#indyref: Use POGS for all I care. The currency debate isn’t that important to me

I am of course joking. We should use Tazos, because I have a full set and it’s worth a bit now.

I have a (n admittedly cynical) friend who says that each time the ‘Great British public’ go to the voting booth, they’re thinking about one thing, and one thing only. The amount of cash in their back pocket. It’s a generalisation, of course, and not the nicest one, but it’s tough to find fault with.

Of course there are those who vote based on more than this. I like to count myself among them. Not to toot my own horn too fervently, but I have to admit to feeling somewhat superior on this subject, as I religiously trawl party manifestos, look at the records of my local candidates and their parties, and then make an informed decision. This sounds perfectly normal of course, but anecdotally it would appear I’m in a minority.

I don’t say without foresight or in a flippant mood then, that I don’t particularly care what currency an independent Scotland would use. Of course it’s important; anyone who says otherwise is a fool. For me though, it’s not quite as important as some other things.

Trident is a biggie for some. Not so much for me. I’m against nuclear weaponry as a rule, and I don’t believe the UK needs it (does anyone seriously think the US would allow an invasion of its closest European ally without a word or two – we’re better together, after all), but it’s not a huge matter of principle for me. I disagree with but understand those who feel it’s a necessary evil when it comes to national defence. My problem with it is that it costs far too much money, and whether in Pounds, Groats, Thistles, Salmonds or bottlecaps, that money could better be spent elsewhere.

Being a part of the EU is a big one for me. I think it’s lunacy to isolate ourselves from such a lucrative opportunity. Again, I understand those who are upset with layers of added bureaucracy but for me that’s a price worth paying for what it brings us.

I care with all my heart about social justice. It’s not a new point but the fact it’s continually true is damning to the current system. Scots votes are worth little more than French votes in UK elections. The amount of Scottish children in poverty is infuriating. The lack of investment in business north of the border shameful. The thieving (and again, I don’t use that word lightly) of Scottish assets criminal.

On this last point it’s worth adding some detail lest I be labelled a cybernat. I’m not opposed to the idea of Scotland contributing its fair share to something greater than itself for the benefit of all. On paper, the UK is a really good idea. In practice however, it simply doesn’t work for Scots. It’d be one thing if we (as individuals) were richer than everyone else and so chipped in more. I wouldn’t mind if Nottinghamshire (for example) was going through a tough time and we along with everyone else chipped in to help them out. It’d be okay if the balance between what we give and what we get back was only slightly off. But it’s not, and we all know this. We also know why.

In any body of 650 people where only 59 are tasked with one interest, the majority will always hold sway. This doesn’t make rUK MPs bad people. As I’ve said previously it makes perfect sense for English leaders to favour the overwhelming majority of people in their own country than the 5 million that live in the desolate wastes to the North, speak with incomprehensible accents and don’t like them very much. The needs of the many, and all that. It’s further enhanced by the fact that in the absence of a real English government, the UK government is seen to fill that task both from the exterior, and within. It’s not a coincidence that the Bank of England has never changed its name to reflect its current role as the Bank of the United Kingdom. It’s still seen as an English institution which helpfully deals with the provincials as well. Cue arguments about who it belongs to.

Westminster is as English as English gets, and given that I’m generally a fan of the English, that’s no bad thing. It doesn’t serve Scots however and so in my never-particularly-humble opinion, independence seems staggeringly obvious as a fix. This is the crux of the debate for me, and the solution that though not curing all ills automatically, provides the mechanisms to address nuclear weaponry, childcare, green energies and so on. It genuinely baffles me why anyone lacking fear or some form of financial interest that goes against the grain would be opposed to such a thing.

The currency, though? Of course the economy is important. It is in fact, arguably the most important thing we can talk about, even if it’s also often the driest. The currency though? It’s not an invalid debate. It is in fact very important in its own right and given that sharing the pound would be the simplest (and according to most, the best) option, you can see why a moat was dug around the option by the No side. Instinctively, I’ve always quite liked the idea of a Scottish Pound. We’ve got the notes already and know the numbers, but our own currency could be better adapted to our needs. Some economists disagree however, and though I’m educated on a number of subjects, this isn’t my speciality so I bow to their wisdom. The Euro? It gets bad press but despite predictions of collapse every year, it’s still going strong. We hear about Greece, Spain and Ireland every fifteen minutes as reasons to fear it, but Germany are doing alright aren’t they? So clearly the currency itself isn’t a barrier to success.

I’m less open to the idea of using bitcoin, partly because for now at least, it’s far too dangerous when it comes to consistent value, and also because I still don’t fully understand all its nuances. Then there’s the option of Sterlingisation. Mocked by some (in what all too often boils down to scoffing at Panamanians), but touted by others. It’s there on the table.

What is clear though is that Scotland has the resource rich, export-driven market that will be able to sustain itself regardless of the currency used. A change from Ken Clarke’s “English Pound” will of course be slightly trickier at first as the financial infrastructure is altered and developed, but the only way you can claim any of the other options won’t work is by ignoring the countless examples from around the world (bitcoin excluded) of how they have worked and do work on a daily basis.

So I’m interested in the debate, but only to a point. Put simply, there are much more important issues in Scottish politics than what currency we’ll use. As Johann Lamont pointed out at FMQ’s this past week, we need to know what hotels the First Minister stays in.

Okay, I’ll grant you. The currency question is more pertinent than some.


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