Friday, 14 November 2014

What is Yes In The Community up to?

Since the referendum we have learned that the Police Scotland investigation we won into Glasgow City Council malfeasance has yet to lead to a prosecution.  We are disappointed in this, but are continuing to seek redress, as testimony continues to pour in about malpractice in Scotland's largest, Red Tory run Council.


We have organised to send over 6000 personal submissions to the Smith Commission, arguing for 100% Home Rule.  We are building a Home Rule Covenant, which we are extending across Scotland with a number of mass signings planned outside institutions which have a hand in delivering 'The Vow.'  We also organised a mass signing of the Home Rule Covenant outside the Labour Party's Glasgow HQ.  This followed a march around locations in Glasgow connected to Lord Smith which won press attention and which we sent a write up about to Lord Smith and his Commission.  We are hosting another mass signing event outside Lord Smith's fracking HQ at the Weir Group in Glasgow 2 days before Lord Smith decides whether we are are to get powers over energy and the ability to stop fracking. 

[See facebook event for forthcoming mass signing: https://www.facebook.com/events/738128892907472/?fref=ts#]

We began preparatory work to build a local social movement to help bring Johann Lamont to account.  Between the end of the referendum and her resignation we had organised several canvass sessions in her constituency.  She chose to fall on her sword as Labour leader before her community could bring her to account.  We remain confident the people of Glasgow Pollok will pay her no special sympathy vote in 2016, however.

We have held a conference to discuss our strategic direction, meeting in Glasgow's YES bar.  Out of this conference we are launching a week of action, from the day Lord Smith publishes his report on how he believes 'The Vow' should be honoured.  This week of action will ensure jobcentres across Scotland are canvassed, and those who we signed up during the independence campaign to the electoral register are asked if they indeed got their vote.  We will ensure that publications spelling out just how important voting again in the UK elections in 2015 is to kicking out the Red Tories, and how that's connected to devolving powers over welfare to Scotland for ending the humanitarian crisis.

We have been meeting with rally and protest organisers across the country.  There is a task to be done in bringing the YES movement together.  In the past YES HQ had named contacts who were 'organisers' who they spoke to regularly.  This was what ensured continuity the most.  In the absence of this basic infrastructure many people are reinventing the wheel, replicating work that is going on elsewhere or not otherwise benefitting from economies of scale.  There is a need to bring people together thru relationships and networks, and so we are engaged in an ongoing 121 campaign meeting as many people as possible face to face.

One of the things we intend to be doing much more of over the coming few months is extending social movement organising training on a cost basis to the movement.  We know that there is a real hunger for engagement in this great movement of ours.  We think this engagement would be greatly more effective if it was informed by social movement organising methods and disciplines, and we believe the movement would be much much more powerful than it has been till now.  If you would like to book a training or find out more, please get in touch.

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WANT TRAINED IN SOCIAL MOVEMENT ORGANISING?
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The YES movement and social movement methodology

Where we are?

During the referendum Scotland's mass movement for democracy and commonweal had a single task - to convert support for its goals to votes in a ballot box.  Today the tasks of this same mass movement  - the largest Scotland has seen in perhaps 400 years - are much more varied, as the fight for commonweal politics and democracy will not be won with just one vote on the horizon in the immediate future.

The YES movement is comprised mostly of people who have never been politically active before.  As a result it is not overly skilled at social movement organising.  What it lacks in skill it makes up for in raw numbers.  During the peak of the YES campaign the YES movement saw 1 in 8 adult Scots become a participant.


Keeping supporters motivated, keeping leaders participating, and connecting the immediate needs of communities suffering the effects of Westminster cuts is a strategic challenge.  Connecting those struggles which emerge locally to a wider picture, informing those who made a mistake, and battling right wing propaganda and Unionism is a tactical and logistical challenge. 

The danger of resignation.

