Salmond carries can on currency

THE independence movement should be glad to say goodbye to Alex Salmond.

The campaign he led was poorly thought-out and its failure may have set back the cause of independence for decades. Salmond lacked answers to fundamental questions and tried to conceal the lack with bluster. Nowhere was this more evident than on the question of currency.

Salmond pretended that an independent Scotland could carry on using the pound as if it was still part of the UK. Most people could see that was nonsense. Sharing your currency with a neighbour over which you have no control carries the risk that your neighbour will operate policies which will undermine the currency and destroy both economies. The countries of the eurozone are locked together in a monetary union which, when crisis struck in 2007, proved to be a straitjacket for peripheral members such as Greece, Italy and Ireland, which ended up slashing their public spending and begging for bail-outs.

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The lesson of the eurozone crisis is that monetary union without fiscal and political union is fine when conditions are good, but disastrous at times of crisis.

The SNP showed some awareness of that when it stopped advocating adoption of the euro once independent.

A newly independent country needs to have its own currency if it is to exercise full control of its own economy and take full responsibility for its trade, investment, taxation and spending policies.

The departure of Salmond offers the independence movement the opportunity to put its house in order on the currency question. It should commit to having an independent currency as the only policy which makes good economic sense. Halfway-house solutions and phoney compromises are frauds which do not deserve to win majority support.

Les Reid, Edinburgh