THE SNP independence convention “roused” and “energised” party members as politicians threw their weight behind the First Minister’s independence strategy.

While not yet set in stone, Humza Yousaf’s speech did set a direction of travel for the party at the event in Caird Hall, Dundee, yesterday, by focusing the upcoming General Election strategy on the single issue of Scottish independence.

Yousaf told the party faithful in the packed conference hall that the SNP’s General Election manifesto will dedicate its opening line to set out that a vote for the SNP is a vote for independence.

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While there are some details to be thrashed out over the summer, the party are organising a series of regional assemblies to allow more members to have their say.

The move to keep independence at the heart of the next election strategy was warmly welcomed at the event.

Yousaf certainly made an impression on the crowd at his first in-person conference as party chief, with repeated standing ovations and an incident with a heckler where the FM left the stage to speak to her himself, setting the tone for his leadership.

“We don’t boo, we listen,” he told members, to rapturous applause when he returned to the stage.

There was some consternation ahead of the event that there would be no big policy announcement until final decisions are made at conference in October, and some told the Sunday National straight after the speech they weren’t sure if the plan was the same as de facto or not, adding that they wanted to “digest” it first.

But there were many who were immediately onside, with some members stating that they had been behind the de facto plan in the first place but were pleasantly surprised by the First Minister’s push to put the responsibility on Westminster to prove the “voluntary” part of the Union agreement.

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“It’s the only democratic means that we now have now given that the anti-democrats at Westminster will not allow us to have a referendum,” Christina McKelvie, SNP MSP for Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse said, as members started filing out of the convention into the blaring Dundee sun.

“It’s for them to answer – how is this a voluntary union if they won’t tell us how Scotland can leave that voluntary union?

“The next democratic test needs to be the test for the Union and it has to be the question asked of the people.”

Joe FitzPatrick, SNP MSP for Dundee West, praised the FM’s speech and said it was a “shot in the arm” for the party and the wider Yes movement, adding that it was important Yousaf set out his “aspirations” at the event.

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“I think Humza’s speech was not just about the way to get to independence, but about sending the message of why,” he said.

“I think it’s absolutely appropriate that we’re going to put our case to the people of Scotland and let the people of Scotland decide.

“If the other side have got a different view then they need to say how that can work, how else can the people of Scotland express their desire? If it’s a voluntary union, prove it.”

It certainly hasn’t been an easy few weeks or months for the party, with high-profile arrests of senior members making headlines and a number of by-election losses, to name a few issues.

Karen Adam, SNP MSP for Banffshire and Buchan Coast, gave her backing to the FM’s plan but thinks there should be a bit more discussion on the technicalities, like whether a win would constitute 50% of the vote share or 50% of the seats won.

“I would really like to get into the bones a bit more and have a discussion,” she said.

“I am of the mind that we should just go for it, we shouldn’t be dithering on anything. I think we do need to build consensus, but to build consensus with people we need to have some kind of plan and some kind of date for people to look forward to.

The National: Members in Dundee have been urged to organise the assemblies

“I’ve been in two minds about this before when I’ve spoken to people in the movement, they’re telling me that they’d like to have that vision – what are we aiming for? – to get that support for it, so I think it’s in the hands of the people to make that decision.”

Adam added that the FM’s speech was “rousing” and “buoyed everyone up”, giving party members something to focus on.

Wellbeing Economy Secretary Neil Gray told the Sunday National that the convention gave him a similar “energising” feeling to 2014.

The SNP MSP for Airdrie and Shotts said that he though the FM “put his stall out incredibly well” in his speech to members and made a “powerful statement of intent” in regards to General Election strategy.

“We’ve always said, I’ve always believed, that we can only win independence with the power of the people,” he said.

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“First of all, the people of the SNP, getting out and campaigning, but also having the popular support behind independence.

“A summer of campaigning, a manifesto for independence, the work the government is doing to complete the prospectus work, giving people that vision for what an independent Scotland can do, harnessing our natural and human resources, and delivering that wellbeing economy is a hugely inspiring thing to have been a part of.

“I’m really pleased that we are where we are.”

Tommy Sheppard, MP for Edinburgh East, said he was apprehensive ahead of the event due to a bad few months for the party. He told The National: “I wasn’t sure what kind of mood we were going to be in, and I am very enthusiastic about what’s happened. This feels like we’ve turned a corner, we have a degree of enthusiasm and people are up for it.

“I would say to the Tories and Labour party that they should enjoy the opinion poll ratings they got a few months ago, because that’s their high-point, we’re coming for them.

“We have a new leadership that just keep getting better and better.”

Elsewhere, former SNP leadership contender Ash Regan cast doubts on Yousaf’s plan and insisted that the referendum route is “dead”. Regan argued that her plan, to use every election as a mandate for independence, had a “high bar” of 50% plus one and warned that Westminster might not listen if the bar is lower.