Here are the minutes of our meeting held Saturday 14th of March.

If you weren’t at the meeting please don’t ignore them – I went to the trouble of writing them for you….. On that subject I have decided, apart from minutes emails, to send out more frequent, short emails in future with specific topics. This is because I have been informed many people don’t read beyond the first couple of lines. It explains why many of you don’t answer questions. It also maybe explains why only 50% bother to open the emails at all. Very depressing.

Philippa Whitford Visit.
Having to cancel the visit by Dr Philippa Whitford MP due to the coronavirus was very disappointing. We have been asked to liaise with Fort William to reschedule for another date. (Fort William was due to have her the night before us). It was agreed that not before September would be best.
Ruth reported her discomfort at having to take on the event without discussion from the wider group due to it having been actually organised by the SNP branch but handed to Grassroots to host after our last meeting. Philippa herself did not want it as an SNP led event. Ruth also expressed her view that being told to add Michael Russell MP’s name to posters after agreement to host had been made was not right. Michael Russell is clearly SNP and it is very important that the Grassroots movement remain non-party. It was agreed that once rescheduled this will not happen. Ruth stated she had already spoken with Philippa’s office about this and they had agreed.
A suggestion was made that perhaps we could make a longer day of it by adding another speaker – perhaps a local Indy supporting doctor or other health worker. This received wide approval and will be looked into further.

Ruth expressed her desire to have a small group of members as a “committee” so that she isn’t having to make decisions alone in between meetings. There is no need for physical meet ups. We could set-up a Messenger group, Whatsapp Chat etc. Members coerced (!) into the role were Colin Morrison (Treasurer), Breege Smyth, John Beaton, Beatrice Keating and Nick Bowles (Website Guru) -not at meeting but asked later. Thanks to all.

AUOB Marches.
The Arbroath march on 4th April has been cancelled due to the coronavirus. We anticipate further marches also being cancelled. The coach for the Glasgow meeting in May has not been booked for the same reason.

Illustrated Declaration of Arbroath Book Evening.
This is scheduled for next Saturday 21st March and will go ahead at this stage. Any change will be notified via email, website and social media.

Music Festival.
This is cancelled due to uncertainty regards the ongoing effects of the coronavirus.

YES and EU Flags.
These are now in stock. They are 5’x3′ and cost £5.00 each. One is a Saltire with a big YES on it and the other is a Saltire with the EU stars. They are available anytime at Katya Embroidery opposite the cinema. All profits go to the group. We agreed at previous meetings to increase the number of Saltires flying. Let’s do it!

Scotland the Brief Maxi Books.
These are also now in stock. The A5 sized book is a brilliant easily read guide to the economic argument for an Independent Scotland. Books cost £7.50 with the profit going to the group. Please do share the word about and encourage others to buy. Why not buy an extra copy to sell on ……? There is also the mini version – much the same info but without the reference links to the data quoted. These are £3.50 and hugely useful to have in your pocket at the pub! Both books are available at Katya Embroidery. A huge thanks to Colin Morrison for donating 50 of the mini books to the group. My apologies to Colin for not thanking him during the meeting.

Scotland the Brief Leaflets.
Last month we agreed to order sufficient leaflets to carry out a leaflet drop across our area. That was before the virus hit! There are 9000 leaflets sitting in my shop! We have decided to wait until next month to see what the full impact of the virus is. The leaflets are not time sensitive so can wait.

Leafleting Team.
We plan to organise a leafleting team. These are people who are happy to deliver leaflets through letterboxes. There will be no knocking on doors and speaking to people. If we have a standing team it will make delivering in future much less onerous. Each person will have their set area to cover each time we have a drop to make. Believe in Scotland (Business for Scotland’s campaign wing) are planning three leaflets this year. Once the campaign kicks off in earnest there will be more. Let’s get the ground work of setting up the team done now.  The more volunteers we have the less work each need to do. I will be in touch shortly about this.

Leaflet Area Maps.
John Beaton has been working on creating area maps for the leaflet team. The maps will ensure all ares are covered and there is no ambiguity as to where each team member will be responsible for. This activity is taking a lot of John’s time for which huge thanks is deserved.

Poster Team.
Again we want to set up a poster team. This is a group of people who have locations near them where posters can be displayed so that future events have wide publicity coverage. Names/locations were collected but with attendance numbers being down this month I know there are lots of you out there who would also be willing to take posters to put up. Please contact me to be added to the tem stating how many posters you would need.

Aye Spy Book.
Beatrice has been working on an Aye Spy book for children. She brought in a prototype and requested comments and suggestions. If you have idea of things to spot please do make suggestions either direct to Beatrice or to me to pass on. Ideally suggestions should be Scotland or Indy related.

John reported that there was no movement on the new IndyApp version being released so really nothing to report. Our group has very few members meaning our ability to actually take part in much at national level is limited. If people would like to join and don’t know what to do John is happy to help them set it up on their phone/tablet/laptop. 