One of the strategic concerns for the YES movement (continuing) is whether it will continue to be able to command the support of 1 in 8 adult Scots in some level of participation.  1 in 50 adult Scots is now in the SNP and 1 in 45 is now in a YES party, but this represents roughly a third of the most politicised layer of people who participated in the YES campaign.  Many of those who have not joined a political party will continue to be active at a local level, but there is a real concern that absent infrastructure and institutions with short, medium and long term goals many comrades will wonder what the point is of their continuing participation.  This is particularly true of that part of the movement which indicated its support and made our movement so democratic and visible, but which was not the 'go to meetings, sort out the leaflet run, chap doors' component.

Relationships matter.  Without the ongoing relationship between the leaders of this movement (those chapping doors, and organising things), and its base, forged by its connection to bread and butter concerns, much of this base will find it difficult to stay motivated.  Life, the weans, the shitey jobs market, poverty, whatever else - ideals are great, but what brought this enormous base to life and so rocked the British state to its foundations was that 1 in 8 people in Scotland were actively campaigning for *immediate* social change.  There is no reason that absent independence their hope should become resigned apathy again, or that they should stop campaigning for *immediate* social change.  If we can't connect our longterm aims to their immediate concerns hope will become resignation.  We need the tools to build the relationships to turn the dial the other way - to turn up the volume on hope. 



What social movement organising is?

Social movement organising aims to use the force of people, principally thru physical turnout, but also thru turnout at public actions, to influence decisions and the popular narrative.  Typically the goal of public action is to enter into negotiation, and to win concessions towards your programme.  Any victory confirms to the participants that they have power.  In Scotland in most of our communities and in most of our workplaces people don't feel that they exercise very much power.  That's why hope became so catalysing. 


How can social movement organising help our movement?

Social movement organising which we are all (by dint of the now protracted campaign for democracy and commonweal) involved in, is a studied discipline in building power.  In trade unions paid organising staff have a specific job to do, which builds power and solidarity at work and in the union.  They follow a methodology in doing this.  In a number of communities across the UK professional organisers ply their trade for various NGOs and community based institutions, to build power and solidarity in the community.  These techniques, Issue based organising, styles of 121 conversations, mapping, pushing and power analysis are all areas of social movement organising in which the YES movement remains weak.  These methods, central to successful social movements which exist for the long haul, and not just the short great lowp, can be trained fairly successfully.  Wherever they are implemented they give leaders the skill and confidence to connect with their base and to catalyse it to action, and therefore power.  Hope needs to lead to change.  That's what power is.

This massive base of people we have in our movement is a tectonic plate in society.  As we have seen from 'The Vow' when this plate shifts, even empires teeter.  Imagine if this plate could move as readily on something that didn't immediately cost the enemy quite as much as its own annihilation?  If it could move for living wage powers?  If it could move for land reform?  If it could move for welfare justice powers to end foodbanks?  If it could move for job creating powers?  If it could move for a YES movement victory in 2015?  If we can do even some of that, we will have turned hope into demonstrated power, levelled the political landscape, and left the forces of reaction living in fear of more earthquakes.  It's comin yet for aw that.

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WANT TRAINED IN SOCIAL MOVEMENT ORGANISING?
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YES in the community is committed to providing training in social movement organising for YES groups and activists on a cost basis.

Our lead organiser previously worked for London Citizens as a professional community organiser.  Our team includes several former and current trade union organisers, as well as decades of years of explicitly social movement activist and leadership experience.

Our trainings are 4 hours or 16 hours in length, and suitable for any active participant in the movement. They consist of elaboration of concepts, roleplay, and real world planning. Issue based organising, styles of 121 conversations, mapping, pushing and power analysis are the main themes that we focus on, altho there is scope in 16 hour sessions to discuss the differences in methodology between the Organising model, the Alinskyist model and the Freireist models of leadership development in social movement organising and where these connect with marketing, behavioural and people management techniques widely used in the private and third sector.  All trainings come with course notes, and we commit to extending advice and support on an ongoing basis.

If you would like to book a session please get in touch below.  Ideally we don't want people paying more than a fiver, as this is about engagement, so we recommend you get at least 5 people coming for a 4 hour session, and at least people 20 coming for a 16 hour/weekend session.

