Below is Gavin Lundy's closing address from the YSI Summer Conference 2019. The text of this speech may have slight differences to the delivery on the day.
After what has been such a successful day, I would like to offer my thoughts as to how this Conference reflects on us, on where we are as an organisation, and where we are going together.
Serving as National Convener of the YSI is a privilege that I hold in deep regard – it’s something that on days like this I feel particularly strongly.
I look out at you and see familiar – and some unfamiliar – faces, and I recognise that I will be you that will continue to build up Young Scots for Independence in the crucial years that lay ahead of us.
Right now, the YSI is undoubtedly the most active, most organised, and indeed the most influential youth wing in Scottish politics, and very likely across the UK.
Although I missed much of it due to my requirement to attend the Party’s National Executive Committee meeting this morning, what I have seen is the incredible level of contribution that I have come to expect from young SNP Members.
This year, I have been particularly encouraged by the quality of resolutions that were submitted and debated.
I would like to assure all of those that have supported resolutions that have been accepted by this conference today that the National Executive Committee will now take action to campaign on them nationally.
Today has capped off a busy few weeks for the YSI. I would like to thank each and every one of you that joined us on the doors and the high streets of Scotland whilst we campaigned in the European Elections – your graft and determination was recognised by many of our parliamentarians and indeed by the First Minister herself.
I couldn’t be any prouder of the YSI. You all played more than your part in ensuring a historic SNP Victory that has well and truly placed the momentum firmly behind the SNP – and independence.
I joined the SNP immediately after the referendum in 2014, it was in 2015 that the YSI relaunched after its referendum hiatus.
It was very much a different organisation at this time.
Since then, it has steadily grown and become a bit like its own party within the SNP. Steadfastly loyal to our party, of course, but with an undeniable impact on its direction and its policies. In a matter of three or four years, the YSI has changed party policy on Inclusive Sex Education, on Consent Education, on the age of military recruitment in schools, on our approach to mental health in schools, and our provision of life skills in schools.
We’ve campaigned up and down the country. We’ve guarded polling stations in Catalonia. Visited the corridors of European Power in Brussels and a hundred other things.
And yes, we’ve had a very good time doing it all. Long may all of this continue.
In all of these achievements, experiences, and events, I and many, many, others have played our part – making it all work.
Few things in life can provide you with these kinds of opportunities to test yourself, to learn and, grow.
So, to the new faces here today; I urge you to stay involved and bring all that you can to the YSI over the coming years.
There will never be a more crucial time to bring what you can to this organisation and to the independence movement.
Finally, I would like to close this Conference by giving you food for thought to take home with you and chew on.
By virtue of our age, it is our generation that will shape an independent Scotland.
Probably more than most, I am keenly aware of the level of talent and principle that makes up the YSI, which is why I know that our country is in safe hands.
Yet in its own special way, we are living in a quietly revolutionary time.
As leaders in our independence movement, we have a duty to recognise that how we achieve our independence will affect what an independent Scotland could look like for the rest of our lives and perhaps beyond.
It will be your voices, on the doorsteps, in writing, in the press, on social media – everywhere – that will set the tone of the oldest newly independent nation in the world.
What does independence mean to you? To what end dose it serve? What constitution would you proclaim, and what founding myths would you embrace? How would you turn those myths into reality?
Our tone will affect the message we send to ourselves for decades – maybe centuries – to come.
It will affect the message we send to the world about who we are - and how and in what ways we can be counted upon.
So, as we take the YSI forward into what we must hope will be our final independence campaign, think over your responsibility in building an independence movement that an independent Scotland can be proud of.
I’ll end by asking you to reflect on the immortal words of Alisdair Gray – words that shine even brighter now than when they were first put on paper in 1983, or when we put them across our hearts and then onto our sleeves in 2014:
“Work as if you live in the early days of a better nation.”