Too much negativity in currency debate

Peter Jones has added some useful material to the debate on an independent Scottish currency, over three articles, but 300 years is hardly a sign of Nationalist impatience.

Unfortunately, Mr Jones is guilty of making his own assumptions about events and he invariably comes down on the side of the least favourable interpretation.

In his earlier article, he assumed Scots borrowing would inevitably be higher than that of the rest of the UK, without acknowledging that the policies followed would be a vital determinant.

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In his latest, “Patience is a virtue for Nationalists” (Perspective, 7 May), he again assumes the worst: Scots savers would transfer their money south of the Border, unless a Scottish currency had a higher value than sterling.

Mr Jones assumes an independent Scotland would have to wait at least two decades before being able to change things, but gives no explanation as to why.

He also ignores the examples of other countries, such as the Czech Republic, which certainly did not have to wait two decades after launching its own currency.

It is certainly true that the markets forced sterling out of the exchange rate mechanism (ERM) but the entire edifice collapsed within the following 18 months, an indication that sterling should not have joined in the first place and that the structure of the ERM was the main problem. It is redolent of Greece, Italy et al and the euro.

“Independence is a process rather than an event” is one of those irritating, meaningless clichés that has been allowed to take the place of informed debate.

I am rather more interested in learning why Alex Salmond can be unchallenged by Peter Jones, on his claim, “I believe the essence of economic independence is control of taxation and spending”, suggesting that it matters little who controls Scotland’s currency, interest rates and money supply. That sounds more like fiscal autonomy than independence, neither of which is on offer from Westminster.

Jim Fairlie


Nigel Lawson, who rose to prominence as Margaret Thatcher’s chancellor, has now called on Britain to leave the European Union, a policy he notably did not 
advocate vigorously when his prime minister signed the Maastricht Treaty or Britain joined the ERM under Norman Lamont.

Lawson’s case for this political volte face is that the economic gains of exit outweigh the losses, and Britain is now “marginalised” in Europe.

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The problem with this highly selective, amnesiac 
approach to politics is that precisely the same argument can be used to produce radically different results.

Let me use Lawson’s words, changing only two terms, substituting “Scotland” for “Britain”, and “Britain” for “Europe”: “Not only do Scotland’s interests increasingly differ from those of Britain but, while never ‘at the heart of Britain’ (as our political leaders have from time to time foolishly claimed), we are now becoming increasingly marginalised as we are doomed to being consistently outvoted by the British bloc.”

What is the significance of this for Scots who decide to vote No in the referendum to protect the Union? Nigel Farage, the leader of Ukip, fresh from triumph at the expense of Conservatives in English local elections, has already hinted that he could be prepared to reach a political accommodation with the Conservative Party, provided it is led by someone like Boris Johnson. Scots Unionists should consider carefully what future they are summoning into existence.

John S Warren