THE chief of staff to former Labour First Minister Jack McConnell is today unveiled as the latest recruit to the Yes Scotland campaign, as its organisers ramp up efforts to convert supporters of the Unionist parties to independence.

Jeane Freeman, a former Labour party member who was McConnell's top political adviser for almost four years, said she would now act as a recruiting sergeant for the campaign, especially among fellow businesswomen.

Freeman is one of several high-profile recruits from other parties who have now signed the Yes Declaration, which calls for Scotland to be ruled by those who live in Scotland, and whose names appear in an advert in today's Sunday Herald.

Others include former Labour MPs Dennis Canavan and John McAllion, and former Scottish Tory party fundraiser, Peter de Vink.

Such converts are regarded as invaluable in winning over the 20% of people open-minded on independence but not yet convinced. Dubbed "the persuadables" by the SNP, they hold the key to a Yes vote.

The use of faces from other parties is also designed to reinforce Yes Scotland's message that, despite the SNP's behind-the-scenes dominance of the campaign, a desire for Scotland to run its own affairs is not confined to the SNP.

The Greens and Scottish Socialists are also part of Yes Scotland, despite profound disagreements with the SNP over the monarchy.

By yesterday afternoon, around 7500 people had signed the declaration, and 1800 had agreed via the Yes Scotland website to help the campaign.

Today's advert also includes a number of ordinary people, such as two crofters and a school pupil, to illustrate anyone can act as a Yes Scotland "ambassador", organising events and campaigning.

Yes Scotland said it was now actively targeting supporters of Labour, the Liberal Democrats and Tories, as independence was not a strict party issue, and had its supporters in all political groups.

A spokeswoman said: "We know that Labour voters have voted for the SNP and Labour supporters back independence. We're keen for them to get involved and become ambassadors for independence in their own parties. Yes Scotland wants to persuade people from every party."

Freeman, 58, was McConnell's most senior political adviser from 2001 to 2005, advising him on health, justice and finance, before leaving to set up her own consultancy business.

In recent years she has also served on the Parole Board for Scotland, the Scottish Police Services Authority, the Judicial Appointments Board for Scotland, and since January 2011 has been chair of the Golden Jubilee National Hospital.

She told the Sunday Herald she had supported independence with her heart for many years, and more recently with her head, but this was the first time she had stated it publicly.

"I'm certainly not going to say I support independence and sit on my hands. I want Scots to be convinced it's the right thing for themselves and their kids. I'll be talking to women in all parties and particularly women in business."

She said there was an opportunity for a parliament "in our own country that can make better decisions on issues of social justice, poverty, and welfare" and "to access the levers of the economy for enterprise, particularly for young women".

Peter de Vink, who was recently elected as an Independent councillor in Midlothian but remains a Tory party member, said he now planned to set up "Conservatives for Independence".

He said a "hard core" of Tories would never accept independence, but predicted many on the right would be attracted by potentially lower taxes.

He said a Yes vote was a chance to abandon the present tax system, and introduce a flat tax, adding: "There are a lot of Tories who are very much for independence. It might be 36% support for independence today, but by October 2014 there will be a lot more and we're going to win."

Other signatories to the Yes Declaration listed today include Michelin-star chef Andrew Fairlie; actors James Cosmo, Brian Cox, Alan Cumming, Martin Compston, and Elaine C Smith; authors Alan Bissett, Lari Don, Alasdair Gray, James Robertson and Kevin Williamson; comic book writer Mark Millar; and playwright David Greig.

Sir Sean Connery's name also appears under the Yes Declaration. This may prove controversial, as he famously lives in the Bahamas, and the Yes campaign said on Friday that he would not sign as he is not eligible to vote in Scotland.

Labour said: "The SNP would be better trying to convince their own voters, since this week's poll showed just over half back independence. Social justice and fairness are best achieved by working in partnership, not competition, with our neighbours, which is why most people on the left in Scotland remain unconvinced."