GOING into a campaign for a second Scottish independence referendum, both sides will have "markedly different" arguments to make, a leading pollster has suggested.

Sir John Curtice has said that the way indyref2 will be conducted will be different to that of the first vote due to changes in the political climate since 2014.

The political polling expert was speaking as part of a phone-in with Kaye Adams on BBC Radio Scotland where the prospect of a second vote was raised.

It follows Nicola Sturgeon saying at the weekend that the Scottish Government would decide "within weeks" when it would introduce legislation to pave the way to a fresh vote on independence.

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Sturgeon said that she believed support for independence "is rising" and that it is not just because of Boris Johnson occupying No 10. She suggested he is helping to highlight other issues, such as being governed by parties Scotland does not vote for and being taken out of the European Union against our will.

Curtice, a leading political scientist from the University of Strathclyde, acknowledged that in 2020, the Yes side edged ahead in the polls for the first time consistently, but the average of the most recent polls has been a 50/50 split.

He said: "Particularly between the first and the second waves of the [coronavirus] lockdown, that perhaps Nicola Sturgeon was felt to be handling things better and indeed there was a group of No voters who said 'well, maybe we would have handled this a wee bit better if we'd been independent'.

"The polling evidence we've got suggests that that mood disapated about six months later.

"I'm sure we will be arguing about the pandemic if we do get a referendum campaign, but it's not that has proved to be decisive so far as the balance of opinion is concerned."

The National: Sir John Curtice is a leading political polling expert and Professor of Politics at the University of StrathclydeSir John Curtice is a leading political polling expert and Professor of Politics at the University of Strathclyde

He was then quizzed by Adams on the fact that since the first referendum campaign started out on a much lower percentage in favour of Yes, does it put the pro-indy side on a better footing.

Curtice responded simply: "No."

He added that it was an equally poor position for the UK Prime Minister due to polls suggesting that the outcome of any referendum is no clearer "than if we were to toss a coin".

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Polling in 2013 put support for Scottish independence on 27% which eventually ended in the vote which recorded 45% support from the Scottish people, something Curtice said supports the idea that the Yes side "won the campaign" while not achieving the result.

He said: "We cannot assume that because the Yes side won the campaign - if not necessarily the eventual outcome - that they will do so a second time around. Indeed, I think we probably need to appreciate that given that many people made a clear decision seven years ago that shifting opinion is probably going to be more difficult in this campaign than the last time.

"Now, I don't rule out the possibility that they will make progress, but equally I don't rule out the possibility that the Union side makes progress.

"The truth is of course that one of the arguments in favour of having the referendum is that an awful lot has changed since 2014 - there is a lot of merit to that argument."

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The Brexit referendum in 2016 showed that Scotland and Northern Ireland wanted to stay in the EU while England and Wales voted to leave. Since then, the UK has left the EU against the wishes of the people of Scotland.

Curtice continued: "The choice that Scotland would make, particularly now that the United Kingdom is outside of the European Union, is a markedly different one than the one seven years ago.

"But equally, the truth is that we've not really had much debate about the merits and otherwise of independence in those new circumstances and it's, I think, only when both sides have developed their arguments, have started to engage with others about those arguments, that we will get some sense of how people feel about independence when they hear what I think from both sides will be a rather different set of arguments than the ones we heard seven years ago."

Adams mentions that it is "within Boris Johnson's gift" or any potential new PM to provide a referendum and Johnson is not in favour.

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Curtice said that the "current difficulties" of the PM should be left aside and that no Tory PM would accept indyref2 "this side of the next UK General Election", stating: "There are two avenues down which this story is likely to go, given the position of the UK Government. One is that we will end up with the Scottish Parliament passing some kind of legislation and that all ends up in the courts and that may be progressing what's really happening in 2023.

"The second thing of course this that we do have to bear in mind that a UK General Election will have to be held by the end of 2024. Let's put it like this, it is by no means inconceivable that we could end up with a hung parliament in which the SNP perhaps hold the balance of power.

"If that is the situation, the truth is that the Realpolitik of the position at Westminster will be very different from what it is with a UK Government that is committed to the Union with an overall majority."

Curtice accepted that the outcome of a General Election where there would be a minority administration and the SNP is able to enter into coalition or as a partner of a UK Government is "very unset" but said that we "should be aware that even if the current government is immovable, post a UK General Election, the politics of holding a referendum may look very different".