Press Officer.
(Joy objected to the title so maybe Media Mole would be better?!!) We decided that more regular input to the Oban Times was needed to inform the public of what we are up to but also to raise awareness of the group as a whole and what we are about. Joy agreed to submit as much as possible. It seems we have a more pro YES editor than in the past so that should help. If individuals fancy writing letters/articles and sending them in that would be good. Lets get the conversation going amongst the general public.

Indy Hub.
The search for a suitable property goes on. Ruth is waiting for a reply from William Hill but the group felt that the coronavirus meant that opening a shop at this stage was probably not the best use of our money. The suggestion was made that the virus has almost certainly spelled the death of a referendum this year anyway.

National YES Banner Library.
At previous meetings we spoke about buying 2 or 3 banners to display to keep the Independence subject in the public eye and to inform of the issues involved. Mention was made about swapping the banners with other groups in the A&G Regional Group. Nothing seems to be happening in that group other than general Indy chat so Ruth suggested Grassroots Oban organise a nationwide swapping system of banners. Given the coronavirus disruption the group decided that we would focus our activity on banners for the time being. They require less out and about attendance whilst giving out clear messages.

The idea is that all member YES groups pay for however many banners they want. They register their banners with the library and when a change of message is needed they apply to swap the banners with others around the country. We would need to make sure that a wide range of messages are used prior to purchase to make sure we have a wide selection available. We decided on a size of 2m x 1m so as to be large enough to be seen from a reasonable distance but small enough to be able to fit on most garden fences, walls etc. Other groups may prefer larger banners but that may restrict the number of locations they would be able to swap with. That shouldn’t be a huge problem if we get enough members. Ruth has spent time sourcing manufacturers of banners and come to the conclusion that Edinburgh Banners are probably the best company to go with. As Indy supporters themselves they offer, to the YES movement, a 20% discount off their normal price with part of the proceeds going to plant trees! The price is the cheapest found (within Scotland). They are friendly, helpful and fast. I know someone who has used them twice and is very happy with them. They recommended their Economy banner would be adequate for our purposes. A 2m x 1m banner, hemmed with eyelets at 50cm intervals would be £27.60 each.

Suggestions were made to look at the graphics created by Indyposterboy and Believe in Scotland. Ruth has already contacted both organisations to gauge support with feedback being positive. There will be other sources for graphics too particularly on social media. It is important to use graphics/messages that inform and educate rather than have too many that appeal to emotions or anger/frustration toward Westminster.
The group identified 6 locations where banners could be hung so agreed to buy six banners.
The next step is to gather graphics to choose from. If anyone comes across something you think would work well please send it to me as an attachment or send a link. Where possible Vector files (.ai, .pdf) are what we need but don’t let that stop you suggesting a good idea – vector files can be made.


Alliance Party.

Fiona Ferris raised the issue of the current Holyrood voting system being not fit for purpose as it is very hard for pro-independence parties to gain a majority. The current system means that a party with a lot of constituency seats finds it very hard to gain many list seats. There is a conversation going on across the country about setting up a pro Indy Alliance Party to stand for only list seats. The idea is that rather than voting SNP with both votes the second vote should go to the Alliance Party enabling them to gain a lot of list seats thus ensuring the pro Indy majority. Ruth pointed out that if people wanted to do that then the Green Party is already in existence with known aims and objectives. It was questioned whether the Green party had Independence as it’s core aim. (The Green party has the health of the planet as it’s core aim. Without the planet there will be no independence! They are however very strongly in favour of Independence.) The issue was made that unless all people went along with the plan it wouldn’t work. At the last Holyrood election the RISE party failed to gain a single seat and they stood on the same premise of gaining Indy supporting list seats only. The idea would have to have the support of the SNP which would never be given if only for the reason that if seen to support the idea they would be accused of trying to skew the system in their favour – an argument which would be hard to deny! The conversation is important and must go on across the country. Fiona suggested we ask someone from the Alliance movement to come to talk at a public meeting in Oban. This was agreed and Ruth committed to making contact. Recognition was given that coronavirus would mean such a visit would not be made soon.

Public Talks.

It was suggested that after the coronavirus issue has settled down and everything is back to normal we aim to have a rolling programme of public talks by Indy supporting groups and individuals. Suggestions were made of the Common Weal (Robin McAlpine), Wee Gunger Dug (Paul Kavanagh), Business for Scotland (Gordon Macintyre-Kemp), Lesley Riddoch etc

Future Meetings amid Coronavirus.

The meeting recognised that with the spread of the virus gaining ground we might not be able to meet as normal and even if we are allowed does it make sense? With that in mind Breege will look into whether we can have a video conference style meet up staying in our own homes. 

Date of Next Meeting.

Bearing in mind the previous topic might change things….. the current plan for the next meeting is 11th April in the Rockfield Centre at 10am.