RIGHTLY or wrongly, recent bad publicity surrounding SNP governance has shaken trust in the party. What does the wider independence campaign think the party should do to regain that trust? The Sunday National asked a cross-section of groups for their opinion.

The National: Gordon Macintyre-Kemp says Business for Scotland’s vision is an alternative to the right-left political divide

Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp, founder of the leading grassroots independence campaigning body Believe in Scotland, which includes 137 affiliated Yes groups

EVEN with the chaos surrounding the SNP right now, there is good news for the wider Yes movement. Despite SNP support wobbling, 48% public support for independence seems to be hard-wired. Given that the Unionist politicians and media had been confidently predicting the end of independence, the fact that almost half of Scotland is solidly Yes must be absolutely terrifying.

However, Humza Yousaf has a huge task on his hands and his Government needs to do three things better than in the Sturgeon era.

Firstly, he has to sort out the SNP’s structure and organisation, they need a root-and-branch re-engineering of the party to make it more member-democratic, which means empowering a REAL National Executive Committee.

Secondly, he needs to make the party far more transparent, financially speaking, and far more approachable to the organisers of the wider Yes movement who are sick of being treated with disdain.

Finally, he has to set a target date for the Yes movement as a whole to motivate activists, get them campaigning and driving Yes support up. Biting that bullet will be hard in the current circumstances but he simply cannot go past the next General Election without making it a singular clarion call for independence – for if he doesn’t, Believe in Scotland’s polling suggests Labour will take as many as 10 Scottish seats and the road to indy will be blocked for a generation.

If Humza gets this right he will be in a hugely powerful position and will have his opportunity to deliver independence. If he gets it wrong he will find out – just as Alex and Nicola did before – that despite everything else they achieve, an SNP leader must deliver independence or their career ends in failure.

The National: William Duguid.

William Duguid of Perth and Kinross Yes Hub

HUMZA Yousaf has to be careful about what he says and does at present because there’s still the danger that further revelations will undermine his party. For members, it’s important that he acknowledges the hurt they’re feeling, listens to what they have to say and takes visible steps to sweep aside any suggestion of a centralised, secretive culture at the heart of the party.

In regards to the wider Yes movement, we’d encourage him to reach out and work in partnership with us on building support for independence much more explicitly than the previous leadership ever did. We need to set an ambitious but realistic timetable and a robust mechanism for achieving independence – no more promises that turn out to be overtaken by events. The early signs on some of this are actually pretty promising.

For voters, it would be sensible to de-emphasise the idea of “continuity”. Acknowledge the problems Scotland faces across the board and look for areas in which at least some progress can be made fairly quickly.

The National:

Alan Petrie, co-chair and co-founder of Aberdeen Independence Movement

WE have an opportunity to press reset, the SNP have a hell of a job to build trust with the voting public again, but they have at least a year before a General Election and three before a Holyrood one, so we have time. Internal party matters are not for groups like ours though, our concern and focus are on independence. We have been loud in our support for a wide civic campaign with a code of conduct and recent events has just reinforced why this is so vital. The SNP passed a resolution backing such a civic campaign at the last SNP conference but alas, no progress has been made on it. We build trust by putting what we say we are going to do into action.


POLITICAL platitudes simply won’t work any more – independence is a priority. Since the resignation of the former First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, many conversations in our InverYESs Hub have been emotional, passionate, often despairing and sometimes unforgiving.

The impacts for some run deep. Many are asking if recent events have set us back. Confidence in the leadership and the integrity of the independence movement must be restored by those who are responsible. They must own it, not shy away from it, and most importantly, put measures in place to ensure behaviours and actions are never repeated. Denying the obvious will only elongate demise.

Thankfully, we have an open and safe space at our InverYESs Hub to talk this through, and we always come back to the main reason for our existence and remind ourselves that it will take each and everyone of us to continue, as a matter of urgency, to succeed.

We keep on, keeping on, reminding those who are despondent that independence is bigger than any politician or party.

Scunnered. You bet we are. Some disillusioned, many wondering if they will witness our country free from London rule in their lifetimes.

However, our unwavering commitment towards regaining Scotland’s independence will not be distracted nor dissipated by the newly appointed First Minister, nor will any of the allegations flying around politicians and positions.

The party that claim to be the vehicle in taking us to independence, the SNP, have held many a front page for weeks with less-than-flattering headlines. Trust has been lost, questions gone unanswered. Either ignored or camouflaged under the emotion of what independence means to many of us. This tact cannot continue nor should any of us have to listen, read or suppress our angst and concerns. We should not be comparing Scottish politics to Westminster. We are better than that. Isn’t that why we strive to remove ourselves from the Union?

The Yes movement, along with all of our Scottish citizens, whether independence-minded or not, must have transparency and accountability.

