Monday, 1 December 2014

An interesting reaction

They say in organising that you do not have an action, until you force the opponent into a reaction.  Last week we definitely caused a reaction from the Weir Group, when we exposed their role in the Smith Commission.

Signing for Home Rule
Some context: Smith rallies support for UK fracking hub

On the 28th of November 19 people signed the Home Rule Covenant at the HQ of the Weir Group.  The goal was to highlight the fact that the Smith Commission was being chaired by a man who, as Chairman of the Weir Group, previously said he wanted to make Scotland a "fracking hub."  The event was called before the Smith Commission made its report (which was initially scheduled for St Andrews' day).  The Weir Group also submitted a letter to the Smith Commission arguing that we shouldn't get corporation tax devolved, should have our budgets ruled over by the OBR, and should be limited to only ever borrowing £4.4billion a year.

In the run up to this action however some strange things happened.

On the morning of Tuesday the 25th the treasurer of the Wyndford Residents Association (WRA) was doorstepped by two police from the Football and Public Order Unit.  At 7:30AM.  They asked that she get in touch with Nick Durie, who was organising the event.  They had the address however, because they came to Nick's door on the morning of Friday the 28th requesting that he get in touch - the attempt to cause embarrassment having been unsuccessful. 

The powers Weir Group argued we shouldn't get.
The law on public order is clear: there is no requirement to get in touch with the authorities to hold a static rally.  The idea that a photocall and signing a document requires explicit government permission is trying.  Nonetheless the police were clearly enthusiastic in pressing their case.  Their mapping (working out that the WRA treasurer was connected to Nick via the WRA and local Wyndford politics) must have taken some work, and the level of engagement this suggests seems somewhat extreme for a rally of this nature.

In addition to one off paid security, a riot van, & a number of visible
police, the plain clothes public order police were present thruout.
On the Friday event at 20 Waterloo Street, two officers from the same Football and Public Order Unit arrived early to speak to organisers.  The plain clothes officers pitched the virtues of correspondence for the left, but more important was what they had to say about the reason for their 'thorough approach.'  The offices of the Weir Group had finished work early that day, as a result of the rally.  The police had had a number of very concerned exchanges with Weir Group officials.  Security guards had been drafted in specially.  The police had been asked to provide an extensive presence. 

As one of our number arrived he told us that Weir Group employees had only recently come into Glasgow's Yesbar, on Drury Street, to seek information about the protests, and to remonstrate that they personally had nothing to do with fracking.  As we began to stand for a photocall a man approached and asked about the protest.  He was informed that it was to highlight the potential conflict of interest, and because they had expressly argued against Home Rule.  He replied that he worked in the building and that the management had been agog about the mass signing protest.

In the end Lord Smith actually recomended that Scotland gain powers over fracking licensing - a breakthrough.  This was not expected.  We cannot know for sure whether our public action in calling the mass signing at the Weir Group concentrated minds among the Establishment, but we do know it had the Weir Group very worried because of their panicked reaction and over-lobbying of the police.  A lot of the organisations in Scotland which have decided to stand in the way of social progress appear to cherish their relative anonymity, and are panicked when they are held accountable. Nonetheless which companies and agencies have spoken out against Home Rule and earlier against independence is now a matter of public record. We know that in calling for a specifically limited Scottish Parliament they oppose the majority of Scots.  If anything their voice is too loud, and ours is too quiet.  Yet.

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.

==============================================
WANT TRAINED IN SOCIAL MOVEMENT ORGANISING?
==============================================

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.

==============================================
WANT TRAINED IN SOCIAL MOVEMENT ORGANISING?
==============================================

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.