The Scottish and UK press has been packed solid for the last 48 hours with strangely uniform assessments of how George Osborne has conclusively smashed the Scottish Government’s position on an independent Scotland’s currency.
We’ve offered our own analysis, and various politicians and professional activists on the No side have been pouring ugly, borderline-xenophobic scorn and sneering on other nations which use some of the alternative options to a formal Sterling union, which is usually a sure sign that they’re scared of something.
So it seemed worthwhile to collect together the views of some proper financial experts in one place for handy reference, because the cosy consensus in the UK media doesn’t seem to be reflected by people who actually know what they’re talking about.
And devolution expert and advocate Alan Trench today highlighted a post of his from January 2012 but which could have been written an hour ago, in which he doesn’t recommend the unofficial route (citing the bewildering “not enough independence” argument beloved of the No camp) but notes that it’s nevertheless perfectly achievable:
“Salmond pointed out that the Scottish economy resembles that of the UK so closely that [using Sterling without a formal union] would cause none of the problems of different economic structures or cycles that have underpinned the Euro’s difficulties.
(He’s quite right about this. Ironically, in most respects, Scotland is the part of the UK that is closest to the UK statistical average. Wales, Northern Ireland and the regions of England diverge more from the UK mean more than Scotland in almost every respect, other than health.)
George Osborne has said that an independent Scotland wouldn’t be ‘allowed’ to use the pound, though Salmond is right to point out that the UK Government can’t actually do that if Scotland chose to adopt the currency of what would be another state, other than by draconian measures that might backfire economically as well as politically and diplomatically.”
As we’ve said already this week – an independent Scotland’s currency isn’t really a very big deal. If there’s no Sterling union the alternatives are perfectly workable, and in fact have some advantages over a union, while still allowing normal folk to carry on with their daily lives without noticing anything’s changed.
(The one possible major downside, that the Scottish Government might have to pay higher rates on borrowing, is something of a red herring, since an independent Scotland wouldn’t actually need to borrow money even if it DID take on a share of UK debt, something it would be under no obligation to do.)
We said Osborne’s speech was a diversionary attack, pretending to threaten one thing while really threatening something else entirely. We’re very pleased to have such an impressive array of fine and respected authorities backing us up.