HERE we go again folks. This week, the SNP will unveil a report that attempts to convince us that Scottish independence is a great idea in several different ways to the last time it tried to convince us that Scottish independence was a great idea. It’s a re-set of the campaign, a re-calibration – essentially the same old circuit board, with the same purpose, but with the wires in a different order. The button to power it up will be pressed by the Scottish Government on Friday.

Naturally, there’s been a lot of speculation about what the Growth Commission report will say on the big questions that undermined the SNP last time around, such as currency, but I’m most curious to see what the new position is on tax. You can tell a lot about a person – or a government – from their attitude to money, and on money, tax and spending, the Government is confused. Is the SNP a tax-cutter or a tax-hiker? Would an independent Scotland be a land of high or low tax? If the SNP aren’t careful, those are the kind of questions that could blow a fuse on that shiny new circuit board of theirs.

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The confusion is illustrated perfectly by two recent developments. First, it was confirmed at the weekend that thousands of first-time buyers will receive a tax break by being exempted from Land and Buildings Transaction Tax. Great news. But then we have the second development: the Scottish Government’s new income tax rises which have just started to bite into wages in the last few weeks. The rises apply to anyone earning £26,000 and above – precisely the constituency that might be saving for their first house. As I say: confusing.

The reason the SNP has ended up in this position is that, instead of striking out in a decisive direction, they’ve been trying to hold together the 45-per-cent apparent consensus on independence, while also trying to see off threats from the political right and left. Hence the position on tax. The Scottish Government only gave the tax break to first-time buyers because the Chancellor Philip Hammond did something similar south of the border (you can’t be seen to be meaner than the Tories), and they only increased income tax to tackle a potential Corbynite revival in Scotland (you also can’t be seen to be less progressive than Labour). The SNP seems to think this is the way to freedom, but to me it looks more like an ever-tightening vice.

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So how to get out of the trap, how to loosen the vice? The SNP could keep on with the cautious over-calculation and its attempts to navigate the water between the rocks of low tax and high tax, or instead it could take a decisive, defendable and consistent stance on tax based on some basic rules. Taxes should be clear, consistent and fair, they should promote and protect the wealth, security and safety of individuals and the growth of the economy, they should be as low as possible, and they should only be raised if a cut in spending cannot be fairly made. Governments imposing taxes should also remember another rule: voters punish parties that put up tax (even in Scotland).

Interestingly, there’s some evidence that this is the kind of line that the Growth Commission will end up taking, based on the New Zealand model of low tax focused on growth, and to that extent it wouldn’t be a change at all – indeed, it would be a return to one of the main planks of the independence White Paper in 2014 (remember Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon promising a cut to corporation tax?) The only issue is how Ms Sturgeon, after all her rhetoric around progressive taxation, could move in this direction without further damaging her credibility in the process, particularly with her friends in the Green party.

One answer might be to start demonstrating how the new approach could work in government and, in particular, how it could boost economic growth while being fairer and more consistent. How about cutting business rates for instance? I’ve been speaking to two groups of business people in Glasgow recently – one in Giffnock, the other on Sauchiehall Street – and the message was the same from both: recent increases in business rates are damaging them at a hugely difficult time. This also fails one of Nicola Sturgeon’s own tests for tax that she set last year, namely that tax should not be so high that it damages business.

Secondly, how about properly reforming council tax? The government had the chance to do this, but flunked it. Instead, they froze the tax for years, thereby benefitting affluent households more than poorer ones while also forcing councils to cut services for the most needy. The obvious answer is to create many more council tax bands or introduce a new tax that properly reflects property values and income.

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Thirdly, will the government ever tackle the issue of universal benefits? It’s the most obvious unfairness in the SNP’s tax and spend policies and one that looks like a bad sign for a party seeking to promote a blueprint for an economically self-sustaining independent country. How do you justify increasing income tax on middle-income earners to pay for benefits that can be claimed by the well-off? And are free tuition fees worth supporting, and paying for, when the evidence from England is that they do not discourage students, including the poorest, from going to university? And how do you afford it all in the long term?

Finally, perhaps the SNP could consider some truly radical ideas. How about taxpayers being able to assign a proportion of their tax to causes they believe in? Or a tax break for parents who send their children to the local comprehensive, or for people who volunteer?

Or how about the least radical idea of all: keeping income tax low on the basis that it’s good for economic growth? These may not be ideas that have a chance of ending up as government policy any day soon. But, as part of a fair, consistent and competent blueprint for a future government of a small, newly-independent country, couldn’t they win over voters worried that the only way forward for the SNP’s current policy on tax is up, up, up?