NICOLA Sturgeon has had talks with senior figures in the Yes movement as she prepares to renew her strategy on winning independence for Scotland.

The First Minister held talks with leaders of the Scottish Independence Convention less than two months after telling MSPs she would engage and work with the grassroots campaign to build the case for autonomy.

It is understood around 10 people were at the 90-minute meeting held at the SNP’s headquarters in Edinburgh. Peter Murrell, the party’s chief executive and husband of the First Minister, was among those who attended.

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Elaine C Smith, the comedian and a co-convener of the SIC, was present as well as senior SIC members Richard Walker, consultant editor of The National and Lesley Riddoch, a columnist for The National.

The initial meeting was declared to be “positive” and “productive”, and both parties agreed they would meet further to continue discussions in the months ahead.

Dennis Canavan, the former chair of Yes Scotland and ex Labour MP, last night welcomed the discussions between the two sides which he noted followed a period of disagreements among other independence supporters. “In the campaign for Scottish independence, the SNP is obviously the leading player but not the only player,” he said.

“The campaign will only succeed if it embraces other parties, organisations and individuals who are committed to the cause of independence.”

He added: “There has recently been some petty squabbling within the pro-independence movement, which is counter-productive. A united, inclusive campaign is absolutely essential to win sufficient hearts and minds to deliver victory.”

The SIC was formed in 2005 and was first chaired by Murray Ritchie, former political editor of The Herald. Its purpose is to promote Scottish independence and create a forum of co-operation outside party boundaries. It includes people involved in the SNP, the Greens, Scottish Socialist Party and the Labour Party, but also those who have no party affiliation.

Tommy Sheppard, the SNP MP for Edinburgh East, and Ivan McKee, the Glasgow Provan MSP, are also members, as is the Scottish Greens co-convener Maggie Chapman, who earlier this summer called on Sturgeon to meet with the SIC.

Thursday’s evening meeting is being regarded as highly significant as it is understood to be the first time senior figures in the SIC have formally met with the SNP leadership.

The past few months have been challenging for the SNP: they suffered a loss of 21 MPs in June’s general election including major politicians such as former first minister Alex Salmond and then Westminster leader Angus Robertson, and saw its share of the vote fall from 50 per cent in the 2015 general election to 37 per cent.

The election result prompted Nicola Sturgeon to postpone plans for a second independence referendum, announcing she would not publish a referendum bill until after autumn 2018 at the earliest.

She told MSPs she needed to “reset” her referendum strategy, while building a new case for independence.

“Over the past few months, the focus on the when and how of a referendum has, perhaps inevitably, been at the expense of setting out the many reasons why Scotland should be independent,” she said before the Holyrood summer recess.

“Many of us already believe that independence is the right and the best answer to the many, complex challenges we face as a country – and also the best way to seize and fully realise our many opportunities. But we must persuade the majority in Scotland of that ... So the challenge for all of us who believe Scotland should be independent is to get on with the hard work of making and winning that case – on all of its merits – and in a way that is relevant to the changes, challenges, hopes and opportunities we face now and in the years ahead.”

She added: “We will engage openly and inclusively with – and work as part of – the wider independence movement.”

Both the SNP and SIC last night were tight-lipped and declined to disclose any details about the discussions.

A SNP spokesman said: “We had a constructive meeting with the Scottish Independence Convention.”

A statement from the SIC said: “We had a positive and productive initial meeting during which we discussed ways in which we could be mutually supportive.”