THE Spanish-American writer and philosopher George Santayana is credited with the famous phrase “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”.

This is correct, so it is incumbent on those of us wishing to secure a substantial support for independence to consider the lessons of 2014, and all that has happened since, in some detail.

The Scottish Referendum Study provides very useful source material. It was undertaken by academics at the universities of Edinburgh, Glasgow and Essex, and funded by the Economic and Social Research Council. It studied the views of 8500 people across three surveys. A number of their findings bear close consideration.

A majority of people aged under 50 supported Yes. Those aged 50 to 59 were still more favourable than the average of the population at 47%. The over-70s were very significantly against at 66% No.

The drivers of this and the implications need analysis in detail, and a sense of how to reassure and change minds is important.

Remarkably, a majority (53%) of people born in Scotland voted for independence. That nothing is made of this is a good thing because it matters not where you come from – everyone making their life here matters equally.

But it would be very instructive to look at what drove the opinions of those born outside Scotland. Some 57% of those born outside the UK were No voters. In the face of increased anti-European and migrant sentiment in UK politics, I wonder if minds are opening there.

Tellingly, however, 72% of people born in the rest of the UK voted against independence. Their concerns and those of their family and friends in the rest of the UK clearly weighed heavily and were not adequately addressed by the Yes side. Lessons must be learned here too. They represent around half a million votes, including more than 460,000 from England alone.

A further half a million or so come from everywhere else in the world, including around 300,000 EU nationals.

The lesson to the latter half a million is probably clearer now than ever – Scotland is a welcome home with a political consensus favouring migration. We should never rest on our laurels, fighting extremism and bigotry every day, but it is a great starting point.

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For those from the rest of the UK, though, what are we saying? What is our tone? What will independence mean for them and their families and friends? How does the debate itself make them feel?

First and foremost, it is not a rejection of 300 years of shared endeavour. It is not a severing of economic, social, family or cultural ties – they will maintain and flourish. It is a political choice about how we all choose to be governed.

Nor is it a rejection of British identity, which matters “strongly” to many people – in fact, around 60%. This perspective needs tended to and addressed authentically and over time.

There are also nearly 750,000 people born in Scotland living elsewhere in the UK. Presumably, they speak to their relatives back home and express a point of view. What are we saying to them?

I have been thinking about all of these realities in one form or another all of my adult life. Understanding what made my belief in independence a minority pursuit has been central to what I have sought to argue for the past 30-plus years of my membership of the SNP inside and outside the party.

The National:

What we can be sure of is that if we adopt the tone and stance of the “Up Yours” Brexiteers, we will not win, nor should we. Spleen venting does not persuade. It satisfies adherents, it does not win new ones.

We need to clearly articulate our positive motivation to take responsibility for our own problems and opportunities. And we need a crystal-clear vision of how we will approach our ongoing relationship with all of the people of the rest of the UK, and yes, the government they have the misfortune to have chosen, too.

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It was with all of this in mind that the case for the Annual Solidarity Payment was created for the report of the Sustainable Growth Commission.

We could easily have said, as some now argue, that we should just “play hardball” and walk away from debt liabilities and, as some even put forward, public pension liabilities.

We could have argued there would be no shared services or projects and pretended we could set up the full apparatus of government in the months between a successful vote and independence day.

Would our message to the 55,000 UK Government employees living in Scotland have been “just wait, it will be fine”?

What is indeed clear, as the report sets out, is that Scotland would have power in any such negotiations, because the UK liabilities (£4.3 trillion) far outweigh the assets (£1.9trn).

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But we need to consider not only what is the right and moral and fair thing to do. We also need to consider the implications for an ongoing relationship which for Scotland will always be more important than any other. No “beggar thy neighbour” policy ever works or can sustain.

We need to strike for mutual advantage.

The Annual Solidarity Payment is a framework for negotiation and discussion that allows us to transition in an orderly way, protecting the interests of all who depend on the UK Government for jobs or income in Scotland, across the UK and, indeed, internationally.

The payment can be lower than we suggested if we set up our own programmes, such as international aid, more quickly.

The debt interest share can fairly balance a division of assets and liabilities, including foreign exchange reserves. But that is for negotiation, of course.

Whatever share is fixed will erode with inflation and growth over time, becoming less and less important a legacy. We could also choose to pay capital sums off altogether.

What the policy says politically, however, is that we enter such a moment seeking to secure the interests and mutual advantage of both ourselves and the citizens of the rest of the UK. It recognises that we are choosing to change the governance position but that we are not walking away from 300 years of history or our inherited responsibilities.

This is the right thing to do in our economic interest, long term. It is also the right thing to do for our standing internationally. And if you reflect carefully on the facts outlined above about who we need to persuade to win, it should be obvious that it is politically the sensible choice also.

We only get the chance to build a different future if we win. To win we need to persuade. To persuade we need to learn the lessons of recent history – September 2014, June 2016 and every sorry month since.

I sincerely believe an honest, clear prospectus that recognises the realities of how we transition to what we want to become will win and win big. Build a new Scotland on strong and sustainable foundations and let choice and ideas compete for what to do next. The effort will be worth it.