Kevin Pringle, former SNP director of communications:

I thought Nicola got the tone and content exactly right. The first substantive point she made was also the most important one – the need to persuade a majority of people in Scotland to want independence, and there’s work to do there.

Just as sustained majority support for devolution in the 1990s meant that something had to give at Westminster, it’s an essential component now of securing another referendum and thus independence.

Similarly, the need to return a majority of pro-independence MSPs in next May’s Holyrood election is also crucial, whenever a referendum is.

Some people are disappointed that she didn’t simply plough ahead with a referendum lacking legal cover or political consent, but the harsh reality is that we will only get one more shot at this.

Some people are disappointed that she didn’t simply plough ahead with a referendum

If we went for a vote that couldn’t secure international legitimacy and therefore didn’t work, there wouldn’t be another one of any kind.

Since Nicola became First Minister, support for independence has consistently been at its highest in Scottish political history.

Initiatives such as a Constitutional Convention, a new Claim of Right and lots of old-fashioned street activity can lift it to a new level. The Yes movement is strong and this is a time to stay strong.”

Joanna Cherry QC, SNP MP for Edinburgh South West:

When Alex Salmond negotiated the Edinburgh Agreement for the 2014 referendum, it was with the ace of a consultative referendum in his hand.

I welcome the FM’s acknowledgement of the legal argument that it might be within the competence of the Scottish Parliament to hold an advisory referendum.

Having Holyrood pass a bill to hold a referendum could be part of a multi-faceted strategy which would move us away from the current impasse and stop the constant and unproductive talk about Section 30 orders and seeking “permission” to act from Westminster.

The National:

I disagree that to lose any court challenge mounted in response would set us back. It would simply underline the unequal nature of our political union with England. Boris Johnson should be on notice that we have options and we are not afraid to push forward.

I also welcome the announcement of a Constitutional Convention.

I disagree that to lose any court challenge mounted in response would set us back

I believe its membership should include civic society, particularly the trade unions and members of grassroots organisations The policy papers are also to be welcomed.

Voters have legitimate questions about the mechanics of rejoining the EU as an independent state and the problems which England’s isolationist trade policy may cause at our mutual border and these should be answered, drawing on the work already carried out by SNP MPs and expert think tanks such as the Scottish Centre on European Relations as well as the Scottish Government.

Maggie Chapman, convener of the Scottish Independence Convention (SIC):

In 2014, we were promised by Better Together that a No vote would give us the chance to lead Britain. Remember their mantra? We were told over and over again we should “lead the UK, not leave the UK”.

The last three and a half years, and the Tory Brexit which became a reality last night, show us, without any doubt, that Scotland’s voices – our voices – have been completely ignored and shut out.

The need for Scotland to have its voice heard in trade talks and in decisions about how we replace the EU structural funds has never been more important, yet we are refused a seat at the table time and time again.

The only way to have our voices heard is to seek that seat at the table in our own right. The case for independence is being made through the intransigence of successive Tory governments which Scotland throughout history rarely voted for (and never since 1955).

The only way to have our voices heard is to seek that seat at the table in our own right.

By internationally accepted standards of the right to self-determination, the citizens of Scotland must be allowed to determine our own future and our own alliances.

The Scottish Independence Convention supports the right to a referendum on independence, sooner or later, with or without the permission of the Westminster government.

And SIC’s civic campaign organisation, Voices for Scotland, is determined to work with communities across Scotland to raise support for independence well above the 51% it is now. We are building a Scotland for everyone. And we will one day take our seat at the table.

Angus MacNeil, SNP MP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar:

We are sitting at 51% of people in favour of independence, so it is a good time to have a campaign and I was hoping to have an independence referendum on the way. I don’t see why we are waiting. Let it be challenged in court.

We don’t need to name a date but just get going with it. I don’t see why we can’t have this going in parallel with everything else.

The National: Angus MacNeil

If we go into the 2021 Scottish elections without checking if a referendum will be [legally] blocked and we find out afterwards that it is, what happens then?

I don’t see why we are waiting. Let it be challenged in court.

If we find out before we can seek a different mandate such as a majority of seats or votes.

