LIKE many others, I am pleased to see Angus Robertson set up Progress Scotland, his polling and research organisation which in the first week of its existence has won an encouraging level of support and goodwill. We all want to make informed decisions, and to see our fellow citizens do the same. A healthy democracy depends on it.

Also significant, is that Angus has launched his initiative at a time when the agitation for a indyref2 is reaching fever pitch in certain quarters. Yet Nicola Sturgeon remains hesitant, and Bute House is no hotbed of agitation.

For a long time she has said a decision from her must await the outcome of the Brexit talks in Brussels. As of now, whether they are to reach an outcome by March 29, or to be postponed, or to break off in no deal, rests in the lap of the gods. In any event, the views of the Scottish Government are, as ever, being ignored.

So, Progress Scotland may itself be a signal of caution. The very name implies we have not yet got to wherever it is we are going.

READ MORE: The Unionist reaction shows Progress Scotland is a gamechanger

Or, put another way, the case for Yes that was defeated in 2014 needs to be revised and improved a good deal more still. True, we have seen results from Andrew Wilson’s Growth Commission, but the rank-and-file members of the SNP, let alone the country at large, have hardly embraced them with fervour.

I support Andrew’s proposals myself and believe they are the way – perhaps the only way – independence will at length be won. But by their nature they are not going to come to fruition tomorrow, or this year or next year.

The logical position of those calling for an early referendum at any price is that we have already said everything needing to be said. If it has not got across to Scots voters, then we should just shout it louder. Yet in the real world there has been no solid advance on the 45% who voted Yes in 2014. Great hopes rest on the Brexit process, but so far it has made no difference to that percentage. The process looks bound to turn out messy anyway, in which case it may continue to make no difference.

So I fear a referendum held tomorrow, or this year or next year, would once again be lost. Compared to last time, the British patriotic excesses intensified by Brexit will make unionism a harder rather than a softer sell. Its arguments will become even more extreme and dishonest. What are the answers from Scotland going to be if we do not believe anything more needs to be said than has already been said?

If we find no better answers, we run the risk of killing off Scottish independence as a serious political project for a long time ahead.

READ MORE: No voters tell Progress Scotland why they have changed their minds

Experience is a good instructor, but the experience of it in 2014 has not honed our case in the way it should have done. Let me illustrate this from my own postbag. Last month, I wrote a column saying we needed above all to spell out to doubters exactly how an independent Scotland would make them better off – rather than, say, ranting on about some abstract equality – because at the end of the day a personal judgment of their own material interest is what sways most wavering voters. This is just a universal fact of modern western democracy, and according to most of its theorists a positive aspect of it. It keeps politicians’ feet on the ground and makes them rely not on some ideological elite but on the common man or woman.

Ian Johnstone of Peterhead wrote in to say “the huge surge in membership of the SNP in recent years cannot be put down to materialist self-interest, but to the appeal of being citizens of a principled state. It is also the belief that Scotland has the potential, the capability, and the resolve to be such a state.” I admire Ian’s idealism, though I think his sense of reality may be a bit rose-tinted.

By contrast, when a couple of weeks ago I wrote about the emergence and the utility of the gig economy I got a blistering response from Ian Richmond in the depths of Dumfries and Galloway, who finished like this: “I’ll leave it for Michael Fry to work out why governments composed of the wealthy elite, working for the wealthy elite and controlled by big business wouldn’t want to end the exploitation of labour.”

Here, I would say, we have two statements standing in contrast yet both typical of outlooks on life held inside the nationalist movement. They co-exist there, even though one in effect contradicts the other. The first view holds that Scotland is a wealthy and mature nation fully capable of an act of self-determination which, by international law, is the right of every nation. We just need the resolve to exercise that right from our present place confined in the dungeon of a corrupt and collapsing UK. The second view holds that Scotland is a destitute and downtrodden nation for which the only escape from degradation is a breakout into – well, I’m not quite sure what, but I guess socialism would figure somewhere in it.

This is behind most of the shouting we hear from the rooftops at present. On the necessary revolutionary tactics: I’ll leave other columnists of The National to hold forth.

Readers will not need long to work out which school of thought I belong to. It leads me to hope that the big contribution of Progress Scotland can come from investigating quietly, not raucously, some of the underlying sentiment in the nation that tends to get drowned out in the cacophony for indyref2. But it represents the sort of understanding we need to fill the gap between 45% for Yes last time and over 50% for Yes next time.

The National: Angus Robertson launched Progress Scotland to help boost the case for independenceAngus Robertson launched Progress Scotland to help boost the case for independence

The first thing I’d like to see a poll on is if people think the SNP are right to be so entirely driven by the interests and concerns of the west of Scotland, ever since its collapse in the north-east at the election of 2017. This seismic event, robbing the party of one of its heartlands, is still viewed with amazing indifference by the leadership, which itself indicates a consequent and undesirable narrowing of vision.

I don’t believe a region which has never voted for the left will be all that interested in socialism, nor yet in equality. We should find out what it does want in order to be tempted back into the SNP fold.

The second thing I’d like to see a poll on is why Scottish nationalism is so much more popular among men than among women – and this despite the fact that the government has adopted a consciously feminist stance and, for example, gone out of its way to appoint women to public positions previously, in effect, the preserve of men. Yet one survey has put the male to female ratio of SNP voters at two to one. For a second referendum, surely it would be a good thing to woo not just the purple-dyed hectoring harridans but also those women who are content with home and family, happier in a domestic than in a public sphere and more interested in private satisfactions than in dragooning others into activism. I can’t help feeling this would have a benign effect on our politics in general.

The third thing I’d like to see a poll on is how classless people feel Scotland to be. It is a popular theory that this is a relatively classless country, at least compared to England (though that would not be difficult). But from their personal experience, do our citizens conclude this theory represents any kind of reality? A generation ago, nearly all the richest Scots had reached their personal pinnacle through inherited wealth. Nowadays they are nearly all self-made men and women, not least the footballers and pop stars who have struck lucky and who could never in a million years be counted as posh or snooty. A national movement should be open to and sympathetic with every section of society, otherwise the greater unity which will assure independence might remain too far out of reach.