems incidental to the general human interest type news items. Readers of the Sun are just not going to start reading the National!

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Editor 1 year, 9 months ago

@Marjorie
You are correct about some publications only being read by those already taking an "intelligent interest in current affairs" but there isn't much we can do to change that situation. I don't believe the two major broadcasters get big audiences for any of their politics programmes and they have more resources at their disposal than we do.

Although it would be tremendous to have a TV station or a mass circulation newspaper supporting independence I would very much doubt it will happen before the next referendum. TV stations are hugely expensive to set up and even if we had an independence supporting Rupert Murdoch type there would be numerous regulatory hurdles to overcome. A new TV station isn't going to happen. A new newspaper being launched is almost as unlikely as the existing publications are patently struggling in a maturing market. An existing title converting to Yes could happen but I wouldn't bet the ranch on it.

I think we have no alternative than to continue with the same type of campaigning as we did previously. The upside is that most people when moving to Yes don't return to No. It is then down to all of us who support independence to go out an talk to our family, friends, neighbours, etc. and convince them of the merits of voting Yes. The alternative media is needed as a tools to help us (and the Yes supporting groups) in the task ahead.

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Kevin Gibney Independence Live 1 year, 9 months ago

Hi

Independence Live is technically setup like a wee football team or fishing group that allowed us to get a community/business bank account to accept donations etc. This makes things more transparent for the group and to stop any accusations that the money was going to one person. All donations that are given to Independence Live go into this account. All crowdfunding also goes into this account. Everything is tracked what goes in and what goes out from the account.

The only reason we do crowdfunding is to keep our only fulltime employee working on what is basically minimum wages. Once a crowdfunder is completed our fulltime employee invoices Independence Live for his fulltime work on Independence Live. This means that money donated to Independence Live is effectively kept seperately from the crowdfunding money and our only fulltime employee.

We currently have about £2000 in our bank account. About 50% of that was raised from doing a bucket collection at the Scottish Independence Convention. It came as a complete shock to us the amount that was kindly donated by the people at the event. Each person from Indy Live (about 10 of us) at that event got £20 for travel costs with the rest going to Indy Live.

We do have some recurring monthly costs I think that being the online accounting service we use. Other money generally goes on bits and pieces of equipment as well as some travel stuff if its above and beyond the call of duty. If we go to events we my take a bucket along that helps pay for petrol and travel costs which is split equally among those who are there. Most events like demos and anti-poverty, racism etc we goto without buckets.

We also have a yearly Livestream.com Premium account that we need to pay for which with the current exchange from $ to £ is about £2000. This we do as a crowdfunder and is included in our latest crowdfunder which you read about on the crowdfunder page.

We have setup and ran our own events in the past including Veterans for Independence. The veterans involved went onto setup their own group Veterans for Independence 2.0 and attend many events around Scotland to talk about why they want independence. We also helped to push Business for Scotland in the early days to ordinary people so as they could hear the economic reasons for Scottish independence. We do much more than livestreaming and that has always been the case.

As part of what we do we encourage groups and individuals to livestream and offer support if they need it. We are very excited about the possible develpopments with The National Yes Registry which is why we have been supporting them from the beginning and see that as away to get more people watching livestreams and not just our livestreams etc. We also as a strategy have been seeking to become editors on relevant facebook pages and groups...

Crowdfunder:
https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/glasgow-studio-more-freedom/x/2910307#/

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Editor 1 year, 9 months ago

@Kevin
Thanks for the comment and the explanation.

I have also updated our link to your new crowdfunder (why don't Indiegogo put dates on their pages?).

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Kevin Gibney Indy Live 1 year, 9 months ago

Hi, I tried to reply to Jo above but just didn't work. Anyway great livestream tomorrow from the Indy Live Glasgow office with Eric Joyce and Steven Parnell - from No to Yes. See our website and follow us on twitter, Facebook etc

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Editor 1 year, 9 months ago

@Kevin
We have disabled threaded comments as most folk miss new comments if they appear in the middle somewhere. Replies just go to the bottom, in chronological order.

The link to the Eric Joyce & Steven Purcell Livestream is:
https://livestream.com/IndependenceLive/JoycePurcell

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