The Independence Debate – Those Questions Answered 97

Currency Union

There are over 200 nations in the world. Many became independent in the last thirty years, a large majority became independent over the last seventy years. Most have their own currencies. Some share a currency.

If every other country in the world can manage its currency options, why Better Together are allowed to pretend this is an insuperable obstacle for Scotland is beyond me. Are we uniquely stupid or lazy or incompetent? In fact Scots founded the Bank of England and the Bank of France (John Law).

The media has deliberately built u a non-question into “the thing that will stop Independence”. Yesterday Darling was allowed to bang on about nothing else for 12 minutes and then the pre-selected audience questions were on the same subject. This is a media propaganda construct not a real problem.

The problem is not the currency money in which is denominated – it is the fairness of its distribution we should be addressing.

The Scottish government’s preference is to enter a currency union with rUK. The strong attraction for rUK in that is that it avoids economic dislocation. Also it gives a strong hydrocarbon element to the economies underpinning the currency. Without Scotland sterling outflows in times of high oil prices could become a real problem for rUK.

So Salmond’s view is the rUK will agree to currency union, and there is no point in having a hypothetical argument based on an artificial Better Together propaganda construct that they will not.

My own view is that Scotland would be much better off with its own currency anyway, or could join the Euro. Either is a good option. But these are all perfectly possible post-independence options – none of them is a reason not to be independent.

Tuition Fees

Once Scotland is independent, it will have to treat all its fellow EU citizens the same on fees, including English students who currently – at the insistence of the UK government – have to pay.

Scotland will probably have to introduce some level of tuition fee post independence. BUT

a) There is no EU rule against giving student grants based on residence. So the Scottish government can give Scottish resident only students grants to pay their tuition fees. There can still be no net cost to Scottish students. This is what other EU countries do.

b) There will be no call for fees to be as high as the terrible 9,000 pounds a year charged in England. Tuition fee levels may perhaps be a third or half of that – with Scottish students given grants to pay the full amount. If the cheaper fees lead to a great rush of bright English students to Scotland, that will in the medium term give a great boost to the Scottish economy. Many of them will stay for the exciting new economic opportunities a dynamic independent Scotland will bring.


Mineral resources are the inalienable property of the State on whose territory – including continental shelf – they lie. Agreements made between oil companies and the UK for exploitation rights on Scotland’s continental shelf will be honoured on the same terms by the Scottish government. The tax revenues will come to Scotland instead of to the UK. There is no dispute over this whatsoever in legal or academic circles. It is an utterly ludicrous piece of false information to claim otherwise, put out by Better Together. The only dispute will be over the precise settlement of the maritime boundaries with England. But the area of dispute is in the region of whether 88 or 92% of British hydrocarbon resources are Scottish.

Excluding oil, Scotland’s GDP per capita is 98% per capita. The extent of the “oil bonus” on top indeed varies with the price of oil, but the total is certainly never going to give GDP per capita below that of rUK. Proven oil reserves will last a minimum of 50 years. What happens after 2070 when oil starts to run out is a problem which will face the entire world, not only Scotland. In the meantime, it is better to have it than not to have it.

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97 thoughts on “The Independence Debate – Those Questions Answered

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  • Tom

    The problem is that at this point, weeks before a referendum, the currency issue should have long ago been put to bed with a watertight plan.
    Yes, some cooperation may be forthcoming from the rest of the UK if the time comes, but relying on that without a properly worked-out and costed Plan A not only seems very reckless but very strange. If you’ve got savings or a business in Scotland it’s not going to be enough that Salmond ‘thinks’ Scotland will be able to enter a currency union with the UK.
    Equally, with a new currency, it may be desirable for some politically, but there are potentially ruinous eocnomic drawbacks – it isn’t just a case of swapping bank notes but of having a central bank, secure bank branches and credibility on the international money markets so that businesses can borrow.

  • Richard

    Ed @ 4.57pm.

    If Scotland decides to use Sterling as legal tender

    a) Is this a currency union?

    No, it isn’t.

    b) What can the rump U.K. do about it?

    Not much; nor is there any reason why they would want to.

    Old Mark @ 5.04

    “The currency of the Free State, and then the RoI,was tied to Sterling until 1978. Similarly, Luxembourg used the Belgian Franc during the twentieth century until both countries became founder members of the Euro. However in both cases currency management was vested with the larger party, in London and Brussels respectively, with no input from Dublin and Luxembourg.”

    Yes, couldn’t agree more. And the same with the rest of your post.

  • mark golding

    Why it is crucial Scotland breaks from union – please bear with me.

