It looks like plans for the monetary union have run aground on the jagged rocks of politics. The three major political parties will block any attempt to form a currency union between an independent Scotland and the rest of the UK.
The big criticism that I always seemed to find about the currency union was that it would put a serious limitation on Scotland’s power. We would be independent in name only. The Scottish government would leave themselves open to Westminster politics. And that is exactly what has happened here. The Yes campaign seems to have, quite naively, put their faith in their political rivals and seem a little surprised that things didn’t go quite how they wanted.
Economics is about as opaque as divination. Who knows what the future of the economy will bring? In my opinion, the currency union wasn’t unworkable. There have been lots of currency unions since now, there will be more in the future, and this one could easily have worked, even for long enough for Scotland to get its own currency. The No argument that they don’t want to share their (English) currency with us (Scots) is ridiculous. The pound is Scotland’s currency too, Scots helped create it too. But the SNP seemed to expect that the people who don’t want an independent Scotland would help facilitate it.
Now, of course, the Yes campaign is getting in a flutter about this, pointing out how unreasonable it is to deny the currency union, that it’s the best option. But this isn’t logic, it’s politics. It’s not about what’s best, it’s about what people want and if they have the power to get it.
So far, my perspective hasn’t been a particularly good one. The move to block to the currency union isn’t the right one, and it’s daft to justify it as “that’s just the way the world works”. Politics should aim to create the best world possible. But we don’t live in the best world possible; we live in the best one we can get. And an independent Scotland won’t be the SNP’s idea of the best possible Scotland. It’ll be the best one they can make, and, quite frankly, the best they can get out of the teeth of Westminster. I think the currency union has proven to be a major misstep by the SNP, and shows up the level of bad faith that exists between the two different camps.
That said, as a former Lib-Dem voter, I know that parties sometimes backtrack on their promises. Whether this was just a scare tactic, and whether, when push comes to shove, a monetary union will come into being remains to be seen.
As an example of living in the real world, two banks, RBS and Barclays have said they could work with an independent Scotland. This is really about as common sense as you can get, really. The SNP aren’t going to deliver the land of milk and honey, or cause Scotland to sink into the sea. A little work will be required, but that’s find. Ross McEwan’s comments about moving to London for better protection against collapse does play on fears about an independent Scotland’s strength, but then maybe RBS should focus more on not collapsing.
Finally, Scotland could receive loads of money for out defence assets. Of course, after what’s happened with the money union, this seems like one of those nice ideas that won’t really happen.
I’m very cynical today.