THE Young Scots for Independence (YSI) is turning 44 this year, having been first discussed by a group of young SNP members – including our current First Minister and party leader – at the SNP Annual Conference in Rothesay in 1980, with the inaugural conference of what was then called the Young Scottish Nationalists taking place in Dundee later that year.

The YSI has a long history in the SNP: of making sure that the priorities of young people in Scotland are at the forefront of our party’s mind, and also of taking our own initiative – and our International Conference is a perfect example of that.

Building on the success of last year, young SNP members from loads of different backgrounds worked together for many months, to make sure this international conference is bigger and better than before. We have a wider and more diverse range of panellists and speakers, and we’re expecting more than double the attendance of last year – including youth delegates from other EU parties, and many SNP members who are getting involved with the YSI for the first time.

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The YSI is taking action to ensure that we build and maintain relationships with parties throughout Europe. We want to learn from each other; to find common ground and goals, open our minds to new ways of thinking and work together to tackle the challenges our countries face. And of course, we want to remind everyone that Scotland is proudly European; we want to be back with them in the EU – as an independent country – exactly where we belong.

There is already a lot of sympathy in the EU for the position that Scotland finds itself in; dragged out against our will by an increasingly isolationist UK Government, draped in illusions of grandeur, yearning for the days of a lost empire. There is also increasing realisation that a Labour government will be no different to the Tories.

I gave a speech as YSI convener to a meeting of Jusos (the youth wing of the ruling SPD in Germany) a couple of months ago; there were grim faces in the audience when I told them that Labour are just as much cheerleaders for Brexit as the Tories, then audible gasps when I informed them that senior Labour figures had been praising Margaret Thatcher.

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So, it is our aim at the YSI to make sure that when international youth delegates leave our conference, they will be in absolutely no doubt that we are committed to Europe, and that with their help, we can keep Scotland on the agenda in the European Union, with the hopes that we will be returning to that often heard about light that has been left on for us.

Many years from now, when the YSI’s 44th international conference is taking place, it is our deepest hope & belief that we will be sitting down again with our friends across Europe, but this time on an equal footing; with Scotland being an independent country in the EU.

By then, our time in the YSI will be a very distant memory indeed; but we will be able to look back – perhaps with our own children, or even grandchildren, who by then will be taking Scotland’s independence for granted – and know that we played a part in making our country’s independence happen.

Steven Campbell is the YSI's national convener