    Appeasement does nothing, zilch, nought to drive intention. Clearly we placate ourselves over most things including one sided debates, because it is easy, simple and soothing. Maybe it is the British climate that precipitates our emotions; oh well raining today so no need to mow the lawn etc.

    Truculence is not British, combatant is too direct too upfront for us Brits unless of course it’s footy and alcohol fuelling our emotions.

    Britain has acquired more than a sense of false diplomacy, we sit behind the ‘yanks’ prodding their backs to accommodate our neo-liberal interventionist foreign policy that does nothing else except return chaos and suffering. Why do you think we cannot publish or disclose an honest Chilcot report and more.

    This improper, wrong and false relationship with America is our misfortune, a tragedy in the making. Horrifyingly as Craig comments previously our police force is arming up:

    Our favored high street stores and products we love are increasingly snapped up by huge American corporates:

    We have contrived and prodded others towards World War III:

    The Russia Aggression Act

    Senate Bill Preps for War with Russia.

    Manifestly Scotland’s independence is one step towards our own liberation in my view. Scotland was accomplished even before recorded history dealt with Britain. Later the Romans despite major campaigns into Scotland retreated to Hadrian’s wall.

    Now, in this epoch it seems Scotland should be prodding our own backs. Perhaps then the rain might ease off and we can anew sooth ourselves in the sun.

  • BrianFujisan

    I’m with Doug on these matters of Currency and Economics…but i found this Post interesting and informative…from the ‘Liveblogging the Great Debate’ Thread…Hope you Don’t mind me Reposting this Robert ( and Craig )

    Robert Peffers
    5 Aug, 2014 – 1:27 pm

    Why are so many numpties so stupid about the legal status of the pound sterling?

    1 – Scotland has her own currency it is the same currency used by her ONLY partner in the bipartite Treaty of Union 1706/7.
    2 – Sterling is an international trading currency and anyone can use it.
    3 – The UK government does NOT set interest rates the BofE does.
    4 – The BofE was nationalised by the bipartite UK in 1946 and thus is partly Scottish.
    5 – There is no legal basis for any form of UK to remain after the bipartite UK disunites.
    6 – There is no legal basis that the bipartite UK, a treaty between two equally sovereign partners, should be divided up on the basis of the current population ratio.
    7 A currency union would be of greater value to the, (three country), Kingdom of England, than to the Kingdom of Scotland.
    8 – The title United Kingdom legally describes a Kingdom, not either a country or a state.

    Plans a to z for the currency are to use the pound sterling – prefferably with a currency union.

    Unless, of course, YOU know better.

  • BrianFujisan

    Another on the Whacky world of £ $ ect

    An independent Scotland can use the pound and will be able to flourish without a formal agreement with Westminster, according to one of the world’s leading think tanks.

    The Research Director of the Adam Smith Institute, Sam Bowman, has said that “the UK’s obstinacy would be Scotland’s opportunity.” adding that the pound should remain Scotland’s currency and simply be pegged to Sterling should London block an agreement.

    Commenting on the issue of currency, Mr Bowman, said:

    “An independent Scotland could flourish either by using the pound sterling without the permission of the rUK or by setting up a ‘ScotPound’ pegged to sterling through a currency board, which would achieve a similar end.”

    Citing as examples several countries that use the US Dollar without official agreement with the US Government, Mr Bowman added that a newly independent Scotland would be bound to act in a more fiscally cautious fashion:

    “Because Scottish banks would not have access to a currency-printing lender of last resort, they would have to make their own provisions for illiquidity, and would necessarily act more prudently.

    “Scotland actually had this system of ‘free banking’ during the 18th and 19th centuries, during which time its economy boomed relative to England’s and its banks were remarkably secure. And Panama, which uses the US Dollar in this way, has the seventh most stable financial system in the world.”

    The intervention followed Tuesday night’s TV debate which saw First Minister Alex Salmond take on Better Together head Alistair Darling.

    In the exchange the leader of the No campaign focused on the issue of currency, repeatedly demanding a Plan B from Mr Salmond. However the First Minister refused to be drawn on possible blocking moves by London and insisted a currency agreement would be in the interests of both Scotland and the rUK.

    Mr Bowman added: “Everyone says Mr Salmond needs a Plan B if the rUK does not agree to a currency union with Scotland. But unilateral adoption should be Plan A, making Scotland’s economy more stable and secure. The UK’s obstinacy would be Scotland’s opportunity.”

