THIS weekend sees the public launch of Now Scotland, the new national membership organisation for everyone in the independence movement. Rarely in our history has the movement needed a forum for unity and common action as much as today.

At a moment when Scottish independence has never seemed so near, we are witnessing stresses and strains inside the indy political parties. It is not our role as a civic organisation to comment or interfere. Political parties are very necessary. But Now Scotland can complement political parties by becoming a home for each and every independence activist to concentrate on the immediate task of winning independence – as soon and as fast as possible.

Now Scotland does not seek to replace or supplant anyone in the national movement. Instead we want to provide the missing part of the independence campaign jigsaw: a non-party forum, run by and for grassroots activists, that can debate strategy and tactics for our movement. A common space to bring activists together regardless of party (or non-party) affiliation. Call it a bridge to unite the movement in action. Our model is the Catalan National Assembly which has spearheaded the independence cause in that nation.

Last year, after several online assembles, a 15-person steering committee was elected to create the organisational, financial, legal and social media infrastructure of the new membership organisation, Now Scotland. Our committee – eight women and seven men – is composed of grassroots activists from all across Scotland. It contains members of different parties and of none. We are diverse in our views but believe the movement has to find unity in action if independence is to be won.

Why the name Now Scotland? Because never has the nation needed its self-determination so desperately. The cack-handed way the Tory regime in London has tackled (or failed to tackle) the Covid-19 pandemic has left more than 100,000 dead. The Tory Brexit fiasco threatens mass unemployment. Our future is now in the hands of a government at Westminster that makes no bones about being driven by English nationalists who care nothing about the needs or wants of the other constituent nations of this dis-United Kingdom. Our name is a clarion call for political urgency. And a recognition that the people of Scotland alone have the last say in determining when and how they will recover their ancient right of self-determination.

Since 2014, the independence referendum movement has seen a thousand flowers bloom in terms of grassroots activity. All Under One Banner has organised marches and demonstrations across the country, including the monster event in Edinburgh in October 2019 which drew more than 200,000 people.

READ MORE: New pro-independence members organisation set to launch this weekend

We’ve also seen the spread of local Yes branches and hubs across the land, powered by the enthusiasm of individual Scots – old and new. Then there’s the dedicated work of the Scottish Independence Foundation, which has raised cash for a myriad of grassroots initiatives. Not forgetting the artful resource material produced by Business for Scotland and Believe in Scotland, or the tireless, forensic analysis of Broadcasting Scotland and our army of hard-working bloggers.

Now Scotland wants to give this huge constituency of activists a direct voice. Which is why we are an organisation controlled by individual members through national assemblies and internet votes. Our organisational structure is horizontal, not vertical. If members want something discussed, it will be. Our unity stems from our democracy and open, respectful discussions among members. We hope in this way to represent the best of the new nation we want to live in. Our first Now Scotland national assembly will be on March 6.

Now Scotland will also be a campaigning body. We will campaign every minute of every day, until independence is achieved. Scotland can’t wait. We want independence now! Please join us.