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What Yes need to do now to win the referendum

Last week, I wrote about how Yes Scotland, the short-life organisation that was set up to promote a Yes vote at the independence referendum, had been 'left behind' by the runaway success of the wider, informal, grassroots Yes movement.

In less than a year and a half, the fledgling community-led campaign for Scottish independence has grown to an impressive scale and may soon become the largest and most diverse public campaign in recent Scottish history.

If Yes Scotland is no longer leading or setting the pace for the Yes campaign, it should now allow its activities to be led and informed by that wider movement instead. Instead of attempting to steer the ship from the engine room, it should become more responsive to what is happening beyond the walls of Yes HQ and better support the wider Yes movement by promoting the talent and reflecting the diversity contained within it.

When I first joined Yes Scotland as Deputy Director of Communities in September 2012, there were two mantras that were repeated over and again at Yes HQ. The first was "Will it win votes? If not, don't do it!" which seemed like an appropriate focus for an organisation that was smaller than planned, poorly resourced and struggling to deliver everything expected of it.

The second was: "Don't wake up on September 19, 2014 wishing you'd done more." This was used to elicit extra effort out of over-stretched staff and under-supported volunteers, but it was also another useful focus puller - a rallying cry to the tens of thousands of individuals who have since given up their free time to knock on doors, stand at street stalls, take part in debates, organise public meetings and start conversations, both face-to-face and on social media.

This has seen the Yes campaign dominate in terms of doorstep diplomacy and digital debate, and this peer-to-peer effort is what will win a Yes vote in September this year. The conversions made are compelling and often create new Yes campaigners out of people who didn't realise they cared about the constitution or didn't know they could campaign in the first place.

The Yes movement contains some spectacularly unexpected and accomplished campaigners. Leaving aside those who rushed after the launch of Yes Scotland to be badged as a 'Yes Ambassador', and who continue to define themselves in that way, during my time working at Yes Scotland I met hundreds of unassuming, non-party-political individuals who were (and are) quietly and effectively getting on with the job of convincing their friends, family and workmates that independence will benefit them, or at least that remaining in the Union won't. There are hundreds, maybe thousands, of ordinary people working away in the most admirable and unselfish way.

So what could Yes Scotland now do to catch up with the wider Yes movement and support these local campaigners?

Firstly, it could promote the diversity of views held within the wider Yes movement, rather than pretend that everyone who supports a Yes vote agrees with the content of the SNP's White Paper. Until now, differences of view and vision within the Yes movement have been treated by Yes Scotland as a difficulty, and the media and No campaign have been allowed to misrepresent them as 'splits' and 'divisions', yet Yes campaign's diversity is one of its major strengths. It should be celebrated not hidden, shouted not shunned.

Yes Scotland could choose to better champion the activities of the other groupings within the wider Yes movement, many of which have received little in the way of support so far, yet have emerged as important parts of the wider campaign that would now be missed if they weren't there.

In recent weeks, Business for Scotland has done a thorough and credible job of de-bunking the No campaign's economic arguments. Over the last 18 months, National Collective has added colour, cleverness and fun to the debate. Labour for Indy and the Radical Independence Campaign have offered hope to those disenchanted Labour voters and left-wingers who want to vote Yes but are held back by historical affiliations and long-held habits.

Given that women make up more than half of the electorate, and they're potentially one of the major beneficiaries of the fairer, more equal Scotland that independence would give us the opportunity to create, it's a mystery why the work of Women for Independence remains so poorly supported by Yes Scotland.

Even the more niche groups have an important role to play. Cabbies for Indy and Hairdressers for Indy hold captive audiences every day of the week, while Davids for Indy, Whisky Drinkers for Indy and Hibees for Indy have specialist appeal and are reaching audiences that might otherwise not be engaged with the constitutional debate. Yes Scotland would do well to promote these groups, and the thousands more like them. Where Alex Salmond, the SNP and the content of the White Paper might fail to convince, these groups could just be able to do the job.

While the No campaign continues to put forward the same small pool of professional doom mongers and yesterday's men for media interviews, the Yes campaign should be represented by the real people within its mass - the parents, students, workers, retirees and more who make up the wider Yes movement.

Doing so would not only disarm the No campaign's political spokespeople, it would promote the scope and diversity of the Yes campaign, send out a broader range of pro-independence messages than at present, and combat the argument that this is all just about the SNP.

These same people could be used to flood local newspapers and radio stations with voices and arguments in favour of independence, backing up the work of local campaigners. Yes Scotland has a massive pool of supporters and activists to dip into, so why isn't it doing so? Also, why is the Yes campaign rarely seen in the consumer media? Imagine if Yes Scotland was a business selling a product called 'Yes'. It would use every means and outlet available to promote positive awareness of that product, yet Yes Scotland continues to ignore the consumer media, instead limiting its media relations efforts to assuaging the demands of a small number of voracious and hard-to-please political journalists.

If the constitutional debate is so important, why is it not being covered by every one of the thousands of magazines on the news stand, especially as the Yes campaign holds within its body something or someone of interest to absolutely every one of them.

To be fair, Yes Scotland has fought an uphill battle with a largely hostile and unhelpful media, but it has focused its efforts on the wrong media in the first place. The relationship between the Yes campaign and the media establishment is also shifting, with more and more editors and owners watching the closing of the gap in the polls and considering a shift to supporting a Yes vote. Some may now have even realised how an independent Scotland might benefit them and their business?

Of course, the most effective campaigner for a Yes vote is the No campaign itself. It's become clear to most now that the relentless negativity of Project Fear has backfired, hardening existing attitudes against them and putting off those who might otherwise have been convincible if a positive case had been made.

The same goes for the UK Government. In April last year, when David Cameron rode up the Clyde on the prow of a nuclear submarine, the phones at Yes HQ began ringing off-the-hook with people asking how they could sign up or get involved. This was just one of the first of a long list of helpful interjections from him, his cabinet and other members of the No campaign.

I do think we'll see a Yes vote in September.

I'm one of those who view Scottish independence as a means to an end. However, unlike some of the SNP supporters that I've met, I don't see gaining independence as the end game - it's just the beginning.

Scottish independence is about hope, opportunity and responsibility. It's what we do with it that really counts, but we do need to get there first. There is a role to be played by Yes Scotland in making this happen, but the organisation will need to adapt, supporting the wider community Yes effort and promote more than just the content of the SNP's White Paper.

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