WE all agree that independence is the priority for Scotland. And we all want to see it as soon as possible. With the British elite in a barely-concealed (un)civil war it is frustrating that the pro-Union vote remains so strong. Where in 2014 a majority were not convinced there were fundamental flaws in the British state, now no-one contests the notion that the UK Government is a shambolic embarrassment.

But if we want independence we need to understand the reasons why people haven’t moved to yes in the numbers we might expect.

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There is one way to find out why this is the case: to ask people. And that’s what we’ve done. Iain Black’s research has shone a light on what influences people’s views. It allows us to chose the messages that will work, and avoid those that won’t.

To give an example, there was a referendum in 2011. You’d be forgiven for forgetting that. My point isn’t about the subject of the vote (it was on changing the voting system for Westminster from First Past the Post to Alternative Vote). It’s that the Yes to AV campaign ran a campaign based on limited research, which failed to resonate with the electorate at all.

The claim that moving to AV was “a small change with a big impact” was drowned out by the No to AV campaign’s claims that leaving First Past the Post in place would mean more money for the NHS and Armed Forces. It almost sounds familiar.

We need to learn from that mistake – to set out strong messages that appeal to the broadest group of people, and to keep refreshing those messages so they stay relevant and respond to the dynamic political environment we’re living in.

But how will this be applied on the doorsteps, or the streets, or online? The tone, the feel, the look and the messages themselves will be aimed at those we know can be persuaded to support independence.

So many local Yes groups have their own fantastic designers and activists. With research support from a national-level campaign, these groups could be assisted in finding the 15-20% of people we really need to reach again and again with the right messages. And the public research (that we’ve already started) will tell us what messages will work best.

It was relatively late in the last referendum period that the Yes camp started to discuss the threat to our NHS from the UK.

That story resonated strongly with people as we started to talk to people about it on the ground – “Vote Yes, for the NHS”.

If we as the grassroots independence movement can find the right way to talk to friends and colleagues, we can make the most relevant stories really hit home.

But such campaigning cannot be sustained by a collective of mostly voluntary national organisations and regionally represented grassroots groups. The Yes movement needs the support of full-time staff who can take this forward and provide the necessary support at every requested level. This means it needs a successful fundraiser. The more money it raises, the more support we all get to reach those people most likely to take us well beyond 50% in the polls.

We don’t have to wait for a referendum to be called to continue the great work we’ve all been doing – we can build on our strong foundations now.

The old proverb says that “failing to prepare is preparing to fail”. Having a campaign that understands what people’s hopes and fears are is the best preparation we can have.

We all know that there are smart arguments that can win over the unconvinced. A rolling research programme gives us those arguments.

Max Wiszniewski is a voluntary campaigner and organiser for the SIC