ONE of Scotland’s biggest Yes groups has relaunched in a bid to encourage thousands of English Scots to join the army of independence supporters in preparation for a second referendum.
English Scots for Yes is hoping to reach out to potentially one million voters who were born in England but live in Scotland or Scots who have a connection to England as they gear up for a fresh drive, backed by the Yes2 Scotland campaign.
Last week The National exclusively revealed how Labour for Independence (LFI) was back with a major recruitment drive as Scottish leader Kezia Dugdale reaffirmed her commitment to the Union and since then new members have been flooding in.
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Now English Scots for Yes, led by Inverclyde North SNP councillor Math Campbell-Sturgess, is making a big comeback to prepare for a second independence referendum.
In 2014, the group (whose motto is “It’s not about where you were born, but where we are going together, as a country”) gathered more than 2,000 members after launching just six months before the September referendum.
This time, English-born Campbell-Sturgess, who has lived in Scotland all his adult life, plans to take more time to galvanise support for an independent Scotland through a new website, campaigning and chapping the doors of some of the older voters who were excluded the last time because they didn’t have access to the internet.
After 2014, the group did not fold entirely but kept a core membership to keep their campaign ticking over.
Over the past few months members have been rallying support at Yes events across the country and have already amassed 1,077 members but now they are ready for their big relaunch this month with Brexit being the catalyst for their resurgence.
Inverclyde North councillor and graphic designer Campbell-Sturgess said: “We are looking to massively expand with a new website being launched imminently. We want to campaign for English and English-Scots folk, and any who feel affinity with England who live in Scotland, maybe due to having English family.
Campbell-Sturgess said: “The relaunch has only been made possible due to the amazing work of Yes2 who fired the starting pistol for indyref2, and galvanised the Yes movement together.
"Our relaunch as part of the wider Yes2 campaign will help us get out and talk to as many fellow English Scots as possible, and convince them to vote Yes in the next referendum.”
Yes2 founder John McHarg said English Scots for Yes were welcomed into the fold because it will help get the message out there that the campaign for independence is not anti-English.
He added: “We have taken the English Scots for Yes into Yes2 because their campaign relaunch is a really positive step towards addressing the fallacy from the Unionist press that the campaign for independence is anti-English. It is not, it never has been and never will be.
"We have had a long-term relationship with English Scots for years because, whether you are born in Scotland or not – specifically, if you were born in England and live in Scotland – it doesn’t matter, there is no difference. You live here, you have a right to vote and be part of a present and future Scottish society.
“We have taken the group into Yes2 and we are going to help them get this important message out there that this is not an anti-English campaign.”
English Scots for Yes co-founder Campbell-Sturgess said his heavily pregnant fiancee Angel Brammer, 39, who is also a graphic designer and co-founder of the group, was born on a naval base in Portsmouth and then moved to Scotland aged one. Her parents are Scottish and she was born in England.
Campbell-Sturgess said: “We aren’t looking to divide the country into groups, but include those who didn’t feel part of the Yes movement last time.”
He added: “The momentum is really building again and there's been a surge in membership. Even within the last two hours we’ve had 10 new members join up.
"We are really hoping to build our levels to try to make a substantive difference, because in 2014 the two largest groups of people who voted No were people who were born in England and people who are over 55.
“The idea is to get the whole bandwagon rolling again. I am very sad about Brexit, I think it is a disastrous move for everybody [but] it has given us this chance to start again and it is really all down to Yes2 and I take my hat off to John McHarg who has done a power of work. Yes2 is going to be supporting us to get out there and hit a larger demographic.”