On Not Asking Permission
Recently I was at the RIC Highland Conference in Inverness. During the course of the day there were some wonderful, moving, even odd contributions and discussions but one small incident keeps popping up in my mind. I’m not sure exactly what the context was but we were in the main hall and people were discussing a leaflet drop in a village in the Black Isle. This went on for a moment or two and the organisers ended by saying that if that is something that people want to do then it is over to them to do it.
There was a subtle power shift involved in the conversation. The young activist had started asking for resources, leaflets, info packs, support – and most importantly, permission. Permission from those organising RIC at a national level to do the leafleting. Permission from those in ‘authority’ to act. By the end of the conversation, the penny dropped. He realised that he didn’t need permission. He had as much right to instigate, plan, organise and act as anyone else in that room. As anyone else anywhere.
I can relate to the question he asked. I was there. In the months after the Radical Independence Conference in November 2012, I phoned and e-mailed Glasgow numerous times before I realised. I was in charge just as much as anyone else. I didnae need permission!
So I stopped asking and started doing. I called an initial meeting and started the Aberdeen branch. This experience is happening to hundreds, even thousands of people all across Scotland as a result of this referendum campaign. Not just people in RIC: in YES, National Collective, Women for Independence, Labour for Independence, Business for Scotland – all across the spectrum.
People know they no longer need to ask permission. Thousands of people across Scotland are now far more experienced at organising and campaigning than they ever were before. They don’t need a man in a suit from one of the usual suspect parties to tell them it’s ok to act. This is cross-generational, grassroots politics as it should be – and it’s inspiring.
Whatever the outcome in September, this campaign will have changed the political map of Scotland forever.