4 hours (£30 + travel + any room hire)
16 hours (£120 + travel + any room hire)

Facebook: http://on.fb.me/1yF3SpG | Phone: 07904553200 | Twitter: @PowerCIC

Friday, 31 October 2014

Yes In The Community

Demonstrators gather to demand Home Rule and democracy for Scotland.
These demands have been made most forcefully in communities lacking in
political power in post industrial Scotland. We stand with our communities.
















Power in community is changing its name to reflect the fact that the communities we seek to empower are now in open rebellion against the status quo. 

Since we set out several years ago we have sought to "develop leadership in poor communities, so that it is Scotland's communities which are placed in the driving seat."

Now that we move beyond the finite nature of the referendum campaign, and our efforts to use this spectacular event to help organise and agitate, this remains our mission.  Now our communities have been fundamentally altered.  The schemes and working class neighbourhoods of Scotland have become politicised as never before - all of them vote now to break with Westminster rule.  Many are increasingly organised, with institutions built as a result of that politicisation.

We must reflect the fact that our increasingly organised communities have chosen to frame the struggle for social justice in terms of the necessity of democracy.  We do not disagree with this analysis, but we must also have the humility to be led by it, as we seek to deepen those roots of civic organisation around ongoing bread and butter concerns.

So as a result of the declaration of intent by all of our communities of concern we are adding the word power to the word they chose to frame their politicisation and rebellion, because it is power for these communities that we are after.

We are YES in the community.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Now is the time and now is the hour. Build the rebellion.

Let us build the rebellion.

Power in Community is 100% committed to the democracy rebellion in Scotland.  For so long as 22,000 children continue to eat out of foodbanks, and 1600 people across Glasgow are sanctioned at an average of 3 months with no food; for so long as the youth of today have no prosperous tomorrow, we must extend the democracy rebellion in this country.

We will fight.  And we will win.

We have all learned in this first battle to canvass.  Now we must learn how to build social movements.

We will offer training to all YES leaders for the battles to come.  We will focus our efforts on the titular heads of Toryism, and we will build an unstoppable force among those workers who continue to suffer from the ill effects of monetarism that have so eroded democracy and social justice in these islands.

Please consider funding us to put paid organising staff into this fight to propel the movement forward.


Support our organising.
For now tho, we leave you with some thoughts.

Labour out of Scotland 2015: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Labour-Out-Of-Scotland-2015/584380724999715

The democracy movement's next step: https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=10152279685651073&set=vb.639061072&type=3&theater

What is to be done: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UQt6nguBMuU&feature=youtu.be

Sunday, 3 August 2014

How will Operation Restore Democracy work?

What good will this do?  What is it you're going to do?

The first stage of organising is mapping.  It's a process of holding one to one conversations (in this case thru canvassing people on their doorsteps) to find out what the local issues are (not what you think they are).  In the organising model you identify if an issue is widely felt and deeply felt.  You want to know if it is visible, and if it is winnable.  If the issue is "George Osborne's cuts" that might be both widely felt and deeply felt, but one wee scheme in Glasgow is not going to bring down the British Government or make it change course, however much that might be desireable.  However if the issue is that The Housing is subcontracting the local grass cutting to a firm who are spivving it up and not doing their job, then it may be possible to get The Housing to spend the hundred grand on employing three locals from the scheme to do this.  The core question has to be will people take action, and will enough people be prepared to take action for there to be progress on this.

The widely respected community organiser Saul Alinsky argued that neighbourhood associations should have a programme for change.  They should have a number of issues they aim to change.  This sense of a plan, a direction, a manifesto is what knits people who want the bins sorted out to the neighbours who are concerned about the lack of council nursery provision. Typically between five and seven issues at once makes sense.  There are various theories about how to get people to take action, but all the theorists agree - you're not organising if you do it for people: the role of an organiser is as a leader who gets others to do things, and gets THEM to take the credit.  In the language of the trade, the organiser is staff for a 'people power' institution.  Those who take public action are the leaders.

Elite Scotland's campaign against democracy has no shame. 
Here at the sight of their 1979 pauchle Lamont poses for the
resonance of the image, an image of a Parliament that she voted
against.

