IF I had a pound for every time a politician said that “the only poll that counts is election day”, I would have a modestly pleasing sum of money. Not enough to retire on, but enough.

It doesn’t do to get too excited by polls. A snapshot, a moment in time, subject to statistical error, etcetera.

That said, the direction of travel very much matters, as do some basic insights on what is informing and moving the momentum forwards or backwards.

In both those regards, the Panelbase poll in The Sunday Times offered significant encouragement as well as caution to those of us who believe Scotland’s best future is as an independent country and a full and active member of the European Union.

READ MORE: Support for Scottish independence hits 50%, poll suggests

On the headline number, the finding (excluding don’t-knows) was a 50-50 split. More important than the eye-catching headline at the start of the SNP conference, however, was the change. In just more than two years of polling by the same organisation, it represented a swing of 9% from No to Yes.

That is highly significant one-way momentum. But let us not get too excited. After all that we are going through just now as the moral, political and economic foundations of the UK political system are eviscerated, might we have hoped for a much bigger swing?

I am not so sure. At a time of great change and uncertainty for some persuadable but not yet persuaded, the case for doubling down on constitutional change is, at best, yet to be proven.

So much of what we might be buying into has yet to be clarified, after all. But it is clarifying, and the mists are clearing.

Just look at the numbers on the economy which could signal another game-changing moment in our long story without end.

We have known, for some time, that a majority of people now think that Scotland would be better off independent in the long-term but worry about the transition and immediate term.

The National:

However, for the first time, a significant poll suggested that a majority now believe that Scotland would be better off independent in the EU than as part of the UK and out of the EU.

Excluding don’t-knows that is by around 56% to 44%.

Even more stark is the movement among 2014 No voters. Now barely more than half of 2014 No voters believe Scotland will be economically better off as part of the UK outside the EU. Think on that. Almost half of No voters from the last referendum believe we will be either better off independent or are just not sure.

That sound is the edifice of economic credibility in the Union creaking and beginning to crumble.

As you go down the poll’s tables, the sample sizes reduce and the margins for error increase, so again it doesn’t do to over-egg what we learn precisely. But the themes are very clear.

And instructive for campaign strategists was the message that around 13% of 2014 No voters were now in favour of independence, while 10% of 2014 Yes voters were now against it.

Understanding what moved those 10% in the “wrong” direction and turning it around would take us to 60%. Tall order? It ought not to be. Then consider those who are persuadable but currently not convinced and we begin to see why people like me believe both that independence can be won and that it will be won by a substantial majority.

Winning well and winning big I believe is crucial in securing the “settled will” behind the transition we will go through. It matters for the choices and trade-offs we need to make in making good the independence choice and building our economy and society over the coming generation.

Rome will not be built in a day – we need to agree in honesty and candour that this process will be hard work and challenging but worth it. Very much worth it.

The National:

READ MORE: FM declares SNP is 'winning the case for indy' in conference speech

As First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said in her conference speech: “We will win our independence. But not the Brexit way. Not by undermining democracy, demonising those who disagree and plastering lies on the side of a bus. We will win by inspiring and persuading.”

I could not agree more. We don’t do hollow-drum, strongman populism. It is not the way to win and an even worse strategy for winning well.

The First Minister again: “So let us resolve today that how we campaign for independence will always reflect the open, tolerant, inclusive and democratic nation we are determined to build.”

This is hugely important because it doesn’t seek to build a new Scotland on the back of Dominic Cummings’s style of scorched-earth extremism. It doesn’t seek to win a majority plus one at all costs and damn the consequences for the next day. It does not ignore that in securing our actual independence beyond a vote we will require to engage directly in agreements with the nations of Europe and the world and, of course, with our closest partners in the rest of the UK, whoever is in government then. These are clear realities.

We have to be bigger, better, more stable, secure and trustworthy than the forces ranged against us. Some say we only have to win once. That is only true if you only care about the vote itself. But that vote is not D-Day, it is day one. Day one in creating a new story for Scotland that will take many years to tell.

WE must present a case to the people of Scotland that will take the public opinion from 50% to settled will. The momentum is with us. We win big by telling the truth and adopting the antithesis of the Brexit strategy.

And, of course, this also means a process that is legitimate within our own democratic system and in the eyes of the world community, and especially the partners we want to welcome us back into the European Union.

Plan B is shorthand for nothing more than frustrated impatience. I wish the conference had voted it down after detailed debate because it is no more than the beat of a hollow drum. After all, if we assert a mandate to negotiate on an election vote without a referendum, what happens when the UK Government refuses to negotiate?

There is, and can be, no real Plan B, although there must be a plan of escalation as we move towards the choice. Always and everywhere we, and our government, must maintain the democratic and moral high ground. Do so and our day will come. Retreat behind the barriers of protest and we lose in every sense, not least the support of those who live here that we must bring with us now. We are in government and leading a democratic case for independence in Europe against a UK Government shorn of credibility.

Most of the big strategic questions many have on what independence will mean now have clear and honest answers. Some choices remain to be made, not least around our transition back into the European Union. Chiefly, what this means for our trading relationship with the rest of the UK will in some part depend on the solutions found now with Ireland.

It is one of many issues for which the answer is not simple and easy. Doing nothing, however, standing pat with Brexit Britain, is the riskiest call of all. And a clear majority now agree.

So now is the time, more than ever, for clear and clever heads to rule passionate and impatient hearts. Our day is coming, faster than many thought possible. But we need to stay focussed and true to our values if we are to both win and then make good that choice. We are our choices.