THE results of last week’s election should be a stark reminder to independence campaigners that the campaign for Scottish independence is not the sole preserve of the SNP. While for many years they were the driving force behind it, it was the cross party/all-party/no party Yes Scotland campaign which united almost half the country to support independence, and while the SNP were the main beneficiaries of that movement post-September 2014, in the furtherance of independence as a cause they have grown lazy and complacent since then. Many people have been looking to the likes of the Scottish Independence Convention to take up where Yes Scotland left off. It hasn’t quite sparked a fire in the way Yes did; it really needs to become louder, bolder and more visible: it needs to become the new face of Yes.

The closure of Yes Scotland was the first in a series of mistakes. The SNP was not a substitute for Yes and while in the short term wins at Westminster and Holyrood were a boost to pro-independence supporters, the SNP failed to move the case forward for independence. As a political party full of people who now rely on being elected as their employment, the SNP’s prime focus is to be re-elected. The focus is always on the short term campaign, not the long term one. Since 2014 we have seen a Westminster election, a Holyrood election, the council elections and another Westminster election in close succession and independence campaigners should ask themselves this question: other than campaigning for their own personal election, what has my councillor, my MP, my MSP done to promote independence? The honest answer is probably very little. That’s not to say it’s not something they don’t care about, but it’s not their priority anymore. The party is. They simply aren’t making the case for independence in the way it needs to be made. The idea that by providing competent government, the SNP would make the case for independence by default is erroneous. No government has ever got everything right, all governments have failures, crises, scandals.

The argument goes that if the SNP cannot run X, Y or Z, then Scotland cannot function as an independent country. That’s a ludicrous argument, but it’s gaining traction.

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The three Unionist parties have been for some time saying that Nicola Sturgeon has been so obsessed with independence that she is failing to do the day job. I say the reverse: she has been so busy doing the day job she has failed to promote independence. In fact she’s not only failed to promote independence, but when asked seems to pointedly deny it’s even on the radar. Is it any wonder that the SNP lost so many votes? By denying independence, by playing it down to appeal to floating Unionist voters, she demoralised and disincentivised the huge number of people who flooded to the SNP from Yes. Way to go Nicola.

That’s why Yes Scotland needs to be back. Because independence isn’t about SNP policy, it’s about what Scotland can do if it has the chance to make its own decisions. It’s about pointing out the benefits to all Scots of all parties why their policies needn’t be just ideas: they could be enacted. So why not work to enact them?

In the coming months people across the Yes movement will start to realise that the SNP is not the be-all and end-all of the independence movement. The SNP can be part of the team, but not to the extent it calls the shots.

We are faced with the prospect of Scotland being dragged out of Europe, tied to right-wing Brexit Tory Britain, with a hint of DUP and Orange Order on the side. If you can’t make the case for independence from that, you might as well pack it in.
James Cassidy
Address withheld

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Reviving our forests will create multiple benefits

ROB Gibson seems to misunderstand the position of the John Muir Trust (Ex-MSP slams conservation ‘fetish’ over wilderness, June 15).

We are fully aware that even Scotland’s wildest places have been used by people for millennia, and impacted by human activity over the centuries by large-scale sheep farming, forestry, deer stalking and grouse-shooting, which is why we never use the term “wilderness”.

Nor have we ever argued for preservation of the “wet desert monoculture” that blights most of the Highlands. We have long advocated that ecological restoration of the land is the best way of supporting thriving local communities, as well as benefitting nature.

Revival of our native forests can bring much of our land back to life, help repopulate the Highlands, and reduce our carbon emissions much more effectively than simply allowing multinational energy companies and landowners to exploit our wild places for private interests.

Rob says: “Biodiversity and climate change demand landscape planning.” We agree 100 per cent – which is why we supported the Scottish Natural Heritage Wild Land Areas map approved and recognised by the Scottish Government in 2014, which provides a degree of regulation and protection for our nation’s most precious landscape assets.

We believe we can tackle climate change and develop renewables without destroying these areas. In that, we are in tune with the overwhelming majority of the Scottish public, not least in the Highlands and Islands, where the latest YouGov poll shows that 60 per cent “strongly agree” with continued protection of the Wild Land Areas from large-scale development, and a further 20 per cent “tend to agree”. Overall, the poll found overwhelming support – by a margin of 80 per cent to 5 per cent both nationally and in the Highlands – for the idea that Wild Land Areas should be protected for the benefit of all of the people of Scotland.
Mike Daniels
John Muir Trust, Pitlochry

OPPONENTS of Scottish independence often seem to have their arguments encapsulated in a simple statement which is difficult to answer without complex reasoning. Kevin McKenna has come up with a good example of such a robust statement but in this case against the new Westminster government: “Tories have proven again that they’ve only one interest – keeping power” (The National, June 14). My own thoughts were that Tory voters in Scotland are both subservient and selfish – not so punchy. However, this wide-ranging article touches on the interesting question of Irish nationalism in the context of Northern Ireland’s political involvement with Westminster leading on to the matters of immigration and eventual cultural integration with the host country, which has gone on throughout history.

Thus power, politics and religion have been, not least in Scotland and Ireland, mixed. In this example they still are: the retrograde views of the once-immigrant Protestant Orange politicians have lasted for centuries. In contrast in modern Scotland, Irish immigrants are now wholly integrated (like Kevin McKenna himself). From the recent General Election, it seems likely that many English immigrants to Scotland are not yet similarly integrated.

The ancient example of the Irish Celtic church coming to Iona and gradually integrating their relatively democratic Christian system into the developing Scottish nation is such a beneficial example.
Iain WD Forde
Scotlandwell, Kinross-shire

REGARDING Lesley Riddoch’s comment on opting out of the CFP possibly ensuring Scotland’s portion of the North Sea becoming well stocked (The definition of ‘soft Brexit’? It’s beginning to look like ‘unachievable’, The National, June 15). A happy thought perhaps but is it not the case that the abandonment of EU policies which currently protect fish species might just as easily lead to a free-for-all? Not to forget that what will become Scottish and thereby UK fishing interests will offer May a very tempting bargaining option. Sturgeon is right to attempt to get a direct say in the Brexit negotiations in representing this region’s interests and in trying to avoid some of the worst impacts of isolationism.
Peter Gorrie
Edinburgh