February 13, 2014 by Nash Riggins
George Osborne has finally decided to throw his cards on the table. An independent Scotland will not be allowed to retain the pound via some bureaucratic currency share scheme, he claims – a view that’s reportedly shared across the political spectrum down south. As usual, this has gotten Scottish Nationalists completely riled up. They’re dismissing Osborne’s decision as little more than a silly scaremongering tactic; however, they may do well to embrace it. After all, by arguing against a currency share, George Osborne has actually shown his true colours as a genuine Scottish nationalist.
From a financial point of view, it’s been said that any sort of currency union with Great Britain would bring about severe economic instability due to the high level of debt Scotland is bound to inherit as the cost for its independence. But different studies tell us different stories – and so we should take all of that with a pinch of salt. Yet substantially less salty is the vital and criminally overlooked issue of Scotland’s financial sovereignty; after all, what nation can ever be truly independent without retaining full control of its own economy?
Power over currency tends to be a nation-state’s foremost economic weapon. It allows governments to control monetary supply, as well as set favourable interest rates and exchange rates – all of which maintain a fundamental impact on a country’s economic growth level and its competitiveness on the international stage. With that in mind, by campaigning to retain the GBP, Scottish politicians are effectively saying they’re quite happy to defer most (if not all) decisions of monetary policy to the Bank of England in London. Thus, business in Edinburgh will continue to live or die by English grace.
If anything, that sounds more like servitude than independence.
But in a bid to even out the polls, SNP politicians like Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond are terrified to admit that. After all, their entire campaign is built upon the idea that Scotland can retain everything that makes the UK great – like the NHS, the Royal Mail, the pound and the Queen – whilst we’re subsequently free to get rid of the bits and bobs we don’t like (namely, nuclear weapons and the bedroom tax). Yet in attempting to convince voters this is actually achievable, or even favourable, members of the SNP are effectively asking us for little more than a preservation of the status quo.
This sort of argument for independence is way too convoluted – and if nationalists have any desire whatsoever to win this year’s referendum, they need to champion policies that actually incorporate at least some degree of independence. A currency share is not one of those policies.
With that in mind, we reach full circle. Mr Osborne’s refusal to hammer out a currency union with the SNP is not an argument against independence, but rather a reason to vote in favour of it. That’s because without a union, Scots will be free to establish their own monetary policy and maintain full control over their economy. Is this path full of turbulence and uncertainty? Without doubt. Yet up to now, most of us have been led to believe the whole point of this independence business revolves around the idea that the Scottish people should be making their own decisions. If that’s really the case, let’s not waste our time with a disappointingly half-assed attempt to see that dream realised.
In the end, Scotland’s independence movement will live or die by the willingness of its politicians to draft ambitious policies that actually walk the walk – and they’d better get a move on, because the clock is ticking.