JINGS. Could Scotland actually be doing something right in the eyes of the mainstream media “official sources” and even Unionist politicians?

The latest GDP figures had been expected to throw Scotland into recession – instead our economy grew in the first three months of this year by 0.8 per cent. It may not sound like much but it’s better than 0.7 per cent this time last year and a whole lot better than the UK average of 0.2 per cent. That means, ahem, Scotland’s economy is now performing four times better than the rest of UK.

Nae bad.

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Meanwhile, another unexpected feather was placed in Scotland’s cap. A report by the Nuffield Trust suggests the health services of England, Wales and Northern Ireland could learn lessons from the Scottish NHS which, it says, benefits from engaging frontline staff, getting healthcare services to co-operate, trusting clinical staff to drive improvements and sticking with this approach rather than “chopping and changing” every few years, as England has done.

Well, well.

Of course we all know, the picture isn’t completely rosy in this sector either. The study warned Scotland’s strengths could be undermined by a “dark cloud” of financial pressure. Absolutely. Nursing pay is lousy and the one-per-cent rise “awarded” by the Scottish Government last month was sub-inflationary. According to the Royal College of Midwives, below-inflation rises for the past seven years mean “midwives have seen their pay drop in value by over £6000 since 2010”. Low pay and poor retention have created a nursing shortage – that’s why the Scottish Government announced last week that it’ll create an extra 2600 nursing and midwifery training places over the next four years. The Scottish NHS will need it. Thanks to Brexit, the number of EU nurses applying to work in Britain is down by an unbelievable 96 per cent.

But even a set of positive statistics and a complimentary report doth not a joyous Scottish summer make.

Of course it’s reassuring to see Scotland and thus the Scottish Government gaining plaudits, especially after the political setbacks of the recent General Election campaign.

But in the long term, a successful Government and a resilient independence movement must be built on much more.

Indeed it’s typical of the short-term, grabby outlook of British politics – a mindset we are trying to abandon -- that so much store is set by one-off reports and statistics, be they good or bad. And of course, being top of the heap in Britain doesn’t say much about our place in the wider world.

Ireland – our neighbours to the west – are on course to be the fastest growing economy in the eurozone for a fourth straight year with a five per cent growth in GDP. That ain’t a patch on Iceland which registered a whopping 11.3 per cent GDP growth in the last quarter of 2016, falling back now to “just” five per cent. Besides, GDP ain’t everything.

In 1968, Robert Kennedy attacked our “idolatrous respect” for GDP, which measures advertising and jails but does not capture “the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages”. Or the lives to be saved by controlling air pollution or tackling climate change.

Add to all of this, the fact that Scottish statistics are often estimates derived from general UK data not actual measurements.

So it’s great that our GDP is marginally rising.

But anyone hoping to turn this pleasant surprise into a launchpad for political independence is putting the cart well before the horse.

Something more enduring is needed.

Indeed, commentators like Iain Macwhirter, surveying the landscape in the Baltic Republics, has recently cautioned about Scots’ near obsession with the state of the economy.

“They never bothered with arguments about currency and fiscal black holes in Slovakia or Slovenia before independence because it was about something much more important: freedom. Ultimately, the case for independence will always stand or fall on a nation’s desire for autonomy, not marginal economic gain.”

Perhaps that’s why Brexit hasn’t yet become a political game-changer. It’s not just that predicted economic problems haven’t yet materialised.

It could be that economic difficulties will never be enough on their own to convince swithering voters of the case for taking a different route via Scottish independence.

Who knows? Some Scots are looking enviously at Catalonia this week, after news that their government intends to declare independence unilaterally if there’s a Yes vote in their referendum on October 1. The Catalan economy has consistently performed above the Spanish average, but their national confidence comes from cultural and linguistic strength too.

There are an unbelievable 600 media outlets in the Catalan language and their government has supported them with €181 million worth of grants and advertising since 2008, according to the daily newspaper El Mundo.

If Scotland cannot reproduce this kind of support, the independence movement must consider how to make up for its absence.

Because part of the reason Brexit isn’t putting the fear of God into Scottish voters is the way the UK press and media are suppressing or interpreting the details.

The average punter can’t see banks quietly leaving London, we don’t automatically associate higher fresh fruit prices with a shortage of Europeans picking crops and if we are healthy enough, we don’t believe nursing shortages are exacerbated by stay-away EU nationals. The average Scot doesn’t have a feel for macro-economic problems unless they are spelled out in big banner headlines – and we aren’t likely to see many of them in the Brexit-supporting Murdoch press. Ironically though, the City of London does get it.

While Scots are still uncertain about the long-run implications of Brexit, City bankers are preparing to bypass the UK Government and start negotiations on their own. You’d hardly believe this if it didn’t come from that pillar of the Establishment, the Financial Times. According to them, a delegation led by former City minister Mark Hoban is seeking some form of free trade deal for financial services.

Jings. If the Scottish financial sector issued such a very public vote of no confidence in the trade plans of our Government, there would be uproar. This move by top bankers is clear evidence that the much predicted Brexit free-for-all is well and truly under way. First it was Nissan, then fruit growers in East Anglia, then Ireland and now the City of London – all trying to find bespoke deals to save themselves from Brexit related disaster. There’s been relatively little criticism about these parts of the country and industrial sectors that are trying to strike special deals (OK, Nissan took a bit of a pasting but that quickly subsided). By contrast, opposition parties in Scotland and most of the media have filled two election campaigns with relentless criticism of the Scottish Government’s attempt to negotiate a differentiated Brexit deal with Westminster that lets Scotland remain in the EU single market. They’ve also poured scorn on the suggestion that Scottish Ministers should be at the Brexit negotiating table and descended into near collective hysteria over the notion that Brexit might be so damaging for Scotland that a lifeboat (allowing Scots to opt out of the self-harming UK) might reasonably be checked for seaworthiness right now.

So the latest GDP figures are not game-changing in themselves. But if they encourage Scots to question the one-sided narrative on our economic prospects, they are definitely cause for celebration.