AHEAD of today’s SNP North East Regional Assembly, I have been musing over how far we have come in our campaign for Scottish independence and, more importantly, the journey that still awaits us.

The call for independence has always been about more than political posturing or individual leaders. It’s about a nation’s collective ambition, shared by many – like my parents, who started campaigning in the 1960s. Although my mum is no longer with us, I’m carrying on this legacy, with my dad – my biggest supporter – in a way which is shaped by their fervent belief in the potential of an independent Scotland.

The campaign for independence has always been a ground-up movement. Even as the Member of the Scottish Parliament for Banffshire and Buchan Coast, I have always been an activist first and firmly believe that grassroots activism should remain at the centre of any campaign.

READ MORE: Are localised powers the solution for our rural communities?

Politics might be my profession but people are my passion. And it is to the people we must turn when seeking to instigate real change.

Our First Minister, Humza Yousaf, has breathed new life into this movement. He didn’t just call himself an activist – he exemplifies it.

The National: Humza Yousaf with a local Yes groupHumza Yousaf with a local Yes group (Image: PA)

He has been ensuring the many independence groups in Scotland are at the forefront of our campaigns.

From national days of action to the independence convention to regional assemblies, he is leveraging the power of the collective, transforming our campaign into a democratic movement driven by people’s aspirations.

However, the challenge remains – for example in my area in 2014, there wasn’t a significant Yes vote in the north-east. To win hearts and minds, we need to understand the fears and concerns that led to this outcome.

We need to debunk the misinformation and expose the false promises made by the UK Government and the Better Together campaign.

The National: Former No vote chief Alistair Darling out campaigning at the time of the indy refFormer No vote chief Alistair Darling out campaigning at the time of the indy ref

But, most importantly, we need to communicate our vision of an independent Scotland – a progressive, inclusive, and prosperous nation where everyone has a place.

A region-specific approach to campaigning holds the key. Messaging that resonates with local communities, that outlines the direct benefits of independence in a context that is meaningful to them, is essential.

READ MORE: Karen Adam: Brexit is biting hard but we in Scotland do have a way out

For instance, groups such as Aberdeen Independence Movement have effectively communicated the benefits of independence to local constituents by addressing specific concerns and finding unique cultural touchpoints.

That said, diversity within our campaign is vital, and independence groups each have their unique strength and style.

Groups such as Businesses for Scotland have made substantial strides in outlining the economic advantages of independence, speaking directly to entrepreneurs and businesses.

However, a line must be drawn. We cannot support groups that infringe upon the rights of others. I refuse to join forces with groups that perpetuate hate and discrimination against any minority.

It is vital to underscore that the goal of independence is not just a political shift but a social one – to create a Scotland that respects and protects the rights of all its citizens.

Looking forward, I see a significant event on the horizon – the Believe in Scotland march in Edinburgh on September 2. I extend a heartfelt invitation to everyone to join together on this day of action, solidarity and shared vision.

There’s power in numbers, and the sight of thousands marching together for our common goal would be a resounding affirmation of our collective will.

We must also remember to respect each others’ contributions to the cause. While we are united in our ambition for independence, we each have unique ways of advocating for it. Instead of encroaching on each others’ efforts, we must learn to appreciate the diversity of our methods. Each of us has a role to play, and each of us has a voice that needs to be heard.

The messaging I use to inspire people will certainly not inspire them all, but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong. It will be right for some. We cannot each be the right messenger for everyone, it is most certainly a collective challenge.

This journey we’re on is a shared one. It’s a journey we’ve embarked upon not just for ourselves, but for future generations.

It’s a journey towards creating a Scotland that we can be proud of, a Scotland that respects the rights of all its citizens, a Scotland that stands independent, strong, and proud on the global stage.

READ MORE: Karen Adam: A legacy of carefree summers is the goal for the young

Campaigning can sometimes seem an uphill struggle and indeed there will be toil. But we must remember that every step we take, no matter how small, is a step taking us closer to our goal. And that’s why we must keep going.

Every conversation we have, every leaflet we distribute, every rally we attend, and every post we share on social media is a testament to our unwavering commitment to an independent Scotland.

Join local independence groups and/or national independence groups that interest you – let us use the regional assemblies and the upcoming Believe in Scotland rally as catalysts to refocus our efforts.

They serve as a reminder we are not alone in this fight. We are a movement, a community, united by a shared vision and a shared dream. Get involved at a level that is manageable for you.

Let’s remember to campaign in peace, to respect our differences, and to remain focused. After all, our cause is not about any one person or any one group – it’s about all of us. And it’s a cause worth fighting for.

The campaign for Scottish independence has been handed down through generations. It’s not just about politics, it’s all about the people. It’s about the vision we have for our nation and the steps we are willing to make that vision a reality.

Let’s keep pushing forward. Because one day, we will realise our dream of an independent Scotland. For my mum, for your families, for us and for the future generations to come.