A FORMER Conservative shadow cabinet minister has said Andrew Wilson’s growth commission plan is the type of prospectus which could succeed in winning independence.

Peter Duncan, who represented Galloway and Upper Nithsdale for the Tories from 2001 to 2005, said the report’s findings could help win over undecided voters to Yes.

The former chair of the Scottish Conservatives cautioned some critics on the left, saying their arguments would not bring about an independent Scotland. He made the remarks in a television interview at the weekend and expanded on them yesterday, pointing out he would continue to back the UK in the event of a new vote.

“Were there to be a case to be put to the nation for Scottish independence that gets through, that gets a majority, anyone who doesn’t think the solution doesn’t lie in the kind of area which Andrew Wilson is setting out is being very very seriously mistaken.

“His kind of approach is the core of an offer that might just get a majority, though not one I would buy into,” he told the BBC Sunday Politics Scotland.

Asked to elaborate on his comments, he told The National: “Andrew Wilson is someone I admire. I think he is someone who has carried out a substantial piece of work. My interpretation of his and the commission’s approach is that to get anywhere close to a majority the Yes movement is going to have to reach out beyond its traditional base and gain support of new people.

“And I think the tone of the commission’s report and Andrew’s contribution and some of the substance are both in my view they are the right type of approach that should be taken.”

He added: “His commission is being seen as controversial by some in the Yes movement – and putting my views to one side – I would caution those who take a negative approach...that doing the same [as in 2014] is likely to get the same result.

“The commission acknowledges that increases in expenditure have to be paid for – to me this is exactly the right kind of language that will reach out beyond the traditional Yes left consensus. And while I’m not going to be persuadable it is the approach that needs to be taken.”

Duncan, who is a partner in the media and political relations consultancy Message Matters, was the sole Conservative MP north of the Border when he was elected in 2001. He sat in the party’s front bench team as Shadow Scottish Secretary from 2003 to 2005 under the then party leader Michael Howard.

Wilson’s 354-page Sustainable Growth Commission report was published last year and set out to update the case for independence examining the high rate of economic growth of small independent nations around the world and what lessons could be learnt from them.

The commission recommended the notional deficit could be halved to 3% within five and ten years. But critics said the move would entail public spending constraint. Senior SNP figures rejected the claim saying independence would mean enhanced growth, resulting in additional tax revenues that would offset the need for austerity.

Opponents criticised the report’s plan to move gradually to a new currency once six economic tests have been met and to keep the pound until then, but not in a currency union with the UK. But critics fear not having an independent currency would subordinate Scottish economic policy to one determined by the UK Treasury.

Rory Steel, of the Campaign for an Independent Currency, said: “There are many ‘No’ voters who are attacked and hurt by Tory austerity on a daily basis. They are the people we need to appeal to. We do that with an agenda for positive change and convincing them that Scotland has the ability to be an independent country.”