THE stage-setters in the ScotGov events team should award themselves an extra Tunnock’s teacake at the end of this week.

Nicola Sturgeon’s speech on the Scottish economy took place at a Prestwick factory that used to build Spitfires, and now houses a high-end aircraft components manufacturer … called “Spirit”, no less.

The building’s old motto is taken from Burns, “The World O’er”. Cue an aspirational, globalist moment from Sturgeon, where she wanted Scotland “to be the inventor and the producer of the innovations that will shape the future – not just a consumer of those innovations”.

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So Scotland is invited to seize the future. I’m in. It’s one of the two reasons I ever became an indy supporter (the other getting rid of Trident). But how does the future then stay in Scotland, and contribute to the coffers of this economy?

That’s the toughest bone, gnawed at by many substantial figures I’ve talked to over the last 30 years. Some sectors vaunted by the First Minister in her speech are a little footloose. Life sciences ventures, for example, are easily cherry-picked and bought off by bigger players, and thus difficult to grow into global companies.

What’s more promising is the chain of local engineering sketched out by the First Minister in her speech. Spirit make wing parts for the Airbus out of highly-specialised composite materials – and some of those come from a lightweight manufacturing centre at Inchfinnan, supported by ScotGov.

Such a density of growing, interlinked expertise has less incentive to sell out and up sticks. (Incidentally, what this also shows is how diverse Scottish manufacturing is – meaning, it’s not just oil and gas.)

But how do we endure the world comes beating a path to the doorstep of futuristic Scottish companies? The Scots (and Brussels-based) innovation consultant Alasdair Reid says that what is important for small to medium-sized countries is “value capture” – that is, how they can retain high wages, profits and thus tax revenues – and not just “value creation”.

He identifies three conditions. You have to be the “orchestrator or brand owner” of your valuable product or service. You have to “control the interface with the customer and user”. And you have to “retain a gate-keeping position” – meaning, you must corner the market for your particular input. You can see this schema operating beneath the FM’s speech, and indeed ScotGov policy over the last decade, particularly with wind and power.

We’ve been pumping up our global brand in these sectors for years, and backing that up with investment and actual enterprise – note the proud citation of world-leading floating wind farms and tidal energy generation by Sturgeon.

Yet even given our existing advantages – the natural resources bountifully available, the scientific and technological expertise – it’s hard to see how we would create a Scottish global player in this sector, without the powers of indy.

We need full regulatory powers over our energy system, including pricing, as well as much more nationally-directed investment. How do we prevent fledgling Scottish companies in wind and tidal being picked off by bigger players?

Other European and Scandinavian countries manage to nurture their world-leading sectors. No matter the niceties of our future European relations, this has to be a core strategic argument for Scottish statehood.

Part of the fiscal case for Scottish growth, and especially under independence, has also to be about addressing social inequality. We face a real challenge here. The future pulls in two different directions.

Renewables, energy and zero-waste business imply high demand for human construction and engineering skills – 60,000 jobs are anticipated from the low-carbon sector, says Sturgeon.

These won’t just come from new enterprises, but from strategies for transport (more systems, fewer cars) and housing (refitting housing stock to make it zero-carbon, regreening cities). All of this fits with what states are traditionally good at – putting demand into economies, by means of public works and regulatory expectations. The big buttons can be found, and pressed.

Yet the other side of the future invoked by Sturgeon isn’t so human (or labour) friendly. Edinburgh University might indeed be a world-leader in AI, big data and “informatics”, but that puts them at the head of a wave of automation, of both of mental and physical labour, which threatens to up-end most of our economic norms.

You’ll know the kind of think tank statistics from the major reports by now, on how coming technology will evaporate many existing jobs.

Reform anticipates that 250,000 UK public-sector workers are at risk from automation. Sturgeon cites a perfect example of the process in personalised medical care – algorithms that crunch the numbers of your genetic make-up and prescribe medicines tailored to you. Efficient and magical – but watch out doctors and nurses.

The Institute for Public Policy Research warned earlier this year that one in three current jobs – 10 million – is at risk from automation over the next 20 years. The report said: “In wholesale and retail for example, there are more than two-and-a-half-million jobs with a high potential to be automated, and three in four workers do not have a degree-level qualification and may lack adaptability”.

Even a Green “New Deal” will only partially repair these giant tears in the social fabric, as AI service workers and tireless robots are deployed under the rule of efficiency and competition. The SNPGov is acutely aware about the need for adaptable workers. From its myriad apprenticeship and skill-development measures, to the world-leading proportion of the population with a tertiary/degree education, the schemes seem to be in place.

Yet “education, education, education” has been a mantra since the Blair years. Now that we face the rise of the machines under globalisation, is Scotland really prepared? Sturgeon’s speech nods to the need for the benefits of growth to be shared widely. But she’s silent on the debate around how much techno-capitalism, conducted under neoliberal arrangements, has funnelled ever greater amounts of wealth to elites (although she does quote a respondent saying “that’s your GDP, not mine!”). The go-go business futurism invoked by the FM has to address a big question.

So what if we generate Scottish versions of those massive, winner-takes-all platforms that dominate the economic world at the moment? Will they behave any differently from the Amazons, Ubers and Apples we know – avoiding their major tax debts; crushing smaller and more local economies; employing a fraction of the workers of previous industries; and enriching beyond imagining the platform holders and owners?

That is why the near-absence of constitutional questions in this speech – other than some requests for tailored immigrations controls in the face of Brexit, and a genuflection to the single-market – is a real disappointment.

The Corbynites will make fine running against the SNP in the next few years, if they are able to own the charge that the new knowledge-era elites, and their accumulating assets, need to be properly taxed. The benefits of tech efficiency and transformation need to brought to national-democratic populations.

We may need to rethink things like ownership structures – where a mutual or a co-operative might be better than a shareholder-driven limited company. But who is making the best argument for that?

Indy – the establishing of a nation-state jurisdiction in Scotland – remains the best way to trigger the latent prosperity of the country, yet embed it within a set of humane social relations. Both the social consensus of Scotland, and the mythology it feeds on – one that values fairness and education, that welcomes to the world to its doors – is an amazingly valuable resource for progress.

But we have to keep connecting the case for independence to prosperity, growth and security, using exactly these kinds of public moments. And not behave as if it wasn’t the crucial strategic dimension that a Scotland capable of the rest of the century requires.

Which allows me to add my own favourite bit of futurism from Robert Burns at the end. Let’s head for here:

In some future eccentric planet:

Where wit may sparkle all its rays,

Uncurst with caution’s fears:

And pleasure, basking in the blaze,

Rejoice for endless years!