THE new leader of the SNP and Scotland’s new First Minister will be announced tomorrow. What do independence groups around the country think of the election and the candidates and will they rally around the winner, whoever he or she is? The Sunday National asked a sample of groups around Scotland for their opinions.

William Duguid of Perth & Kinross Yes Hub

ELECTION campaigns tend to be somewhat fiery, but it’s been uncomfortable to watch this one. Watching the arguments adopted by the candidates and the organisational difficulties and resignations in the SNP feed into Douglas Ross’s attack lines at Holyrood has been very difficult. At local level, the frustration of ordinary Yes activists, whether they’re SNP members or not, has been palpable.

Whilst some people have significant doubts about the reliability of the whole election process, the prevailing view is that we’d like to see this done. It’s time for the disruption, none of which has helped the Yes campaign in the slightest, to stop. The big issues that existed are still there for the new FM to tackle, and the reaction to Westminster’s increasing tendency to interfere will be important. The NHS is likely to be an early challenge, with Scotland’s junior doctors balloting for strike action on Wednesday.

I’d like to see the new FM more explicitly and more often frame independence as the best way of dealing with the continuing challenges facing Scotland. But I’d also like to see the Yes movement step up to the plate, put aside its divisions and ramp up its campaigning, irrespective of what the politicians do. The Scottish Government may be vital for the “process” of gaining independence, but the movement urgently needs to get on with changing the minds of the doubters.

Alan Petrie, Aberdeen Independence Movement co-organiser and co-founder

The first SNP leadership contest in the social media age has certainly been a challenge for the party and the movement. As a group, we have not backed a candidate, as that is not our place, as we will have to work with whoever is elected on Monday. Our small part in the process was sending the three candidates seven questions, which concerned the North East and the indy grassroots. We want to thank Ash and Humza for engaging positively with the questions.

It really showed that they will work with the grassroots if elected. We were more than a bit worried by the lack of engagement from Kate’s team and hope this is not a sign of things to come in terms of grassroots engagement.

We would like to thank Nicola Sturgeon for her time in office. Way too many people underestimate the challenge she faced when taking office. We had just lost a referendum, we were expected to fall apart and descend into infighting, and independence was expected to be off the table. The fact none of these things came to pass and independence is still on the table is a testament to Nicola.

Change can be unsettling, but we are a movement for change, and if we as a movement cant embrace change can we really expect others to embrace the change we propose?

Whoever is elected tomorrow, one thing won’t change – and that is the common-sense idea that decisions that affect Scotland are better taken by the people who call this nation home is not going away.

We hope that tomorrow will give us all fresh impetus to get out and campaign for the better nation we all know Scotland can be.

READ MORE: John Swinney: The last eight months have been most 'mentally taxing' of my career

Jim Manclark of Ayrshire Independence Movement

As a group, there are many points of view within it. For me personally, I was not enamoured by any of the candidates. I felt that Humza was just reacting to things and telling people what he thought they wanted to hear. Kate wasn’t solid on many aspects at all and seems to have no real plan on how to take the party forward let alone the Independence movement. Ash has some good ideas but doesn’t really flesh anything out. I am not sure if she will be able to do the things she claims but of the three, I would give Ash the chance to at least try, since the other two are far too cautious and give the impression that we aren’t ready for independence or that it is many years away.

Falkirk for Independence

I THINK it’s fair to say that Nicola Sturgeon was one of those politicians who come along once in a generation. Whoever replaces her has big shoes to fill – or perhaps large tartan stilettos!

But the SNP will move on and reshape themselves around the new leader and there is already evidence of new voters joining the SNP and many members rejoining following the media derision about falling membership.

All of the leadership contenders have emphasised a strong desire to work with the wider Yes movement and it should be remembered that the Yes movement is many, many times larger than the SNP. The Yes movement is growing and extremely active and ready to work with all parties and people dedicated to the cause of Scottish independence.

The challenges facing the new leader will include further mitigating the cost of living crisis created by the English Tory government, highlighting the scandal of Scots living in fuel poverty in a country with an abundance of every form of energy, the democratic deficit which sees Scottish votes count for nothing while some parts of the UK, notably Northern Ireland, get differentially advantageous deals, and levelling-up only seems to apply to marginal Tory constituencies in Scotland.

We also have the GRR Bill challenge from Westminster and later this year, the EU sunset clauses which will give the Tories carte blanche to do as they please. All in all, tough challenges but we still believe we are living in the early days of a better nation.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon's last week showed legacy of supporting women into politics

Yes Orkney

The Yes movement’s resilience is its wide reach and all-inclusive nature where those of all political persuasions or none can find common ground in their commitment to campaigning for our return to status as an independent country.

We are freed from the complexities of government and that is what any party of government and any leader will find challenging in a hostile environment. The campaign for independence has endured many decades in and out of popularity and will continue till the goal is won.

The hope would be that any political leader would value the counsel of members of the Yes movement as they have lived experiences of their communities and their needs. They are the critical engine for the campaign and as a grassroots movement, they are the essential link to all of Scotland’s independence activists.

Listening to Yessers will be essential and maintaining proximity to the grassroots essential so decision-makers remain in touch with the people they serve. We are problem solvers as a people and whatever problems may be faced in the future for ourselves or the next first minister it is by reaching out, putting heads together and working collectively together that will bring forward the solutions we need. Without a doubt, we can do it.


