I WAS one or the fortunate 500 or so who attended the AUOB last Saturday. So a big thanks and give AUOB applause for actually doing it.

It was a pick ‘n’ mix as you choose, from opportunities for one-to-one chats, workshops and panel discussions where you could put questions in advance or in real time. What did I learn as I did all of that? The great buzz confirmed what I’ve missed this year. The creativity from connections and networking, but mostly reassurance that the grassroots are chomping at the bit.

AUOB believe there is need for a national grassroots indy movement. Saturday seems to have seen that confirmation. Building on Saturday, they’re considering a follow-up to explore the potential of a structured member-based organisation to become just that. But hopefully one that works with existing groups, recognising the diversity of expertise and draws us in cohesively.

If AOUB works quickly, not political party/politician-led but very much rooted in, and responsible to, the grassroots membership, they have a very good chance of becoming that “movement”. Sure, there are big questions to be asked, but it was so encouraging to be part of workshops talking about traditional and creative fundraising, building alliances, marketing media strands and platforms, getting to know and understand how to appeal to and attract people out with our current pro-indy base.

It was also articulated, and I do agree, that there is a need to bring independence more into an every day, in-your-face presence. Ideas poured forth with the potential for quick hits success if the energy and enthusiasm can be harnessed. A poster “windaes for indy” campaign, pro-indy billboards and I’m sure I saw mention of mobile vans doing the same.

READ MORE: Scottish independence: New Yes group will help pave way for referendum

Personally, I think that whatever still considers itself the indy movement realises it is fragmented: wasteful of energy, time and resources, duplicates certain actions and doesn’t always communicate well.

The grassroots wants to move on. It’s crying out for organisation, leadership. AUOB could take up that role.

Regards and thanks again, AUOB.
Selma Rahman

READING the article on Boris Johnson’s, money-is-no-object-when-it-comes-to-military-spending speech made me wonder if Scots can afford the UK lifestyle imposed on us by Westminster (Military spending: campaigners slam Tories’ ‘inappropriate’ £16.5bn MoD boost, November 19).

Scotland is already in deficit by billions every year due to having to pay its share of the enormous cost of keeping the UK in its chosen role as a major player on the world stage, with a much bigger bill to come.

Scotland would play a far better role in the world by sitting among all the other nations that have won their independence in the last century than funding the global ambitions of Westminster. Voters should keep this in mind in the run-up to the Holyrood election in May.
John Jamieson
South Queensferry

BORIS Johnson has announced billions over four years for the defence budget. Since he was reluctant to fund free school meals in England during holidays, has he now found a magic money tree? Perhaps, during his isolation holidays, he has been reading The Deficit Myth and realises that taxation doesn’t fund government spending and austerity is always a political choice favoured by his party.
Roddie Macpherson

DO the Tories get coached in how to be rude and aggressive and never answer questions?

I listen to PMQs regularly and have yet to hear Boris Johnson properly answer a question – he simply goes on the offensive and defensive and is sometimes even abusive both towards Sir Keir Starmer and Ian Blackford.

I then saw a clip of Douglas Ross asking a question of Michael Russell during a parliamentary committee session. Ross just kept putting the same question again and again to Russell and even though he gave him the answer it was obviously not the one the Scots Tory leader wanted.

He was even rude enough to suggest that Russell “listen to the question” and then demanded that the chair record that he had not answered it.

READ MORE: PMQs: Boris Johnson scolded by Speaker for getting SNP name wrong

So as well as coaching in how not to answer a question but turn the answer into an insult, they must get coaching in how to ask the same question again and again until they get the answer they want. I’m very glad to say Michael Russell is far too experienced to be led down that path by Westminster toady.
Winifred McCartney

ANENT recent criticism concerning the awarding of government contracts for PPE, etc, I really don’t know what all the fuss is about. There’s nothing wrong with nepotism, surely, as long as you keep it in the family. As for cronyism – what are friends for? We really need a rousing chorus of “We’re All in This Together!” to raise morale.
James Stevenson