THIS week witnessed the passing of one of the cleverest men who ever lived – and the emergence of the two stupidest prime ministerial candidates we’ve ever been offered.

Scientist James Lovelock who passed away on his 103rd birthday created the Gaia theory in the 60s. He theorised that Earth as a whole – rocks, plants, all life, the seas, the air – were all components in one hugely complex interconnected and self-regulating ecosystem, a single entity.

A pioneer of climate science, he was one of the first to warn of the dangers of a tipping point for the planet. He also invented the electron capture detector (enabling the detection of CFCs and other atmospheric nano-pollutants) which led to the ban on CFCs and the recovery of the ozone layer.

I was struck by the contrast between the complexity of the mind we’ve lost in Lovelock, and the simplicity of the minds vying to be the new PM. With both Sunak and Truss (it will be Truss) claiming to be the true economic successor to Thatcher.

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Our economic system much like our ecological system is approaching an irreversible tipping point. This century’s economic reality is radically different and much more complex than those of the last. Chief among them is climate change, which I believe will exacerbate the problems of energy security and pricing, worsening global security and probability of pandemic occurrence.

On top of that, the economy never fully recovered from the banking crash before the next downward economic cycle set in. The answer, according to Sunak and Truss, is to revert to the very worst economic thinking from the last century.

To bring back Thatcherism and turbo-charged laissez-faire economics, an economic philosophy which in its last reboot under Gordon Brown and George W Bush led to the banking crash.

I never rated Brown as chancellor – some did though and still rave about his supposed achievements such as reform of the UK’s monetary and fiscal policy systems, giving interest rate control to the Bank of England and the deregulation of the banking sector. It’s funny how I don’t see those reforms, which directly contributed to an out-of-control casino banking culture and the 2007/07 financial crash as achievements.

Sure, we had a long period of growth while Brown was chancellor, but it started before he was chancellor, and such economic waves are systemic and global in nature and not caused by chancellors of individual nations. However, his extending a growth wave by introducing easy finance for people who can’t afford it, led the economy to become increasingly dependent on mounting debt and unsustainable consumption.

It is true that Brown bailed out the banks and helped avert a complete economic system failure, but giving credit for that is like applauding an arsonist for calling the fire brigade when the house had already burned down. When Brown left office, I remember thinking we may never see a PM that bad again, but I was wrong.

Since Brown, we’ve had Cameron who gambled on Europe and lumbered us with Brexit, Theresa May was so out of her depth delaying, burying her head in the sand and offering compromise agreements that amounted to hoping Brexit would just go away were her only ideas. The less said about Johnson the better!

Sunak’s pitch is “Choose me and I will sort out the economic problems, the debt mountain and the inflation I caused by undoing the tax rises I put in place” – bold but delusional. The pitch from Truss is “choose me, I haven’t a clue what’s going on, but I am the UK’s leading Margaret Thatcher tribute act”.

The sad thing is Truss could sell that idea to England and beat Starmer, the hapless Labour leader, in the next General Election.

Neither Tory can save the economy because they don’t understand the complexity and interconnectedness of the system we exist within. It’s not just about the economy, it’s also society and the environment stupid. Nature or Gaia is an ancient, incomprehensibly complex system that evolved over billions of years. It has survived catastrophe many times as it has many pathways back to equilibrium – life finds a way.

As one pathway is closed by events (mass extinction of the dinosaurs etc), others compensate and due to its sheer size and complexity earth finds a way and it could easily survive human extinction.

Our economic system however, is a man-made social construct. If we liken mankind’s existence to a year, we have only invented capitalism in the last second and it has never worked without a crash, war, or mass starvation almost every third of a second.

OUR lives are so short we fool ourselves into thinking that the economic systems we have invented are something more hallowed than a recent failed experiment in trade.

The economic system is too complex for the last century’s solutions, but it’s not complex enough, it lacks the depth to have sufficient pathways to compensate for the massive shocks that are emerging and without a complete redesign it will fail completely.

New and radical thinking is required – and that doesn’t include rebooting Thatcherism.

We need to press the reset button and design an economy fit for the twenty-first century and its pressures.

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Scotland’s reset button is called independence, but independence alone won’t guarantee the changes we require.

We need to base independence on a visionary plan to re-engineer our economy to make it fit for this century. A plan that gives equal weight to the wellbeing of the nation as it does to economic performance. Only when we accept that games of left and right are last centuries ideas, can we rebuild.

If you were to come up with a radical new plan to build a better Scotland based on our shared values of fairness, equality, internationalism, shared prosperity and sustainable environmental and human wellbeing, what would it look like?

Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp is the chief executive of Business for Scotland and the founder of the Believe in Scotland campaign