WITH the turning of the year being a time of reflection on past years and looking forward with hope on what’s to come, my mind turned to the state of the Yes movement, its failings, its strengths and its future.

I’ll be honest – this article will not make easy reading for many and will likely get more than a few, “How dare he,” reactions.

But, as a movement, being able to ask difficult questions and openly challenge our actions is not just important but essential.

So here goes. Looking back over the post-referendum years, the harsh reality is that the Yes movement, as a whole, has wasted nine years, and we must take our share of the criticism for not being further forward. If we had done our job well, we could be independent now.

The National:

Along with others, in Jan 2018, we formed the Aberdeen Independence Movement; we formed AIM because we did not like what we saw in the general Yes movement.

We thought it had lost its way, and the sad thing is that five years on, way too many of the same issues exist. In 2014, the Yes movement was a campaigning machine focused on doing the hard, unglamorous work of changing minds and bringing people to our cause.

We did not fixate on marches – the only marching was door-to-door with a clipboard in hand. If only the post-referendum reincarnation of the Yes movement had continued in the same vein. But it did not.

Understandably, it looked inward for solace and support after the awful result. However, more than nine years later, it’s still looking inward, becoming a huge issue and the most significant barrier to us winning independence.

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Turning inward meant fertile ground for conspiracy and frustrations to grow. The post-referendum Yes movement is like a closed Facebook group – bloggers who write what you want to hear and self-gratification.

Somewhere along the line, we forgot that the Yes movement is a campaign, and its one job is to reach out and convince others that independence offers a better long-term future.

The last nine years have seen march after march and so much energy and money wasted on thinking up more and more ideas of self-entertaining, self-gratification claptrap, which does nothing to change a single mind.

The National: Humza Yousaf

To think where we could and should have been as a movement is enough to make me cry. We should have had a professional, well-funded civic campaign able to conduct research and conduct professional campaigns, with a vast bank of data collected from door-knocking.

But we are where we are, and it’s never too late to get our act together and get it together; we must.

Believe in Scotland has been a ray of light in the darkness of late and gives a glimpse of what a civic Yes campaign that has refound its purpose as a campaigning machine can achieve.

Let us draw a line under the lost years and find our campaigning mojo again; I truly believe if the grassroots can become a campaigning machine, independence will be short in coming.

The Yes movement exists to campaign for independence – let’s return to it.