NICOLA Sturgeon has placed “courtesy, empathy and respect” at the heart of the next campaign for Scottish independence – a vote she said would be an “informed choice”, unlike the EU referendum.

The First Minister made her remarks at the Political Studies Association’s annual conference in Glasgow.

She said that on the whole, the 2014 referendum was “a very positive experience for Scotland”, but one consequence of a referendum was that it required a binary choice – a yes or no – from people who have “nuanced or even conflicting views about something which matters deeply to them”.

Sturgeon told her audience: “Everyone in Scotland knows – from our own experiences in 2014 – that there was often very little difference between someone who was tempted by the ability to take a new path, but who had anxieties about the future; and someone who felt some solidarity with the rest of the UK, but who felt that Scotland would be better off if we could take decisions for ourselves.

“Fundamentally, all people in Scotland want the best for their own families and communities and for their country.

“So the debate needs to respect that fact. We need to recognise the honesty and validity of people’s anxieties, doubts and differences of opinion.”

And she promised that she would lead by example.

“The Scottish Government has a special responsibility to build consensus where we can," she said. “So I will ensure that at all times we make our case not just with passion and conviction, but with courtesy, empathy and respect.”

The First Minister said the European Union was a significant issue in the 2014 referendum, with many of those who opposed independence arguing that leaving the UK was a risk that would threaten Scotland’s place in the EU.

“It’s somewhat ironic that the opposite has turned out to be true,” she said.

“Scotland, despite the arguments that were made in 2014 and how we voted in 2016, faces being forced to leave the EU against our will. In my view, that is democratically unacceptable.”

She said that was why the Scottish Government had agreed a fortnight ago that discussions should begin with the UK Government for a new referendum, once the final terms of the Brexit deal were known.

The First Minister said Scotland once again faced a period of intense political debate, but it was important that people were able to make an informed choice.

She went on to compare the 2014 referendum and that on the UK's membership of the EU.

In the former, the Scottish Government had set out “a detailed proposal for how Scotland would become independent”, which was then scrutinised, analysed and often criticised by opponents, the media, business groups and wider society.

“In 2016, on the other hand, people were asked to vote for a change without being told what that change involved,” she said.

“Nobody who wanted to leave the European Union had any responsibility for setting out how it might be achieved.

“Many issues – for example the difference between single market membership, customs union membership and World Trade Organisation rules – are only being discussed widely now, when they should have been at the heart of public discussion before the vote.”

She said the next referendum should give people the information they need to reach a considered judgment.

“That is why nobody wants the referendum to take place immediately,” she added. “Instead, I believe it should happen once the details of the final Brexit agreement with the EU are known.

"That is likely to be in late 2018 or early 2019.”