THE historian Tom Devine has warned independence supporters to be absolutely honest about “the real and undoubted challenges” which could lie ahead after a Yes vote. 

Speaking to The National to mark the sixth anniversary of the 2014 independence referendum, Professor Sir Tom warned that failure to be open with the electorate would “fatally undermine any future campaign.”

Scotland’s most eminent historian told us that lessons needed to be learned from the last  last independence campaign, in particular the economic arguments for independence, which, he said, were a "sitting target" for No side attacks. 

Currency became a key focus during the 2014 Scottish independence referendum. The SNP said they would continue to use sterling indefinitely as part of a formal currency union with the remainder of the UK. 

Last year, SNP members backed proposals for a new currency in an independent Scotland "as soon as practicable" after independence.

The 2014 vote, Devine said, “had a number of very positive features”.

“The collective enthusiasms which encouraged and brought together so many of those with little previous political experience to become deeply involved-indeed there was almost a carnival atmosphere at times; the successful attempts to engage with working class communities especially in the west of Scotland and Dundee; the fact that discourse and debates, inevitably heated and passionate,were often conducted with tolerance and civility which impressed others when the world was watching on,” he said.

Yet, he added “mistakes were also made.”

“The economic and currency case advanced for independence was at best naive and at worst simply incredible, a sitting target for unionist and media attack on this most fundamental of issues where future livelihoods, employment, health, welfare and aspirations were all at stake.

“It is likely that the next  referendum will be held in very straitened  global financial  circumstances for all the reasons we know about.

“Because of this gloomy  background it is vital that those who advocate independence should treat the electorate with total respect and absolute honesty, not only with messages of hope and positive plans but also acknowledgement of the real and undoubted challenges which lie ahead and how they might in time be overcome.

"Any alternative would fatally undermine any future campaign from the start."