  • Tony M

    Quite contrarily to the uninformed MJ above, I’ve never seen an ATM anywhere in Scotland which dispenses anything other than Scottish bank-notes. Darling’s dissimulators know we just need do nothing upon independence and can call the pound which we jointly own as shareholders in the BoE the Scot’s Pound, and if it is to our advantage to allow it, we could then admit WENI to a currency union with us, if they asked. I believe the term ‘pound’ relating to a unit of currency or coinage/promissary note was in use here in Scotland before it was used in England. There’s no problem with the US Dollar and the Canadian Dollar being quite different currencies sharing nomenclature, which is really all this argument is about. It’ll be the pound all the way, our’s and their’s and if it’s for the best then in good time, we’ll each have our own. Physical interchange when purchasing is almost so rare now, though I always myself deal mostly in cash, most is done by swipe card or electronic transfer, which will just use the appropriate local currency of the goods’ seller.

    Scotland’s own pound would be backed by a wealth of able human talent and skill, abundant natural resources for energy and raw materials, revitisalised manufacture and food and drink production, we’re also a net and profitable exporter of electricity and water. We’re solvent even when oil is excluded completely from calculations. The ‘London’ Pound will be backed by whatever the City elites and Eton boys can find in their pockets as they stumble out into the dawn after a late shift at the casino tables.

  • Neurotics for No

    I like the last-ditch caviling of the Duchy of Savile and its personas posting here, MJ, Windy Miller, David S and the other permutations. Their little catch-phrases are premised on the notion that the Scottish, like the English ruling class, are timid bedwetters afraid of their shadows, terrified of the unknown and fit only to hide behind America’s skirts. Accordingly, they seek to frighten you with the idea that you must work out every jot and tittle before you assert your sovereignty, otherwise you’ll be lost, floating in some void. Horseshit.

    Once Slovakia asserted its sovereignty, the Slovaks took the better part of a year to work out the details with their Czech counterparts. Slovenia got out while the getting was good, then sussed out the particulars with nugatory support from the US or the EU. By contrast, Palestine inched toward statehood in a painstaking series of tests and tasks. All that did was give their colonizers a hundred opportunities to trip them up. Does anyone here think that the British ruling class wouldn’t do the same to Scotland if they got the chance?

    Assert your people’s right to self-determination. First things first.

  • Just saying

    It appears the truth is finally emerging despite all the attempts at obfuscation and crass minutiae,


    The rest is all bull, the Scots are in danger of being “grassy knolled” with endless minutiae whilst the killers of JFK are hifiving (and winking) like the dancing Israelis of 911.

  • fool

    As above so below. A country is perhaps not so different to a person and the united kingdom to a marriage. The vote then can be seen as akin to a decision on whether to divorce. Before deciding to divorce there may be some thought about how it will pan out economically ( in a recession the divorce rate tends to fall) and sometimes there is even a discussion as to how to divide the assets. In the past a discussion between husband and wife as to how they would divide their assets was deemed collusion and a potential bar to the court granting divorce, but these days discussion and agreement is encouraged.

    In short the gut emotions tend to lead the decision and the calculating mind comes second, but not with everyone and to some extent they work together with one more dominant than the other.

    The vote is akin to the decision to the petition. Then comes the negotiation. Of course if the negotiations break down or result in a change of mind and / or heart there must the possibility that the union continues; should there not be a second vote after the negotiations i.e vote with your heart now and head later?

  • seydlitz

    If Scotland gains it’s so called independance what effect will this have on the working class who represent the majority. Will the low paid ,the out of work,the unskilled be any better off will the skilled middle class improve their standard of living,looking around Europe and the USA the system is rigged so the rich get richer and the remaining struggle to maintain what they have. The basic system which we all live under will not change you will get the same exploiters abusing the wealth protected by the same establishment flunkies Scotland will be no different than what it is today.

  • Ba'al Zevul (With Gaza)

    The vote is akin to the decision to the petition. Then comes the negotiation. Of course if the negotiations break down or result in a change of mind and / or heart there must the possibility that the union continues; should there not be a second vote after the negotiations i.e vote with your heart now and head later? (Fool)

    I like this guy. He does thinking.

    I left Scotland after thirty years’ residence because I couldn’t find work relevant to my skills and qualifications there. In the UK, Scotland wasn’t doing well at all. That was not long before the crash. Now England is in about the same state, employment-wise, as Scotland was then. I don’t see remaining in the Union as an attractive option for Scots workers, and unless the UK develops a much more independent, progressive and versatile economic base, I don’t see that ever changing. Answer, Scotland develops its own economic base, adapted to its skills and geography.

