MOST Under One Banner doesn’t have quite the right ring, does it? Many Under One Banner is a bit better, but it still falls short. Numerous Under One Banner is definitely missing a noun.

All of Scotland’s Yes supporters will definitely not be present at the All Under One Banner (AUOB) march on June 24, beginning at Auld Stirling Brig and processing to Bannockburn Field, as the high heid yins of the SNP and a portion of the membership will be assembling in Dundee on the same day. 

The party’s choice of date for their postponed special independence convention has raised eyebrows and indeed hackles, with AUOB describing the move as “reactionary and contemptuous” and “de facto anti-Yes behaviour”.

The group had invited First Minister Humza Yousaf to speak, an opportunity one might have expected him to seize following his no-show at the Glasgow rally on May 6 due to a clash with the King’s coronation.

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Instead, AUOB says they received a “weird reply” from his office before learning about this second clash.  Perhaps they should have tried to lock in his June attendance during the leadership contest, when it was clear that even with all the will in the world, he would not be attending two major daytime events in two different countries simultaneously. 

One could argue, as some of our readers have, that there’s strength in having two major independence events on one (hopefully) sunny Saturday in June. There is also clearly a need for a somewhat bruised and battered SNP to convene as a party and agree on a strategy for pursuing independence before harnessing what Yousaf describes as the “enormous wealth of talent in the SNP and wider independence movement”.

The leadership contest revealed strong differences of opinion within the party – would gathering together a wider group of people result in a better plan, or just a bit of a rammy? 

Dundee’s Caird Hall has a maximum seated capacity of 2000, and the theoretical loss of that number of marchers will certainly not lessen the impact of a summer march towards a historically significant battlefield.

I say theoretical because we cannot assume all those who will be in Dundee on June 24 would otherwise have been in Stirling.

Asked on BBC Scotland’s Sunday Show why he did not join the recent Yes march following his appointment as Minister for Independence, Jamie Hepburn suggested he had spent that weekend (indeed that he spends “most weekends”) making the case for independence directly to his constituents.

Frankly, I hope that’s not true and that he in fact spends most of his weekends relaxing and recharging after busy weeks doing his job as a government minister. It’s not healthy to suggest SNP politicians should be 24/7 campaigning machines.

Presenter Martin Geissler wasn’t satisfied with the answer, suggesting Hepburn might have attended in order to “put a hand across the divide”, but failed to do so because he and his colleagues didn’t like the others in attendance. His observation that the SNP speakers at the rally were Joanna Cherry and Ash Regan was met with a testy response: “The last I checked, they were members of the Scottish National Party.” A cynic might suggest to Hepburn that he keep checking on a regular basis.

Geissler’s question suggested that a member of the Scottish Government speaking at an AUOB event would be rather a big deal, and send a quite specific message. But why should this be the case?

A senior member of the party with the raison d’etre of independence addressing thousands of like-minded others at an independence rally should not be remotely controversial. Why should it be seen as the extension of a hand to any and all others who might be doing the same that day?

We heard much, in the years following the 2014 referendum, about how Labour politicians had “stood shoulder to shoulder” with Conservatives to protect the Union. It was suggested that this collaboration with political opponents in pursuit of a common cause should leave an indelible stain.

In the years since then, across society, the concept of “sharing a platform” with someone prone to express differing opinions on a range of topics has increasingly been deemed inexcusable – even if the platform was to be used to challenge and criticise.

Are the SNP really so concerned about being accused of standing “shoulder to shoulder” with the likes of Alex Salmond (and even some of their own colleagues) that the FM and his Cabinet colleagues will continue to stay away from AUOB events, perhaps even contriving reasons to be otherwise engaged on the days in question?

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Who exactly would howl with outrage if a government minister  was pictured within arm’s reach of the Alba Party leader? Some sections of the press, perhaps, but certainly not the majority of Yes supporters, who may not support Salmond but still respect his right to keep campaigning for independence and acknowledge that others would vote for him.

The framing suggested by Geissler – that attending the same event as another political figure means endorsing them, or “putting a hand out” to them – ought to be rejected. One need not literally stand shoulder to shoulder with an opponent to fit under a very broad banner.