The National:

THERE is a relationship between telling the truth and economics. After a week when even Ant & Dec have rather publicly doubted the Prime Minister's explanations of his staff’s conduct this is worth exploring in a bit more detail.

One of the first and most basic assumptions taught to any first-year economics student is that if the markets that underpin our economy are to be both fair and effective everyone involved must have the best possible information on what is happening in that marketplace so that best decisions can be made.

The logic is simple. Unless we know what is happening all around us then we will make mistakes and those mistakes might be costly. It is for precisely this reason that I have spent so much of my career campaigning for transparency, whether with regard to company accounts and taxation, or in politics and campaigning.

One thing on which everyone now appears to be agreed is that Boris Johnson has a difficult relationship with the truth. That is particularly true when it comes to telling it. The disbelief about his claims concerning the party held in 10 Downing Street on December 18, 2020 is near universal. It seems that no one is surprised that he was willing to make incredible (I used the word literally) excuses to get out of a mess. He has always done this.

READ MORE: Boris Johnson 'lied' about knowing who funded lavish flat refurb, new evidence suggests

There is, however, a price to pay for what he is doing. Most of life is dependent upon relationships of trust. As we all know, we have to rely upon someone when they say that they will do something. It is precisely because that in most cases people do honour their commitments that we do not notice this. Most people, most of the time do not cheat. As a result things happen. Even when they don't, because we all make mistakes, we are also inclined to accept honest apologies and move on. We then continue to trust the person who let us down, presuming that they will try to do better next time. This is just how human relationships work.

Except, that is, in the case of Boris Johnson. I have, thankfully, only known one other person like him, and the person in question did not remain my boss for long. Working for him was quite impossible, and I had to quit, and move on. Literally nothing he said could be relied upon and as far as I can see that is where we now are with our Prime Minister. Unfortunately, we can't quit, although I know that many in Scotland are trying to. However, until that plan succeeds we have to live with the consequences of this.

What are those consequences? They are pretty serious. Unlike in marketplaces, where when trust fails then companies collapse pretty soon thereafter, when in politics trust fails one of two things can happen. One is that government in whom trust is lost can be thrown out of office. The other is that if they do not go then public confidence in politics is lost. My great fear right now is that with an 80 seat majority Boris Johnson's government will not go, and we will instead suffer that loss of public confidence.

The National: The Yes camp needs to be up front about the economic case for independenceThe Yes camp needs to be up front about the economic case for independence

In Scotland this will, of course, boost the independence cause. That could be called a silver lining. But the harm that Boris Johnson is doing will be hard to repair, even if I note that both Ruth Davidson and Douglas Ross are doing their very best to distance themselves from Johnson as if they know how badly this will go down, even amongst Tories.

Thankfully, it seems that Nicola Sturgeon retains public confidence when it comes to Covid measures, but every time a powerful politician anywhere, of any complexion, show contempt for public health, the truth, transparency and accountability another little bit of the faith that is essential in those who hold public office is eroded.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon brands Boris Johnson 'corrupt' and calls for him to resign

If Scotland is to work after independence, and if the Scottish economy is to work after independence, this faith in those in public office matters. Integrity will be key to the confidence that must underpin everything that will be done to make Scotland work. Nothing will matter more than this.

This is why I keep asking for the SNP to come clean about what their economic policy for independence is. It is why I also want to know what their currency plan is. It is why I also want them to explain how they will manage the transition. If confidence is key, then we have to know. If we don’t then expensive mistakes might happen.

We all know that Johnson is no friend of the truth. But when it comes to Scottish economics we also know that Nicola Sturgeon is ducking telling us what we need to know. Of course, I accept that on any fair scale what Nicola Sturgeon is doing is nothing as harmful as the things that Boris Johnson is up to. At the same time, I have to say that her own ducking and diving is not helping.

If there is a lesson for the independence movement from Boris Johnson’s behaviour it is that putting all cards face up on the table does, eventually, pay. That means that now is the time to disclose the plans. That’s necessary if a decision on independence is to be made in 2023. Nothing less will do. We have to go forward both trusting people and telling them the truth.