The problem is that the Section 30 order should have been asked for months ago, as it was predicted that Boris Johnson would say no.

Now that the election is passed, there is no consequence for him to saying no. The plan A of a Section 30 order should have been asked for before the December general election when we could have had a plan B of asking for a different mandate at the election when it was refused.

If Boris Johnson had said yes to a referendum then we would now be running an independence campaign.

So the reason we are not having a referendum and campaign is because the Prime Minister of the country we want independence from won’t allow it.

That is a weird place to be in for a party that’s about self-determination. We have got to stop the talk of an illegal referendum. There is no such thing.

There will either be a referendum or there won’t be. We’ve also got to stop saying it won’t be accepted by the international community.

Says who? Whatever is acceptable in Scotland will be acceptable to the international community.

Tommy Sheppard, SNP MP for Edinburgh East:

Broadly speaking, she has got it right. The constitutional convention idea is a very strong one.

She did not mention who would be on it but presumably the Scottish Government has been reaching out and has had a positive reaction or she would not have announced it.

It’s very important that the STUC, civic society, the climate change lobby and the churches are involved. I would like to see a remit and agenda that allows as many people to participate as possible.

It would be useful to have the Labour Party and the LibDems in the discussion and I hope they will look at that positively. We already know that very senior Labour people want to contribute to the debate and I think that should be encouraged.

That will give us an opportunity not only to update the prospectus for independence but to do so in a way that builds political consensus. We are all heartened by the poll this week but it was only one poll and only 1%, so we need a much bigger movement towards independence.

It would be useful to have the Labour Party and the LibDems in the discussion

A lot of people are open to this discussion but because it is such a big change, it is going to take time. Dialogue is important and will provide a bridge for people to develop and change their position.

Nicola Sturgeon has not ruled out a consultative referendum as well, so if the world does go to hell in a handcart and the pound plummets and support for independence rises to 65%, it would be foolish not to adjust tactics accordingly.

It is right to say that it is not clear how it is possible to have a referendum without the consent of the UK Parliament but it is not clear that you can’t have one either, so it can’t be ruled out.

You could argue that the matter is reserved to Westminster but asking people what they think is not necessarily reserved.

If the world does go to hell in a handcart and the pound plummets and support for independence rises to 65%, it would be foolish not to adjust tactics accordingly

Providing you can get the formulation right, I don’t see why the Scottish Government could not have its own referendum but it is pretty obvious that as soon as it moves in that direction it will be challenged and end up in court – and that may well be where we end up by the end of the year.

There is no way it is going to happen without an argument in court about it first, but she has indicated circumstances in which that has to stay as an option. The overall thrust of her speech, I agree with.

We need to be building a political consensus for independence. Our main task for 2020 is drawing more people into the debate and that is how we will defeat Boris Johnson.

Kirsty Hughes, director and founder of the Scottish Centre on European Relations:

I don’t think anyone expected her to go down the advisory referendum route, so in that sense what she has said is not surprising, although she gave a nod towards that as a possibility in the future.

She stuck to the 2020 referendum call but she can’t do that for very much longer because she will literally run out of time.

I thought the speech was interesting in two regards. One was the constitutional convention idea and the other was talking about producing a series of papers about different areas.

Immediately after the speech, the Scottish Government published a new Scottish European strategy.

I don’t think anyone expected her to go down the advisory referendum route

That’s assertive and constructive because it is thinking about how we maintain our European relationships.

The National:

It will be interesting to see what sort of policy documents come out. I am keen to see substantive ideas being discussed and debated as we do need more of that.

There is more to the future of Scotland than the Growth Commission. Where the UK and the EU relationship goes is going to matter and be relevant to Scottish policy debate for example.”

Wee Ginger Dug, National columnist:

We can only win independence when we ensure that there is a solid majority for Yes and the First Minister’s speech was aimed at those wavering voters, the soft noes and the undecideds, not at those of us who would crawl over broken glass in order to register a Yes vote.

Her promise of new campaign materials and papers aimed at the concerns of undecided voters was welcome and we can expect to see an increased emphasis on the need for independence in order to escape Brexit.

The unpalatable truth for many in the independence movement is that we blew it in 2014 and patience and care is required to ensure that we don’t blow it again.

