A NON-PARTISAN Yes group has launched to tailor a local case for independence in the South of Scotland - as well as diversify voices in the movement.

South Scotland independence movement (SSIM) will model itself on the established Aberdeen independence movement (AIM) which delivers tailored independence messaging to the northeast of Scotland.

The idea came from Daniel Hooper-Jones, 19, who tweeted on Tuesday 15 that the south of Scotland needed a group similar to Aberdeen.

The idea grew quickly and a group formed, launching their social media pages on Thursday 17 by stating: “We're a cross-party group, committed to building bridges with our friends in some of the most unionist communities in Scotland. We'll be fighting to ensure the South gets a voice in the Yes movement!

“If Yes is going to win, we're going to need to put lots of work in! If you're from Ayrshire, Dumfries & Galloway, South Lanarkshire, the Borders, Midlothian, or East Lothian, we want to hear from you!”

Hooper-Jones has become a founding member of SSIM within two days of putting out the thought, but he said he had the idea for a while.

“It’s a thought I’ve had for a long time. I was quite inspired by the work that the movement in Aberdeen does, cause they taken an idea that isn’t really popular in Aberdeen, especially in the rural parts of Aberdeenshire and they’ve come together to do a fact based, non-partisan campaign group and it’s been so successful.

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“Obviously, the south is by far the most unionist. It has some of the most unionist communities in Scotland and right now, in terms of the Yes movement, there isn’t really anything other than small groups, who do some really good work. There isn’t that overarching group to co-ordinate it all and have consistent messaging."

Hooper-Jones said people of the south want to know about policy more than anything else, something the 2014 campaign lacked. The south of Scotland was amongst the highest percentage of no voters in 2014.

“I think, and those who are getting involved [in SSIM], that the way Yes is going to be successful in the south is if we run a fact-based, policy, ambitious campaign rather than the same arguments you might hear from 2014, so we really need to change the argument."

Within 3 days, the group has put together social media pages, the starts of a committee, branding packages and are already enquiring about getting involved with the Dumfries rally on Wednesday 23 hosted by Dumfries and Galloway Pensioners for independence. 

The National: The group hopes to put forward a formal, co-ordinated groupThe group hopes to put forward a formal, co-ordinated group (Image: SSIM)

Hooper-Jones is a candidate in the by-election for Dumfries and Galloway by-election later this month and says that people who got in touch to start the group have been overwhelmingly younger people. The ages of members range from 17 to 34.

Hooper Jones said: “The beginnings of the committee are all young people. The current Yes movement is dominated by older people. Its especially stark here, there is no diversity in the voice of the south and this is a way to start mobilising minority voices in the movement in the south.

“For the south, there is definitely a feeling of a sense of forgottenness by both Westminster and Holyrood. So, obviously the Westminster part of that plays right into the independence movement, right, that Westminster isn’t working for the South of Scotland at all.

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“But the current Yes movement is painting this image of Holyrood as an alternative, and I think that’s where the messaging is a bit wrong for people in the South, cause they don’t see Holyrood working in their favour either – so our messaging really has to really be about empowering, not only local communities, but collectively as the south of Scotland to have a voice.”

The group intends to reach out to pro-independence groups already in existence as well as MPs and MSPs. They will also be looking to formalise a committee and work closely with AIM to learn from their success in the north.

If anyone wants to get involved, you can email – or message the group on their social media channels. A website will be coming soon.