THE arguments may be purely economic, the purpose political but the effect is powerfully philosophical.

The 350 pages of the Sustainable Growth Commission report cover matters ranging from retaining the pound, to parking oil revenues, to encouraging migrants, to addressing public expenditure. But a hint of its more profound substance lies in the preamble by its chairman, Andrew Wilson.

In a document invested properly with fact, figure and chart, Wilson quotes Goethe and Gandhi before noting the observation of Richard Holloway, former Episcopal bishop and enduring spiritual seeker, that “The opposite of faith is not doubt. It is certainty”.

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This, then, is a report whose weight is not restricted to the economic data. This is a report that seeks to change the way people think rather than merely the manner of how an independent Scotland would function. The former, of course, must be achieved before the latter can be an eventuality.

There is initially Goethe’s couplet of “Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it/Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.” Then there is Gandhi’s tenet: “The difference between what we can do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problems.”

Perhaps the most pithy exhortation remains unsaid. It is that of Franklin Delano Roosevelt in his first inaugural address in a USA crippled and wounded by depression: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” This is a report that seeks to dispel dread and instil hope.

Wilson had to find a way to dismantle the roadblock on the path to independence: the paralysing apprehension over financial matters, the almost in-built belief among some that a free Scotland would be reduced to having sea shells as currency and an economy consisting of taking in each other’s washing.

There had to be a plan and one beyond the restrictions of the 2014 White Paper and its inability to scotch the currency fears in particular. He had to answer the mundane but pressing question from a generation of naysayers that can crudely be distilled thus: is my pension safe after home rule?

“It addresses that. It gives people certainty in the immediate aftermath of independence,” said Nicola Sturgeon, speaking exclusively to The National after publication of the report yesterday.

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There was once a nationalist mantra of trying to reassure voters that everything would be all right post independence but there is a harder edge to this message now. “It treats people like grown-ups,’’ said Sturgeon, referring to a report that was “thorough, considered and comprehensive”.

It is, too, innovative and daring. Migrant problem? Yes, we don’t have enough of them. Oil revenue? Let’s park that, by not relying on any revenues for any financial prognostication. The pound? We can use it until we find another way.

Thus the elephant in the room is confronted. Fears over the economy proved injurious, if not fatal, in the 2014 referendum. The currency situation was used as lethal weapon by No campaigners. Sturgeon remains unrepentant about the White Paper and its stance.

“The position was perfectly credible – the governor of the Bank of England said this week it was perfectly credible – the problem was that it gave our opponents a political veto. That became the difficulty,” said Sturgeon.

“As it happens, I believed then and I still believe that if there had been a Yes vote in 2014 they would have moved quickly and changed their position. But in the campaign there were able to put a political veto on that.”

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So if her position has not changed radically, the approach has been refined, made more lean if not mean. “Times have moved on in other way,” she said of the interlude from 2014. “But this [retaining the pound] means we are in control in Scotland of the path we want to take. Politicians in Westminster don’t have a veto over it, we use the pound immediately for a transition period and then we can make decisions about alternatives.”

She added: “On currency, I think in time it is entirely credible that an independent Scotland would want to move to its own currency. But even the most ardent supporter of that position accepts there will have to be a period of preparation and transition.”

She adds the rider to the economic proposals that every sceptic of financial stability in an independent Scotland wants to hear.

“It gives people the certainty their pensions would still be paid in the pound, their wages would be paid in the pound, so it strikes that balance between stability and ambition.”

This is the crux of the commission report. It not only offers solutions but does so on the front foot, jutting its chin, ready to accept the blows, but set to march on regardless. The ideas and theories propagated by the commission – or at least some of them – may evaporate on first contact with reality, as is the fate of many financial and economic projections.

But the ethos endures. Wilson and his colleagues have not shied away from the difficult issues but have addressed them in a way so positive some of the report reads as if it was electrically charged.

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“It is obviously very financially driven but it sets out very clearly that nothing is inevitable in life,” said Sturgeon, addressing this point.

“Crucially, it provides a debate on how we best maximise our potential for our country rather than being always focused on a debate on how we limit the damage of Brexit which has dominated thinking for the past couple of years. It makes the point – and, in my view, an incontrovertible point – that small independent countries have consistently done better than the UK. It set out how Scotland, if it equips itself with powers of independence, can seek to emulate the best in the world rather than being caught in the slow lane of the UK.”

THIS is the philosophy of change, how to engineer and embrace it, difficulties and all. “People and countries have choices to make about the path they want to take,” said Sturgeon. “At the moment Scotland is on a path that we didn’t want to be on – to be taken out of the EU and all the implications that come with that – but we don’t have to accept that is inevitable. We can take a different path.”

It is on this point that Wilson, the commission report and the First Minister join in accepting what business calls challenges and the rest of us label problems. “It is not a path that guarantees overnight success but it puts the tools into our hands that enables us to build a better future,” said Sturgeon.

But recalling that Holloway observation about faith, does independence require a leap of that variety? Sturgeon said: “It is a very realistic report and one of the big benefits of it is that it is optimistic, it is visionary and unapologetically ambitious about what Scotland with all its strengths can achieve. It does not shy away from challenges and it doesn’t try to sugar coat them but it sets out credible pathways for overcoming them.”

But does it bring the referendum vote any closer? “It strengthens the case of independence,” said Sturgeon. “It doesn’t have any bearing on questions on the timing of independence. In some ways that is a good thing because the debate about the how and when of independence is one that excites those of us who are already convinced. But people who not who are yet convinced want to know the why of independence and what the benefits are. That is what this report helps us to spell out.”

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The commission outlines a brave, new world but one that require courage, even faith. However, Sturgeon said: “Change is inevitable. Brexit assures that is so. We have a choice to make about we navigate that change.

“Do we leave it to others to make choices for us when all the evidence suggest these decisions tend to be the wrong ones? Or do we take our future into our own hands and chart our own way forward knowing, of course, that for every country in the world life is full of uncertainties.”

One, of course, remains. When will the First Minister tell us the date of the referendum? “Not today,” she said with a smile. The report has nothing to say on timing, either. But it may form much of the battleground and provide effective ammunition for independence.