    The currency question is a diversion. It doesn’t matter if Scotland uses cowrie shells; if the economy works. And that’s the nub of the matter IMO. And talking of shellfish, Fred, the guys who buy your product come over here with Euros, buy pounds to pay you with and bugger off back to Spain or France to sell the beasties on for Euros. If the Scots used merks (or cowries), you’d still get paid.

    I think Scotland may be guilty of looking for its wallet under the street light because the light’s better there. A wholly different strategy to the populist and emotional approach to independence (and in the event of a ‘no’ vote, it could still be tried) might have been to build the Scottish manufacturing, tourism and renewables bases and give the country some real economic clout FIRST. Difficult, but it will be just as difficult after independence, and many safety nets will be removed by then.

  • Ba'al Zevul (With Gaza)

    And yes, Seydlitz. That’s a fundamental point. The USP of a newly independent country is that it can do things differently, but in the globalist lexicon, “different” is a dirty word.
    I think Scotland can do it, but the danger is that it will take the easy options on wages and markets.

  • fred


    For your education.

    The guys don’t come over here with anything I doubt they come over here at all.

    It’s all done by bank transfer, the computers handle the exchange rates.

    If I would still get paid or not and how much is anybody’s guess. Would depend on if they make as good a job of the economy as they did of the tram system.

    It’s fine for people who don’t live in Scotland saying Scotland could make a success of their economy. The important question is would they make a success of their economy.

  • fred

    “Scotland actually had this system of ‘free banking’ during the 18th and 19th centuries, during which time its economy boomed relative to England’s and its banks were remarkably secure. And Panama, which uses the US Dollar in this way, has the seventh most stable financial system in the world.”

    Well yes, Scotland’s economy did boom relative to England’s after the Union.

  • Mary


    National Demonstration for Gaza
    Saturday 9 August. Assemble 12 noon
    outside BBC, Portland Place
    (tubes: Great Portland Street/Oxford Circus)
    marching to rally at Hyde Park via US Embassy

    Please ask all your family and friends to join the demonstration on Saturday. Be a part of it!

    At the time of writing (Tuesday) over 1,814 Palestinians have been killed and 9,536 injured.

    UN OCHA says “Children continue to bear the brunt of the crisis”. The number of children killed stands at 408 with at least 2,877 children injured.

    An Israeli missile attack on Sunday against an UNWRA school has been condemned by the UN as ‘criminal act.’

    Yesterday (Monday), Israel broke its own ceasefire, killing an eight year old Palestinian girl and flattening her family home. The Israelis then launched an attack on another home.

    Whole neighbourhoods have been flattened, and almost half of the Strip was already a ‘no go zone’, before the bombardment of Rafah.

    Palestinians are struggling to dig out the bodies of the dead, hospitals struggling to cope with the bloodshed and death, and shelters struggling to cope with the hundreds of thousands attempting to seek refuge. Ambulances, hospitals and UN schools sheltering refugees have all been targeted by Israeli bombs.

    International outrage has escalated, with thousands blocking the streets outside the Israeli Embassy in London over the weekend, and protests taking place across Britain. But even now, the BBC is determined to ‘defend Israel’.

    We need to increase the pressure even further – and ensure that our voices are heard. Please ensure that nobody can say that they didn’t know about the demonstration this coming Saturday – forward this email on to family and friends, and bring them along.


    Take action – sign our letter to the Prime Minister

    Join us on Saturday – and spread the word! Click here for the facebook event page.

  • Vronsky

    A friend once introduced me to what he called ‘Pigs Can’t Fly’ arguments. This is an argument which attempts to prove that something is not so when abundant evidence that it *is* so is everywhere around. ‘Don’t say pigs can’t fly when they’re fluttering past overhead’ was his advice.

    The Unionist case as variously wittered above is a Pigs Can’t Fly argument. If even one tiny part of it were true there would not be a single independent country on the planet – we would all be part of a gigantic United Kingdom, the only political organism capable of well, anything.

  • Just saying

    Robbie Burns

    From scenes like these old Scotia’s grandeur springs,
    That makes her loved at home, revered abroad;
    Princes and lords are but the breath of kings,
    “An honest man’s the noblest work of God!”

    Any place that gave rise to a poet like Burns deserves to be a Independent Nation all its own. Very simple, fuck the bankers.

  • fred


    Please take my word for it, I have been a crofter many years now and I can assure you that pigs do not have wings and they do not fly.

    If you are seeing pigs fluttering past overhead then may I suggest it is most likely some sort of hallucination.

  • Kempe

    ” A 1973 British Government report, prompted by the rise of the SNP, said Scotland could have the strongest currency in Europe. ”

    Not always a good thing. Exports become more expensive and less competitive, imports get cheaper which is good for consumers but bad news for home producers.

