THE Yes Highland group has published the replies it received from SNP MPs and MSPs from across the north of Scotland to its questions about the route to independence.

The organisation of 13 Yes groups asked each elected SNP politician in the Highlands and Islands for their “personal perspective as to what represents the realistic and practical way forward to achieving our shared goal of an independent Scotland.”

Not surprisingly, the MPs and MSPs held the party line on independence being secured by a referendum to follow next year’s Scottish Parliament elections. In turn this has proved criticism from Yes Highland.

The party’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford MP wrote: “There is no doubt that the Covid-19 crisis has led to us rightly prioritising dealing with the pandemic, in the end it was about protecting the people of Scotland. What Covid-19 and indeed Brexit have shown is that our Parliament does not have the powers to protect Scotland from the effects of either of those.

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“I am very happy particularly as we look forward to 2021 for us to be more vocal on our primary aim of independence. I guess that takes us to the arguments around plan A etc. I am always happy to listen to alternatives but delivery of plan A is in my opinion the best way of delivering independence.”

Alasdair Allan, MSP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar, replied: “My keenness to see independence informs my own wish for it to be real independence, not just a cherished idea. That, in turn, means bringing the UK Government to the negotiating table so that Scotland can have the share which is rightfully her own of the UK’s assets and achieve international recognition of her independence.

“ There is no prospect of that recognition coming through anything other than such negotiation, something which is only likely to happen when we can demonstrate that a majority of Scots support independence. There will indeed have to be consideration of how we bring this issue to the fore in the context of the 2021 election, though it is fairly clear, speaking to people, that the public have little time for the idea of shortcuts, and generally believe that the question of independence should lie in their hands through a referendum. As you know, it is those people we need to persuade, not ourselves.”

Cabinet Secretary Fergus Ewing wrote: “In the case of those dissatisfied with the approach the party is taking to winning back independence, what I fail to understand is precisely what the alternative route to independence is? Nothing I have seen or read has shown me that there is any credible alternative.”

Yes Highland’s reply to the SNP politicians stated: “Unfortunately, the most significant element missing from the correspondence was any clear evidence of the substance of thinking, beyond the notion of a section 30 request. If there has been some thought given, why at the very least not tell SNP members and independence supporters that there is indeed ‘a cunning plan’.

“If there is such a thing, then perhaps it is self-evident to hold it in reserve, but not in silence. Saying nothing presumes no further plan. The First Minister has gone to great pains to emphasise openness and transparency in her efforts to keep the public informed at every step of the way with her Covid-19 plans. Why can’t this openness and transparency apply to independence supporters?”

Yes Highland is calling on all Yes groups across the country to seek the views of SNP MPs and MSPs on their preferred route to independence.