With so much of Better Together’s attention focused on currency, it has become – in many people’s minds – the primary (perhaps the only) significant reason they might vote No. Yet sorting out a currency is no more or less than a choice between several viable options.
There is no developed economy anywhere in the world that lacks a functioning currency, and no reason why Scotland would be any different.
For me, by far the most likely outcome after independence is a negotiated currency union with rUK, as proposed by the Scottish Government, simply because it will be in everyone’s interest to agree a fair division of both assets and liabilities.
But I would be equally comfortable with, and can see several benefits of, a continued use of sterling without a formal currency union (as advocated by the Adam Smith Institute) or a Scottish currency that could either be pegged to sterling or allowed to float freely (in which case it would be underpinned by Scotland’s strong balance of payments).
It’s helpful to remind ourselves that uncertainty about future currency is nothing new to us. Going into the last general election, each of the three main Westminster parties offered different currency proposals: the Tories clinging to the pound, the Liberal Democrats proposing a switch to the euro, and Labour hedging their bets between the two.
If a degree of “currency uncertainty” failed to make us hide under our duvets then, we should be equally relaxed about it now.
Looking beyond currency – as we should – leaves issues such as democracy, how we see our role in the world, Scotland’s undeniable wealth and how that can be used to promote a better society.
It is those issues I will consider when making my vote next month.
I am puzzled. Every time Alex Salmond answers the question: “What currency will Scotland use?” he answers: “We will use the pound.”
He always answers the question. He says we will use the pound – because, in fact, we will use the pound.
For some reason the Better Together campaign seems to think this issue is a winner for them. It is not, for two reasons.
Most people have other, more pressing, concerns. They are aware that things like currency arrangements are decided by sensible negotiation and that all over the world people deal daily in a huge variety of currencies. But what is more important is that most informed people now know that we can use the pound if we like and this is steadily becoming general knowledge. So they understand that “no pound” is scaremongering.
I suspect that an uncharacteristically deferential Alex Salmond gently encouraged the Better Together campaign into stepping into a trap of their own making at the debate the other night.
The fact is that any country in the world can use the pound because it is a freely traded international currency. There is no need for a “Plan B”, although there are four other currency options fully detailed in the white paper if any of those folk shouting actually want to admit it.
After all the bluff and bluster dies down more people will understand that Better Together are campaigning on something that is not true. And all the experts know, and are prepared to say, that the minute Scotland chooses independence Westminster will be falling over itself to negotiate a currency union to keep Scotland’s huge revenues in sterling.
As Alex Salmond says, the “You can’t keep the pound” campaign is a political tactic not a sensible or serious policy.
Dave McEwan Hill
How can Alex Salmond have the arrogance to completely disregard the other 58 million citizens on this island of ours by stating that he will force the foreign countries of England, Wales and Northern Ireland to submit to his wishes of a currency union?
Surely the rUK electorate would want to have their say as to whether they would go into a currency union with Scotland, seeing as they would have had no say in the breakup of their union.
For such a major constitutional change, surely they will be given the chance to vote on this by choosing a party in the 2015 general election based partly on their manifesto of whether or not they would go into a currency union with Scotland.
Alex Salmond has created the illusion of it being Westminster versus the ordinary Scottish people but really he is suggesting that Holyrood bully the ordinary people in the rest of the UK by forcing them into a currency union without the chance to vote on it. He really does need to come up with a “Plan B” in case they vote No.
Yes, it’s Scotland’s pound. But it is backed up by the Bank of England as lender of last resort. Could our First Minister give us the name of another country which supports the currency of an independent country which has its own fiscal policies and offers a wide and increasing range of benefits to its citizens?
Members of the euro are now having to comply with the dictats of the German government and many are suffering from deep recession as a result. Do we really want to follow this example? Is the financial sector sure it wants an independent Scotland which will inevitably result in headquarters moving to England?
It IS now clear that Alex Salmond does not understand the difference between currency usage and currency union. While many countries use the US dollar, for example, they are not in a currency union with the USA, so any debt they incur is not underwritten by the US Federal Reserve Bank.
Scottish usage of sterling after independence would be without the support of the Bank of England, either as protector of private deposits up to ￡£85,000 or lender of last resort in a crisis.
Salmond actually wants currency union, which is like divorcing your partner, but retaining use of the joint bank account, plus joint liability for any debts.