Dr Robbie Mochrie is Associate Professor of Economics at Heriot-Watt University.

LET Us Face The Future. With a confident, modernist V for victory on its cover, the Labour Party’s 1945 manifesto offered hope. It was a welcome message in a country exhausted by the Great Depression and war. It won the election and delivered the Welfare State.

It should be easy for the SNP’s Growth Commission to do something similar. It doesn’t even have to outline a programme for government – just possibilities of hope for something better in the context of an independent Scotland.

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But the name, Growth Commission, is enough for hope to ebb away. Within the SNP leadership, people must have looked at the footage of the first TV debate of the 2014 referendum campaign. They must have seen Alex Salmond failing to answer very simple questions about Scotland’s economy, and decided that was the moment where the campaign faltered.

Not immediately, perhaps, but instead in the weekend before the vote, when opinion polls were all but tied – at the time when people finally had to make up their minds. For five or six days, there was a drift back towards No. Asked to take a leap into the unknown, the grand narrative of hope which sustained the Yes movement failed to convince many people.

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Like generals fated to fight the last war, the SNP’s leadership appears to have learned the wrong lesson from that experience. When they should be mobile, constantly changing their shape and essentially fighting a guerrilla campaign, they have gone for the discipline of the Roman legionaries.

I’m not arguing that it’s wrong for the SNP to be interested in economic growth. Growth can bring benefits. It means that people can look forward to their children doing better than they have done. It should mean that people are more likely to have jobs. It should mean that we can provide better social services. It can give hope.

But economic growth can only be a means to achieving those greater ends, rather than an end in itself. Even the radical right of Mrs Thatcher and Mr Reagan didn’t pursue economic growth remorselessly – go back and read Mrs Thatcher’s “there is no such thing as society” interview to see that she believed that she was making it possible for people and families to live good lives.

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Perhaps the plan, then, was to set up a Growth Management Commission.

It’s very clear that this SNP Government, and the First Minister, quite like an interventionist industrial policy. We’ve seen the rescue of the Clydebridge and Dalzell steelworks, the facilitation of a takeover of Ferguson’s shipbuilders in Port Glasgow, and the ongoing efforts to stabilise BiFab. In the chaos of Brexit, there are attempts to build a coherent UK industrial policy.

Why? I get that closing a business means that people lose their jobs. It also reduces our ability to manage productive resources, and that harms society. But, if you want economic growth, then businesses are going to be overtaken by competitors. This year’s success can easily be next year’s failure.

This is the problem. Growth isn’t nice and neat and tidy. It’s messy and capricious and sometimes completely unfair. Since the 1970s, pro-growth politics has gloried in letting loose economic forces, claiming that increasingly unfair outcomes were simply rewards for talent and effort. Like false prophets throughout history, their words were balm to the rich and powerful. But their arguments have often seemed compelling to millions of people.

Again, understand your opponents: Mrs Thatcher and Mr Reagan didn’t win elections by offering the benefits of growth to a few. They pitched common sense against complex social theories. They seemed to trust people to get on with their own lives. And in a time of economic stagnation, they offered real change.

That’s clearly not what the SNP leadership wants. The commission has been an attempt to get some very capable people to generate answers to questions about how to manage the economy, so that it’s possible for the people of Scotland to enjoy the benefits of strong growth without suffering too many of the costs.

This is Clintonian, or Blairite. It’s an elite approach in which people will have to accept what their betters decide is good for them. And in many ways, it’s a failure to understand just how much the independence movement is a legacy of Thatcherism. It has been driven by a loose network of policy entrepreneurs: Stuart Campbell at Wings, Robin McAlpine at Common Space and both Paul Kavanagh and Mike Small in various places, including this newspaper. All of them, as they tear down the British state, are simply taking her mistrust of government to its logical conclusion.