So how does this relate to Lamont and democracy?  Elites like Lamont clearly fear the organised people in revolt.  Their power rests on a static society, where people like her and her husband (senior Glasgow Councillor Archie Graham) take the key decisions, and ordinary people like us either see that as to our benefit, or we don't and there's nothing we can do about it.  The preservation of this kind of static, unequal society, as it administers £4billion more austerity, and starves 72,000 Scots, while making the UK's 1000 richest people 15% richer a year, is in essence the mission of the NO campaign.  Little wonder they sneer at and try to prevent people taking public and civic action.


We won then.  Organising works.
Here is the plan.  It's a doable plan.  It has SMART objectives.  Our task is to make it widely felt and deeply felt, where it matters - among Lamont's constituents.  This is what we will do.  We will canvass Johann Lamont's constituency extensively.  We will ask people what five things they want to change locally, and we will get them active in changing these things.  We will essentially talent scout on an epic scale.  We will find people who want to become leaders, and we will push them and encourage them to plot, to map, to take programmatic public action.  Who knows what skeletons this process may uncover for Lamont.  Either way it is unlikely to be comfortable for the titular leader of Unionism at Holyrood, who seems happy to inertly preside over the fourth poorest constituency in Scotland, while talking about 'something for nothing,' without a thought to the bitterly ironic hypocrisy of the statement.  And if she doesn't do a good job in facilitating the people in changing their neighbourhoods and their lives, it's hard to imagine all these organised citizens will be such great fans of her come election day in 2016.  Scottish society is changing.  It's time we Judoed the forces that are smoorin oot democracy.  And remember folks - they said we couldn't win an investigation into Glasgow Labour presiding over corruption - we won a police investigation.  They said we couldn't win a different tariff for combined heat and power low energy users in the Wyndford.  We did.  Consistency, people power, and organisation are the only things that ever changed society, the only things that ever gave a corrupt establishment Scotland the dry boke.  And that's precisely the feeling we intend to engender in the leader of the anti-democracy forces at Holyrood.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Sponsor Our Operation Restore Democracy Organiser

Sponsor a community organiser.
Funded, per month
 
Help fund a community organiser.


We are fundraising for a paid community organiser to join our team, and help us punch out.

Introducing Operation Restore Democracy


Scotland has a severe problem.  We are currently discussing our nation's future against a backdrop of a deliberate establishment campaign to pauchle the vote.

These things cannot and should not be said lightly.  So let's spell out what has been going on.

The press is almost wholly London owned, and with the exception of one Sunday newspaper with a small circulation of centre left readers, is entirely against independence.  In Britain the press regulates itself.  Printing scurrilous nonsense and prurient drama and generally being right wing and miserable about everything is what the press largely exists to do.  It has excelled itself during this campaign, and has basically served as a platform for leading the news agenda with NO campaign press releases regurgitated.  So far so banal.

More information on this graphic here
What has really been chilling has been the role of the state broadcaster.  We are now into what is termed the regulated period of the campaign, so the state broadcaster is supposed to be neutral, and provide equal airtime and spokespeople for both campaigns.  This graphic below - and its subsequent edit - published last week during the regulated period *here* by the BBC, summarises the problem.  Remember this is the state broadcaster.  What you are witnessing is deliberate propaganda on behalf of the Unionist Government's state broadcaster to lie about Scottish economics.  Notwithstanding the edit to assert a stronger lie, their figures were already completely bonkers.

Scott Minto unpicks how the BBC may have arrived at these bonkers figure here: "it appears that the export figures have also been massaged to imply that Scotland exports vastly less than it does in reality..."

Scottish exports are not a matter of interpretation.  They are a matter of public record.  The data is published annually.  It has been widely reported, as in this graphic from the Financial times in February.

This is not happening at random: a mistake by some daft hack.  There is a pattern.

John Boothman is BBC head of news in Scotland.  He is a former Labour party activist, who has given media training to the Labour Party.  His relationship to Paul Sinclair - the man who writes Johann Lamont's speeches and scripts most of her questions in Parliament; her chief spin doctor - has been exposed by former BBC journalists.

The fact that the state broadcaster is effectively being bossed by Labour into becoming a mouthpiece for the NO campaign, explains much of the broadcaster's biased Scottish output.  Who knows who ordered the changes and lies about Scotland's exports on the UK section of the BBC website, but clearly somebody did - why edit something to make it more inaccurate?

