SCOTTISH independence activists from across the movement have taken part in one of the first local campaign days of 2024, hosted by Believe in Scotland (BiS).

Pensioners for Independence, Yes for EU and Salvo joined local Perth campaigners from across parties as well as SNP MSP Jim Fairlie and SNP MP Pete Wishart at stalls in the city centre.

After more than 4000 leaflets were distributed and those in attendance had enjoyed some music, the founder of BiS, Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp, thanked activists for turning out and told them if the movement leaves campaigning to the politicians, "we’re not going to get independence”.

With the aim of holding dozens of events across the country, the organisation is working with its 142 affiliated Yes groups already established in their local areas to help bring branches of the movement together and facilitate campaign days that are both sustainable and impactful.

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MacIntyre-Kemp told the group: “We want to do 30 days like this, right across the country, over the next 12 months.

“It’s time to change the dynamics of the independence movement because – and this might not sound motivational, and apologies to the MP and MSP that are here today – but if we leave it to the politicians, we’re not going to get independence.

“They have a really important job to do, but we as the grassroots non-political campaign have got an even more important job to do.”

MacIntyre-Kemp (below) later told The National that if independence campaigning is left to political parties, support will continue to stagnate at 50/50.

The National:

Both Wishart and Fairlie nodded at the comments, with Wishart commenting to The National about the day: “I think it’s fantastic and a great show of support and solidarity, it's really encouraging to see so many from right across Scotland joining the initiative here in Perth.

"It’s a particularly dynamic and far-reaching group here, and I know they work hard to keep the Believe in Scotland banner flying.

“That’s what it’s about, you’ve got to tell the story of independence, and everybody’s here – Yes for EU and Pensioners for Indy – to get the message across.”

When asked if SNP representatives could do more to support their local groups, he said: “I look at all my colleagues and I think they’re all pretty much engaged in the Yes activity in their own community, but I think there’s more we can all do – we perhaps don’t keep in as regular contact as we could, or give as much of our time to support things that they’re doing, like being here today to show active support.

The National:

“I think we have to speak a little bit more to our other colleagues in the Yes movement, cause we’re only going to do this if we all work together and have a sense of purpose and unity. There’s no other way to secure independence without that.

“The event today is what demonstrates that.”

Wishart also shared that he wanted to see more information on an independence convention.

He said: “I was an early adopter of a national convention, and I know we’re [SNP] are committed to it but I’d like to see further progress to try and secure that now. This is the time really, to be thinking about bringing everybody together in a way where we all have a means to engage properly with respect and that’s the key thing when it comes to all this.”

Making an impact on the polls is what drove the activists throughout the day, and in the run-up.

The National:

Jacqui Jensen (above) from the Perth Independence Movement said that as the first day of its kind for the organisation, notes had been taken during the planning to streamline other efforts in future

Jensen said: “There is something about it being the start of the year and it being an event – it’s not just your normal campaign day.

“Normally you have four or five people, you trudge out for leafleting, and then they go their separate ways again – so making it a wee bit more of an event I think has made people quite excited to turn up and help.”

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Activists from Perth, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, Fife and as far as Elgin turned out to take part – with around 30 teams out to distribute more than 4000 leaflets to streets in the city centre.

Jensen added that the strategy of the organisation in 2024 is to create a “festival and fun” feel to events, with an aim to bring the motivation up to peak 2014 levels again.

However, organisers are conscious of keeping the events “sustainable”.

“We want to see how well we can do this,” Jensen said. “What happened in 2014 was a gradual momentum – that’s what we need to do, build the momentum with more activists thinking ‘this looks fun’ and it’s not just a one-off.

"We need to capture this and make it sustainable, to keep building."

The National:
Flora was the indy dug of the day

One activist arrived back at the hub to share he had been let into a tenement close by local Tory MSP Alexander Stewart, joking with the group that even the Conservatives had helped in the day's success.

The Perth Hub, opened in 2021, kept coffee, tea and blether flowing throughout the day. As activists came and went, debriefs of exchanges with the public were enjoyed and discussion was had over how to make more complex evidence for Yes as simple as possible to communicate to the public.

Hamish Coutts, from Bridge of Earn, shared that even though it’s a “pretty hard shift”, the movement just “has to get out and do it, because if we don’t do it, we won’t get there”.

Another activist shared he had offered one couple a leaflet but the woman rejected it, telling him she didn’t “believe in that”. Her husband interjected and said, “I do”, taking the leaflet with a smile