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Referendum Latest

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Post Independence?

The picture is becoming clearer on what Scotland would look like after independence.

We’d have the pound, the monarchy, a shared welfare system, Trident (at least for a while), continuation of the BBC, The Bank of England as a central bank…….

Can anyone tell me what would be different?

Lawson’s Dice

Nigel Lawson I’m talking about. He’s looking to throw a ‘one’ and vote for the UK to come out of the EU.

Over the years this blog has had some pretty critical things to say about the EU, perhaps exceeded in lack of compliment only by its critique on UKIP and other right wing politicians.

My locus has never been a political one but rather a matter of pragmatism. I see the EU as clumsy, unworkable and interminably bureaucratic. On a basic level, quite how societies and cultures as diverse as Sweden and Greece, or Denmark and Portugal were supposed to live under the same laws and regulations as one another, remains an affront to common sense. Add the UK and France into that mix if you like. Chalk and cheese could have been coined for the two nations.

And don’t start me again on the Euro…..

So uneasy as I am about quoting Nigel Lawson, I’m going to anyway.

“Over the past decade, UK exports to the EU have risen in cash terms by some 40%. Over the same period, exports to the EU from those outside it have risen by 75%.

He calls the EU a ‘bureaucratic monstrosity’

“Not only do our interests increasingly differ from those of the eurozone members but, while never “at the heart of Europe” (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 eurozone bloc.”

Of course Lawson is making his pitch because of recent gains by UKIP in the English council elections and much of the right wing rhetoric is down to the welter of regulation being placed on the City of London by Europe. He is also acutely aware of the Tories’ promise to hold a referendum on EU membership should they gain a majority next time round.

However, the groundswell of anti European sentiment currently abroad (sic) in England but also in other parts of the UK doesn’t look like abating any time soon.

I’m wondering what effect this will have on the referendum that definitely is taking place here next September? The EU, its institutions and leading lights have been very frigid indeed to the idea of Scottish Independence.

Scotland’s trade with the rest of the UK is over £40 billion. Its trade with EU countries outwith the UK is less than £10 billion (Scottish government figures).

Alex Salmond has nailed his colours firmly to Sterling as a post independence currency – despite the current unwillingness of the coalition government of the UK to entertain that notion.

I wonder though if Salmond is playing the long game here? A yes vote to the UK or the remaining UK leaving the EU would look more likely at this stage than a yes vote for Scottish independence.

It is inconceivable that a post independence Scotland using Sterling could remain as part of the EU (even if it were able to negotiate its way in in the first place)

That’s why I think that Eck and co will be studying the pronouncements and rhetoric from London on the EU very closely in the coming months.

And I won’t be surprised if it shapes their thinking more than a little.

Musicians and Politics

It’s 500 days away.

So……Pop Cop asked forty Scots Musicians how they intended to vote in the 2014 Independence Referendum.

You can go and read the comments by clicking on the link but the breakdown was Yes 13, No 7 and Undecided 20.

Isobel Campbell, indie singer and cellist formerly of Belle and Sebastian had this to say:

isobel

Whilst Justin Currie (he of Del Amitri) commented as follows:

justin currie

Footnote: Justin Currie was born in Glasgow…….

Current Affairs. Affairs of Currency.

pistoleThis is a Pistole bearing the head of William III of England or William II (and other things) as he was known in Scotland. The Pistole was one of the last coins struck in Scotland. It was a gold coin worth twelve Pounds (Scots) or One Pound Sterling. It was minted for the purposes of the disastrous Darien Scheme.

King William III/II was the guy directly responsible for the Massacre of Glencoe. He may be familiar to Scottish football fans and those who witness Orange walks as depicted on his white steed.

King Billy indeed.

Despite the massacre and its circumstances William is still regarded in high praise, indeed eulogised by sections of society here.

Scotland can be like that.

Anyway, I digress.

This is a bawbee: from the reign of Charles II at a time when Scotland shared a monarchy but not a parliament with England.COPPER-BAWBEE-CHARLES-II
This is a groat from the time of David II of Scotland (1329-1371)

David_II_of_Scotland_groat_1367_612676

The pound Scots (Scots: Pund Scots) was the unit of currency in the Kingdom of Scotland before the kingdom unified with the Kingdom of England in 1707. It was introduced by David I, in the 12th century, on the model of English and French money, divided into 20 shillings each of 12 pence. The Scottish currency was later debased relative to sterling and, by the time of James III, the pound sterling was valued at four pounds Scots.

