Nicola Sturgeon has kicked off a campaign for a second independence referendum.

Publishing the first in a series of papers that will form a prospectus for an independent Scotland this week, the First Minister said there was an “indisputable” mandate for another vote after a majority of independence-supporting MSPs were returned in last year’s Holyrood elections.

Ms Sturgeon believes that the election of a pro-independence majority to the Scottish Parliament last year with the SNP and Scottish Greens  - who have since formed a loose coalition - outnumbering unionist parties, there is a democratic duty to put the question to the people. 

But how they would vote in a second independence referendum is a question which has been asked repeatedly this year by pollsters seeking to gauge the public mood. 

Almost a dozen polls have been carried out for a number of organisations, asking various versions of the question of whether Scotland should be an independent country or not. 

Polling expert Mark Diffley, Director of the polling firm The Diffley Partnership, said this week that support for either camp was “statistically a dead heat”.  

Mr Diffley believes that with no side taking a lead eight years after the last Scottish independence referendum, neither could be confident of victory should a fresh independence vote be held next year.  

But what do the polls tell us?

The first poll of the year had the Yes and No sides of the question of independence in a dead heat - with eight per cent undecided. 

First Poll: Savanta/Comres for The Scotsman

 

How have views changed over the course of the year? 

2022 has not been short of events, with Partygate, the cost of living crisis and the war in Ukraine all likely to sway minds. But has it shifted the dial on the desire to break up the UK?

 

HeraldScotland:

Key Questions: 

 

What needs to happen for a referendum to be held?

There are two paths to a legally recognised vote.

The first would require the granting of a Section 30 order by the UK Government. This would provide Holyrood with the powers it would need under the Scotland Act to pass legislation in order to hold a referendum.

The second would require the legislation to be passed at Holyrood first, when it could be subject to legal challenge by the UK Government with a final decision on its legality taken by the Supreme Court.

The First Minister said on Tuesday that work was ongoing to identify a route to a vote without a Section 30, so a third course of action may be available, but this is not yet known.

When might there be a vote?

In a shared policy platform published as a result of the power-sharing agreement with the Scottish Greens, the Scottish Government said it would work to hold another referendum by the half way point of this parliamentary term – meaning the end of next year.

But with an intransigent UK Government that looks set to reject any request for a Section 30 order and the prospect of a protracted legal battle over any legislation passed by the Scottish Parliament on the issue, it’s not clear if this, or any, timescale will be met.

What does the UK Government say?

Westminster, under two different prime ministers in recent years, has repeatedly rejected calls for another vote.

Both Theresa May and Boris Johnson have said “now is not the time” for a referendum, a sentiment echoed by a spokeswoman for the UK Government on Tuesday.