THE National will be recognising one individual as 2023's Independence Activist of the Year – and doing so in tribute to a renowned Yesser.

The award is in memory of Mike Blackshaw, who died on November 8 2022. Mike was a passionate campaigner for the Yes Movement, SNP and Scottish anti-nuclear campaigns.

You can read a full dedication to Mike by Lesley Riddoch here.

The Independence Activist of the Year Award 2023 will celebrate an independence activist who goes above and beyond in pursuit of Scotland’s Yes victory, and challenges injustice wherever and whenever they find it.

The National: Mike Blackshaw with Lesley Riddoch, who has penned this article about her friend and fellow campaigner

Throughout 2023, we will be accepting nominations for an eventual shortlist. You can nominate fellow campaigners, family members, friends or colleagues who put their all into activism in the form below, or by clicking HERE.

Nominees will be contacted for a deep-dive interview which will be published to inspire others. We want to use this award to highlight useful people and projects as they happen.

The winner will be chosen by a panel of The National contributors – with more details on this to come at a later date.

Meanwhile, it's becoming clear that while the SNP will have to fire the starting gun for a Yes campaign, the grassroots are ready to carry the baton.

This week saw SNP MP Pete Wishart call for a convention after the SNP Special Democracy conference in March.

However, in reaction to the suggestion, grassroots engine Believe in Scotland advised the SNP to "probably check" what's going on amongst Yessers before making suggestions for another convention...

One of our regular contributors Mark McGeoghegan, who provides expert research analysis, responded to the piece.

He said: "There's a tension here, in that the SNP are both the largest, and overwhelmingly dominant, organisation in the Scottish independence movement but also the party of government in a polarised nation, unwilling to expose itself to the political risks of large and diverse movement.

"Their urge for a more command-and-control style of leadership within the movement is understandable given some of the 'colourful' groups and individuals within it. But it's also probably a counterproductive one if you want to achieve secession, as it inhibits the broader movement."

A fine balance is being searched for by many SNP members on the independence mission to be passionate and legit, as well as professional with a calm confidence voters want to join.

A movement and a government. Passion and professionalism. At the moment, the balance is not quite there, and as McGeoghegan points out, with this unbalanced approach comes the movement's stunted growth.

Understanding from Yessers when it comes to SNP attention being taken up by Covid, the cost of living crisis, strikes and NHS chaos is there, is strong and is valid. However, many don’t buy that passion and professionalism are mutually exclusive.

Engaging, highlighting, and contributing to the events – not running them – could allow the passion and the movement to be spotlighted alongside the professional and calm confidence that voters will admire.

READ MORE: Alasdair Allan: From Cringe to Confidence 

So, the grassroots are getting busy.

This is evident in the two independent independence conferences in February, as well as the increase in rallies and protests being organised without a green light coming from the party in power.

On Wednesday, activists kicked off Brexit action in Edinburgh with placards displaying headlines showing Brexit's harm to Scotland on a wide range of issues.

The National: Activists outside the UK Governement hubActivists outside the UK Governement hub (Image: Duncan McGlynn)

It comes ahead of the Time for Scotland action on Tuesday, January 31 (which you can buy your torches for here!).

We urge you to get involved in the grassroots movement, and next week provides a perfect gateway with lots of local events – the list is here.

This piece is an extract from today’s The National Grassroots newsletter, which is emailed out at 1pm every Thursday.

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