Believe in Scotland is unique. Made up of 142 local and national grassroots independence campaigning groups, it’s the only body truly representative of the grassroots independence movement.
Our Goal is to make Scotland become an independent nation. We believe that independence is the only way to make Scotland a fairer, greener, wealthier, healthier, happier and more successful country.
Our Mission is to help the grassroots movement professionalise, raise funds, and access materials that will help them reach both undecided and open minded No voters.
Here are just a few of the highlights of Believe in Scotland’s independence campaigning activities in the last year.
Scotland the Brief Updated and Relaunched.
Image: Audience at the Scotland the Brief Second Edition book launch in November 2022
Our 2022/23 campaign started with the launch of the second edition of Scotland the Brief. Believe in Scotland is probably best known for this publication (made in collaboration with Business for Scotland), which puts forward the economic case for Scottish independence. It has sold over 70,000 copies in total, with all profits going to fund grassroots campaigning activities. The second edition was published in November 2022 and launched to a packed audience at our Glasgow event.
Scotland the Brief is sold at a wholesale price to local Yes Groups who can then sell the book through their Yes hubs/shops. We estimate that this combined with linked fundraising has raised more than £40,000 to help fund local activities. We have also, on occasion, directly donated to Yes Groups to help pay for billboards and events and provided free campaign materials and fundraising packs to more than 100 local Yes Groups.
Scotland the Brief is available for purchase on our website.
The Scottish Independence Congress
We held the first Scottish Independence Congress on the 18th of February 2023. The goal of the Congress is to bring the Yes movement together to agree goals, tactics and behaviours that will speed up Scotland’s progress towards independence. The output of the Congress will be used to inform the political parties and form a bridge between the Scottish Government and the grassroots Yes campaign.
241 voting delegates from 126 local and national groups joined the event: the biggest ever meeting of Yes group organisers. Delegates met to discuss and agree upon the next steps for the Yes movement and what the strategy for achieving independence should be.
In a coup for Believe in Scotland, the Congress delegates heard from representatives from each of the three main pro-Yes parties. Michael Russell from the SNP, Ross Greer from the Greens and Kenny MacAskill from Alba were all interviewed by Judith Duffy, the Chief Political Reporter of The National, on their suggested way forward for achieving independence.
70% of delegates supported using the next Westminster election as a de facto independence referendum, while just under 10% wanted to see a Holyrood election used and a further 10% wished to see the law changed to force an early Holyrood election to be used as a de facto or a UK General Election used to secure a Section 30 referendum.
Image: Political leaders from the three main pro-independence parties being interviewed at the 1st Scottish Independence Congress. Ross Greer, Michael Russel and Kenny MacAskill.
Polling – Data isn't everything but it underpins everything
Believe in Scotland commissions a significant amount of polling on Scottish independence and policies relating to the Wellbeing Economy. All of our campaign materials are data led and much of our private polling has been shared with other influential organisations and pro-independence political parties. We do publish some polling on key issues to inform the public and the wider Yes movement. For example, our stance on rejoining the EU is backed by extensive polling that tells us that not only is it what's best for Scotland but is also what voters want.
Image: One of the billboards paid for by donors to last year's BiS Crowdfunder.
Research that’s changing our economic system
The polling we conduct tells us what people are thinking at any given moment in time. Done properly, polling can help you dive deeper into the issues that matter to people and can help increase support for independence.
However, winning support for independence is not the same as trying to win an election with populist policies and political arguments. That was the approach adopted by Yes Scotland and the SNP during the 2014 referendum and it didn’t work.
We believe that deeper analysis of people's core values, motivations and set beliefs are necessary. We are looking to create a paradigm shift in values and beliefs and that requires more detailed research into social constructs and managing system change. In short, to get to Yes we need to bring in new thinking so that people can see and believe that an independent Scotland will thrive and protect Scotland's wellbeing.
That led us to set up Scotianomics, the Wellbeing Economy think tank. Scotianomics' research and the resulting focus on creating a wellbeing economy has had a profound impact on the campaign. This has helped provide a meaningful purpose for independence and helped separate the support for independence from support for the SNP. It has also encouraged the Scottish Government to emphasise this approach which is most evident in the creation of a new cabinet position of Wellbeing Economy Minister.
Images: Scotianomics research into measuring the wellbeing economy (left) and our Wellbeing Pensions Campaign (right).
Top Award for Financial Transparency
Business for Scotland Ltd, a leading business network consisting only of supporters of Scottish independence, currently provides the secretariat for the Believe in Scotland campaign without charge, with the aim to separate the two in future when appropriate to do so. Business for Scotland donors are the biggest source of funds for Believe in Scotland.
In May 2023, anti-corruption group Open Democracy reviewed Business for Scotland Ltd and awarded it the highest “A” rating for its financial transparency in their Who Funds You? Report. Open Democracy graded ALL Scottish Unionist groups surveyed as being funded by dark money donations. The Business for Scotland funding information page can be viewed here.
In June 2023, we (Believe in Scotland) updated our About Us page and included a Frequently Asked Questions section. Any question you have about BiS, including how we operate and how we are funded is answered here.
