AS a new year approaches and Scots reflect on 2023, we asked several groups to share their five wishes for the Yes movement in 2024.

Common Weal has continued to create a narrative with publications and their policy podcast, as well as the recent release of their new book Direction. 

The group recently published a new report which argues that Scotland is now a part of a “malfunctioning monetary union” thanks to a fiscal deal struck with the UK Government over the summer.

And they joined The National’s growing list of newsletter contributors - you can sign up to receive yours here.

Rory Hamilton, the group's social media co-ordinator, shared five wishes for Yes on behalf of Common Weal.

1. Learning the lessons of the last 10 years

Hamilton said he was “not entirely convinced” Yes had reflected on why it lost the 2014 independence referendum.

Several commentators have previously highlighted the need for an overview of strategy in 2014, including journalist Gerry Hassan who previously wrote in The National: “One of the major omissions post-2014 has been the absence of a comprehensive post-mortem on why Yes lost and No won.”

Hamilton said: “The energy and activism of the grassroots was so quickly absorbed into a big-tent SNP, which then put it to work in securing pro-independence seats at Westminster in the 2015 referendum. 

“But does every project not have a review period to learn what went well, and what its weaknesses were and how to address them?”

2. We must accept independence is not imminent. 

This year, Yes was reeling from the Supreme Court squashing.

What followed was months of debate analysing strategy, legalities, timing, manifestos and alliances to legally hold a referendum. Activists gained a new sense of realism - and Hamilton suggested the movement “take a moment to breathe” with the knowledge independence isn’t imminent.

READ MORE: Here's what the latest Scottish political polling tells us

He said: “We can take a moment to breathe, to reset, to build a strategy, and to work towards a goal. Organising coherently requires a reality check and a timeline – burnout happens when you are constantly in ‘final push’ mode, and arguments become tired if you haven’t had a chance to stop and rethink whether something is working.”

3. Connecting with wider struggles

Reflecting on the cost of living crisis, Hamilton said the independence movement “has failed at staying relevant” during it.

He explained how the movement could ensure independence could be seen as an alternative to Westminster with coherent messaging, describing it as an “an easy answer”.

“We need to connect with those realities, and with organisations tackling those realities.

"That means connecting with trade unions who are fighting for better pay and conditions, it means connecting with tenants unions who are standing up for better living conditions, and it means connecting with environmental groups and community energy schemes that are fighting back against extractive fossil fuel-based corporations.

"What does independence offer them?”, Hamilton asked.

He also added: “A centralised reliance on the SNP as a vehicle for carrying the independence message and flag-waving marches too focused on longing for the energy of 2014 that quite frankly is gone has made the movement appear out of step.”

Westminster Stephen Flynn is also reportedly keen to focus the party message on voters' realities as research commissioned by the SNP Westminster group is guiding their General Election campaign to focus on the cost of living crisis and the NHS.

4. Direction

Hamilton gave a brief summary of Common Weal’s Direction book - a basis for discussion of what a unified strategy should look like.

There are three overarching principles: creating a vision, improving the independence image, and peer-to-peer campaigning.

Hamilton believes a vision for Scots of what independence would look like is only done by answering key questions on borders, pensions, and security - “something we failed to do convincingly in 2014”.

READ MORE: Independence Minister Jamie Hepburn's five wishes for Yes in 2024

An image of what daily life would look like needs to be improved, which Direction explains can be done through creating institutions and practices now, with the powers Holyrood already has.

Hamilton said: “This means quantifying the steps towards being ready for independence so one day we can say we are 100% ready for independence”.

And ultimately, the notion for peer-to-peer campaigning is supported by all areas of the movement as it is believed to be one of the strengths of Yes in 2014.

5. To play the game

Finally, Common Weal concede that the movement will have to figure out and continue to “play the game” to gain independence.

Hamilton describes this as “building a settled will” for the national majority to be accepted by Westminster and the international community. 

One key suggestion by Common Weal is through a national petition.

Hamilton said: “By taking these steps we can push the dial, and independence can become a reality, but we must be led by honesty and with constant regard for the needs of the Scottish people. If we get this right 2024 won’t be the year of independence, but it can be the year of progress.”