A new polling organisation has been set up in a bid to monitor Scottish opinions in the wake of both the 2014 independence referendum and the Brexit vote two years later.
Progress Scotland is headed by former SNP depute leader Angus Robertson, with polling and research conducted by Mark Diffley, who served as the lead pollster for the UK Government in the run-up to the independence referendum.
Polling, focus groups and other forms of research will be carried out, with the new organisation aiming to “prepare the case for Scotland to progress towards independence”, Mr Robertson said.
This work will be funded through donations and public subscriptions, with polling analysis and other information then released to subscribers.
Scots voted to stay part of the UK by 55% to 45% in 2014, but in the Brexit vote in 2016, people north of the border backed remaining in the European Union – a result that was at odds with the overall majority for Leave.
Mr Robertson was the SNP MP for Moray until he lost his seat at Westminster at the 2017 general election. He also served as the party’s depute leader and Westminster leader.
In addition to this, he was campaign director for the SNP’s three most successful election campaigns, the 2007 and 2011 Holyrood elections and the 2015 UK election.
He said: “Progress Scotland aims to help prepare the case for Scotland to progress towards independence, keeping pace with the views of the people who make their lives here.
“With the help and support of subscribers, we will research the opinion of people in Scotland and test their appetite to emulate the most successful small countries in the world.
“We will provide insight and analysis on what is needed to persuade people on the case for Scotland to make progress.”
Mr Diffley said he was taking part in the new project because “Scotland has been my home for nearly 20 years and I have witnessed how the country has changed and continues to change”.
He added: “We are at a time when it has never been so important to listen to the people of Scotland and understand what the public is thinking.
“I am going to conduct the polls and research for Progress Scotland and I am very excited to see what we will find.
“With so much going on with Brexit and the debate about Scotland’s future, now is the right time to ask people about their opinions, how they are changing and why.
“It makes sense to try and understand people’s hopes and concerns, especially at this time of change.”
Scottish Conservative chief whip Maurice Golden said: “When this group does speak to people in Scotland, it will find that the majority don’t want to go back to get more division and uncertainty.
“It’s to be hoped that Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP listens for once.”
Labour’s Holyrood business manager Neil Findlay said: “This group would be better spending its time talking to people about the state of our public services and condition of our economy.
“People want the Government focused on jobs, schools and hospitals – not the instability that would come with another referendum.”