THE biggest-ever virtual conference of Yes groups took place over the weekend, and Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp and his team at Believe in Scotland did an excellent job of organisation.

Though unable to follow all of the event live, I was struck by the range of opinions that were advanced about the progress – or lack of it – of the Yes movement, and by the many suggestions for campaigning in preparation for the second independence referendum. Believe in Scotland (BiS) has been going for some months now and has attracted more than 9000 people to sign up as members, even though the pandemic has limited its activities. The conference was effectively the start of BiS’s support for the whole Yes movement, and most of the Yes groups contacted by BiS were represented over the weekend.

The conference has further convinced me that the Yes movement has reached the stage where a national congress and constant “out there” leadership is needed. The grassroots have sprouted.

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At the moment we have the Scottish Independence Convention (SIC) and Voices for Scotland, BiS and Business for Scotland, the Scottish Independence Foundation, the various marching groups such as All Under One Banner, the Scottish Independence Movement and Yes2indee, plus nationwide groupings such as Pensioners for Independence and more than 140 other groups and organisations all dedicated to gaining a Yes vote. Not forgetting the SNP, Greens and other pro-indy parties. There’s no one leader, not even the FM.

We all know that indyref2 is coming in one form or another next year, and it’s time to get organised for that.

What is needed is an overarching leadership organisation bringing together all the groups, not to speak as one voice, but to lead and channel all the voices in the direction of independence.

BiS has shown it is possible – it’s time for a national congress for independence.