The First Minister’s speech was aimed at those wavering voters

The actions detailed in Nicola Sturgeon’s speech may have been tactically correct, but the speech struck the wrong note on Brexit Day.

What was needed was something rousing and inspiring, what we got was managerial and lacking in anything that tackles the fundamental worry among many in the independence movement – how exactly do we overcome Boris Johnson’s “no to indyref2”.

Merely hoping for a change of heart from Westminster because an ever-increasing majority in Scotland support independence won’t do the trick as the greater the support for independence, the less co-operative Westminster will become.

No British Prime Minister will want to go down in history as the PM who lost Scotland.

He will have to be forced, which means that there will have to be some means of ensuring that for Johnson, the consequences of saying no are politically worse than a refusal.

Eventually Johnson’s bullheadedness will have to be taken by the horns and we still don’t know how the Scottish Government proposes to do that.

All we know is that it’s a battle that Nicola Sturgeon doesn’t want to fight until the polls are more favourable for independence. The signs are that we can expected to see those favourable polls this year.

Robin McAlpine, director of Common Weal:

It has been my firm belief for five years now that there has been at no point a coherent plan for moving towards independence other than hoping that somehow Brexit will just do the whole job by itself.

We have reached a point where we cannot keep pretending that more of what we are currently doing is ever going to work, so now we have to do something different.

Common Weal published a paper last week setting out what we think is the most coherent plan we have got and I hope that the movement will now begin to take collective ownership of a real strategy for independence.

The National:

The paper suggests there are three main jobs and one is to have a really positive conversation with No voters. We have to move opinion.

Two is that we can’t have these conversations unless we can provide the kind of information they will find reassuring. We have got to answer their questions.

Now we have to do something different

Thirdly, we need a strategy of maximum pressure on Westminster and the Tory Government otherwise they will continue to block any democratic route to independence.

If we fail to do any of these three things, we will continue to go round and round in circles. We have to do all three at once.

Professor Sir Thomas M Devine, Sir William Fraser Professor Emeritus of Scottish History and Palaeography at the University of Edinburgh:

There are three important points in the Sturgeon statement. First, there can now be no other option than a legally binding referendum and ‘‘its legality must be beyond doubt’’.

Thus, the mad suggestions of ‘‘alternative’’ routes to independence are finally binned.

Second, I like the idea of bringing the whole of Scotland into the conversation before a referendum We blew it in 2014 ... we need patience to ensure we don’t blow it again is held.

If Scotland is not to be a bitterly divided nation in the aftermath of independence the objective must not simply be victory but a decisive majority devoid of any ambiguity, the “settled will” of old.

Third, the deafening silence on the need to prepare some answers to key questions has now apparently come to an end with the promise to provide a series of information papers to citizens.

It is vital that the material contained therein is not seen as propaganda but is intellectually honest, transparent and rigorous about the challenging questions of currency, deficits on the public account, post-independence relations with England, our biggest market, how to manage the period when the nation for a time will be outside both the EU and the Anglo-Scottish Union and other important issues.

If Scotland is not to be a bitterly divided nation in the aftermath of independence the objective must not simply be victory

All of this is necessary in order that the people of Scotland have all the relevant information before coming to their historic decision.

They also need time for debate and reflection. For that reason, after the Holyrood elections of 2021 should be the earliest opportunity for a referendum.

John Mason, SNP MSP for Glasgow Shettleston:

I very much agree with the First Minister that it is profoundly sad that we are leaving the EU.

Our main task in the SNP and wider Yes movement is to persuade a majority of people in Scotland.

My strong personal preference is to go into the next referendum with a strong Yes lead in the polls, eg 60:40 or better still 70:30.

That way the result would be decisive and should be accepted by everyone. It would also mean that the international community is likely to put pressure on the UK to allow a referendum and independence.

My strong personal preference is to go into the next referendum with a strong Yes lead

I very much agree that we need particular immigration arrangements for the reasons Nicola gives. It is likely to be the vulnerable and poor who will suffer most from Brexit.

I think she is sensible in being wary of whether a consultative referendum would be legal or not.

