THIS will be a year of persuasion for the Scottish independence movement. Everyone knows that an independence referendum is coming, even the politicians who publicly oppose one.

In the recent UK General Election, a fourth mandate was won by the SNP for such a democratic vote. The SNP won 80% of Scotland’s seats and a higher percentage vote in Scotland than the Tories across the UK. The party that stood on a manifesto for a Scottish referendum won the election decisively, the parties that opposed one lost.

Given that a vote is coming, we must be resolutely focussed on persuading the persuadable, and by our actions and words give people more reasons to embrace the opportunities that Scottish independence offers.

The National: March for Independence

Polling trends since the 2014 Scottish referendum show that support for independence is up. The good news is that people are already making that journey. There are strong and persuasive voices who are speaking about their journey from No to Yes.

The latest is TV presenter and art expert Dr Bendor Grosvenor. Writing in the Times this week he said: “I voted No in the 2014 referendum. When Better Together promised us stability, and that the only way to remain in the EU was to remain in the Union, I believed them. Head won over heart. What a mistake”.

This is true for a great many people who have been forced by the Brexit experience to reconsider their attitudes towards their future and Scotland’s future. Everyone however has their own nuanced reasons. Grosvenor explained his own: “For those like me the journey to Yes will most likely go via “soft indy”. If existing institutions such as the monarchy remain as unchanged as possible, along with speedy re-entry to the EU, an independent Scotland will look much like the country No voters wanted in 2014.”

READ MORE: Tories make the perfect case for the need for an indyref vote

There is no single reason why people support Scottish independence, or choose to embrace it, and there is no single vision of how a future Scotland will be. Just like all other normal countries there will be choices about which path to take. But we will have the power to choose for ourselves.

Understanding how and why people are changing their minds about Scottish independence is what Progress Scotland is all about. Launched publicly in 2019, it has commissioned polling and other research to better understand who is open-minded or undecided on independence and what are the issues which impact on their views and give them confidence. It is also focussed on understanding the best way to communicate which is both persuasive, attractive and welcoming.

Polling by Progress Scotland has shown that one-fifth of respondents have changed how they would vote on Scottish independence or their views have changed a bit and they are not sure about how they would vote on Scottish independence.

READ MORE: Angus Robertson: Scotland can lead fight against climate crisis – unlike Australia

In addition, headline figures show that 63% of people believe Scotland will become an independent country, 61% agree that there should be another referendum on Scottish independence, while 55% think there will be another referendum in the next two years.

In 2020 a new schedule of polling and research will be conducted to better understand the opinions of people who are open-minded or undecided.

Progress Scotland will also increase its direct outreach work with people who have been in touch about their changing views. If you have not yet gone to the website, have a look.

People are encouraged to get in touch and share their journey. Some have gone all the way from No to Yes, others know they are not where they were in 2014 bit still have some way to go.

Another important workstream is on the language and emotional approach to being most persuasive on Scotland’s future.

With so much hard disagreement and harsh language about most matters of public debate, particularly on social media, it is going to be critical to remember how best to persuade and, yes, to disagree too.

The National: SNP Commons leader Pete Wishart speaks in the House of Commons, London, where he said that ministers must urgently explain whether or not the police investigation into Conservative MPs' election expenses swayed a decision for a snap election..

Senior SNP parliamentarian Pete Wishart made a lot of sense recently, when he said we should be gentle in our persuasion. In an excellent recent BBC Radio 4 documentary entitled “A Guide to Disagreeing Better”, former Labour politician Douglas Alexander said we should discuss our differences with four key things in mind: “empathy, fierce honesty, not assuming people’s motives and working hard to find hard to find common ground”. Wise advice indeed (and worth listening to on the BBC iPlayer).

All of this is going to inform the work of Progress Scotland in 2020. Thank you very much for all of the help in 2019, especially from subscribers and supporters who fund this important research. If you haven’t already subscribed, and would like to support Progress Scotland, please visit