The Inveryess movement will accept the decision of the SNP membership, in their selection of party leader/FM. We think the FM should focus on independence for Scotland, as well as the day-to-day running of the country. Scotland’s sovereignty is far bigger than one party or any individual – the new FM should ensure they bring together all grassroots movements and independence parties to swiftly deliver self-rule.

Yes Stirling

The support for independence has remained strong during the campaign. Whoever the new FM is, the first action outwith the Parliament will be to provide fresh leadership in the push for a new referendum and deliver a Yes vote. All the candidates have emphasised the need to move the debate forward, and everyone in the Yes movement is calling out for that leadership.

Yes Stirling will support and work with whatever leader the party members decide but since we are not party-affiliated, it isn’t something that will affect how we engage with people. We’re still going to be here asking people how they want Scotland to be improved.

We hope the new leader will prioritise working alongside grassroots organisations and groups such as – and especially – Believe in Scotland. All those who believe in independence must come together to move the public support to the next level that will deliver independence.”

READ MORE: MSPs brace for new era in Holyrood after Nicola Sturgeon

Yes Greater Glasgow.

We’ve had a very healthy, if

rather long, debate but we’ll soon need to give the new leader of the SNP a fair wind of trust and goodwill on the core principles that we all share in re-establishing an independent Scotland.

We should all remember that it “ in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours, that we are fighting, but for freedom – for that alone, which no honest man gives up...”. Let’s focus on that prize – of freedom to choose the shape and destiny of our own country again and help the new First Minister make all the positive steps needed toward that end, in the shortest possible time.

Craig Lundie of the Radical Independence Campaign

The events surrounding the 2023 SNP leadership succession will go down in history, at best, as a PR embarrassment for the party. No candidate can now emerge from the contest to bask in the glory of a galvanised political unit. No successor can pretend to be energised by the democratic illuminations of a concerted mass effort for change.

This reflects on the independence movement as a whole because although the party – with some justification – had a reputation for organisational and governmental competence (always helpful in terms of institutional stability and mainstream media coverage), there has been an undeniable paucity of vision and coherence of purpose across the party – and the movement.

More than a decade has passed since the Edinburgh Agreement was signed. It was a springboard for an independence movement that performed well beyond expectations by September 18, 2014. But, we must concede that so much more should have been achieved by March 27, 2023, especially in terms of collective strategy. The newly elected SNP leader will have to address these matters, secure in the understanding that the previous incumbents, for all their electoral success, took us no further forward towards their own vision of Shangri-La – or even Brigadoon.

Instead, the party so many joined, hoping they could play their part in the formation of a progressive, sovereign Scottish republic has repeatedly failed to deliver. Our hope now must be to recognise that electoral strategy, a task at which the SNP has proven itself highly adept, is not the same as a strategy to build an independent state. To recognise this, and to impress it on a new leadership that may be so wrapped up in electoral and governmental politics as to be entirely unaware of the fact.

Only Humza Yousaf gave a clear signal that removing the monarchy should be any kind of priority for a newly independent Scotland. It still concerns me that he puts this a few years beyond any process of secession, however. The future citizens of Scotland have to become comfortable in their new clothes beforehand – now – so as to build a republic which they can leave to their children, secure in the knowledge that it is fit for its democratic purpose.

Nevertheless, he’s also the only leadership candidate who didn’t throw any protected characteristics under the bus. With his experience in government, and his growing confidence in front of camera and audience, Humza may have what it takes to steady the ship – and read the charts which show the way ahead. There is plenty of sea left for us to navigate and it remains to be seen whether the SNP ship is – or can be made - watertight. Of the three candidates, Humza is the only one who can put the party back on course to independence.

The Radical Independence Campaign doesn’t prioritise removing our monarchy and organising for a Scottish republic just to wind up Unionists and other conservatives. The constitution of an independent Scotland will set the course of our nation for generations to come. There is nowhere near enough debate – let alone action – within the independence movement that focuses on how our future democracy will be constituted. We don’t rely on the SNP – or their leadership – to draw up the charts alone, that is a task in which we should all participate. Let’s get on with it.

READ MORE: Creator of Grand Theft Auto video game joins SNP

Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp, chief executive of Business for Scotland and founder of the leading grassroots Yes campaign Believe on Scotland

Unlike Nicola Sturgeon’s election as leader, this SNP leadership contest has been anything but a procession. The SNP are not choosing the next Nicola or Alex to rule them from above and whoever wins will have nowhere near the power and influence of the previous two leaders. The election looks as if it will be close between the top two candidates and so the next FM will inherit a divided party. The SNP staying together as a cohesive single party is not guaranteed at this point.

The winner will have to reach out across the party and across the Yes movement, seeking allies and offering a more collegiate approach to running the party and the nation that the SNP have ever felt necessary before. This is a culture change and will be hard for some to accept.

The first thing they need to do is accept responsibility for and apologise for not making sufficient progress or even doing enough research and policy work on independence. Then, with a clean slate, accelerate independence preparation in terms of policies and campaign readiness. Commitments to the transition to a Wellbeing Economic Approach, producing a rigorous set of policies and costing them so we can create an independence GERS forecast and demonstrate that Scotland’s economy is hindered by Westminster, not aided by it.