A RALLYING call has gone out to Scotland’s Yes groups ahead of a major conference to pool their talents, strategise and push for a 60% “tipping point” polling figure for independence.

The Believe in Scotland Campaign Kickstarter online conference will run over three days next weekend and has brought together 100 Yes groups.

Organiser Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp, founder and chief executive of Business for Scotland, laid out the objectives: “The goal of the conference is to get together all of Scotland’s Yes groups through our leaders and committee members etc to discuss how we get Yes to 60% in the polls by the end of January 2021.

“It’s not another talking shop, it’s not a ‘let’s get together and gas about policy’ sort of thing, it’s about coming up with an action plan to move the polls to 60% by the end of January 2021.

“Because that’s what we believe is the tipping point. That’s when we think we’ve got it won.

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“A lot of the polling we’re doing is around people’s values. And we’ve been looking into what makes people undecided, what questions they have and that sort of thing.

“And we think that 60% is the point of no return.

“A 55% No vote in the 2014 referendum didn’t kill the independence question but it appears that a 62% Remain vote in Scotland in the EU referendum has absolutely embedded Brexit as a bad idea in the minds of Scottish voters.

“It’s also the case that if you’re at 60% and the opposition is at 40% that that’s a chasm that cannot be bridged, I don’t think, in practical terms.”

MacIntyre-Kemp believes that the mood of the country has swung decisively towards independence as the public has weighed up the different approaches of Westminster and Holyrood towards Covid-19 and Brexit.

He said: “Our polling tells us that Brexit is the enabler for people moving to Yes. It is the key and the way that Nicola Sturgeon is performing on Covid compared to Boris Johnson is what’s turning the key.”

But he was keen to emphasise that this is more than just a confidence vote in one political party. He said: “I believe that there is a change in the air. I think there is a paradigm shift in Scotland. People look at the polls and think this is a big shift towards the SNP in polling but this is a big shift towards people believing in Scotland.

“There is a new national confidence that is rising. It is all about thinking about the country we are. What are our values against the rest of the United Kingdom, and there’s a mismatch. And in 2014 there wasn’t such a mismatch.

“That mismatch of values is what this conference is going to be all about, coming up with that shared set of values, in terms of how we will run the economy, how we look at different policies.

‘‘And once we’ve actually got an agreed set of values then you actually start looking at policies through those lenses.”

Through his work with Business for Scotland, MacIntyre-Kemp has been making the economic argument for an independent Scotland and he believes that that is now being fully accepted by the public.

“We are doing a lot of work on shifting people’s impressions on that, about feeling safe in opening the door to independence and then the final piece of the jigsaw is the decision we have for an independent Scotland.

“And that is what we are going to be sharing and developing at this conference.”

MacIntyre-Kemp is keen too that the coming together of the Yes groups will act as a morale-booster in what has been a challenging time for the independence movement because of the Covid-19 restrictions.

He has seen and heard the frustrations of independence supporters who cannot be campaigning physically in the numbers they were hoping for to spread the message.

He said: “The only thing that can really move the polls is conversations. I think in 2014 the most important aspect of the Yes movement was the grassroots campaign, people talking in the streets, people talking in the doorsteps, people talking in the pub. In church hall meetings, town hall meetings etc.

“We want to create tens of thousands of ambassadors going out there, a revolution from the streets.

“We want them talking about why Scotland would be a better place to live, to do business, to bring up your families as an independent country because the sole government of our country will represent our values.”

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And he is confident that the Yes activists are already adapting to the changed current social circumstances to make the most of the digital sphere in spreading the message.

“It has been hugely frustrating for Yes groups. So one of the key questions we’re asking is how do we pivot online? How do we get creative? How do we create material that works in a Covid environment?

“We had a series of Zoom calls with 50-55 Yes group leaders on each so there are over 150 on three calls and they unanimously agreed that they wanted to do this conference and the feedback I got was that basically this is brilliant.

“This has lifted the clouds, we can see a way forward, a way to campaigning effectively and they’ll feel a great deal more positive as a direct result.”

Believe in Scotland is keen to hear from Yes groups, of whom they think there are 40-50 not signed up yet.

Contact info@believeinscotland.org

The Believe in Scotland Campaign Kickstarter event from Friday, September 25 to 27:

Day One’s agenda: Storytelling and understanding the message and developing messaging skills.

Day Two: How to develop our vision, our shared vision of Scotland as an independent nation.

Day Three: How to develop campaigning skills and infrastructure that is needed to deliver. How to pivot online in a post-Covid environment. Agreeing what resources we need and actually planning as a group.