AN ACADEMIC often cited by SNP politicians has trashed the Scottish Government's latest independence paper, calling it a "debacle in the making" and "madness".

Richard Murphy, professor of accounting practice at Sheffield University Management School, called the document mostly "puff", said it lacked any data to change people’s minds, and queried whether its authors actually wanted independence at all.

The Scottish Currency Group also criticised the paper as “likely to undermine the Government’s own strategy of building a stronger and fairer economy and rejoining the EU at an early date”.

It said it betrayed “a failure of ambition and lack of confidence” and would tie the hands of future Scottish governments.

It followed Nicola Sturgeon publishing the third instalment of her new prospectus for independence, Building a New Scotland, at Bute House yesterday.

The 110-page paper covered broad themes on the economy, fiscal responsibility, a new Scottish currency and rejoining the European Union.

However there was no fixed timetable for setting up a new currency, with the First Minister saying it would happen when the “time is right'' and “as soon as practicable”.

Despite Brexit being the “material change” she has used to justify Indyref2 since 2016, Ms Sturgeon was also unable to give a timetable for rejoining the EU, as a new Scottish currency is a necessary stage in that process.

She said an independent Scotland would continue to use sterling - on an informal basis - until a new Scottish currency was created, with a limited central bank.

She acknowledged the Bank of England would continue to determine monetary policy, including interest rates, for Scotland during this period.

Writing on his Tax Research UK blog, Prof Murphy said the SNP had "made almost no progress" on the policy of a new Scottish currency and clearly planned to use sterling for "several years" after a Yes vote.

He said that was "disastrous for Scotland", as Scotland could not join the EU without using its own currency first, and its monetary policy would be determined in London, which would in turn limit fiscal policy at Holyrood.

Prof Murphy, whose criticism of the annual GERS figures on Scotland's public finances has frequently been quoted by Yes supporters, including SNP MSPs, said: “Let me be blunt: much of this document is puff. 

“You either believe Scotland will be better off independent, or you don’t. 

“There is no data in this document to persuade you of the case. So I see little point in placing much emphasis on claims to improved well-being the paper makes.

“Candidly, I was expecting something better than this, and have not got it. If I was sceptical of the case for an independent Scotland this paper really would not sell it to me.”

He said the core problem was the currency an independent Scotland would use “and the SNP appears to have made almost no progress on this issue”.

He said that, apart from a few improvements, it was a rehash of the SNP’s 2018 Sustainable Growth Commission “with a few new blunders added”.

He said the tests set out before adopting a new currency were based on the approval of the financial markets, “putting them in charge of a decision that should be Scotland’s”.

He said: “Overall, these new tests seem to be structured to make it as hard as possible to ever get to a Scottish currency, which is exactly where the SNP was before today.

“This, though, is disastrous for Scotland. 

“First, without using a Scottish currency Scotland cannot join the EU, and a whole section of the report is dedicated to joining it without ever mentioning the pre-condition that the Scottish currency must be in use first of all.

“Second, it is admitted that using sterling means that the monetary policy of any independent Scotland would be set in London. That means interest rates and the use of QE [quantitative easing] would be determined in London to suit its purposes. That is madness for Scotland.

“Third, saying that Scotland would have full control of its fiscal policy, i.e. its taxes and the size of its deficit, makes no sense either because monetary and fiscal policy are intimately related.

“Clearly decisions on desired deficits are going to be related to interest rates, for example. 

“If Scotland does not have control over the interest it pays as a country it cannot control its own fiscal policy.

“And worse than that, if London goes berserk, as it has now shown it has the capacity to do, then Scotland could not prevent the fall out for it as a result. So, right now it could not stop the ruinous interest rates the Bank of England is proposing, for example.”

Prof Murphy also criticises a series of other elements of the paper.

He concluded: “I think that this paper lays out a policy that would be disastrous for Scotland.

"It could even crush it.

"As a result, I doubt the conviction of those who wrote it about independence.

"Do they really want it, I wonder? It's that bad."

The Scottish Currency Group, which has a number of SNP members, said there were many proposals in the prospectus to welcome, but attacked the continued use of sterling.

It said: “We believe the proposal to continue to use the pound sterling for an unspecified but potentially lengthy period after independence risks leaving the newly independent country in a dangerous and exposed position.

“It betrays a lack of ambition, seeks unreasonably to tie the hands of the post-independence Scottish Government, and is inconsistent with achieving the aims of the Government’s own wider economic strategy.  

“During the potentially long period of using sterling, interest rates and other important aspects of monetary policy would be controlled by the Bank of England without necessary regard to Scottish interests. Any borrowing by the Scottish Government during this period would need to be in sterling, risking the creation of a high level of debt in a foreign currency.

“The irony is that the Scottish Government wishes an independent Scotland to emulate the performance of other small nations but is supporting a currency plan which would tie the hands of a future Government in taking measures necessary to achieve this.

“It will also not be possible for an independent Scotland to apply to re-join the EU until it has its own currency.

“‘For all these reasons, we strongly advise the Scottish Government to revise its position on the timing of the introduction of a new currency. 

“The First Minister has made it clear in her foreword that the publication is not the last word on the matter and that all contributions to the debate are welcome. We believe our views are shared by the great majority of those in the Yes movement.”