Debate over currency union ‘dishonest’

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George Leslie (Letters, 18 March) states: “Those of us supporting a Yes vote realise that, in today’s world, ­independence can mean different things.”

As someone who will vote Yes, I suggest what that really means is that for many, independence has been watered down to such an extent that it is no more than some form of devolution, which we must all call “independence” to save the political face of those responsible for setting out the terms of the debate.

I would dispute two of Mr Leslie’s contentions. First of all he argues: “This (Holyrood control of fiscal policy in a currency union) may be modified by the necessary regulations which will be associated with a common currency. But it will still be better than the present Union with a common currency and no control at all.”

It is a fallacy to suppose Scotland, in a currency union with rUK, would be any more independent than it is now.

Experience of the failings of the euro suggests that whatever regulations will be drawn up, they will be enforced with England’s interest in mind, much as monetary policy is formulated now.

In any well-run economy, fiscal and monetary policy complement each other and no Westminster government is likely to allow a so-called “independent” Scotland in a currency union with rUK the freedom to run a fiscal policy which in any way undermines the overall economic strategy of rUK.

For the past 30 years economic growth in Scotland has been 0.5 per cent lower each year than growth in England and rUK. Between 1995 and 2002 growth in Scotland was almost 1 per cent lower each year and those disparities did not happen by accident. They are the consequence of policies which obviously did not suit economic conditions in Scotland and the SNP is living in hope that the Westminster mindset will somehow change in a currency union, which it does not want and which some Yes supporters hope will be forced on them.

For Scotland to benefit from independence, it must be free to see its economy diverge from that of rUK, when the whole purpose of a currency union is to have the economies of members converge, something the EU tried and failed to do with the euro. Greece, Eire and others are now living with the consequences.

In common with others in the SNP, Mr Leslie blames Westminster for the failure of the EU to acknowledge the different needs of Scotland but would Scotland’s agriculture, fishing and steel industries have fared any better had Scotland had separate representation in Brussels?

Would the surrender of ­sovereignty agreed in the Single European Act and Maastricht have been any less for an independent Scotland?

The deals on agriculture and fishing may have been marginally better but the surrender of sovereignty as the EU continues to strive for “ever closer union” would have been exactly the same and as qualified majority ­voting is extended and the drive towards a United States of Europe continues apace, Scotland will continue to be outvoted in every important facet of government.

To return to Mr Leslie’s original contention, that independence means different things; I am afraid that applies only to some supporters of the SNP and the Yes campaign.

There is a generally recognised definition of the term which would satisfy just about everyone, whether or not a supporter, but it doesn’t suit the campaign strategy of the current leadership of the SNP, therefore we are all expected to simply accept its watered-down version, supposedly in the interests of “unity”.

Thus we are expected to ­accept that a currency union would involve no surrender of sovereignty and mean Scotland would be just as ­independent as if it had its own currency.

That is quite dishonest and is the real tragedy of the way in which this debate has been conducted.

Jim Fairlie

Heathcote Road

Crieff

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