The National:

I WAS for six years a professor of political economy. This is an academic discipline that is relatively little understood. What it looks at are the relationships of power within economies and the way in which those relationships alter the allocation of resources within society.

The big difference between economists and political economists is that economists think that everything comes down to money and political economists think that who you know and how you use that power is at least as important.

I happen to think that political economy is at least as important as pure economics. We got a perfect example of that at last weekend’s SNP conference. Dr Tim Rideout steered his motion calling for work to start on the creation of a Scottish Central Reserve Bank to significant electoral success amongst the delegates present.

However, as I have heard time and again since then from members of the SNP who want this to happen, the expectation is that the leadership will ignore the wishes of the SNP members who voted for this resolution, just as they pretty much ignored the 2019 vote on sterlingisation.

The SNP leadership can do this, of course. They have the power to do so. They think that the Scottish electorate is lending them their support right now, as the latest opinion polls show. The leadership also believes that the electorate thinks that they have nowhere else to go but the SNP if they want independence. There is some truth in that.

READ MORE: SNP back motion to speed up independent Scotland adopting own currency

The result is that the SNP leadership believe that they can ignore their membership. That is most especially true when that membership wants things that those close to the leadership do not, meaning that the political economy of power is in play.

A Scottish currency is one thing that those close to the SNP leadership do not want. They think a Scottish currency involves risk. Those close to the SNP leadership seem to be heavily linked to modern financial capitalism and if there is one thing that characterises that type of capitalism it is, quite bizarrely, deep risk aversion. As a result they do not want a Scottish currency. It does not suit them even if it is, in my opinion, absolutely fundamental to the success of an independent Scotland.

What we have here, in that case, is a tussle between relationships of power. There is a straightforward tug-of-war for influence with the SNP leadership over an economic issue between its membership and what might, politely, be called Edinburgh’s financial elite. The issue is of significance because right now there appears to be very little in common between the two groups. The SNP membership wants a Scottish currency within weeks of independence, and the financial elite wants to wait for years for that currency, if it wants one at all.

That difference has to be resolved. As anyone who knows anything about the independence debate now appreciates it is the currency and debt and their impact on pensions and mortgages that will be the big deciding issues when it comes to independence. That is because these are the issues that will swing undecided voters one way or the other. In that case, if 2023 is to be honoured as a decision date and the current 55% poll lead is to be built upon then this power play between the two opposing camps has to be brought to a close with the leadership making clear where it stands.

What I would stress when saying so is that there is something more at stake here than the currency issue. The currency issue is important, but more important is the issue of trust. No-one can put a precise value on trust. It is in that sense beyond an economist's reach. Politically, however, it is absolutely fundamental. It is the lack of trust in Boris Johnson that has probably delivered the recent boost in support for the Yes campaign, which means that it cannot be ignored by anyone involved in this debate.

The National:

To win Nicola Sturgeon has to be trusted. To be trusted she has to show three things. The first is that she listens to her membership. The second is that she listens to the people of Scotland and their concerns. The third is that she acts on what she hears. She can only do that by demonstrating that is the case.

At the same time, she has to demonstrate something else, and that is that she is not listening to a financial elite. The people of Scotland know that they suffered as a result of the global financial crisis in 2008 that was caused by a financial elite. They also know that Boris Johnson’s government has been going out of its way to favour small, wealthy groups in society. The last thing that Scots will be persuaded by is Nicola Sturgeon doing exactly the same thing by preferring the interests of the financial elite to the interests of the people of Scotland.

READ MORE: Tory minister tells Scots to 'get on board' with Brexit despite hit to economy

One of the most basic reasons for wanting an independent Scotland is to break away from the corrupt style of government captured by those with wealth that the UK has at present. If people think that unlikely they are not going to vote for independence. It is that simple.

Political economy does in that case very strongly suggest that the time has come for the SNP leadership to decide whose side they are on. My suggestion is that there is only one answer that they can choose if they are serious about independence. They have to choose to trust the membership of the SNP and the people of Scotland that they represent. The alternative is failure.