The SNP will gather on Saturday for a convention on independence in Dundee with Humza Yousaf addressing his party's grassroots for the first time since being elected party leader in March.

It will be Mr Yousaf's task to boost the morale of activists at what has been a particularly difficult time for the party and the independence movement overall and comes just two days after the death was announced of the party's most revered politician Winnie Ewing, a woman who embodied energy and hope for the future.

The gathering at the Caird Hall is being presented as the launch of the summer's Yes campaign and follows the latest paper published on Monday on the case for a written constitution, updating the Scottish Government's independence prospectus.

It is being called to replace the special conference which had been organised for March to debate Nicola Sturgeon's plan to use the next general election as a "de facto referendum".

But the event was cancelled after Ms Sturgeon dramatically announced her resignation as first minister and the SNP embarked on its leadership contest to succeed her.

Ahead of her decision to step down, her plan to use the next general election as an alternative to a referendum to achieve independence had caused substantial dissent inside the SNP even from figures generally extremely loyal to the party leadership and was seen at the time – before the events unfolding in April surrounding the police investigation – as one of the reasons precipitating her departure from office.

The SNP's longest-serving MP Pete Wishart raised concerns in January that a de facto referendum would be a “massive gamble” that risked killing off independence for a generation and the SNP’s position as Scotland’s main party.

And although he said that he backed Ms Sturgeon’s plan to try and turn the next general election into a single issue on the integrity of the UK he described it as “just about the worst possible way to settle the constitutional future of Scotland”.

Stewart McDonald, the Glasgow South MP also a Sturgeon loyalist, said at the time that the de facto plan would be a “mistake”.

Read more: SNP face hidden dangers in Yes voters shift as new indy paper unveiled

He wrote in The Scotsman: “For many years we have separated a vote for the SNP and a vote for independence. If we are to ditch that patiently crafted position – central to delivering 16 successful years in government and mainstreaming our cause – then we should do so only on sound, solid merit, not a throw of the dice. It will be difficult to get back if we lose.”

Other senior party members were sceptical too, with many concerned about the impact on the long term independence case if the SNP didn't win more than 50 per cent of all votes in the general election that Ms Sturgeon had set as the threshold for victory.

All eyes will now be on Mr Yousaf as he sets out his preferred route to achieving his party's founding and driving goal.

During the leadership election he seemed to distance himself from the de facto referendum plan instead arguing that the SNP needed to build consistent and majority support for independence.

But in recent weeks the idea of the de facto referendum – which appeared in February to have been roundly discredited and ditched – seems to have made a rather odd comeback.

Asked last month if a de facto referendum was still on the table, the minister for independence Jamie Hepburn seemed to suggest it was.

The Herald:

“Well, the First Minister has said that so long as it's rightly within the parameters of a legal electoral route, no options should be taken off the table, so that will form part of our discussion," he told the BBC.

Given the mighty ructions the de facto independence referendum caused in the SNP for much of its short existence, my assessment is that it's unlikely that it's going to be brought back to life on Saturday.

The policy direction now coming from the SNP is to...

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