THE SNP conference produced the best possible outcome on the question of a future Scottish currency.

The official resolution, drafted so as to be all things to all people, was carried intact except for one amendment concerning timescale which to my mind was of little importance except in handing the dissidents a sop. Both sides can now unite behind what was in the end approved. A theological debate on currency can sink back into its proper subordinate position among the problems of the real economy.

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For instance, it was never even mentioned that the independent Scottish government of the future will anyway not be able to choose in complete freedom the moment for launching its new currency. That will depend as much as anything else on the state of the international financial markets and their judgment of our policies. Markets are something the SNP do not like to talk about, but I’ll come back to that later.

Happily, in the rest of the conference, normal life carried on, with debate and proposals on all the other matters Scotland will need to fix first. My attention was particularly drawn to the resolution from the Maryhill and Springburn branch moved by Joe Farrell.

As Joe is a pal of mine, I hope he won’t mind if I take his remarks as showing some things that at this juncture I think the SNP are getting right and some things I think they are getting wrong.

The resolution was headed Fairness for the Gig Economy Workers. It caught my eye because, as a freelance journalist for the last 30 years, I was myself an early example of a gig economy worker.

The traditional newspaper industry had become one of the most rigidly demarcated, and Rupert Murdoch set out to destroy this during the Wapping dispute of 1986. He succeeded. Journalism has since ceased to bear any resemblance to a profession, on the pattern of lawyers or doctors, and has been largely casualised.

An effect is that newspapers today employ only a core of staff performing the most essential tasks, while the remainder of us compete with one another as freelances to fill the white spaces. Just one of my bosses in those last 30 years gave me a contract, among other things specifying weekly contributions, rates of pay and a period of notice if they ever decided to sack me.

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But the rest of my career has rested on nothing more than unrecorded verbal agreements between me and a succession of editors, which can be terminated by them (and by me, of course) whenever they wish.

While modern editors enjoy no great reputation as human beings, I am fortunate in the ones I have written for. Not that I mind operating in this manner anyway. As with everything else, it brings its good times and its bad times, but overall I’m happy with the working life it has given me. There is no limit on my range of subjects or the outlets I seek for them. If I fancy taking some time off, I just do so. I never envied those of my colleagues who stayed on in regular employment and turned into wage slaves.

These are some of the countervailing advantages that have recently led to a vast expansion of the gig economy. Since 2000, it has doubled in size to five million people in the UK, one in six of all workers, so we must roughly reckon up to half a million in Scotland. I dare say some have joined the gig economy against their will, because they cannot earn a living by any other means. But for others, like me, it suits us fine.

I was glad to see Joe’s resolution acknowledging as much: “Conference recognises that many employees enjoy the flexibility granted by the self-employed status”. But once he got into his proposer’s speech, I soon found something to disagree with.

“It is a top-down economic system,” he said. Well, up to a point. The newspaper proprietors were indeed acting in a top-down fashion when they abolished timeworn practices and brought in the technology of the future. But their aim was to eliminate jobs – and so cut labour costs – not to create five million of them.

By contrast, all the trendy new occupations of the 21st century, from diagnostic imagers to algorithm designers, arrive among us from the bottom up. They emerge through the insight and enterprise of talented individuals who take their own ideas forward to become world-beaters.

Available on BBC iPlayer at the moment is a good programme called How Scotland Works, giving the stories of some of these people, the sort of innovators who have set up Skyscanner as a search engine for cheap flights or SJ Studios for the creation of computer games.

These entrepreneurs have come from nothing. A generation ago, a typical Scottish capitalist was a fuddy-duddy old fart in pinstripes, educated at the right schools and belonging to the right clubs who, at least in part, remained in business through fawning on the powers-that-be.

Now it is likely to be a computer-savvy kid straight out of college who goes to work in jeans and T-shirt, but is already on the way to making millions and creating the jobs of the future.

All this is rendered possible by the digital revolution, one of the successive revolutions of capitalism in the last 300 years that rekindle enterprise and spread its fruits. They have each destroyed much of the preceding system, but opened up greater prospects to wider circles of people.

Today, again, we see the corporatist capitalism of the late 20th century giving way to an economic culture that reflects the individualist and unconventional character of the millennial generation. It simply cannot be created, or controlled, top-down.

And it is in large part the culture of a gig economy, where workers exchange job security for the risks and rewards of constant innovation. It needs safety nets, of course, but let us not also erect barricades across the way forward.

The world’s politicians may catch up with all this one day, but I rather fear it is moving ahead too fast. Scottish politicians are typical. They trot out the slogans and resort to the knee-jerk interventionism of that old-time corporatist era. It now seems to be happening with every threat of industrial closure, despite the fact that 1-2% of companies have always gone out of business every year and always will.

In full-employment Scotland the aim should be not to “save jobs” but to shift workers as smoothly as possible from less productive jobs to more productive jobs. In other words, we should let markets work. Only then can we get the increases in productivity which alone can sustain higher living standards – and make national independence worthwhile to a majority.

My pal Joe said in his speech to conference on the gig economy: “This motion is in its own way as important as the discussion on the Growth Commission, because it addresses changes in society and the economy, and the way Scotland and the SNP will respond to them.”

I agree. But remember that, once an independent Scotland appears as the new kid on the block, with the world looking on to see how we shape up, the gig economy will be one of the places where we have lessons to teach.