THE SNP’s independence convention will kick off with a session involving speakers from the wider Yes campaign to help bring “the entire movement to work together”, one of the party’s former leadership candidates has said.

The Sunday National can reveal further details of the one-day event in Dundee on Saturday, which will be the first time SNP members have gathered in person since Humza Yousaf became the party’s leader.

Following an address by the First Minister to the convention, Kate Forbes – who was his main rival in the leadership contest – will chair a discussion on independence to kick off the day called “Why not Scotland?”.

Speakers on the panel include Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp, chief executive of Business for Scotland and founder of Believe in Scotland, journalist and author Lesley Riddoch and commentator Paul Kavanagh, all contributors to The National – who have welcomed the move by the SNP to reach out to the grassroots and wider movement.

Forbes said: “The scale, activity and diversity of the whole independence movement is by far one of our greatest strengths.

“Of course, the SNP are the leading force – that much is undeniable – but reaching our goal of becoming a successful independent country will require the entire movement to work together.

“It is in that vein that I am looking forward to chairing the independence panel at our convention and discussing, with brilliant and insightful guests, why not Scotland?

“When other similar independent countries are thriving and Scotland is being held back by a broken Westminster system, it is more important than ever that we come together to build a better Scotland for everyone.”

The SNP have been urged to open up the debate on the way forward to independence beyond party members. Alba leader Alex Salmond called for a cross-party independence convention while former SNP leadership candidate Ash Regan said excluding the wider Yes movement and external organisations from the convention would present a “missed opportunity”.

MacIntyre-Kemp said: “I am grateful to have been invited to represent the views of the grassroots non-party political independence campaigning groups at this convention.

“It’s vital to Scotland’s future that the SNP, as the largest political party, choose the most effective route to achieving Scotland’s independence.

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“In inviting grassroots campaigners like myself to be represented at their convention on independence, the SNP are engaging and listening to the wider independence movement in a much more meaningful way than ever before.

“Believe in Scotland has 141 affiliated Yes groups and more than 300 delegates, who have agreed [to advise] the SNP on the route to independence and the manifesto independence pledge. I hope all parties will agree on this for the General Election, which must be fought on the issue of Scotland becoming an independent nation.”

Riddoch said: “The most important thing on June 24 is for SNP members to explore every option for the next General Election and I’m assured there will be three hours of member debate – not sitting listening to others pontificate.

“I’m not a member of the SNP or any political party, but since convention organisers have taken the unusual step of reaching out to members of the wider independence movement, I’m chuffed to be part of the short morning panel that will kick off the day.”

Kavanagh, aka the Wee Ginger Dug, added: “I am delighted to have been asked to participate in this event as a non-member – this really shows the SNP understands the importance of reaching out to the wider independence movement and I am sure that the convention will be very productive in charting a route forward.”

The convention has also been criticised by some after it emerged an independence strategy won’t be “officially decided” at the event.

But the party’s depute leader Keith Brown has said that a convention followed by a series of regional assemblies was the “right way to do it”.

Commenting ahead of the event, he said: “Last week, the lies of Boris Johnson have finally come home to roost – but the deep damage of a Tory Brexit and the impact of Liz Truss’s mini-Budget are still crippling Scotland’s progress.

“Against the backdrop of a UK in chaos and a Westminster-aggravated cost of living crisis, the case for Scottish independence has never been more compelling.

“As SNP members gather in Dundee this week, we are now more motivated than ever to make the case for independence on the doorsteps and to push ahead as the campaign steps up a gear.

“The opposition can now choose to engage in the substance of the debate or get left on the sidelines.

“The time for change is now – and the only meaningful change for Scotland is independence.”

A UK Government spokesperson said: “People in Scotland want both their governments to be concentrating on the issues that matter most to them, like growing our economy, halving inflation and improving public services.

“We want to work constructively with the Scottish Government to tackle our shared challenges. That is, rightly, what families and businesses in Scotland expect.

“This is not the time to be talking about unwanted and distracting constitutional change.”