Scottish independence: Greens back Scots currency

Green MSP for Glasgow Patrick Harvie at the Scottish Green Party's annual conference in Inverness yesterday. Picture: Peter Jolly
Green MSP for Glasgow Patrick Harvie at the Scottish Green Party's annual conference in Inverness yesterday. Picture: Peter Jolly
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CLAIMS that the Yes Scotland campaign is split over economic policy resurfaced last night when the Scottish Green Party voted that Scotland should have its own currency after independence.

Delegates at the Green conference in Inverness formally adopted a policy that is at odds with the SNP’s promise to keep the pound in the event of a Yes vote next year.

In contrast with their Yes Scotland partner’s insistence that Scotland would use the pound as part of a “sterling zone”, the Greens underlined their view that an independent economy would be best served by a separate currency.

A further divergence from SNP policy was confirmed when the conference also formally adopted a proposal to ditch the monarchy – a position which differs from the SNP’s pledge to keep the Queen as head of state.

A motion formalising the Greens’ economic position 
noted that control of currency was vital to control of the economy.

“That idea underpins Green support for local currency, and an independent Scotland should seek to have as much control over its economy as possible and therefore would have its own currency. We recognise that it may take some time to effect a move to a new currency,” it said.

On the role of the Queen in an independent Scotland, a motion was passed which “rejected the hereditary principle”.

It added: “We believe there should be an elected head of state with a role defined in a written constitution. We recognise the value of creating this post on a titular basis with ceremonial and ambassadorial functions.”

Last night the No campaign claimed that the Greens’ position was further evidence that Alex Salmond’s vision of a currency union with the rest of the UK would not work.

Better Together pointed out that of the three main parties behind the Yes campaign (SNP, Scottish Socialists and Greens), two (the Scottish Socialists and the Greens) were against keeping the pound.

The No campaign also pointed to the prominent Yes Scotland board members who have indicated that a new currency should be looked at, citing as examples Dennis Canavan, Pat Kane, Colin Fox, Blair Jenkins and Patrick Harvie.

“This is a clear sign of a split in the Yes campaign,” said Better Together campaign director Blair McDougall. McDougall claimed it was dishonest for the Yes campaign to produce literature promising voters that the pound would be kept after independence.

“With half their board and the majority of the parties that make up their campaign now opposed to the SNP policy of a eurozone-style currency union, it is dishonest of Yes Scotland to continue to promise Scots that we would keep the pound if we vote to go it alone.

“Both the Chancellor and the shadow chancellor are now on record saying that they do not believe a currency union is either desirable or deliverable. Alex Salmond’s currency position is increasingly unsustainable.”

But Yes Scotland members argued that there was no problem with different parties articulating different visions of Scotland’s future within a broad coalition of people all supporting independence.

Stan Blackley, a Green member and Yes Scotland’s deputy director of communities, said: “The SNP is calling to keep the pound, but we were very clear at last year’s Green conference that we would form our own distinct Green campaign for independence.

“We want to set out what are the unique selling points, so if we happen to disagree with the SNP I don’t think there is any surprise there.”

A Yes Scotland spokesman said: “In 2016, after independence, people will have the chance to elect a government of their choice. If parties want to put forward different policies, people will have the chance to vote for the party with the policies that they support.

“There are people within the Yes Scotland movement who have a different vision of how an independent Scotland would operate and there is absolutely nothing incompatible about that.

“It is for political parties to put forward their cases, but all people within Yes Scotland are united in wishing to have independence.”


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