By Mike Small
Apart from the terrible language – ‘Permitted Participants’ suggests others are not permitted – the registration for the Electoral Commission is a marker of the wider movement.
Now that the Scottish Independence Convention, National Collective, GenYes have joined the Scottish Socialist Party and Yes Scotland as registered groups officially backing the Yes, we’re beginning to see the outlines of the ‘official’ campaign. See all the registered groups here.
Registered groups have rights (such as, crucially, being able to apply to be present at each of the 32 counts) but also key responsibilities (such as declaring sizeable donations and monitoring what and when they spend money on direct campaigning).
Each of the Yes groups will, I’m sure, see this as a commitment to openness, transparency and the democratic process.
There’s been some worry expressed this week about the announcement that the the chief counting officer Mary Pitcaithly wants councils to print 120% of the required ballots for both postal voters and those who vote in person at polling stations, in case any papers get lost or damaged.
To minimise delays, councils are also being directed to appoint one polling clerk for every 800 voters eligible to cast their vote in person at the polling stations.
My understanding is that this is a reasonable and correct thing to do in contingency.
My experience is that the Electoral Commission is a neutral body committed to people participating as fully as possible in the process of democracy. They are an asset not an enemy. Angry independistas risk looking as stupid as Better Together by pre-judging the process.
The fact that a number of Yes groups are registered means that the potential for coordinated monitoring is easily done.
But to jump to immediate paranoia and conspiracy is both unnecessary and unhelpful.I have written about and experienced British State dishonesty but I have no sense that this is at all likely here. The reality is that all the distortion and manipulation is plain to see.
I expect many more Yes groups to register in the next few weeks. Let’s win this, not set up excuses in May.