IT has been 25 years since a second chance of independence for Quebec was lost by the narrowest of margins, with little prospect of another referendum in sight.

But one of the key voices of the Yes side of the time has said Scotland should not shy away from holding another vote on its future.

In 1995, Daniel Turp held a prominent role in the pro-independence Bloc Québécois party and was spokesman for its popular leader Lucien Bouchard.

The referendum in the French-speaking Canadian province, held on October 30, resulted in a loss for the Yes side. It ended up with a 49.42% share of the vote, with 50.58% voting against. It was the second attempt at independence following a vote in 1980 and a third referendum has never materialised.

But Turp, an associate professor of constitutional and international law at the University of Montreal, pointed out support for independence had grown in the year leading up to the 1995 vote from a starting point of 38%.

“You shouldn’t shy away from holding a referendum because you don’t think you’re going to win,” he said.

“Because if we had shied away from holding a referendum we wouldn’t have obtained 49% of the votes. A campaign makes a big difference.” He added: “When you start at 38% and you end up at 49%, there’s a good chance that when you start at 54% that you might stay at 54%, or have more.

“There’s some kind of momentum that is gained by the independence movement in a referendum.

“I saw it in Scotland [in 2014] and we saw it here in 1995, especially with younger people.”

The 1995 referendum in Quebec saw an astonishing turnout of 94%.

Turp said one of his memories from the night is going to a polling station in the early evening to find it completely deserted – only to be told this was because everyone eligible had already voted.

When the early results started to roll in, the Yes side was initially ahead at around 53%.

“But then it slowly went down,” Turp said. “And then for about 45 minutes to one hour it was 50-50.

“Everyone was very worried that they would win or lose, but at the end it was around 50,000 votes separating Yes and No.

“That, as you imagine, was disappointing and upsetting. But at the same time, myself and others said ‘OK, well we’re almost there’.

“There was this kind of sense that it will happen, there’s so many people now that believe that independence is a good thing, are not scared of it anymore.

“But you know, it didn’t happen. Twenty-five years later, we haven’t been able to organise a referendum in Quebec since then. We’re looking at what’s happening in Scotland very carefully.”

The lessons that Scotland can learn from the experience of Quebec, Turp argued, including making sure independence parties work together and having a broad spectrum of groups from civil society involved in the campaign.

“We had groups like firemen and firewomen for sovereignty, lawyers for sovereignty and nuns for sovereignty,” he said. “You have to enlarge the coalition, you have to go beyond political parties – civil society must play a role.

“When you’re the SNP you shouldn’t expect to call all the shots, you have to let others have their say.”

When it comes to the issue of a fresh vote in Scotland, Turp said he found it difficult to understand “from a democratic point of view” how the UK Government can reject the request to hold a second referendum.

He pointed to the letter written by former prime minister Theresa May to the EU to trigger the Brexit process, referring to an act of “national self-determination”.

“So, it’s the UK who self-determines leaving the European Union,” he said. “But what about Scottish national self-determination?

“Scotland said, ‘No, I don’t want to leave, I want to be part of the EU’ – 62% of people said that.

“The idea that the UK is now saying it’s not for you to decide when you want a referendum is, in my opinion, a breach of the right of self-determination of Scotland.”

The momentum for independence for Quebec has waned. However following some troubled years, Bloc Québécois managed to more than triple its seats in Canada’s House of Commons last October from 10 to 32.

Turp, who is also a former elected member of both the Bloc Quebecois and Parti Quebecois, said he was an “eternal optimist” and remained committed to the idea of securing independence for Quebec.

He added: “I always get very upset when people say that nationalism is bad. It’s only bad when it’s Scotland or Quebec or Catalonia, but it’s good when it’s Britain.

“Our world would be better served with these small nations that are much more open to the idea of participating in unions like the European Union.”