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08 October 2014Yes voters map way forward as grassroots political activity grows

Orkney residents who backed a Yes vote in the recent referendum on Scottish independence met at the weekend to begin mapping a way forward, following an upsurge in grassroots political activity in the county.

Despite the No result it is apparent that those seeking a fairer Scotland through progressive political reforms still see a role for themselves in what has become the story of the referendum outcome – a massive groundswell in membership of Yes-supporting groups and political parties.

This has seen the Scottish National Party rocket to 77,777 members by Monday, from 25,642 on September 18, to become the third largest political party in the UK, with the Scottish Greens quadrupling in size, and a reinvigorated branch meeting in Orkney. The Orkney SNP branch has gained over 100 members since the vote, and Yes Orkney’s core group now numbers over 100, with 250 new Facebook members.

Fiona MacInnes, who chaired Saturday’s meeting, said: “The huge turnout on Saturday took us by surprise but reflects exactly the same affirmative engagement all over Scotland that remains high and even more intense after the No vote, with a cross section of ages and backgrounds all committed to staying united and focussed on the positive goals that remain to be achieved in terms of social justice. Locally the link between voting Liberal and the necessity for an Orkney foodbank cannot be ignored.”

While several folk spoke of their deep disappointment following the referendum result, it was agreed that it is important to now harness the momentum of the Yes movement by continuing towards building relationships in the community and recognising that many No voters may share the same aims – although seeing a different route to fulfilling them.

Reflecting the national mood, many of those who packed into Room 3 of Kirkwall & St Ola Community Centre on Saturday afternoon said they are still feeling positive about the need to push for change from within the UK system – highlighting a wish for a progressive approach to tackling inequalities and promoting social justice.

There was strong agreement of the need for a Yes-related group, although the need for a more inclusive name was debated. The feeling was that a change of ‘brand’ at the moment might cause confusion so it was broadly agreed to stick with Yes Orkney for the time being.

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