In addition to the pound Scots, silver coins were issued denominated in merk, worth 13 shillings 4 pence (two thirds of a pound Scots). When James VI became King James I of England in 1603, the coinage was reformed to closely match that of England, with 12 pounds Scots equal to the pound sterling. In 1707, the pound Scots was replaced by the pound sterling at a rate of 12 to 1, although the pound Scots continued to be used in Scotland as a unit of account for most of the 18th century.

I’m a wee bit concerned that the pound Scots lost eleven twelfths of its value over time.

All this is just a look at history, but there is now a serious body of opinion recommending that Scotland have its own currency in the event of a yes vote in next year’s referendum. Whilst the return of bawbees, groats and pistoles seems rather unlikely, I’m reminded of a former Scottish Parliament initiative which offered translation into some quaint ersatz language, which I doubt anyone ever spoke. Certainly in my more than 50 years in the country I never witnessed anything like this outwith the pages of the Sunday Post cartoon section:

Gib-1-Scottish parliament Gaelic.tif

Scottish Parliament literature on how it can help the Scots Simon Walters copy

The ‘Pairlament’ seems to have quietly dropped the Scots translations presumably because no one used them and they held the whole country up to ridicule they were so popular there were frequent server errors.

Anyhoo I digress again. People have pointed to Iceland where their own small circulation currency has been cited as the reason that their economy has been able to recover so quickly from the catastrophe of a few years ago. Whist this is true it is worth pointing out that it was also a large part of the reason they got into trouble in the first place.
The risk of a repeat of there woes is so great there that they want to join the Euro……

A few weeks ago I made the point that I didn’t know how I would vote in the referendum because I wasn’t clear on what I was being asked to decide upon on many issues. It’s good that the debate has developed but there hasn’t been any increase in clarity on those issues. Indeed the waters have been muddied.

The SNP want to remain in Sterling and the EU post independence. Neither the EU nor the remaining UK it would appear want Scottish independence. The EU have made clear that Scotland would have to apply for membership and new applicants must commit to the Euro.

The SNP want independence. But do they? They want the monarch of the UK to remain as head of state, they want the Bank of England to remain the central bank with all its power over money supply, interest rates and the like. And by default on that they want to keep Sterling. I heard John Swinney yesterday say that the UK would not want to lose an independent Scotland from the ‘Sterling zone’ because it would affect the remaining UK’s balance of payments!

Clearly the SNP envisage continuing monetary union but with the freedom to decide on fiscal policy unilaterally.

That’s not independence.

That’s picking and choosing.

Michty Me!

I’ve sorted out the post-independence currency dilemna

Bottle tops.

Ten Buds = One Peroni

Ten Peronis = One Speyside single malt (any distillery eligible)

Ten single malts = Dom Pérignon cork

Shimplesh!

PS One Dom= £100 sterling, but only if glass cheque not cashed….

PPS Did you know that Dom Perignon was a monk who also invented champagne? Every day is a school day!

 

 

What IS independence exactly?

I notice that the SNP via Nicola Sturgeon has raised the issue of currency once again in the independence debate. She states confidently in this article that following a yes vote, Scotland would continue to use Sterling as the country’s currency.

This is in fact a can of worms on several levels. How will this square with the EU? The UK’s opt out will remain with the successor state, which has already been acknowledged by the EU President and the European Commission as being the ‘Remaining UK’ i.e. England Wales and Northern Ireland.

Given that the EU have said that Scotland will be treated as a new state, then the UK opt out on the Euro will not apply. Any new state coming into the EU is obliged to join the Euro once criteria are met so I wonder where this leaves Scotland should we vote for independence?

Quite apart from all that, even if this problem could be overcome and Scotland was allowed to keep Sterling by the EU, wouldn’t monetary policy still be decided in London? And given that the acknowledged main problem of the Euro has been differing fiscal policies within a single currency, and given that Sterling already has particular problems, how would this play out on a small island with a small currency but within it separate fiscal policy?

There is some comfort for the Yes campaign from economist Professor John Kay who states that the EU “would probably settle for some vague and indefinitely postponed aspiration” that Scotland would adopt the euro.

However Kay also believes that “The currency issue is crucial – Scotland would be right to seek agreement on monetary union with the remaining United Kingdom, but it would be difficult to negotiate an agreement that would be consistent with the fiscal freedom sought through independence.

“Scotland should be ready to adopt an independent currency.”

So the SNP want to keep the pound and the Queen. They say that Scotland will be free of Trident and yet even if the vote is yes, there is no guarantee that a future Scottish government would follow that through. I’ve always wondered that even if that government were SNP, if they wouldn’t come to some arrangement with the Remaining UK on the issue.

As someone who has voted SNP in recent years, when it became clear that there was to be a referendum, I looked forward to being convinced that independence made sense.

At the moment I remain to be convinced.

And the clock is ticking….