LAST week’s media circus around the GDP figures made any sensible, grown-up discussion difficult. The Scottish Branch Offices of the UK parties were desperate for recession, and disappointed they didn’t get one. “Scotland 24 hours from recession!” ran one particularly hysterical Scottish Conservative press release.

In the end, Scotland’s GDP bounced back from the previous quarter with 0.8 per cent growth, four times that of the UK as a whole.

This was mostly driven by a substantial increase in production; manufacturing, oil and gas and subsidiary industries. Critics were quick to point out that these figures are not sustainable, that such a large increase is unlikely to be replicated quarter after quarter. That ignores the fact that this performance flies in the face of challenging economic circumstances including an impending hard Brexit and slow recovery in some industries from the 2008 recession. Growth in Scotland’s economy at such a difficult time cannot be diminished. It shows a confidence that the government and people of Scotland are worth investing in.

And companies are investing here. Scotland has the highest rate of foreign direct investment in the UK outside of London.

Businesses are becoming more confident in investing in Scotland and working with the Scottish Government because we have worked so hard to get the fundamentals of Scotland’s economy right. We don’t have all the powers that we’d ideally like, but we will always use the limited levers we have to build the dynamic and fairer economy that we all want to see.

We have the lowest unemploy-ment rate of any of the nations of the UK and, within that, the lowest female unemployment rate. Youth unemployment in Scotland is the third lowest in the EU.

Productivity is also growing faster in Scotland than in the UK as a whole – and this is fundamental to building a sound economy in the future.

We’re creating the building blocks of an inclusive country with opportunities for everybody.

The irony won’t be lost that part of Scotland’s growth under the recent figures was steel production from the saved Dalzell steel plant. When steel plants were in trouble under a Tory government in England, they were told there was nothing that could be done. The Scottish Govern-ment meanwhile were getting on with the day job of protecting Scotland’s interests, working with investors to save and grow this key part of our economy. And now we’re all reaping the benefits of increased growth.

This is just one of the actions the Scottish Government has taken to boost manufacturing. Some £500 million has been invested in a new growth scheme to invest for the future, along with a £6.5 billion infrastructure plan which will create jobs and keep our economy as resilient as possible during the upcoming challenges Brexit will bring. All this shows that Scotland is more than capable of using the powers we have to run our own affairs.

Now imagine what we could do if we were independent?