WITH tomorrow being the second anniversary of the independence referendum, it seems an appropriate time to look at what’s happened since then.

The campaign leading up to the referendum on September 18, 2014, was one of the most exciting times I’ve experienced. As a part of the Yes movement it was easy to get carried away with the positivity and enthusiasm of the case for Scotland becoming an independent country, one which would make its own future in the world and one which offered up opportunities to make a positive difference for all the people in our country.

The Yes campaign was vibrant, thinking of what we could do rather than what we couldn’t do. There were groups representing just about every section of society. Local Yes groups representing communities all across the country, Women for Indy, Business for Scotland, Academics for Scotland – you name it, there was probably a Yes group to cover just about every issue or every section of Scotland’s society.

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This was a campaign of promise; one that engaged young people in politics like never before, one that opened many people’s eyes to the possibility of doing things differently.

The promise of independence broke away from the stale parliamentary politics of the UK, flip-flopping between Tory and Labour at elections at a time when the actual political difference between each of these two parties had narrowed so much that it was sometimes hard to distinguish one from the other.

In fact, the Better Together campaign cemented in most people’s minds the idea that there was no realistic difference between Labour and Tory politicians. Irrespective of what colour of rosette they wore, the same language and threats were used. It wasn’t the time for Scotland to go independent; we need the broad shoulders of the UK to support our economy; we need the orders from the “British” MoD to secure work for our shipyards; Scotland’s too wee to go it alone; Scotland is too poor – all that oil is worthless (as is the gas, the renewables, the food and drink exports etc). Scotland was, and is, never good enough for this political class. They were always more interested in what’s happening at the boys’ club in Westminster rather than Scotland’s Parliament in Edinburgh.

To them, Scotland is a second-class destination while their aim was to sit in the first-class luxury of what they perceived as a major nation. The reality of austerity, food banks, wasting billions on nuclear weapons as inequality increased across the country wasn’t a concern to them.

After the realisation that independence was going to happen soon, many Yes supporters simply transferred their support – and votes – to independence-supporting parties. The UK General Election in May 2015 didn’t quite work out as the Unionists expected. In this election, the SNP almost achieved a clean sweep of all the seats in Scotland, with only three being won by the Unionist parties.

The Scottish Election in May of this year saw a similar pattern emerge with both the SNP and Scottish Greens doing well – providing the Scottish Parliament with a majority of MSPs supporting independence.

This was followed by the EU referendum, in which Scotland voted decisively to remain in the EU but now faces being dragged out due to the votes of England (and Wales). The Brexiters were jubilant until someone asked them for their plans to deal with the result!

During the Scottish independence referendum the Yes team and the Scottish Government had to answer almost every question about what would happen with a Yes vote. In contrast the media barely asked a single question of the EU Leave campaign. As the implications of withdrawal from the EU start to dawn on more and more people, we will see support for Scottish independence rise further.

The other major contrast between the two referendums was the tone. Admittedly, the Better Together campaign was negative, nasty and demeaning, but at least the positive Yes campaign helped to lift not just spirits but also aspirations and confidence. In contrast the whole EU referendum was a contest in trying to scare the voters more than your opponent. This has seen a torrent of xenophobia and racism unleashed in the aftermath, particularly due to the Leave campaign.

The fortunes of the main political parties in Scotland have also changed since 2014. Labour’s support plummeted to such a degree that they came third, behind the Tories, in the Scottish election, and they face constant infighting with yet another leadership election. While the SNP have seen their membership surge, Labour have been carrying out a purge on their own members, trying desperately to stop Jeremy Corbyn from retaining his post as leader.

The Tories moved into second place in the Scottish Parliament, mainly through list votes, and taking more than 30 years to get beyond the low level of support they had in Scotland during the Thatcher era. The Lib Dems are fast becoming an endangered species, whereas the Scottish Greens saw a boost in their parliamentary numbers in Holyrood as their support for independence attracted more votes.

However, the result of the independence referendum wasn’t the end of the argument. Something had changed. People were no longer blindly accepting what they were told by the mass media, some of which was (and still is) badly tarnished by their coverage of the campaign. All those people who wanted to do things differently, while admittedly extremely disappointed after the referendum, were still there and thinking: “This isn’t over”.

Although most of the Yes groups tidied up their campaign rooms, put away their posters and went back into the background, others remained. Some kept their premises going, while others looked at how we could do things differently if we had another chance.

One of these was the National Yes Registry group (NYR), which tried to make contact with as many pro-independence groups as possible, holding meetings and even the first-ever national conference of grassroots Yes groups. From this activity, the NYR has developed the “Indy App” which is due to be launched tomorrow – exactly two years from the referendum.

The Indy App will allow all the grassroots Yes groups around Scotland to work together and share resources, experience and campaigning ideas. It will allow mentoring and mutual support among pro-independence activists, and encourage new groups to form and dormant groups to reform.

The app, which will be available for both Apple and Android, has been designed to encourage activist participation through increased membership of each of the local groups that make up the backbone of the grassroots Yes movement.

In essence, all the independence-supporting groups who would normally have to rely on knowing someone in another group to get mutual support will now be linked to one another: developing joint campaigns; sharing resources and ideas; learning what works and spreading out successful policies, tactics and ideas across the whole independence movement across Scotland.

This means that whenever the next independence referendum is called, the local groups will already have a base to work from and can rely on one another for support. Let there be no doubt, independence is coming – let’s be ready.