Jim Mather once said “the SNP is a team game. When you win, I win, we all win.” Looking at the road we have ahead of us, I’m minded of that more than ever. It's time to talk about the Yes movement.
A lot of us are still tender from the Brexit result, including some who voted to Leave and expected the campaign leaders to have some semblance of a plan. But the only leadership the UK saw on June 24th was from Scotland’s First Minister, our own Nicola Sturgeon. Her calm, reassuring words to EU nationals living in Scotland was a masterpiece of statesmanship and humanity, showing our European neighbours how we do things in Scotland.
But now we’ve had time to lick our wounds, take a deep breath, and work out where we go from here. First and foremost, Scottish independence has to be at the forefront of what we do. We were so close in 2014, and I’ve lost count of the former No voters who have told me they've been persuaded by our arguments, our optimism, and our positive vision for Scotland’s future. Central to that is the Yes movement, those cross-party (or no party) campaigners who brought politics out of the chamber and into the public domain, where it belongs.
Now, the SNP was a major beneficiary of the surge in pro-indy activism and voters, and as such, should do more to support the Yes movement. We need a dedicated Yes Hotline at SNP HQ to give campaigners the advice, contacts and support they need. While I myself am an SNP member, I truly believe that having Yes supporters from across the board is ahuge boon to cause of Scottish independence. Cross-party co-operation is great, but so is having a variety of different voices!
We politicians have to remember that we are activists too, and it does a heart good to see our guys out chapping doors for by-elections and taking newbies under their wing. Activism is at the heart and soul of the Yes movement, and I’m constantly humbled by those folk who are out on the rainiest days knocking doors, making tea, manning the campaign hubs, available on everyone’s speed dial, living breathing and working silently and steadfastly for the cause, without fuss, without ego – we’re blessed in the SNP because it seems every branch has at least one of these fine folk. But I met plenty during the IndyRef who weren’t a member of a party, and they deserve our support too.
So, spare a thought for the Yes organisers, party and non-party alike. Without them, we wouldn’t have had our 1,617,989 votes in 2014. We wouldn’t even have an independence movement.
If our First Minister comes to the conclusion that a second IndyRef is in the best interests of Scotland – as decided by the people of Scotland – then we want to be even better prepared than last time. We need to remember that Yes is a team game.