A FORMER director of the Yes Scotland campaign has claimed the SNP were the “biggest contributor” to its failure.

In a hard-hitting interview with The National’s sister paper, Ian Dommett insisted any future Scottish independence campaign must be “owned by the people” and not by political parties, as he accused the SNP of dominating it back in 2014.

Dommett – who said he wanted to speak out as “we haven’t learnt 2014’s lessons” - claimed many voters felt “voting for independence was voting for the SNP” and that “should never have been the case”.

He said he and his team wanted to create a movement that “people could join who had no political affiliation” but this “always brought conflict” with the SNP “who felt they should run it”.

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Dommett added the independence white paper – Scotland’s Future – had not been seen by anyone in the movement “until it was printed”.

Yes Scotland – which was headed up by CEO Blair Jenkins - represented the parties, organisations and individuals campaigning for independence but was not officially run by the SNP or any particular political group.

Dommett – who worked with the SNP for eight years and was director of marketing at Yes Scotland - told the Herald: “It was so interesting to see how my friends at the top of the SNP were actually more interested in party political power than independence.

“If the SNP behave the same way next time – if that ever happens – then Yes will lose again.

“It must be a campaign owned by the people, vested in the future of Scotland for ordinary people. It cannot be owned by political parties.

“But that’s the catch-22 for independence: the SNP would never allow that to happen. It’s impossible for them to realise that the path to independence isn’t through the SNP. If the path to independence was through them, we’d have already won.

“The Yes campaign should have been distinct from any party. But the SNP had no intention of letting go.  The tension remains in Scottish society between the SNP’s desire for power, and the independence movement’s desire for an independent Scotland.

"The SNP was the biggest contributor to the failure of Yes Scotland.”

The National: Alex Salmond headed up the independence argument in a debate with Better Together's Alistair DarlingAlex Salmond headed up the independence argument in a debate with Better Together's Alistair Darling

Dommett said he “absolutely” went in to the campaign as an SNP supporter but claimed the “hijacking” of the movement by the party – which he said worked for a while – ended up being the reason tens of thousands ditched their membership.

The latest membership numbers released by the party in March confirmed they had 72,186 members – a loss of more than 30,000 since 2021.

Dommett accused the SNP of being “antagonistic towards any Yes campaigner not in the party” and claimed that everything Yes Scotland did was “filtered through” the SNP executive, namely former chief executive Peter Murrell and his wife Nicola Sturgeon.

He said: “Everything Yes Scotland did was filtered through the SNP executive – through Peter, through Nicola.”

Dommett told how the SNP began producing leaflets under the Yes Scotland banner.

“We were trying our best to run a campaign and the SNP was fundamentally undermining it by doing their own parallel thing,” said Dommett.

“There was a constant clash. The SNP were scared of a different type of campaign that wasn’t political in nature as they feared losing their position of power. They wanted to ensure they were the engine room.

“Remember the independence white paper – that big book? Nobody in Yes Scotland saw that until it was printed.”

He added: “I’m speaking out as we haven’t learned 2014’s lessons. The SNP must let go of the Yes campaign, but they’ll never do that. They want to be the ones at the top of the hill, raising the flag."

The leaders’ debate between Alex Salmond and Better Together's Alistair Darling was another aspect of the campaign Dommett was critical of.

He said: “It just became a political scrap between two old men, totally out of kilter with the mood we were seeing on the doorstep.”

The SNP have been contacted for comment.