Are we having a fair poll?  When the news agenda is so heavily biased, and the state broadcaster is pumping out literal propaganda, and the YES movement is only really able to put across its message on the unmediated doorsteps and in social media, the odds are certainly uneven, and the mainstream media is essentially united against democracy for Scotland.  Nonetheless this isn't the only aspect of democracy that is being undermined by establishment figures.

We are currently experiencing high ranking political figures lashing out at the organised people protesting in demand of a fair poll and for the Unionist state broadcaster to stop trying to subvert democracy.

Senior Scottish Labour MP Jim Murphy has described the anti-BBC bias demos - reflections of grassroots anger, which have drawn thousands of participants into the BBC's neuk of Govan - as, "The nationalists' attempts to bully broadcasters and boycott businesses." 


There are real tensions being exposed by senior figures in the Establishment's apparent desire to control all discourse, and lock down the debate, and the actual fragility of democracy in Scotland.  To put that another way, the role of citizens in the public discourse, and our very ability to be able to shape debate, beyond a narrow group of elite voices is contested within official Scotland, and there is a powerful lobby arrayed against us.  And we now know without a shadow of a doubt that the official purveyors of truth are lying to us, in the service of the state and their establishment interests.

The puerile and pointless bitterness of the NO
campaign is an attempt to obscure the issues
and to poison the discourse to shut down debte.
It is time for citizens to assert our power, to secure the position of ordinary citizens and our right to a voice, to ensure it is widely heard and above all that we never again experience the paranoid and authoritarian present of an establishment united as one against the ordinary people in revolt.  That is Operation Restore Democracy.

To that end the fightback against these corrupt elites begins in earnest on the Monday morning after the referendum.

A paid organiser will set to work on uniting the people of Johann Lamont's constituency into the biggest headache she has ever experienced.  Let's make the leader of the establishment in Holyrood, and her spin doctor Paul Sinclair (the man with the ear of Robert Boothman at the BBC), very acutely aware of our presence.  We need to strengthen the role of citizens in public life.  At the moment 22,000 children in Scotland are reliant on food aid - where are the voices of their friends and neighbours?  One man, Paul Sinclair, can effect a pro-Union propaganda position - that ignores these 10s of 1000s of Scots very existence - is the leading news item on the national radio station, the leading headline of a television news bulletin, but hundreds of thousands have no say at all in public life in Scotland.  That is a problem.  Let's fix it.  Together.

You can help sponsor a community organiser and make this happen here and now. 

This is what we will do:-

"We will canvass Johann Lamont's constituency extensively.  We will ask people what five things they want to change locally, and we will get them active in changing these things.  We will essentially talent scout on an epic scale.  We will find people who want to become leaders, and we will push them and encourage them to plot, to map, to take programmatic public action.  Who knows what skeletons this process may uncover for Lamont.  Either way it is unlikely to be comfortable for the titular leader of Unionism at Holyrood, who seems happy to inertly preside over the fourth poorest constituency in Scotland, while talking about 'something for nothing,' without a thought to the bitterly ironic hypocrisy of the statement.  And if she doesn't do a good job in facilitating the people in changing their neighbourhoods and their lives, it's hard to imagine all these organised citizens will be such great fans of her come election day in 2016.  Scottish society is changing.  It's time we Judoed the forces that are smoorin oot democracy.  And remember folks - they said we couldn't win an investigation into Glasgow Labour presiding over corruption - we won a police investigation.  They said we couldn't win a different tariff for combined heat and power low energy users in the Wyndford.  We did.  Consistency, people power, and organisation are the only things that ever changed society, the only things that ever gave a corrupt establishment Scotland the dry boke.  And that's precisely the feeling we intend to engender in the leader of the anti-democracy forces at Holyrood."

Sponsor a community organiser.
Funded, per month
Help fund a community organiser.


If you can't help financially, but you can help with canvassing in Johann's Lamont's constituency, we'd also like you get in touch.  

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Twitter: @PowerCIC
Email: nick.durie[AT]googlemail.com