THERE’S definitely something stirring in the heather. As exemplified by Saturday’s well attended meeting of indyref2 supporters in Edinburgh and the Lothians shows, the grassroots Yes campaign is back in business across Scotland. This is happening spontaneously and from the bottom up. In my experience, a lot of the initiative is being taken by women and those formerly involved in Women for Independence. Folk are simply fed up waiting for indyref2 to be called, so they are opting for a DIY approach (to steal a perfect phrase from The National’s Martin Hannan).

Saturday’s Edinburgh event was fascinating for taking the pulse of this uprising. True, so far it consists mainly of the activists from the 2013-14 campaign. And there were not enough young people in attendance. But it is not a case of folk yearning to relive indyref1 out of nostalgia. For starters, activists are angry they are not getting a political lead. Don’t think this is a cosy chat club. Second, there were people attending Saturday’s campaign workshop who had not been around in 2014 but who are newly attracted to indyref2 by the Brexit disaster. Third, the discussion on Saturday – there were more than 80 activists present – focused on the nuts and bolts of how to win the coming referendum. These are folk with a mission. Ignore them at your peril.

The obvious question arises: how to give strategic direction to the new indyref2 movement without destroying its spontaneity, unleashing internal power struggles or subordinating the movement to bureaucracy? In 2013-14, the movement was given guidance by Yes Scotland, with Blair Jenkins as chief executive (horrible title) and Dennis Canavan as chair of the “advisory” board. Should we reanimate the Yes Scotland board? Or is the existing Scottish Independence Convention (SIC) a possible leadership vehicle?

Yes Scotland was a way of bringing together the hegemonic SNP, the smaller pro-indy parties and a few well known individuals to co-ordinate activity. The SIC does much the same, though it has its critics among independent nationalists. Now there is clearly a need for a forum that brings together the various pro-indy parties, organised groups and key influencers. But by definition, such a body is federal and consensual. In particular – given the role of the SNP in government – it is tied to the political timetable and concerns of the main nationalist party. Nothing wrong with that per se. But for the moment First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has suspended offering a timetable for the next referendum, which leaves SIC in limbo.

One solution for co-ordinating the indyref2 groups right now is via social media, aping the success of populist movements in Europe such as Podemos or La France Insoumise. This involves using social media to regularly poll local groups and activists – to set days of action, agree campaign themes or simply share best practice. The necessary IT infrastructure already exists via the NYR Indy App, which you can download. Already some 140 local indyref2 groups are co-ordinating via this valuable tool.

However, I still think we need to have some way for indyref2 groups to meet face to face. The grassroots Catalan National Assembly movement does this by having local groups elect a big, 70-member council that shares ideas and agrees big projects. The trick is to have a big enough leadership council that is genuinely representative but not so large as to become rudderless. For starters, perhaps we just need to hold a convention of all indyref2 supporters and discuss options. But please: no endless sessions where “big names” (usually male) lecture the multitudes. This is a grassroots movement – keep it that way.

Next: how are we going to fund the indyref2 campaign? We’ll need upwards of £3 million, going on the basis of last time. Which means we will need to tap well-heeled donors. That said, we should not ignore the fund-raising potential of a grassroots indyref2 movement that is organised, as is the Catalan ANC, as a dues-paying body. If indyref2 recruits circa 50,000 members (like the ANC) and each paid £10 per year, that yields half a million quid. If the more affluent among us chip in a bit more, we could be looking at circa £1m in the bank. That sum could get us a long way without being beholden to any outside body. It would give the rank and file – including the non-affiliated – a seat at the table.

What about policy, ie deciding on the big political questions such as which currency an independent Scotland should have? Looking back at 2014, one lesson is obvious: the indy case bombed on the currency question. However, it does not follow that the grassroots indyref2 movement should preoccupy itself with deciding the detail of political policy questions. The reason is simple: we all have different views and any attempt to replicate the operation of a political party like the SNP or Greens will split the movement instantly.

Indyref2 is a united front of those who want independence, not a political party. It must remain a broad church. As the old saying goes, we march under separate banners but strike together. However, I will make the following caveat. We will not win over former No voters unless some of the most important questions regarding the nature of post-independence are well and truly clarified at the start of the campaign, and top of the list is the currency issue.

It is a given of any marketing campaign that big doubts have to be neutralised at the very beginning – otherwise you are on the back foot all the way through. That is precisely what happened over the currency question in 2013 and 2014. Yet here we are in 2018 and the SNP leadership is still telling us nothing in this regard. The First Minister, for whom I have the highest regard, implied that the fabled Growth Commission report on currency options would be published early in 2018. It’s nearly March and still no sign of the report.

I realise that Nicola does not want to risk detracting from ongoing and positive Scottish Government initiatives – the Scottish Investment Bank gets launched this week. But we need to clear the political decks for indyref2 and that means an unambiguous commitment to create a Scottish currency that gives us control over our wayward bankers, underpins the value of people’s savings and gives the Scottish Government control over the economy. At the very latest, the SNP’s autumn conference should debate and green-light a commitment to freeing Scotland from the ball and chain of sterling and the City of London.

Finally, when should we hold indyref2? Saturday’s meeting of activists clearly leaned to sooner rather than later, on the grounds that the crisis of the British state caused by Brexit affords us the best chance we will ever have of winning a majority for independence. Some fainthearts in the SNP are worried that grassroots members have too rose-tinted an understanding of what is possible in the short run. But that’s not the issue. We need to be on the doors today arguing for independence, regardless of when indyref2 eventually comes. The movement is not there to be turned on and off by elected politicians. That was the big lesson of Saturday’s meeting of activists.