Professor Michael E Smith, Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Aberdeen:

I can only say I totally agree with everything she said. As an immigrant from America to the UK over a decade ago, and as a UK/EU citizen since 2014, I share her view that Scotland should remain open to the world, that it needs to maintain close ties across Europe, and that Scots should not have to choose between the EU and the rest of the UK in terms of our future prosperity, hopes and opportunities.

In addition, Brexit is being forced upon Scotland against its will, for reasons that were always questionable, if not outright deceitful, and the constitutional implications of leaving the EU were shunted aside by the Leave campaign and by the UK Government.

Finally, since the entire process started, Scotland’s interests and proposals have not been adequately taken into consideration by successive Tory governments.

Brexit is being forced upon Scotland against its will

Based on these facts, and now that Brexit is irreversible, I think Scotland does have the right to choose, entirely on its own, the terms of another referendum on independence and to conduct such a process without interference from outside this country.

However, it is also probably wise not to rush the process and therefore to wait until after the Scottish parliamentary elections next year, which should focus on the questions of a new referendum and possibly a new constitutional convention so that the political structure of an independent Scotland would be as clear as possible (and certainly more transparent than the UK’s own informal constitution).

Scotland’s interests and proposals have not been adequately taken into consideration by successive Tory governments

I also strongly support a second independence referendum, and strongly support an independent Scotland able to rejoin the EU as soon as possible, although I am not an SNP member or member of any political party.

Gillian Martin, SNP MSP for Aberdeenshire East:

I’m certain the only way we’ll get our independence is to persuade the undecideds.

This was not a speech for those already convinced, it was not a speech designed to give those who want a referendum that may be challenged in court any false hope, it was a speech from a stateswoman who understands the current political landscape.

This was not a speech for those already convinced

It’s a landscape where ordinary people will not feel the full effects of Brexit yet.

It’s a landscape where many of those who voted No last time are coming over to the independence side, but cautiously.

Alex Neil, SNP MSP for Airdrie and Shotts:

I am very much in favour of a convention in terms of bringing people together but we need to be clear whether it is to reframe and demand the Claim of Right or whether it is a convention on independence.

The National:

We need to be clear what the purpose is and if it is the former then we could bring a lot of people from the Labour Party and the union movement into it.

We will get a referendum eventually

The key remit for the latter would be to prepare the case for independence in a very robust way.

We will get a referendum eventually and we have to make sure we win it because we won’t get another chance for a very long time.

The reality is that 2021 is going to be the key battle as it is quite obvious there is going to be no chance of a Section 30 order this side of it.

We need to do everything we can to get a massive win in 2021 with a clear mandate and use that as the basis for getting a referendum.

We also need to create a contingency plan if we don’t get a referendum, even if we get a massive mandate for it.

Willie Coffey, SNP MSP for Kilmarnock and Irvine:

It’s important to still press the case with Boris Johnson to respect democracy and recognise that Scotland (not the SNP and not him) has spoken and wants to choose its own future. I am confident that any court would respect the will of the people when set against the will of an individual to thwart it. No matter what happens in the legal arena, the victory will be won by persuading hearts and minds.

I am confident that any court would respect the will of the people

Linda Fabiani, SNP MSP I understand the need to be beyond legal reproach in any way and what she said very much reflected the views of our own activists at our last branch meeting.

People get caught up in the social media village but when you speak to long-term activists who have been knocking on doors for years and years, they think we are doing it the right way and spreading the right message.

Fergus Ewing, SNP MSP for Inverness and Nairn:

Nicola Sturgeon has set out precisely the task to be accomplished. That is to build on the huge success that has already been achieved, namely that now one-half of the people in Scotland support independence.

Nicola Sturgeon has set out precisely the task to be accomplished

That task of persuasion is more important than process – to persuade a convincing majority of our people to support our cause.

Joan McAlpine, SNP MSP for South Scotland:

I agree with the First Minister that Boris Johnson is goading Scotland.

The more he goads, the more support for independence grows. On Brexit Day, we put on a light for Scotland, a light which cannot be snuffed out. The independence campaign is the light that will lead our country to a better place. It’s now up to us all in the Yes movement to persuade a majority of our fellow Scots to follow that light.