Exclusive: Elaine C Smith to host as Scottish Independence Convention reconvenes


Pro-independence grassroots activists galvanising after Brexit shock

THE Scottish Independence Convention is set to relaunch two years to the day from the 2014 Scottish independence referendum.

An event on 18 September, hosted by pro-independence stalwart Elaine C Smith will hear from speakers and performance artists in the St Lukes venue in Glasgow as a prelude to a full blown conference in the city’s Raddission Blue Hotel in January 2017.

MP and SNP depute leadership candidate Tommy Sheppard told CommonSpace that the convention would lay the groundwork for a second campaign for independence

He said: “This event will give all of us who were involved in the 2014 referendum campaign a chance to get up to speed on the constitutional options now facing Scotland. At some stage we will need a new independence alliance – now is the time to talk about how and when that should happen.”

The first independence convention was founded in 2005 to keep the issue of independence on the agenda during the early Labour administrations of the new Scottish parliament. Chairs of the convention have included former Herald editor Murray Ritchie and Bella Caledonia editor Mike Small.

“This event will give all of us who were involved in the 2014 referendum campaign a chance to get up to speed on the constitutional options now facing Scotland.” Tommy Sheppard MP

The convention fell into abeyance in 2011 after it was supplanted by plans to launch the broad Yes Scotland movement to campaign for independence in the 2014 referendum

The announcement is the latest evidence of the re-energising of the grassroots independence movement in the wake of the UK’s shock vote to leave the EU on 23 June.

A range of pro-independence events have been scheduled for 18 September, including a rally on Glasgow Green and the Yes Registry conference, which is intended as a relaunch of the Yes movement based on local Yes groups from the 2014 referendum.

The leftwing Radical Independence Campaign has also announced a series of assemblies to be held across Scotland in coming weeks.

The convention hopes to act as a hub for the range of pro-independence political parties, organisations and figures that emerged during the 2014 referendum.

One of the organisers of the new Scottish Independence Convention, Common Weal director Robin McAlpine, said: “The important thing about the Convention is that it is a genuine attempt to unite the whole movement with the genuinely self-organised and grassroots movements included and their ideas and views respected. We clearly can’t know yet what the Convention will focus on until all the groups involved have a proper discussion we can’t know what people think is the priority.

Background read: Robin McAlpine: We are "in talks" to relaunch the Yes campaign

“So for example personally I’d like it to commission some research and policy work while it might be that the grassroots want to focus on training and production campaign materials and the political parties want to use it as a way of communicating with the wider movement. All I can say is that everyone involved wants this to be a staging post to the next phase of the campaign for independence and there is a lot of good will towards the hope that we can find a shared and collectively-inspired way forward.”

On 30 July thousands of independence supporters marched through Glasgow in a renewed call for self-determination in the wake of the vote for so called Brexit. During the 2016 Scottish elections, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon maintained that a material change in Scotland’s constitutional status, in particular under circumstances where Scotland voted to Remain in the EU and the rest of the UK voted to Leave, could be cause for a second independence referendum to be called.

Picture courtesy of Stuart Crawford

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