YOU wait ages for a report on Scotland’s economy and along come three at once. Andrew Wilson’s Growth Commission for the SNP has been the one getting all the headlines and social media fury. Many on the Left of the Yes movement smelled a Blairite, almost Osbornite cop-out, a prescription of tangible pain for little tangible gain at the outset of independence, certainly not the radical kick-start to a new nation that inspired voters in 2014.

Meanwhile Nicola Sturgeon, having ordered the thing, has no choice but to take receipt of it enthusiastically. SNP members will get a debate - but not a vote - on its contents over the summer, but in the end ministers will decide which of the 50 recommendations to adopt.

With former Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill warning that’s another sign of a “fundamentally undemocratic” party under Ms Sturgeon, the report has proved a remarkable aggro-magnet, but a poor rallying point for the cause.

It will be fascinating to see what bubbles up about it on the fringe, or even the main stage, of this week’s SNP conference in Aberdeen.

The other two reports appeared on Thursday. As part of a year-round, more transparent budget process, the SNP government published its first medium term financial strategy. This is a broad, five-year outlook for the public finances in light of Holyrood’s new tax and welfare powers.

Accompanying it were the latest forecasts from the independent Scottish Fiscal Commission (SFC). The two documents were cousins.

The government’s was short, political and heavy on policy. The SFC’s was long, dry and statistical, but crucially its numbers were the ones which underpinned the government’s glossier outlook.

The headline from the SFC report - the most immediately important of the three given its grounding in the Scotland we currently occupy - was that things look tough. Indeed, they have since the 2008 crash, and they’re set to stay that way to 2023.

The economy is “subdued”, with GDP growth averaging just 0.9 per cent for the next five years, “well below historic norms”. The principle factors are low productivity and a relatively static population, with low wage growth, cyclical declines in construction and the oil and gas sectors, and Brexit uncertainty lurking in the background.

“On balance, we judge the downsides outweigh the upsides,” it said. The picture was gloomier than the SFC’s last forecasts in February.

One eye-catching change was a £1.7bn downgrade in devolved tax revenue between now and 2022-23, driven by lower income tax receipts as a result of low wage growth.

Although employment is high, wages are lower in real terms than they were 10 years ago, and are expected to fall again this year, with no upturn in sight until 2020.

Equally unsettling were the numbers on productivity. Growth in productivity, the amount of goods and services produced each hour by the workforce, was downgraded from a wretched 0.2 per cent to zero per for the whole of 2016 and 2017.

People are working longer with nothing extra to show for it. The SFC forecast productivity growth would be 0.25 per cent this year, compared to 0.8 per cent in the UK.

Improving productivity has long been a key government target, because it is the main driver of Scottish GDP growth as a whole.

In the rest of the UK, inward migration is a far more salient factor in boosting GDP than it is in Scotland. Hence the SNP government’s desire to control immigration and attract more people of working age. As its report laments, Scotland’s working age population is set to grow 1 per cent over the next 25 years, while the pensioner population relying on its taxes is set to grow 25 per cent.

The SFC notes the population issue, and adds high employment, which means there’s not much scope to boost the economy by getting more people into work either.

“Therefore, GDP growth will now have to be driven by productivity growth,” it concludes - the very thing that just hit zero and may take five years to look respectable again.

The SFC also expects the Scottish Government to max out its capital borrowing facility of £3bn by 2023-24. Currently this sees ministers invest £450m a year in buildings and infrastructure. But soon that helpful extra will flip into £100m a year debt repayment bill.

There were other profound problems and unwelcome surprises.

The Commission held a briefing on its findings yesterday. The good news is that it’s not all bad news. It reminded us that GDP growth is still growth, even if it’s not much to shout about; employment is high, unemployment is low, and that should improve wages; the oil and gas sector is improving again.

But the overall message was that we need to adjust our expectations. Economic change can’t be rushed. Problems can’t be magicked away, nor remedies instantly applied.

Recovering from 2008 has taken far longer than expected. Scottish GDP growth should return to pre-crash levels, but not anytime soon. Even bold investments would take years to arrange and bed in.

By the end, I felt rather sorry for Mr Wilson and his Commission - damned for talking in decades, not soundbites. Impatient critics would do well to digest the SFC report too.