Europe’s oldest independently run political newspaper
The other week saw us take the Scots Independent newspaper to yet another conference. Conferences are important to attend as we engage with many of our subscribers and contributors as well as meeting potential new subscribers.
Conferences have become so large these days that often delegates never find their way to the exhibitors hall due to the distance between it and the auditorium. Many new delegates do not know what the exhibitors’ hall is about and those who find their way to us often say ‘never knew you existed’ or ‘never heard of you’. So this week I am going to tell you a little bit of who we are. For those who already know us well, perhaps you could share this post around on your social media.
Rather than write the whole history again there is an excellent piece on our website on the history of the newspaper since 1926. History of the newspaper
Since writing the ‘about us piece’ we have appointed a new editor, Grant Thoms, who has changed the format slightly. Not a lot, but long time subscribers will have noticed some new content and some new contributions. He has also added book events to the conferences. The newspaper has always been produced by volunteers, both the putting together of the content and getting it out to our subscribers. Indeed I first got involved in the 1980s going along to Cowane Street, Stirling to put individual copies into the plastic bags for posting and rolling the branch copies in their address labels for Peter Wright to put on the buses for delivery. (Who remembers the bus conductors/drivers throwing out piles of newspapers at bus stops for collection?). Many good stories were told there by volunteers no longer with us.
While writing his piece for the newspapers next issue Ian came across this piece from November 1942 issue of the paper
The SNP was on the lookout for volunteers to help in the Party’s HQ to further the cause of independence. The help would consist of 1. To keep the Headquarters office open more hours. 2. To prepare each month the Scots Independent for the post. 3. Once a month to send out invoices. 4. To keep adequate records. 5. To get out duplicated circulars and other matter, either at HQ or in your own offices.
Changed days! In 1957 the newspaper became independent of the party, mainly for liability reasons. The newspaper has been supportive of the party and the cause but has been able to be critical at times due to its independence. When I became a member of the SNP the old folded card style membership cards carried a tear off slip that you could fill in to become a subscriber to the paper. Modern ways mean most people now join digitally now and therefore that option is no longer available.
Modern advances have made some things easier. Our volunteers concerned with getting the paper out each month are in Stirling, Alloa, Kincardine and Portknockie with the printing being done in Stranraer. The contributors are spread even further afield. Only the proof reading team need to meet up once a month and everything else is done digitally. The paper is still sent out manually though and a wee team at the printers do that.
Why subscription? Mainly cost. The only newspaper distributor in Scotland is Menzies. They take 42.5% of the cover price of each issue to deliver to newsagents. By taking out a subscription you are guaranteed the paper through your letterbox each month and you don’t have to go out in the rain to get it. The business manager reminds you when your subscription is about to run out. You can subscribe here: subscribe
We also have the Fellowship for those who are able to contribute a bit more towards the development of the newspaper in the coming years.
Our aim is to get the independence message out there. It’s not easy but we do try. We send a free copy of the paper to the secondary schools and, as you can imagine, that gets a mixed reception. You can always stir it up a bit and get secondary school pupils you know to ask their librarian for it.
Another old idea has been getting discussed recently. SNP branches used to have an SI agent who went round the membership selling the newspaper. For each copy sold the branch got 30p. Some branches are showing an interest in this again. It would also be a great idea for YES hubs. We were being asked about merchandise for these hubs at conference. If you would like us to send you some copies to sell contact Ian Hamilton by email or by phone (01542 840551) to discuss.
If any of you feel you have the need to write something to share on the blog or in the newspaper please contact us through the options here on the blog. In the cause for Independence we are all in it together.