Believe in Scotland 2021/22 - Annual Independence Campaign Review

Believe in Scotland is two years old - We reach the undecided and soft No voters and we support local Yes groups across Scotland.

Our second year of campaigning got off to a good start with Believe in Scotland being named the Independence Campaigning Group of the year 2020 by the Scottish Independence Foundation and The National Newspaper. It ended with us having distributed approximately two million individual pieces of independence campaigning materials to Scottish voters.

Thanks to the 120 local Yes groups, thousands of online activists, The National, The Scottish Independence Foundation, The National Yes Network, The SNP, and the Scottish Green Party who worked with us (on specific projects) to make it happen.

Here are just a few of the highlights of Believe in Scotland’s independence campaigning activities in our second year.

Burns Supper - Lockdown had led to the cancelation of most of our events and almost halved our revenues. So, we started the year with our Online Burns Supper which was attended by 550 independence supporters raising more than £4,000 for our planned Yes Billboards campaign. The highlight of the evening was a performance of 'A man's a man for a' that' by Brian Cox, Lesley Riddoch, Eunice Olumide and Alistair Heather, which has now been viewed more than 30,000 times on Facebook alone.

Billboards - Next up came our first of several batches of billboard's, two messages alternating on more than 100 electronic billboards throughout Scotland. Simple and effective messages, first, 'Independence is Normal' and second, pointing out that the 'UK Government pays the worst basic state pension in the developed world'. The latter seemed to really annoy unionists and resulted in multiple complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority and to the Electoral Commission both of which investigated and rejected the complaints - As they always do

Raising funds – Believe in Scotland is an offshoot of the pro-independence think tank Business for Scotland (BfS). BfS which produced the best-selling book on Scotland’s economy, Scotland the Brief which has now sold 46,000 copies with all proceeds going to support independence campaigning.

Funding – The revenues for the Burns Supper and the Scotland the Brief profits, however, are minuscule compared to the spending power of our opponents who are often fake grassroots groups with dark money sources. This led us to launching our first crowdfunder for Believe in Scotland campaigning and it was a great success. Pro-independence business donors from Business for Scotland agreed to match the first £50,000 raised from the public – pound for pound and in the end, we raised £129,490 which amongst other things paid for free campaigning packs for 120 Local Yes Groups and our Big Day of Indy Action (more on that later)

Become a member of Believe in Scotland for free here, or  become a Stakeholder member here for as little as £5.00 a month – All our funding comes from donations and 98% from micro-donations so please help us campaign for independence.

Social Media to the Lockdown Rescue – With all our events cancelled due to Covid we had to move online and get better at getting our message out via social media. And yeah, we did pretty well! we started the year with an audience of approximately 49,000 followers and ended it with roughly 238,000.

This makes us significantly larger than any other active Yes campaign organisation in terms of audience. The only other organisation with a larger audience (The 2014 Yes Scotland profile) has been inactive since 2014.

Our website clicks via social media have grown by around 1,000% from 2020. But so much of our campaigning is done via social media now that website stats are less relevant. Over the course of 2021, our engagement has grown by 338% on Facebook and 272% on Twitter. We also started a more regular presence on Instagram & LinkedIn.

Our Social media reach is near impossible to determine but it has been tens of millions. On just one day alone (our National Day of Action in conjunction with The National & 112 local Yes groups) we had #BelieveinScotland trending on Twitter and reached around 1,000,000 people on social media. A perfect example of the organic strength the Yes movement boasts when it works together.

Regional Pages – We also launched our Believe in Scotland Regional Social Media Network on Facebook that will accommodate local Yes groups and ran Free online training for Yes group social media managers with more than 60 volunteers attending. You can find and follow our regional pages here.

Our Facebook Group – Our Believe in Scotland Facebook Group is only about 18 months old but has grown to host nearly 28,000 members. The group alone has had 3,407,049 views in the last 12 months. They will have viewed some of the 10,000+ posts and comments made by the Yes movement. Having started roughly six years after most of the others it is now the second largest Yes group (by membership) on Facebook but it’s by far the busiest and there is no party politicking, trolling or negativity allowed. 

The Yes Image Gallery – We also launched our image gallery where campaigners can download banners, social media sharable images and headers and posters for free. It’s been a big success and some of our images have even ended up being framed or on people’s garden fences.
Our First Newspaper – Our long term partnership with the National stepped up a notch or two when we   agreed to write a series of 20 columns making the economic case for independence which were published in the newspaper and online. The columns were so successful that we combined them into one 24-page newspaper and printed 60,000 copies which we gave to Yes Groups to distribute via street stalls.
Our Mass Day of Action – Yes started the year at 58% in the polls         but as lockdown dragged on and people became increasingly concerned about the economy and frankly became more and more downbeat, Yes slipped to as little as 47% in some polls. So we recruited 112 local Yes Groups to partner with us in a Day of Action. We delivered 600,000 leaflets, the 60,000 Open Minds newspapers and more than 100,000 badges, postcards, mugs, posters and copies of Scotland the Brief to the participating Yes groups and helped reignite the Yes campaign and to restart around 40 inactive Yes groups.


The September weather was great, and the single largest coordinated day of independence campaigning street work took place since 2014 (actually, just the biggest ever). A massive team effort, the Day of Action was a partnership not just with 112 local Yes Groups but with the National Yes Network, a dozen volunteers who helped produce the campaign packs and a dozen or so drivers who crisscrossed Scotland making sure groups got their campaign materials on time and dozens of people who turned their garages and living rooms into temporary warehouses.


Volunteers in BiS HQ packing hundreds of campaign packs.

The Wellbeing Newspaper – Time to go big or go home. Business for Scotland has for years championed the Wellbeing approach to economics and later in the year the opportunity presented itself to build upon the success of the Open Mind’s newspaper with a new partnership. Believe in Scotland, The National, The SNP and later the Scottish Green’s teamed up to publish and deliver to homes across Scotland one million copies of an 8-page newspaper focussed on our wellbeing economics approach.

Make no mistake, this publication fired the starting gun on indyref2 but it also started to redefine the purpose of independence in response to the chaos of Westminster, Brexit and Covid lockdowns. The paper also marks a step-change in the key message of the independence movement and starts a conversation with undecided voters about the type of nation we want to build with the full powers of independence. It’s core message was also incompatible with the Sustanable Growth Commision but few seem to have noticed that.

New polls – After we delivered the wellbeing paper in November the next poll saw Yes jump 5% in one poll and between 2-3% in others.

Adding the one million copies of the Wellbeing paper to the Day of Action materials and the approximately 300,000 leaflets and books we distributed earlier in the year and we find that we distributed around 2 million items of independence campaign material between Jan 2021 and Feb 2022.

50,000 copies leaving BiS HQ

Only a snapshot – We could write another 20 paragraphs detailing other campaigning initiatives but you would be reading all day. Frankly we held the line when Yes was slipping in the polls and the SNP were focussed on the health crisis and even the marchers couldn’t take to the streets. We found a way to campaign and to campaign more effectively than ever before and in 2022 we are going to do more.

You should join us - become a Believe in Scotland Stakeholder member by donating just £5.00 a month here. We are the only national Yes campaign group that can reach the undecided, that can deliver major campaigns and if you Believe in Scotland then please join us now – indyref2 is next year!

By Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp