ALTHOUGH there was no specific debate on the Sustainable Growth Commission report published two weeks ago, Andrew Wilson’s 354-page economic blueprint for independence dominated the first day of SNP conference.

At a fringe event on what independence could mean for Scotland’s economy, the National’s George Kerevan won a huge round of applause when he warned that the Wilson report would leave the country “at the mercy” of the banks.

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The report was, he said, “too conservative”. Its recommendations include keeping sterling without a formal currency union after Scotland leaves the UK. A separate Scottish currency could be set up after a period of about a decade, but only if six key economic tests were met, the commission said. The move would see the Bank of England continue to set interest rates and other monetary policy in the years after independence.

“My view is let’s get independence, let’s use it,” Kerevan said.

“My disagreement with Andrew is that I think we need to grow the economy more vigorously post-independence and solve the problem that way. Andrew thinks that, when we get growth, we should split the difference between paying down the deficit and a little bit extra on public expenditure, so it’s not austerity in sense of the word, but it means it will take 10 years – if we have a recession globally that could create the situation where it could take maybe 15 years to clear the deficit the way Andrew wants.”

In his speech, Westminster leader Ian Blackford talked of how the commission’s report would “kick-start a new debate on how our nation can move beyond the damage and despair of Brexit to a future where we can deliver hope and ambition”.

He added: “The Growth Commission makes it clear that Scotland can match the richest countries in the world.”

Delegates by and large welcomed the report if not necessarily everything that was in it.

Ian Gourlay, who’s been coming to conference since 1960, told The National: “I think we’re in a difficult situation at the moment.

“We’ve got to wait until we know we’re going to win. If we have another one and lose it again it’s back 20 years. It will be a generation, no question about that. A lot of the people, particularly the one that came in more recently are desperate to go again and I’m desperate to go again as well, but I know that the result is far more important.”

Robertson Wellen from Dumfries said: “I don’t know if it’ll work. That’s the next question is to sit down with some folk who were on the other side and ask them if this helped. What I’ve seen in the media from the Tories is that it hasn’t helped. But I’m not that convinced they’ve read it.”

Jean Douglas said she could see a lot of positives in the document: “I think what a lot of people are concerned about is that it seems quite meek in relation to growth – a bit too safe. And it says it’s going to take us 10 years to do something a bit more adventurous.”

She added: “There’s some people that don’t like it, or don’t like aspects of it, but everybody’s thankful it’s there. It’s starting a debate.

“It’s given people something get their teeth into.”