IT’S not often Scottish Tories make me laugh out loud but an outburst yesterday by the CEO of Scottish Business UK was the funniest nonsense I’ve encountered for months.

There’s so much to unpack about Struan Stevenson’s celebration in a newspaper article of the “collapse of a key financial pledge” made by the SNP in 2014 that it’s difficult to know where to start.

We could, I suppose, begin by lamenting the habit the Tories have fallen into of putting the flags out every time they see anything which suggests Scots are destined to fail at whatever endeavour we attempt.

In this case it was the falling oil figures which had the Tory business curmudgeon pasting on a smile, pouring the Champagne and inviting his pals round to celebrate. The plunge in oil prices would, he said, have been a “calamity” for Scotland had we voted for independence at the first referendum in 2014.

What should we feel about a political party which far prefers promoting what it perceives to be an economic disaster to toasting any Scottish success?

A party so terrified that it insists that any indication of Scottish ability and ambition must be dismissed lest the country gets so carried away that we believe we can thrive without the “support” of our English neighbours.

It’s one thing to harbour doubts about the strength of an independent Scotland’s economy. That encourages healthy debate and there is plenty of information available to counter that mistaken impression. Most independence supporters would welcome the opportunity to have that debate. We would be confident of winning it.

It’s quite another thing to be so determined to drive down Scotland’s ambition that every scrap of “bad” news must be seized upon as evidence of our uselessness.

READ MORE: Unionist sparks fury with claim Scotland is 'too wee' for independence

Conservative politicians, of course, are not alone in their obsession with pointing out Scotland’s so-called failings. Just last weekend Sunday Times columnist Gillian Bowditch delivered a masterclass in the Scottish cringe by listing all the reasons she believed Scotland was too wee to successfully stand alone.

It’s impossible to resist pointing out the irony of her emphasis on the benefits of cross-country co-operation at a time when the UK is suffering so much pain from its decision to leave Europe.

Are we expected to simply ignore the mountain of evidence that Westminster is actively sacrificing the interests of Scotland – and indeed the north of England – by concentrating instead on promoting the interests of London and the south-east?

Evidence which includes Rishi Sunak’s £1 billion future fund which managed to spare just 1% to help Scottish start-ups survive the Covid pandemic?

Evidence such as Westminster’s £2bn Kickstart Scheme which has so far approved 219,00 six-month jobs for 16-24-year-olds on Universal Credit, just 10,000 of which are in Scotland. Worse, only 3830 of those have actually started.

Or Westminster’s determination to strip powers from the Scottish parliament in a blatant attempt to leave it unable to drive through the right policies to meet Scotland’s needs.

Oh no … let’s ignore the facts and instead celebrate anything which can be spun as a Scottish failure.

There are, of course, other problems with Struan Stevenson’s ridiculous attempt to convince us of Scotland’s economic “calamity”.

The first is pretty obvious. At no point in 2014 was the independence prospectus predicated on oil paying for everything.

The National: Scotland's former and current SNP First Ministers, Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon, hold copies of the White Paper on independence

The Scottish Government’s White Paper on independence did use then-current predictions of oil prices which have since dropped substantially.

But it also pointed out Scotland’s economic advantages even without oil.

It said, for example, that without North Sea oil and gas, GDP (national economic output) per head in Scotland was virtually identical to that of the UK as a whole. It went on to explicitly say that Scotland did not need oil and gas income to become independent.

Nevertheless, the points the White Paper makes about Westminster squandering the benefits of oil and gas are undeniably accurate.

And the suggested energy fund – similar to Norway’s successful approach – would surely be more useful than repeating past Westminster mistakes.

But then, concentrating on the past is something the naysayers continually do, since it diverts attention away from the advantages Scotland currently enjoys.

It’s better for Unionists to talk more about falling oil prices than to look at opportunities which the modern Scotland is in a powerful position to exploit.

That’s why they so rarely mention renewables, an area in which an independent Scotland can potentially establish itself as a global leader.

READ MORE: 'World's most powerful' tidal turbine begins generating electricity in Orkney

YESTERDAY a tidal powered turbine described as the most powerful in the world began generating electricity via the grid in Orkney.

It was developed by Orbital Marine Power, a privately held company with offices in Orkney and Edinburgh. It was built in Dundee. It was tested in a hub at the European Marine Energy Centre off Orkney.

When it is operational the turbine will provide enough power for 2,000 homes every year.

This is yet another success story in the renewables sector, which offers Scotland the opportunity to completely replace the role of oil and gas in the Scottish economy if handled correctly.

Three quarters of contractors working in the oil and gas sector in the Aberdeen area who replied to a recent survey said they expect to move into renewable energy in the next three to five years.

Renewables met 97% of Scotland’s electricity demand in 2020, narrowly missing the target of 100%. In 2011, when that target was set, renewables generated just 37% of demand.

More figures: Scotland boasts an estimated 25% of Europe’s tidal resource, 25% of its offshore wind resource and 10% of its wave potential.

The National: Offshore wind farms helped drive renewables to record levels

I’m not suggesting that we should rely on renewables to provide the equivalent of the North Sea oil boom of the 1980s, although I wouldn’t exactly rule it our either.

I am saying, though, that renewables is just one of a range of sectors – tourism, food and drink and video games being just a few of the others – which will power the successful economy of an independent Scotland.

You will, of course, hear very little of this from pro-Union politicians who know very well that their cause has more to gain from talking Scotland down than from promoting its successes.

That’s the legacy of the Better Together campaign of 2014 and it is a poisonous one which afflicts too much of Scotland’s media, which is actually better described as the media available in Scotland as so little of it is now wholly written edited and put together north of the Border.

When more newspapers were more accurately described as Scottish their passion for the country and its successes was an important selling points which provided a point of difference from their mainly London-based competitors.

Now though, too many newspapers and their websites describe Scotland in negative terms because they see their job as arguing against independence.

They are not able to emphasise benefits of Scotland remaining within the Union because not even those in power in Westminster are able to convincingly articulate any.

And so, like Struan Stevenson, they are reduced to talking incessantly about Scotland’s problems and failings. That’s certainly easier than thinking through and campaigning for solutions to any problems the country faces.

But ultimately it offers no hope for the future, which is exactly why it will not win the day when the people of Scotland get the chance – and this will surely be sooner rather than later – to have their say on their country’s future.