THE SNP “must have space” to decide their preferred route to independence, the party’s policy convener has said, amid criticism that the upcoming convention does not include the wider Yes movement.

Toni Giugliano told The National’s Holyrood Weekly podcast that the SNP’s Independence Convention, the rescheduled special conference now set for Dundee on June 24, “doesn’t take anything away” from other political parties or non-affiliated Yes groups.

Giugliano, a member of the SNP’s National Executive Committee (NEC) also told the podcast that he believes a wider convention, with the whole Yes movement, should wait until after the next General Election.

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It comes after Alba leader Alex Salmond wrote to both the SNP and Greens calling for a cross-party independence Convention earlier this month.

And SNP MSP Ash Regan raised the issue during portfolio questions to the Minister for Independence a few weeks ago, but Jamie Hepburn refused to be drawn on whether or not it is something he supports.

We also spoke to a variety of grassroots Yes campaigners who weighed in on the row.

“The SNP is a political party, and as a political party it is entitled to have its internal democracy processes,” Giugliano told Holyrood Weekly. “The SNP as a political party needs to have its space to have its discussion about its preferred route to independence.

“That doesn't take anything away from other political parties, or groups or organizations who have had their own discussions and their own events.

“And of course, there is a space for us all to come together.”

The use of the phrase convention, Giugliano added, can mean lots of different things, and that the June event was not supposed to be a replacement for a wider constitutional convention.

“That is whereby we work collaboratively with broader, not just those in favor of Scottish independence by the way, but much, much broader than that, right across civic Scotland, right across Scottish society.

“I think that there could well be a place for that, in my view, probably post-General Election rather than pre-General Election. But that is a very different idea.

“What this is, is an internal discussion amongst SNP members about what they believe the means to achieving independence should be.”

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It comes after the SNP were accused of “showing contempt” for the grassroots Yes movement by announcing the convention on the same day as a planned independence rally.

All Under One Banner (AUOB) had scheduled a Yes demonstration in Stirling on June 24, and had invited First Minister Humza Yousaf to attend. The FM declined the invitation but the party said they would send a senior member to the event, but later announced the convention will be held on the same date.

The decision led to AUOB hitting out, but Giugliano said that he wasn’t surprised by the criticism which he had seen by the “usual suspects”.

“These are people who, it doesn't matter what the SNP do, it can never be good enough.

The National: Toni Giugliano (centre) with Nicola Sturgeon and John Swinney

"So let's be absolutely clear about that,” Giugliano (pictured above, centre) added.

“There are a number of things that we need to do as a party and as a movement, to work together to achieve independence.

“I think going forward we really need a degree of co-operation.

“There is an interdependency between the SNP and the broader Yes movement.

“We can't win independence without a broad Yes movement, but equally, the movement can't win independence without a strong SNP.

“I think that needs to be accepted all round.”

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Minister for Independence Hepburn was quizzed on why he did not attend a AUOB rally on May 6, timed to coincide with the King’s coronation.

“We’re not going to win independence by marching and rallying alone,” Hepburn said on the BBC’s Sunday Show last weekend.

Giugliano shared the sentiment, and noted that the May 6 march, (pictured below) was “significant” and happened very recently.

The National: The All Under One Banner march in support of independence in Glasgow on Saturday

“There’s a full summer of marches, marches are important, but so is discussing strategy, so is internal democracy, and other things that need to be done in constructing a Yes campaign going forward,” he said.

“So I would say to those usual suspects who repeatedly undermine the SNP, I would ask them really what it is that they're trying to achieve by constantly undermining the cause of independence?”

Episode 20 of Holyrood Weekly with Toni Giugliano will be available to stream on Friday on Spotify, the Omny streaming platform and The National’s website.