A LEADING member of a Yes group has urged activists to harness the positivity of the independence movement and reach out to all if the campaign wishes “to build a new nation”.

Speaking at a Yes Falkirk event on Saturday, Neil MacLeod from Christians for Independence (CFI), Greens MSP Gillian Mackay, author Lesley Riddoch and Alyn Smith staffer Grant Thoms discussed campaign ideas.

MacLeod said: “For a nation as rich as ours with energy and resources in abundance, bursting with talent, we urgently need independence.”

CFI was founded in 2009, and MacLeod previously argued for Scottish independence in 2014 at the National Assembly in Edinburgh.

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In the last few months, the group has worked with other indy groups and churches to campaign for Yes.

MacLeod and CFI were instrumental in spreading the message to the Western Isles in 2014, and are ready to step up again.

MacLeod said: “We did a tour across the Western Isles in 2014.

“The role of CFI is to reach out to these communities and answer some of the objections with positivity from a faith point of view.”

He said that the negativity often generated by the independence debate “doesn’t win anything”

and instead of insulting No voters, the Yes campaign should engage them instead.

He added: “I really hate the negativity. I really hate the vitriol you hear on Twitter and that doesn’t win anything for anyone.

“I hate attacking and slagging off No voters. We want to engage these people.

“Unless we have the left and right of Scotland together, and the rich and the poor of Scotland together, we’ll never build a nation.

“We must reach across the whole of the nation.”

Originally from Lewis, MacLeod is a qualified lawyer and during the discussions and questions in Falkirk, one audience member asked: “Why should we care what the ruling from the Supreme Court is?”

MacLeod simply answered: “Because we are a democracy.”

The CFI has been part of a group working with Michael Russell to create the transititional constitution for Scotland, with a particular focus on the European Convention on Human Rights. The CFI believe it should be embedded into the consitution to protect religious freedom for all.

At the event, MacLeod said: “We all have value, dignity and worth. We seek community and belonging. For very many, that is articulated through social justice.

“That is a critical part because in our country and very many around the world, we see poverty erodes people of their self-worth.

“We see it particularly in the light of the pandemic and the [cost of] living crisis. In the meantime, churches and Christian groups all across the country are working with ours to continue to supply food and warmth banks.

“I hate that term – I hate the term ‘warmth banks’. They should not exist, but they do, so we will continue to support that.”

Meanwhile, Mackay and Thoms urged campaigners to focus their efforts on Scotland’s choice rather than details of governance.

Mackay said: “We don’t have to have all the answers right now. The whole point of building a new nation is to have those conversations ongoing, involve people of this nation in those answers.

“That is partly how the mainstream media has set up that the Yes movement has no coherent view. We don’t have to have one.

“This is about involving people, moving forward, and driving that evolution because the Union is a fixed entity with no way to evolve and no desire to evolve Scotland in any of the evolution that it’s going to do anyway.”

Thoms, who is the editor of the Scots Independent, echoed what Mackay had put forward. He added that within the Yes movement, it’s impossible to be united on all issues before the next referendum, so the campaign should put forward a broader view instead.

He said: “We shouldn’t try to have a united front on every single policy issue in the next referendum.

“We’re going to waste our time fighting amongst ourselves over things like that instead of actually talking to people and giving them a broad view and saying ‘you can decide that once we are independent.”

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The editor also pointed towards the mini-budget, the pound failing, and the “economic cyclone” being created by Tories.

Thoms said we are therefore “in new territory” when it comes to the campaign’s responsibilities and the No campaign will have to work harder to convince people of the positives of the Union.

He said: “There is no proof that any of the economic plans the Truss government has put forward will work. Or at least, I’ve not seen any. We are in new territory.

“In 2014, it was the responsibility of the Yes campaign to give the case for independence. This time, it will be the responsibility for the No campaign to give the case for the Union. There will be a different focus this time.”