A NEW cross-party group is being set up to unite the Yes movement behind a common plan for independence and win a second referendum in 2021.

The development was announced yesterday at the Radical Independence Conference in Edinburgh by Robin McAlpine, the founder of the Common Weal thinktank.

Based on the mothballed Scottish Independence Convention (SIC), the new group is intended to develop a collective, more credible Yes position on currency, taxes and pensions.

McAlpine said the SNP’s arguments on those “crucial” areas, put forward in the White Paper and other government documents, had not been good enough in 2014, and voters lacked confidence that they and their families would be economically secure under independence.

McAlpine said SIC’s convener, the actress Elaine C Smith, was now in discussion with Nicola Sturgeon about securing the SNP’s participation in the new group.

The Greens, Socialists and other stakeholders would also be welcome in the forum, he said.

Backing the plan, former SNP deputy leader Jim Sillars said: “It’s an absolute necessity that the Yes movement is brought together in a coherent whole.

“I think the SNP have to learn a few lessons from the referendum. The SNP has to have a look at its own role and realise that it cannot be the dominant force next time. It has to be a partner along with everyone else.”

Addressing around 200 activists, McAlpine criticised the SNP’s focus on “triggers” for Indyref2, saying it was no use just waiting for something to turn up.

He said: “There’s been an awful lot of talk about triggers for a referendum. That worries me deeply because it’s a sign of weakness. What you’re saying is, ‘We don’t know how to get there by ourselves, but perhaps some confluence of external circumstances will come together and hand it to us’. It’s won’t.

“We have to plan collectively for a future which enables us to decide when to hold one, and we need to think how we get there, how we prepare for that referendum.”

He said the 2021 Holyrood election was “the next best opportunity to get a rock-solid mandate to hold a referendum”, without relying on a Brexit or any other trigger.

“I’ve said before: May election, fast October referendum, out by Christmas. These are practical strategies we can work towards.”

However he warned the Yes movement was not working hard enough to be ready for a 2021 vote, and needed to be at 60 to 65 per cent in the polls not 45 per cent.

“We need to get a prospectus for a proper Scottish independence on the table by, for my money, 2019. Then we can have a Yes campaign. We don’t need a No campaign to have a Yes campaign. If we can get a really solid document answering questions about the currency, the fiscal situation, pensions and other questions, we can take two years of campaigning and I’m confident we can shift public opinion to that 60-65 per cent point.”

He said waiting beyond 2021, by which time the SNP government could be “lacklustre”, could see the chance of another referendum “gone for a generation”.

After his speech, McAlpine said “senior SNP people” met last month and decided to revive the SIC as a “horse-trading place” where pro-independence parties and other stakeholders could thrash out a prospectus for Indyref2.

It would also be an “independence information service” on the collective Yes position, he said.

Earlier, Sillars told the gathering the campaign for independence had to be strident and permanent, and that if the movement equivocated, support for Yes would flag.

“If you don’t campaign for independence, you don’t build an independence vote, and you don’t get independence. After the election the Yes movement has to get itself back together again, and it has to sustain a campaign from now on until the day we get independence. This time not dominated by one party, but genuinely broadly based right across the board.”

RISE Glasgow candidate Cat Boyd said Yes Scotland had been too “narrow” and “centrist” and too focused on “businesses, middle class professionalism and established opinion”.

Paraphrasing Hugh MacDiarmid, she said: “I could not identify with that vision of Scotland. My Scotland does not exist in some soppy centre ground, it exists where extremes meet.”

Scottish Tory chief whip John Lamont said: “This is another example of the Yes campaign refusing to accept defeat. The people of Scotland voted decisively on this issue.

“The arguments about Scotland being better within the strength of the UK, and being a central part of Britain, will still be equally powerful in 2021. People would be better putting their political efforts into making Scotland thrive within the Union.”