IF you want someone to change their mind, they need to trust you. If you want someone to trust you, you need to be prepared to answer their questions. When we are talking about voting for Scotland to become independent, we learned to our cost in 2014 that we need answers that are credible AND within our gift to deliver.

The SNP have promised to push for a referendum if the 2021 Holyrood election delivers a majority of independence-supporting MSPs.

This means our movement needs answers to the questions prospective supporters will ask us. Indeed, opponents to our self-determination are already lining up questions with which they hope to undermine our case and the poll lead for independence. We need to answer questions such as: will there be a border between Scotland and England? What is the process for joining Efta or for rejoining the EU? How can we provide security in our waters and security from cyber threats? As we now plan to have our own currency, how do we set up the central bank we will need?

What customs checks on goods are needed to ensure only those meeting our high standards can be sold, and how would we do this? How should we gather taxes? Every other country in the world has answers to these types of questions. We should too.

It is not important whether we think these questions are relevant or justified, it is what the undecided and unsure voters believe that matters. We need reasonable answers that reassure and build confidence of those asking these questions. Otherwise we will be viewed as unprepared, full of bluster, disrespectful and not worthy of voters’ trust. Let’s not be like Boris.

Today, we, the Scottish Independence Convention (SIC), announce our forthcoming publication – Transitioning Scotland: Building The Institutions For Our New Country. This report will consist of a comprehensive set of discussion papers setting out answers to important and justified questions about the institutions and structures required by an independent Scotland or indeed any sovereign nation.

The first paper, authored by Bill Austin, will examine borders and will be published later this month. Bill has written extensively on borders and customs, basing his views on wide research into best practice and his 40 years of operational experience, both in the UK and internationally.

THIS will be followed over the next three months by papers on security, currency and banking and taxation. We will continue to publish key papers on a monthly basis until the May 2021 election. In June, the complete set will be ready to guide the new parliament.

We are particularly excited about the borders paper, which sets out how modern borders function. Systems are needed to enable tourists to enjoy our beautiful country and for the workers we need to support our communities and economy.

Regulations are required to manage the import and export of goods and guard against tax evasion and international crime. The borders paper addresses each of these –

and more – and will do much to reassure voters.

Transitioning Scotland is led by experts such as Professor Richard Murphy, Dr Philippa Whitford MP, Isobel Lindsay and Dr Craig Dalzell. They present plans for an independent Scotland under four main themes: International Scotland (Customs, EU, International Treaties), Sovereign Scotland (Constitution, Legal System), Economic Scotland (Currency, Banking, Taxation) and Wellbeing Scotland (Health and Social

Care, Housing).

The discussion papers answer two basic questions: what do we need and how does this differ from the current arrangements? This second question will be critical in helping voters understand what will change and why this will lead to better functioning institutions designed to serve all of the people of Scotland, not just the interests of a few.

Take the need to build the democratic structures required as the full range of powers are repatriated to Holyrood. These must ensure the Scottish people are sovereign and be fit for the 21st century. Such a system has little to learn from the constitutionless mirage of democracy afforded by the Houses of Commons and Lords. They do provide an example, but it is one of how not to do it. The discussion papers will offer solutions, providing clarity and detail of the powers being transferred, how this can happen and how this will be managed, including building new or reworking existing institutions.

THESE proposed solutions are written with a clear eye on the fine line between setting up the required institutions but remaining policy neutral. It is up to future elected governments of an independent Scotland to enact policy. Between now and then, we must ensure the country has the structures it needs to implement them.

The proposals are designed for a transition period of three years from the vote for independence to Independence Day. They must be capable of satisfying international obligations such as becoming signatories to the Paris Agreement, or enabling us to join international organisations such as the UN, EU or EEA.

To say that they must not break international treaties is not to stray into partisan territory. Finally, the proposals are designed to be scrutinised and improved.

When the Scottish Government promises a referendum, it clearly must also fully engage in completing the transitions work within the three-year period. Our work here is designed to both guide and lead this, and to provide confidence-building answers to key questions.

As the Scottish Government engages further in this process, it will be able to develop powerful messages around implementation. For example, our borders agency will need a headquarters, where should this be?

Which towns will benefit from office rental, catering and the myriad other services required for such an agency when this work is brought back to Scotland. Where will the regional centres be? How many jobs could this mean for Annan or Eyemouth, Wick or Stranraer?

The knowledge and reassurance contained in Transitioning Scotland will be best used as part of the conversations we know are needed to move people to support independence and then ensure they vote for it.

So, as they are published, we invite you to read the papers, chat about them with your fellow supporters and consider how they might be useful to answer specific questions in conversations with others.

The SIC created Voices for Scotland with generous funding from the movement to support exactly these conversations. Transitioning Scotland has been months in the making and will help us provide reassurance on the issues voters will want to discuss.

Iain Black is co-convenor of the Scottish Independence Convention