ONE of the largest organisations of Yes groups in the country has challenged its local independence-supporting MPs and MSPs to state their views on “the realistic and practical way forward to achieving our shared goal of an independent Scotland”.

The letter sent on behalf of 16 Yes groups follows a similar summer initiative by Yes Highland and reads: “Yes Edinburgh and Lothians (YEL), is a co-ordinating umbrella group, formed about two years ago by several Yes groups and other independence-supporting groups and individuals.

“It represents a substantial combined membership from across the area, covering West Lothian, Midlothian, the City of Edinburgh and East Lothian. Lothians is one of the largest population areas in Scotland and, judging by the last Holyrood elections, an important area where it is vital to increase the vote for independence. YEL is aware of a widespread frustration at the Section 30 impasse and considers it important to express our position in a letter to Lothians’ MSPs and MPs.

“In light of the Covid-19 pandemic, we applaud the initial decision of the Scottish Government to concentrate its efforts on dealing with this health and economic crisis. However, it is now evident that our political opponents in Westminster and Holyrood have not halted their focus on constitutional politics and have, in fact, increased their attacks.

“They are intent on bringing about Brexit at the end of the year, having refused to consider any extension to the date. YEL feels therefore that we cannot wait until the end of the economic crisis to restart the campaign for Scottish independence and urge our political representatives to focus on this imminently.

“Matters such as Europe are now outwith our scope of influence and, increasingly, we will have to fight to maintain the position and role of the Scottish Parliament. Westminster has made clear its direction of reducing the power of Holyrood by the process of strangulation of its devolved powers. Recent events in the House of Commons have heightened our fears in this regard.

“Many in the Yes movement, while recognising that on the whole the Scottish Government has done a reasonable job in running the country, feel that the main mission of independence lacks direction. Many consider that open goals have been ignored or missed in terms of the push for independence. Several mandates that the Scottish electorate has given to the SNP have come to nothing.”

East Lothian MSP Kenny MacAskill was first to respond and told a “full house” Zoom meeting of YEL that he, too, wanted to see a re-start to the push for independence.

YEL convener Lindsay McCrea told The National: “Only three replies have been received so far and Kenny was good enough to come onto Zoom and tell us his views.”