  • kurtan

    A strong currency never hurt Germany.Agh the days of the D-Mark.
    Scotsmen have led Great Britain both in the forces and at Westminster.It has great products for export including expertise in the oil industry.It’s folly to suggest that Scotland couldn’t have a successful economy as all an economy is ,is resource management,trade and industry.It’s all there and including Clair Ridge, a bountious oil field of magnificent proportions waiting for the tap to be turned on.After the last 40 years of mismanaging Scotland,how could Scotsmen not do better ?
    If Fred can run a croft then I’m sure Scotland could run an economy.Would Fred want someone living 50 miles away to manage his little croft ? Doubt that the cows would be happy.Fred would have more time to spend on his laptop however.

  • BrianPowell

    It is very concerning and hard for me to understand the people who are going to vote No, without making any requirements attached to their vote.
    They are going with what is ‘offered’.
    If I were contemplating No I would be saying, as the very least, I will vote No, if all Parties give a specific legal guarantee that the oil revenues be distributed to the regions of the UK, rather than for the purposes of the Westminster Government, and as real money.

  • fred

    “Not always a good thing. Exports become more expensive and less competitive, imports get cheaper which is good for consumers but bad news for home producers.”

    Yes. A lot of people are going to live in places like Spain because the cost of living is so much lower.

  • Ba'al Zevul (With Gaza)

    It’s all done by bank transfer, the computers handle the exchange rates.

    As if that made any difference at all. Indeed, electronic money makes it even easier to take liberties with national* currencies. However, in my time if you sold direct to a lorry (eg at Christmas, or vast quantities) you got folding ones.

    And you, Fred, will be contributing to the wealth of your chosen nation. Because when the Spanish lorry has taken your (redacted) to the Costa del Chav, they will be sold in tiny little punnets at hugely inflated prices to English tourists, or sprinkled lightly through the paella they can’t pronounce. From their earning, in pounds sterling.

    *Thought you deplored nationalism, anyway. Tush.

  • fred

    “If Fred can run a croft then I’m sure Scotland could run an economy.”

    I think the secret of running a croft, in fact the secret of keeping animals, is to keep your feet firmly rooted in reality and see what is there not what you would like to see.

    If a cow is thin the answer is to feed it more not to pretend it is fat.

  • DoNNyDarKo

    Sounds like a croft with a bleak future Fred.
    Keeping your feet firmly on the ground in this analogy is keeping the centre of gravity in the “City of London” and putting out your hands and wait for whatever comes your way.
    Not having vision for croft or country will mean you get mired in the muck of the past. Westminster has not been overly generous to the North,as you I’m sure will know from driving the highways and biways of Caithness & Sutherland in your horse and cart.
    Independence offers vision , a centre of gravity in Scotland and a desire to move us out of the past and into a prosperous future.And instead of blowing all the oil cash as Thatcher, Blair and Brown did, some of it will be put into a fund for the future.Makes sense to me in case there’s a bad harvest or two for you Fred.

  • Republicofscotland

    The fiercely anti-independence, and Tory/London owned Daily Record, has a double page spread,claiming a top SNP insider, admitting Alex Salmond blew it. This story provides no names or back ups, its all just a propaganda smear campaign, by the unionist Record. The Record also gives a platform to Alistair Darling,in another double page spread,in which AD goes on to attack Alex Salmond’s debate answers.

    I was under the impression that Better Together and the YES Campaign were running the independence referendum, (I may be wrong and I’m sure someone will correct me if I am.) Then why has the UK Government taken out a full page ad urging Scots to vote no, and remain in the union, the ad can be found in the Glasgow Evening Times.

  • Mary

    Three has-been slebs interfere.

    Dench, Jagger & Cowell Tell Scotland ‘Vote No’
    Some of Britain’s biggest celebrities including Dame Judi Dench and Sir Mick Jagger have urged Scotland to ‘vote no’.

    They are among more than 200 names of entertainment world stars and public figures who have joined the Let’s Stay Together campaign to save the union and stop Scotland trying to divorce itself from the UK.

    Also on the list are the Saturday night television rivals Sir Bruce Forsyth and Simon Cowell, and Professor Stephen Hawking.



    Scottish independence: unofficial no campaign pleads ‘let’s stay together’

    Richard Wilson, June Sarpong and others star in film aimed to give voice to English, Welsh and Northern Irish unionists

    Who is funding it???

  • Phil

    “If a cow is thin the answer is to feed it more not to pretend it is fat.”

    How did this cow get so thin?

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