Ambitious grassroots push hopes to reach 2 million voters by St Andrew’s Day
DOZENS of SNP branches have told CommonSpace about their push to contact over 40 per cent of the Scottish electorate as part of the new debate on the country’s constitutional future.
The SNP is halfway through a high profile “listening exercise” in the first public push on independence since the 2014 referendum campaign.
Activists from across forty different SNP branches told CommonSpace of their work delivering hundreds of thousands of national survey leaflets, hosting regular street stalls, and focusing specifically on ‘swing voters’ from the 2014 independence referendum.
The survey was launched by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on the 2nd of September, with the aim of reaching two million voters over three months. The exercise was in response to the “seismic changes” since 2014 that threaten Scotland’s economy and democracy.
The SNP’s surge in membership – now at over 124,000 – means it has unrivaled resources to launch community campaigns and focus on specific groups of voters.
CommonSpace spoke to campaign activists working in: Argyll and Bute, Cunninghame North, Dunbar, Dunblane, Dundee, Dunfermline, East Kilbride, Falkirk, Glenrothes, Grangemouth, Grantown, Haddington, Kirkintilloch, Monrose, Perthshire, Prestonpans, Scone, and across all the branches of Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow.
The scale of campaigning suggests that the SNP would have a significant ‘voter ID’ advantage at the start of any fresh independence referendum.
Information gathered by the survey – which includes views on independence, Brexit, and key political issues – would be valuable for any fresh referendum campaign on Scottish independence as it means campaigners can focus on those most open to changing their minds.
Almost 300,000 replies were received in the survey’s first six days – although its success relies on reaching beyond voters who already support independence.
SNP activists at several branches told CommonSpace there was a local strategy to focus on areas that mainly voted No in 2014, which includes older and more wealthy demographics.
“So much has changed in the last two years so it’s important we get out there and ask people what Scotland they want to live in.” Rhiannon Spear, SNP Youth
Nicky MacCrimmon, an SNP campaigner in Perthshire, told CommonSpace: “I know that our branch are going to do street stalls and other branches throughout the country are too. I think it's a good way of getting out and speaking to people. We need to understand much more about why we didn’t get over the line in 2014.”
Dunfermline councillor Neale Hanvey added: “Interest has been very positive (mostly) and we are seeing evidence of movement from No to Yes. Many of the switherers are ready to jump if there is an indication of a strong support from the EU and anecdotally this is a message we're hearing from both Labour and Lib-Dem voters who are pro-EU.”
SNP Youth arranged towards a dozen public events on a single weekend.
Commenting on the campaigning, SNP Youth convener Rhiannon Spear added: “So much has changed in the last two years so it’s important we get out there and ask people what Scotland they want to live in. With SNP members challenged to engage with five people a month, SNP Youth will be busy listening this weekend and in the weekends to come."
It remains unclear what specific details of the survey results will be publicly released – although a further announcement in expected around St Andrew’s Day.
An SNP spokesperson told CommonSpace: “The National Survey is the biggest listening exercise in SNP history, giving people the opportunity to provide their views on Europe, Brexit and independence, and to grow consensus across Scotland on the way forward. People can complete the survey at www.survey2016.scot, and have until St Andrew's Day to help inform us on the way ahead for Scotland.”
A parallel consultation on a fresh independence referendum will run until January 11 2017.
Picture courtesy of National Survey
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