Yes Group Roadshow
Throughout the year, our founder Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp ran a series of Wellbeing Economy roadshow events in partnership with local Yes groups. In total he made 35 Wellbeing Economy presentations: nine online and the rest at locations ranging from the Borders to Fraserburgh and most places in between. Engaging with and answering all the questions that local activists have has been key to the growth and success of the Believe in Scotland family.
Days of Action
Local groups campaign all year round but we helped organise two national Days of Action in July and August 2023 – both were a big success. Hundreds of grassroots activists from across Scotland staffed stalls, delivered leaflets, set up flags and posters, waved flags from bridges, did litter pick-ups, drove trailers and much much more.
Activists of all political parties (and none!) stood shoulder to shoulder and gave up their Saturdays to talk to undecided voters about our vision of a better Scotland.
Images: National front page for our July Day of Action (left), BiS activists from Yes Perth City (right).
The Route To Independence
Following online consultations with Yes group organisers from across Scotland, the Believe in Scotland Campaign Steering Group unanimously backed the publication of our suggested Route to Independence. The document was the first to suggest how we can achieve independence without consideration of the needs of any political party. It was a significant contribution to the debate and had a major positive influence on the SNP Conference Route to independence debate – the final SNP strategy, although not being exactly what we wanted, was amended to include many of our suggestions.
Images: Front cover of our Route to Independence document (left), National coverage of the statement (right).
Edinburgh March and Rally For an Independent Scotland in the EU.
Undoubtedly the highlight of the year was our march and rally for an independent Scotland in the EU. A partnership with Yes for EU, the march took place on Saturday, 2nd September in Edinburgh. Believe in Scotland and Yes for EU brought the Yes movement together at this event to campaign for Scotland’s independence, our right to choose our future, to undo the damage of Brexit and rejoin the European family of nations.
The event had an inclusive, family friendly, joyous feel with keynote speakers and inspiring performers including Humza Yousaf (First Minister of Scotland), Lorna Slater MSP (Co-Leader of the Scottish Greens, Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity), folk singer Iona Fyfe (who also performed at the event), Lesley Riddoch (Author and broadcaster), Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp (Head of Business for Scotland and founder of Believe in Scotland), Jamie Hepburn MSP (Minister for Independence), Linda Jackson (Scotland in Europe) and Claude Detrez (Europe for Scotland). The event was hosted by Alistair Heather (presenter) and Kelly Given (Columnist). The actor Brian Cox was also scheduled to speak but regrettably had to withdraw due to testing positive for COVID-19.
Image: Crowd gathers at Holyrood for our March and Rally for an independent Scotland in the EU.
Social Media Images
A democratic, open and transparent grassroots-led organisation.
September saw the second set of elections to the Believe in Scotland National Campaign Steering Group. Our 131 affiliated local Yes groups have elected a total of 28 regional representatives and deputies to our National Campaign Steering Group, joined by the representatives of our 11 affiliated national groups. The Campaign Steering Group directs our independence campaign. You can find a list of our Steering Group members, along with all of our Regional Representatives here.
Believe in Scotland is a truly democratic organisation. The Steering Group meets online on a monthly basis and all members also participate daily on our online project groups. We also host monthly meetings with all stakeholder members (people who donate more than £5.00 a month) to keep them informed and give them a say. On top of this we hold quarterly all Yes group meetings where representatives from all affiliated Yes groups can attend and ask questions on the progress of the campaign, offer feedback and suggest ideas and improvements.
Above: A Believe in Scotland Steering Group meeting.
The change of leadership of the SNP has dramatically improved our relations with the Scottish Government. Humza Yousaf’s administration is significantly more willing to engage with the grassroots Yes movement than any previous leadership team. Believe in Scotland has over the last six months been able to promote the opinions of the grassroots Yes movement in a series of meetings.
This newly open channel of communication has already been impactful. In particular the alignment of the Scottish Government and Believe in Scotland on the need for a Wellbeing Economic Approach to sit at the core of the Scottish independence message has been noticeable following research and lobbying activities of Believe in Scotland.
New Website and Database
Believe in Scotland has recently launched a new website based on the Nation Builder campaigning platform. More than just a website this platform will manage all aspects of our campaign and access to canvassing data list management, targeted email blasts etc will be rolled out across the grassroots organisers soon.
The site will also give Stakeholder Members access to our online Independence Ambassador course. Where campaigners can access help on managing social media, networking, event organisation, communication and media skills etc.
The site also has a new shop for the public to purchase campaigning materials to give to friends and neighbours / work colleagues etc. There is also a campaign materials portal for Yes groups to order in bulk. Those orders are then distributed around Scotland largely by a small army of volunteers.
In November, we are organising a meeting which will be open to all Yes Groups to discuss the proposed Route to Independence published by pro-independence parties. We will kick off 2024 with our second Scottish Independence Congress, which will be open to wider participation to help decide Believe in Scotland's campaigning for the upcoming year, which will be very important for the Yes movement.
Next year we will organise two National Days of Action and 12 Targeted Indy Campaign Days where activists from all over Scotland will come together to team up with local Yes Groups to target whole towns and villages with targeted leaflets and high profile town centre campaigning events. We are also very excited to announce that we are finalising the dates of two more March and Rallies next year, with more details to come.
We are also planning a series of explainer videos making the economic case for independence and some more high profile billboard and building illumination events as well as repeating all the activities listed above only more often and better.