Scottish independence: Grassroots Yes groups are fundamental to success

YES Edinburgh and Lothians is alive and kicking despite rumours to the contrary. The group has remained steady throughout the Covid pandemic with a slight increase in the number of groups taking part which indicates the hunger and desire for Scottish independence is still very much to the fore.

Because of the restrictions over Covid which is well into two years, like all things in our country, the Yes movement has by all intents and purposes ground to a temporary halt. But by its very nature YE&L looked for other ways we could adapt to using its “free time”.

Like everyone else they found Zoom and developed a steep and, for some, a quite exciting learning curve. In a short space of time such platforms were mastered and groups and individuals discovered and realised this different way of communication was the best thing ever.

Best of all, Scotland’s Yes movement has become engaged in ways that allow it to converse at will with every part of the movement.

YE&L has become part of that determined demographic, which spends valuable but invisible time planning and nurturing what we all need to do together to regain independence.

Before the virus hit the country YE&L circulated all the Lothian MPs and MSPs with the idea of exploring the evolving attitudes and opinions about independence.

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Two meetings were held, with Kenny MacAskill, the MP for East Lothian, and Hannah Bardell, MP for Livingston. Very different perspectives and both well attended.

Another workshop was held which brought together representatives from four independence-supporting parties. But in general there has been a famine in terms of Yes group activities. However in recent months some groups such as Yes Musselburgh have been doing limited activities within the conditions which are in place.

One of the best things to happen in these times, has been the writing of a new booklet by Ian Grant and John Brown from Edinburgh West. Scotland and Independence is an excellent pocket sized informative guide outlining why “now definitely is the time”, published with help from the Scottish Independence Foundation(SIF).

This free booklet is available now and distributed widely throughout Scotland by the new National Yes Network logistics team and volunteers.

Looking forward, the Yes Edinburgh and Lothian group has two main aims. The first, to continue to keep all the current groups enthused and informed with developments. Both within the group and what is happening beyond, in the country as a whole.

The second is to add new groups to the YE&L fold, whether that is former groups that have been inactive for a while, or especially new groups being formed. On that front if a group is unsure what needs done to get a new group going, they can contact YE&L for help. New groups, new ideas and new people coming to the cause are all good.

Everyone is aware now that what has been happening to our country through all the knots, twists and contortions in recent years cannot possibly be right for Scotland.

It is vital the Yes movement, which has thrived and developed since 2014 continues to stay concentrated on its single aim and continue building on the undoubted progress being made.

YE&L are an important part of that development, alongside the other seven regions, to move the independence issue to the top of the agenda for the country. Where it should be.

FULL of people and groups who, thanks to the discovered communication platforms, are thinking and acting, not as strangers, but as enthusiastic, like-minded neighbours, collaborators and friends. However the strength and will of the individual grassroots Yes groups on this journey is the vital significant ingredient to make success achievable.

Over the last few years there have been some significant developments in terms of new political parties and organisations being formed. However, none are more important for the Yes movement than the recent emergence of two new national Independence focused bodies. Now Scotland and the National Yes Network are significant developments, both fully committed to Scotland regaining its independence.

Each has a different approach to the question and vitally each has a number of people from YE&L groups supporting and helping with their development. Already initiatives to collaborate on projects and ideas are being explored along with other bodies. The wonderful Winnie Ewing once said: “Stop the world, Scotland wants to get on”. Let’s turn the key, open the door and do it.

Linsay McCrea is from Yes Edinburgh and Lothians

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