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Growth Commission is straight from the Ministry of Truth

In George Orwell's 1984, the all-powerful government names its departments with reverse meanings to hide their true objectives.

So its propaganda wing is known as the Ministry of Truth while the Ministry of Peace is primarily concerned with perpetuating a never-ending war.

Today, we are about to see an example of 'doublespeak' which would make even Big Brother blush.

The SNP's Growth Commission insists its objective is to look at ways to boost the Scottish economy while Nicola Sturgeon has said this week it will restart the debate on independence.

Let's be clear – Scotland desperately needs one of those things and could really do without the other to the point that its almost contradictory.

Economic growth in Scotland is so sluggish that we grew by just by just 0.8 per cent in 2017 – a whole percentage point below the rest of the UK and three below the global rate.

The excuse of Brexit only holds so far when we are seen to be performing well below the rest of the UK.

With Holyrood in control of Scotland's income tax system, each quarter of slow growth is a missed opportunity to create the revenues needed to invest in our schools and hospitals.

So how do we tackle it? Its certainly not easy but there are some things you wouldn't do for starters.

Close off your biggest trading partner, the rest of the UK, for one worth only a quarter of the size (EU)? Voluntarily open up a £13 billion deficit, proportionately the biggest in Europe? Abandon one of the world's oldest and most stable currencies in the pound for a brand new one?

The latest justification for Scottish independence appears to be Brexit yet surely if there are lessons to be learned from the process of leaving the EU, its that breaking up an economic union is messy and bad for business.

There are lots of clever, worthy people on the SNP's Growth Commission, who no doubt have some ideas worth listening to. The problem is they have been given a narrow remit – economic growth through the prism of independence.

While this might be an interesting academic exercise, its still hard to escape the obvious conclusion that Scottish independence would be a disaster for our economy.

We spend £13 billion more than we raise. On day one, we would be looking at huge cuts or massive tax rises. We have a half a million jobs reliant on the UK, it's hard to see how all of these could be retained if we went alone. The gamble of a new, untried currency at the mercy of global markets is surely too reckless to think about.

For Nicola Sturgeon and her legion of followers, independence is not about economics. Its an article of faith.

That's why she can argue for keeping the pound one day, then argue something completely different the next.

Whether the oil price is high or low, the answer is independence. Whether its a Labour Government investing in public services or a Tory Government making cuts, the answer is independence. Whether it means leaving Europe, as it did in 2014, or rejoining, as she optimistically hopes now, the answer is independence.

Independence is a price worth paying for the nationalists, whether we use the pound, the groat or an Alex Salmond-backed rouble. Whether we are in Europe or out. For better or worse.

Against that background, its hard to see the Growth Commission and its currency plan as anything other than a ruse to try to persuade people who don't share their unshakeable belief in Scottish independence.

I think it makes sense for Scotland to stay in an economic and political union with our friends and neighbours who we share these islands with. By and large, its been to our enormous benefit and I see no reason to change it.

Others disagree and I can respect that. The belief that Scotland should be in control of its political and economic affairs is not unreasonable.

But there is no serious argument there would not be economic consequences and many people would be worse off, certainly in the short term.

If only they would be honest about it. Its time Nicola Sturgeon levelled with people about the consequences of her political project. Instead, today’s Growth Commission is straight from the Ministry of Truth.

By Pamela Nash, Chief Executive of Scotland in Union

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