IT’S obvious that this time we start the journey to independence from a stronger position. The task ahead is to develop that into a winning campaign. I’m in no doubt that a disciplined and determined Yes movement can win an independence referendum in the second half of 2020, or even a year later if we have to wait that long.

There’s no point in people getting angry or anxious about the timing. That’s the First Minister’s call and she’ll have more (and better) information on which to base her decision than anyone else.

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In any case, after the endless Groundhog Day that was the winter of 2018 and the spring of 2019, the pace of events through this summer is likely to be intense. By its end, the political context for a fresh independence referendum is likely to be highly favourable.

The force-feeding of Brexit to the Scottish electorate has been the clearest possible example of the different directions of travel in England and Scotland, a more vivid illustration of the disadvantages of being in the UK than any that was available to us in 2014.

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Brexit has made people pause to reflect, to begin to rethink their assumptions about Scottish independence.

In my experience, it’s people who usually vote Labour who are most open about the fact that they are having a second look at their previous support for the Union.

The decline of their own once-great party, the dysfunctional and parochial nature of Westminster and the imminent prospect of an even more right-wing Tory government are all causes of deep concern.

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As people peer into the future, they are finding it very difficult to see a UK emerging from the Brexit fog that they would wish to be part of.

It’s important we don’t push away the people who are moving towards us. In my view, there are not many more converts to the Yes cause left to be won among folks who wake up one morning and suddenly discover that they are more Scottish than they had previously realised.

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Our scope for growth in support is largely among those who have been reluctant to give up on the UK, but are now concluding that their own values and priorities are much more likely to be delivered in an independent Scotland within the EU.

They should be warmly welcomed, not berated for being slow to move.

It’s worth looking more closely at the 2016 Scottish General Election from which the current referendum mandate derives.

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The SNP won by a mile. They got almost 47% of the vote, a level of support not achieved in a UK General Election by either of the two big Westminster parties in more than 50 years. The SNP won in 59 out of 73 constituencies. To translate that into UK terms, it’s the equivalent of one party winning 520 of the 650 seats in the House of Commons. To question the SNP mandate is not just undemocratic, it’s ludicrous and an insult to people’s intelligence.

We need to insist that television and radio interviewers push Ruth Davidson and others much harder on this point. I’ve yet to hear an anti-referendum politician being properly pursued and pinned down on the issue of "mandate denial", but it should be a point of basic journalistic diligence.

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And it’s not as if the notion of an independence referendum slipped in unnoticed to the SNP manifesto. It was the defining issue of the 2016 election, made so by the media and their coverage of Davidson’s campaign to aggregate the anti-independence vote on behalf of the Scottish Tories.

We learned so much in the first referendum. Getting the tone right is vital. We knew from our private polling that people really disliked the idea that the country might end up bitterly divided. That’s why the other side kept pushing that line and why the anti-independence media (then and now) are so keen to make this assertion.

In the end, 99% of people on both sides behaved responsibly and properly and I’m sure the same would be true this time.

Local Yes groups will once again be the heart and soul of the Yes movement, the foundations on which everything else is built. The official campaign body can’t try to be over-controlling (pointless with a genuinely grassroots movement anyway) but should again set out the boundaries within which the campaign should operate: being inclusive, respectful, tolerant, positive.

The emphasis should again be on engaging people in their own communities, often on a one-to-one basis. Face-to-face contact is the best form of contact.

When Yes Scotland was launched in 2012, I asked everyone already supporting independence to persuade just one other person to move to Yes. That was the conversational model on which the campaign was based. I know Yes voters will be ready to be mobilised in the same way this time round.

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I’m also sure Nicola Sturgeon will already have a very clear idea of the kind of official campaign organisation she wants to set up this time. What is key is that the SNP and Scottish Greens agree in advance on how this will work.

Anyone who suggests that the Greens were not an important part of Yes Scotland in the first referendum just wasn’t paying attention. And they will be even more important this time with the climate emergency the most galvanising issue for young voters in particular.

It’s essential that we are a broad movement. The core of the campaign will be centre-left and with a strong emphasis on tackling inequality and social injustice, but we should welcome all democrats who support independence irrespective of their position on the political spectrum. Yes needs not just to be inclusive, but profoundly inclusive. That’s how winning majorities are formed.

There’s another important point to make about the Scottish National Party. The closer we get to an independence referendum, the more the voters will want to know what an SNP government will do with the powers of independence. We will and must make the distinction between voting Yes and voting SNP. But people aren’t stupid. They know perfectly well that the first government of an independent Scotland will be formed by the SNP (most likely as the dominant partner in a coalition) and activists from all political traditions need to be able to deal with this reality on the doorstep.

We know how to do all of this. Two independent polls in the summer of 2014 showed that the public, by a majority of two to one, thought that Yes Scotland had run a more effective campaign than Better Together. The gap in our favour was even stronger with voters who said they were undecided at that point.

To move on this time from winning the campaign to actually winning the referendum, we have to give voters full confidence in the economic prospects for an independent Scotland. We know that small countries perform better than larger ones and tend to be happier, healthier and more prosperous. We know also that the strongest arguments deployed against us in 2014 have all grown weaker.

I have great conversations with Yes supporters all the time and in all sorts of unlikely places. I’m in no doubt we’re all ready to get going once a date is set. Those upbeat discussions usually end with people saying something to the effect that they hope they will “see me on the campaign trail”. To which my answer always is: “You bet you will”.

Blair Jenkins was Chief Executive of Yes Scotland in the 2014 referendum campaign