RMT members have little motivating them to vote for independence at another referendum due to the “timid, managerial” approach of the Scottish Government, according to the trade union's Scotland organiser.

Gordon Martin – who describes himself as “100% in favour of independence” – issued a warning over offering Scots “more of the same” at a meeting hosted by the SNP’s Trade Union Group (TUG) in association with The National.

The event, held on the final day of the Scottish Trade Union Congress, saw Martin join the TUG’s Simon Barrow and Bill Ramsay, Common Weal’s Craig Dalzell and Abigail Guthrie of the STUC’s Youth Committee to discuss how the Holyrood government can better use its powers.

Martin stressed that while he is not a member of any party, he wants to see independence – and has concerns over the SNP’s trajectory.

The National: Gordon Martin (second from left) at a meeting hosted by the SNP’s Trade Union Group (TUG) in association with The NationalGordon Martin (second from left) at a meeting hosted by the SNP’s Trade Union Group (TUG) in association with The National (Image: NQ)

Since Nicola Sturgeon’s resignation and media focus on the police investigation into SNP finances the party has lost support in the polls, dropping below 40% in Holyrood and Westminster surveys, while independence backing has remained relatively stable.

“RMT members voted to support independence in the referendum,” the trade unionist said.

“Would they do that now? I’m not so sure, because what positive future is on offer to them? What positive future is on offer to young people from the SNP? I don’t really see anything.”

“Now I’ve been described as a BritNat – why?” he told the room. “For telling it how it is. Speaking at public meetings, or out on the street, or calling the previous first minister out for being timid and managerial rather than bold.”

He went on: “In 2014 at the referendum I spoke at RMT and public meetings with hundreds at them in favour of independence. Why was that? Why were people in favour of independence? Because they want change. They really need change.”

Martin spoke of the challenges with Scotland’s infrastructure – pointing to Network Rail’s £650 million in cuts north of the Border and repeated problems with Scotland’s ageing ferry fleet.

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“We need infrastructure upgrades because let’s be honest the infrastructure in Scotland is not fit for purpose – the roads aren’t fit for purpose and some of the potholes you could bury the Tory Cabinet in them very comfortably,” he told delegates. “If that comes to pass I’ll happily volunteer to help out with that.”

A new industrial strategy is needed to make Scotland fit for the future, Martin said.

He expressed disappointment over a lack of a “cohesive, coherent” plan bringing together transport, infrastructure, social housing and more – calling for a land tax to be brought in to help fund affordable home building.

“It looks to me very often that [politicians] aren’t there for us, they’re there for small cliques whether it be a Westminster cliques or Holyrood cliques,” he said.

Martin told the audience that if political leaders fail to engage with trade unions, he would call for unions to put up candidates against the traditional parties at election time.

“I don’t think they’ve any intention of engaging with us,” he said. “Hence the reason I’m saying I think we need to start looking at putting up our own people who are loyal and true to the demands and needs.”

Later in the meeting, Martin called for the independence movement to return to the “hope” of 2014.

“We need to get back to vibrancy, hope, imagination and if the people in charge of the party aren’t up for it then that’s up for the SNP members to remove them,” he said.

Elsewhere, Dalzell addressed the dropping support for the SNP – suggesting the political landscape in Scotland could be becoming more like that of Wales.

“The support for independence isn’t dropping nearly as quickly as support for any particular party,” he said.

“What happens if for example, the Labour Party moves from a position where 20% of voters support independence to more like Wales where 50% of them support independence?

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“I’m really enthusiastic about the future, because what happens to the independence movement if we double the politics of the internal everyday of Scotland from the big constitutional question and having more conversations across parties, across trade union groups, finding commonalities, finding coalitions on issues and end up with the politics that the rest of Europe find normal?”

Others took a similarly positive view, with Barrow describing the current junction as an “opportunity for a reset” in the party. He welcomed the pausing of the National Care Service, announced by First Minister Humza Yousaf this week.

And there was praise for the recent move to bring the Caledonian Sleeper into public ownership alongside ScotRail from Martin – though he stressed there is a need for more investment and increased staffing to make the project worth it.