How do they regain trust? By forging better relationship structures and more open communication with all independence parties and the Yes/Aye communities. Whilst Yessers have never stopped campaigning, politicians, councillors, MSPs and MPs must also step up and stop the negativity spreading, inciting and creating divisions. Reminded that they were elected for the people, by the people. Our views should never be dismissed or diluted. Independence must be front and centre.

Yes Greater Glasgow

IT’S all been quite surprising but the new leadership seem to be working through the challenges effectively. Commitment to achieving visibly renewed progress will help restore confidence.

Craig Lundie, Radical Independence Campaign

WERE I to believe most of the newspapers, then lately, my own trust relationship with the Scottish National Party has been a bit of an outlier. Which is to say, it hasn’t really changed much. I mean, call me cynical, but representative democracy is always a temporary compromise and when even that level of democracy is steadily eroded by those representatives themselves, it doesn’t leave much scope for trust at all. Hope, perhaps.

I agreed with most SNP politicians that Humza was the best choice of the three leadership candidates. Indeed, very few of our elected representatives backed either of the other two runners, so I think we can trust that the party’s parliamentary work will follow a familiar pattern. No surprise there, of course. The SNP resolved to become a party of devolved government over twenty years ago and the internal power base soon moved away from members (mainly towards parliamentarians); partly as an effect of this resolution.

Predictably, this has put some strain on relationships within the party. There has been an unspoken assumption that, although nobody is quite sure how decisions are made, the decision-makers themselves are well enough known amongst the faithful that they must be trusted to make difficult decisions on our behalf. Those who joined after 2014 and were persuaded to trust in this manner are entitled to feel a bit disillusioned by now.

There’s an argument that the centralisation of power within the party was part of a successful electoral strategy. Valid or not, those electoral successes – at least after the 2014 referendum – have been won at the expense of the independence cause itself. Depending on the outcome of certain ongoing investigations, this expense may include a sizeable financial cost. In which case, the independence cause will be yet further damaged.

Having installed Nicola Sturgeon in the leadership role alongside her husband and SNP CEO, Peter Murrell, it had become increasingly obvious that the party was ill-equipped to further our cause. For all the trust embodied in this “dream team” – and notwithstanding the very real limitations (and pitfalls) of devolved government – it can’t be denied that very little (if any) progress has been made towards Scottish independence as such.

During their tenure, it’s hard to identify any initiative which would afford party members – let alone the people of Scotland as a whole – any opportunity to strategise the cause of independence. It was as if they believed, with electoral success keeping the kettle boiling, that the independence movement would simply grow and advance itself – even as they were trusted to “lead”. Now that they’re gone, the party has to learn some important lessons.

For starters, a large membership should not be seen simply as a source of subscription money and canvassing volunteers but as a repository of knowledge and energy who understand Scotland, warts and all – and who are willing to help build it anew, free from the tyrannies of capital, prejudice, and yes, over-centralisation of power, whether that be in Downing Street, Charlotte Street, or Charlotte Square.

Whether or not we can trust the SNP isn’t the right question. The party is only as effective as its members determine it to be. But as long as the organisational model focuses primarily on electoral success in the context of devolution’s diminishing returns, it will produce politicians who reflect this. That’s the nature of liberal democracy and we need to look it in the eye.

Jim Manclark, Ayrshire Independence Movement

For my mind, for the SNP to regain the trust of the people that feel let down by them they need to do only one thing. Sound the bell for independence. While this in itself may not get us independence per se, the Yes movement need a clear clarion call to bring people back together.

The people need to see the SNP fighting to bring about our independence. They need to see the SNP government rebuff the statements made by unionists that continue to put Scotland down. They need to see the SNP refute the GERS figures and provide real figures that would relate to how an independent Scotland would be. In other words, show the people the real benefits of independence. They need to also see the SNP gain recognition for Scotland both within and outwith Europe, as in countries that will state that they would support and trade with an independent Scotland.

This is something that will be needed as soon as we get our independence and would give the people of Scotland a good morale boost seeing that we would have this support in place already. Even if countries couldn't be named at first, at least knowing there were countries waiting to support us would be good. The main thing though is this: they need to show a clear plan which includes various options and not be obsessed with Section 30 orders. No country ever became independent of the UK with a Section 30 order or any other kind of order. They did so by demanding it and in some places, taking it.

Either way, the SNP need to get us to independence and stop the carrot dangling. If they don't, we could end up seeing a large loss of support and end up with a possible Labour/Tory coalition in holyrood.

Yes Stirling

Yes Stirling is obviously paying attention and concerned with what is going on within the SNP but the cause of independence transcends the issues of any one political party.

We continue to encourage conversation about the benefits of an independent Scotland and hope that the government will listen closely to activists working in the grassroots - like those who campaign with Yes Stirling - and take that feedback on board in our pursuit of an honest debate about Scotland’s future.