THE Scottish Independence Convention’s launch of a fundraising campaign is to be welcomed. Resources matter and body heat no matter how considerable or determined is insufficient. Current campaigning would benefit from some greater professionalisation that doesn’t detract from the vibrancy of the grassroots but allows for contributions to be put to best use.

How and who leads the next campaign is also changing and rightly so, reflecting a shift in the national movement since 2014. Last time many seasoned SNP campaigners looked aghast at the early stages of the Yes campaign, with the emphasis seemingly on jobs, salaries and offices rather than activity on the ground.

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A discernible improvement occurred when experienced hands were introduced by the SNP. That was a rubicon crossing heralding a picking up in focus and quality.

Likewise, on the ground it was SNP activists who initially were out there knowing what to do and where and how to target the vote. Of course, others came in and generated the body heat that made the campaign so effective. But, it more often hubbed around the core local SNP organisation, even if many came from other parties or more often from no party at all.

That won’t be the case next time as there has been a transition in activism and a development of expertise within the wider movement. The SNP will remain vital but no longer so pivotal. That’s actually a good thing and should be embraced positively, easing the burden on the SNP and broadening the image of the campaign. Governments carry baggage and the question of nationhood needs to transcend that.

The SNP is also larger than ever before but a recent academic study showed that though the number of activists had increased the level of their activism had reduced.

In many ways SNP has found it difficult to transition to its new, and to be fair, stunning, size. It’s moved on from the organisation that existed many years ago which was the inverse, with membership low but activism high. Some of that was to be expected as key activists were elected to positions in parliament or council.

SNP HQ has seemed incapable though of directing or channelling energies, leaving it to local branches. Strategically important door knocking with direct engagement has been lacking. The National Conversation is long forgotten and with limited impact. It might hurt some to hear this but putting up a trestle table isn’t direct engagement as contact tends to be with the already converted.

Equally, sometimes politics on the doorstep isn’t about preaching the gospel but feeling people’s pain. Simply getting around those areas that voted Yes to remind them we’re still there for them is essential. They’re being ground down and having a sympathetic listener today is as important as being offered independence sometime in the future. After all turning them out to vote is vital and can’t be taken for granted, as the SNP have recently found to their cost.

Keith Brown’s election as depute leader and his co-option of seasoned campaigners to assist seems to have made a visible improvement but it’s a long way back and it’s also uncertain what level of support he’ll receive from the party centrally. At the moment it appears that social media is to be the medium of communication, which is insufficient.

Many have consequently moved their efforts from the party to the wider movement to keep campaigning going. The the internal machinations of party politics are either boring them or leaving them frustrated at the lack of activity. But their efforts require guidance and leadership this time as before. Hence why the fundraising must begin.

However, as with street activity, so with wider political discussions. The SNP has never been bigger yet debate has never appeared more centralised. That neither reflects the makeup of the party membership nor the desire of many activists.

Of course, many people simply join a political party as a declaration of faith with no desire for any input other than their declared support. The recent SNP surge in membership when Scottish interests are attacked testify to that. People signing up to show solidarity without wanting or expecting to be involved beyond that.

But, many others are different and do wish to contribute, the numbers at National Assemblies again evidencing that. These activists want to have their say and SNP need to take that on board. Given the size of the party, providing a suitable platform for debate can be hard and opening it up to non-members problematic.

More importantly, the vision of an independent Scotland isn’t simply the SNP manifesto. There are ways of having manageable discussions that can also be cross-party. For the SNP, the key is allowing for political groups to exist within the party. They were outlawed decades ago when the 79 group were expelled. But, times have moved on and the sheer scale of the party never mind the need for links with others in the wider movement dictates that.

Groups such as pensioners or others for independence are all fine but what’s needed are some political groups where dialogue can take place and kindred spirits meet.

Any group seeking to infiltrate or destabilise can be precluded. Others though can encourage the wider debate the cause so badly needs and allow for the debate many party members want.

So, whether in street or political activity, let a thousand flowers bloom.