Scotland should vote for compromise and Currency Union – and thus vote “no”

Well this has been fascinating. The Scottish referendum has been lost by politicians, and won by democratic dialogue in the bars, allotments and social clubs of Scotland. It has taken twists and turns which no one – certainly not I – predicted.

Today is decision time. At its best, “Yes” puts forward a highly attractive argument that Scotland should stand on its own two feet; at its worst, it forgets that “independence” is a ridiculous and alarmingly parochial concept in a globalised world dominated by corporations, not states. At its best, “No” puts forward a highly attractive argument for maintaining a historically hugely successful and influential multinational liberal state (with none more influential within it than Scots); at its worst, it has resorted to nonsensical scare tactics which demean the obvious brilliance of the Scottish nation.

As it happens, given the fairly uninspirational nature of its campaign, if I were in Scotland I would be trudging along to vote “no”. Ironically, I would be doing so as it offers the best route to an option which satisfies the aspirations of the large majority of Scots (enhanced powers without the risks), and because of a case made by the “Yes” campaign!

The case is this: for all its talk about becoming Scandinavia or making its own choices, the “Yes” campaign argues nevertheless that it wishes to share the pound sterling, share the Bank of England, and share England’s monetary policy in their entirety because their economies are so inextricably linked. This is their case for a “currency union”. Yet this is also a case for a “political union”!

It is not just an economic point. It is also a political one – for there is something mischievous about essentially suggesting you can be independent and have everything bad change but everything good remain. We have to ask why Scotland wouldn’t have its own currency to be truly “independent” or why it would not join the Eurozone like Ireland? If the answer is that it is far more like the rest of the UK than elsewhere, then why on earth leave? If the answer is that using sterling is temporary, then why not be up front about it? All of this hints at an underlying uncertainty or even deviousness about what people are really being asked to vote for.

It is also divisive. The problem with referendums is that they are “Yes/No” and thus offer no means of compromise. The best compromise – the one the vast majority of Scots could easily tolerate – is enhanced powers without the risks of “independence” in an uncertain world. You don’t get that by voting “yes”; you probably do by voting “no”. It’s all a bit messy and last-minute, but then compromise often is.

In the end, therefore, I come down on the side of those who suggest that Scotland has more in common with the rest of the UK than anywhere else and should therefore share a currency with it. The easiest way to do that is by remaining in the UK! I accept Scotland has already psychologically left the UK but I would urge Scots therefore to vote “no” – and then let 63 million people rebuild a properly federal, progressive UK together.

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8 thoughts on “Scotland should vote for compromise and Currency Union – and thus vote “no”

  1. L.B. says:

    I feel one of the most compelling Yes points was the chance to sever Westminster ties. Admittedly I’m not familiar with the level of devolution Scotland already has. But I look at Westminster sometimes and scratch my head in various states of confusion and frustration.

    • So do I (as I wrote a few days ago).

      However, politics is politics. I see no compelling case for replacing “Westminster” with a government which would have to run a surplus and would thus be bound by the interests of oil companies and banks. Based on the evidence (as opposed to wild aspiration), the biggest losers of “independence” would be the poorest.

  2. Scots Anorak says:

    “at its worst, it forgets that “independence” is a ridiculous and alarmingly parochial concept in a globalised world dominated by corporations, not states.”

    The notion that, in an era where defence and trade are dealt with by supranational bodies, an ancient, distinct and sovereign people should have their external relations mediated through the whims and corruption of another nation is a ridiculous and alarmingly parochial concept in a globalised world.

    “with none more influential within it than Scots”

    In common with many Unionists you are confusing the influence of Scots individuals, many of them based in London, with the unjustifiably circumscribed democratic power wielded by Scots to govern their own country.

    “the aspirations of the large majority of Scots”

    The aspiration of the large majority of Scots is for absolute control over taxation, social security, and oil revenue as they effect the Kingdom of Scotland. Whether as devolution or as federalism, that is not on offer from the Unionist side.

    “It is also divisive.”

    All elections are divisive. In this case, the degree of division has been massively hyped up to denigrate the Yes campaign and quite possibly to prepare the ground for a vexatious challenge to the democratic will of the Scots people should they vote for the restoration of their national independence.

    http://www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2014/09/police-rebut-unionist-smears/

  3. The Listener says:

    Ian, Top of the class! If you were reincarnated next time round you could end up as High Court Judge, assemble the basic facts and arrive at a well though out conclusion without emotion.

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