IN the UK there is a long tradition of newspapers not just reporting the news but of taking a stand on important issues of the day. They have proved to be an influential force in guiding, informing and shaping public opinion and that is why it is so important that they wield this power with great care. So if The National is calling for SNP members to back the Growth Commission without even also backing the sensible amendments that have been put forward, I would expect it to have taken head-on the many crucial questions which remain unanswered.

For example, why set six tests it will be impossible to meet in the first term of an independent Scottish government? If you’re committed to a timetable of delivering this in the first four years of independence, why have tests at all?

READ MORE: The National View: This is why we're backing the First Minister's currency plan

The rules of the European Union state that you must have had your own currency and central bank for three years before applying for membership. The best-case scenario is that sterlingisation forces Scotland out of the EU for at least 10 years.

There are only four countries in the world which use this kind of informal money system – Ecuador, Montenegro, Panama and Lichtenstein. And two of them are in the middle of major economic crises caused directly by not having a central bank – exactly of the type Common Weal has said Scotland would face if there was a global economic crisis while we were stuck with the Growth Commission’s proposals.

(As an aside, it is not honest to say that there are other countries without a central bank or currency – other than these four and some tiny micro-states, such as the Eurozone nations – they all jointly share a central bank and formal currency, which is completely different than not having one at all.)

Without a central bank and formal monetary policy, Scotland would be stuck in an experimental currency system which has never been tried before by any advanced exporting nation in modern history. Should that not give us pause for thought?

READ MORE: We need a debate on currency ... but first we need independence

Then there is, of course, the central question of what this would condemn Scotland to in the first decade of independence. We’d be stuck with the UK’s tax code, the UK’s banking regulation, the UK’s monetary policies and presumably we’d need to adapt our regulatory framework to match Britain’s after it leaves the EU. What chance does Scotland have of being successful if we basically replicate the UK economy but with enormous added instability?

And what case can we make for independence? The Growth Commission requires that Scotland slash its deficit in the early years of independence. It thinks we might just about manage 0.5% real-terms annual increase in public spending in the first 10 years of independence (it could very easily be worse).

So if you wanted to escape the UK’s appalling benefits system, see major investment in public infrastructure or pursue a Green New Deal you can forget it. You very literally can’t do these things and cut the deficit at the same time.

Those who have proposed the adoption in full of the Growth Commission have studiously refused to answer any of these questions. Far from engaging with the informed debate, The National editorial implies politicians have simply ignored these fundamental economic question and have based their pitch mainly on loyalty and the claim they are popular.

But how can they be popular when voters haven’t even heard these arguments? Our opponents will accuse us of selling out to bankers and imposing austerity on behalf of those bankers. This will be a very hard claim to rebut and when voters are told independence means 10 years of effectively frozen budgets, they will rebel.

We have been an independence movement which has had many different views on many different subjects – but have managed to stay united. The reaction to these proposals among the grassroots goes well beyond disquiet. This lurch to the right will split and fragment us and it will be very difficult to repair the damage.

We know how much the many people who work on The National care about Scottish independence. That’s why it was such a surprise to see support for such a damaging move based on such flimsy arguments and with no answers to the big questions.

It is still not too late for the movement to avoid this terrible step, stay united and fight for a version of Scottish independence we can actually believe in.

Craig Dalzell is Common Weal’s Head of Policy and Research