BACK in January at the launch of Scotland the Brief and our new grassroots campaigning organisation Believe in Scotland, I predicted we would drive independence support to 55% this summer and by 60% by the end of January 2021 – I still stand by those predictions.

We had sold 20,000 books, distributed 250,000 leaflets to Yes groups to deliver door to door, our website was flying, we had a dozen events and talks planned and then it all stopped. Not just for us but for everyone, so the lockdown ended traditional campaigning.

We had to pivot our campaigning activities online and so we spent thousands on polls to define our messaging and Facebook advertising targeting regions within Scotland, with specific data and case studies that would move them to independence. Our infographics were going down well on Facebook but the national narrative was wrong and that was not helping.

The Yes movement was arguing amongst itself online and not reaching out to the undecided enough and the mainstream media was ignoring the independence issue. No one was polling and I knew we had to change the narrative or we were casting seeds on stony ground.

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There had already been some frustration within the Yes movement and it started to bubble over. Led by bloggers who write exclusively for the Yes movement and who needed something to say, they started to blame the SNP for the lack of progress in the polls.

The focus of their attack and the frustration was the appearance of an impasse in the Scottish Government’s (and Green Party’s) insistence on a Section 30 referendum when Westminster can supposedly just keep on saying No.

I say the appearance of an impasse, as I have always supported the Section 30 stance and have always thought that saying no to a referendum is only possible when the people actually let you say no. I knew that if we hit that target of 55% Yes this summer and 60% in January 2021, crucially after the Brexit transition period ends, then saying no would kill the Union. It would bring enough people on board with the independence movement that even Plan B would become an option.

We hit 55% and Westminster’s resolve is crumbling. Top cabinet advisers are pointing out that they can’t say no after an SNP majority because public option would turn. First they lose the people, then you lose the Union – now we have Michael Gove starting to say that Scots living in England should be allowed a vote. Why are they panicking and talking about voter franchise if they think they can say no? There are now more people in the Yes movement convinced that Westminster will say no than there are in Westminster.

We want them to keep saying it, it’s rebounding badly.

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In June, when a ScotGoesPop poll showed 52% I was astounded – I knew in my gut that it was low. Growing frustration with Westminster’s Covid response, the Scottish Government’s comparative performance, the Brexit negotiations going badly, it just had to be higher so I waited and went when I thought we would get 54% – and we did.

Panic ensued in the Cabinet, the UK mainstream media reported that fact and the narrative changed. The story was now all about how people were starting to believe Scotland could do better than life under Westminster incompetence. Every political columnist sprung into action with their own theories as to why.

My thinking was “why keep pushing water uphill if I could change the narrative and the mainstream media would write our story?”. Why was the Yes movement endlessly discussing Westminster saying no in Facebook discussion groups when we can just kill the idea stone dead by winning new converts?

I watched the trends, another 54% then 53%, I waited till my gut told me it was time to go again for 55% and our next poll got the 2014 reversal. It was important to me that it wasn’t a poll by The Sunday Times or the Telegraph that got 55%. They would pour scorn on the result, claim it was a temporary Covid blip etc. Our graphic with the cracking Union flag and our message that “the 2014 result had been reversed” resonated and once again we set the narrative.

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That’s why we needed 55% to be commissioned by a pro-indy group and when Panelbase texted me the initial number late at night, I am not ashamed to admit I had a tear in my eye.

I have been a full-time independence campaigner since 2011 and I won’t stop till we win. The narrative has changed, Yes are in the majority, the massive favourite to win and BfS polling tells us how we do that, which policies and messages work and which won’t (you would be surprised). My gut feel is talking to me again and it says “we’ve got this”.

Believe in Scotland is bringing the Yes movement together to plan a new push; all we need to do now is to change the narrative within the Yes movement, get past the frustration, and get with the program. The Section 30 plan is working. Let’s put Westminster under pressure to be democratic and see what shakes loose – they say yes, we win, they say no, we win by another means.

It’s definitely time to Believe in Scotland.