In 2012, two years before the independence referendum, a friend and I were discussing what we could do to campaign for an independent Scotland. We came to the conclusion that the most important issue of the campaign was currency. If Scotland could resolve this issue satisfactorily,then there was a solid platform for making the case for Scottish sovereignty and the Yes campaign could argue from there.
As the campaign developed, it became clear that the Yes campaign was going to adopt sterlingisation as the policy on currency. In some ways, this was a wise choice: it kept the security of the pound, which people liked; it had a certain amount of common sense, since Sterling was a fully exchangeable currency and there was no reason why Scots could not use it; and it prevented endless fear-mongering by the banks or controversies about any refusal to accept Scottish money.
However, in hindsight, it was a mistake and missed an opportunity. If Yes had instead opted for a Scottish currency, all the arguments about a sovereign currency could have been thrashed out there and then – people would have had the opportunity to reconcile themselves to the idea and the change. Personally, I think, given a little time, voters would have eventually embraced the Scottish currency idea as being the most practical means to having genuine independence.
It should be remembered that the SNP and YES campaign actually fought quite a conservative campaign for independence: keeping the monarchy, keeping the pound and minimal changes to the constitution or the Scottish government. Perhaps they felt Scottish independence was a radical enough idea for the electorate to swallow and they did not want to push voters too far. Perhaps, if we recall, most political offices were occupied by unionists, therefore, calculating the danger of a threatened organised, opposition, opted to not give the other side too many hostages for them to take a pop at.
In retrospect, it might have been better to adopt the old adage, ‘In for a penny, in for a pound’. Certainly, with regard to currency, this might have been wisest. Would it not have been better in 2012 to affirm a Scottish pound policy and take the heat then, before building the case for it? I think it would have been. The sterlingisation policy was continually rubbished throughout the campaign and I’m sure what gave the opposition’s points tractions was the fact that many people could not see the sense in a country being sovereign when it could be continually dictated to by a Governor of another country’s bank or its Chancellor.
Polls tended to show, after the fact, that when the media lens focused on the currency issue, independence haemorrhaged support. Sterlingisation felt misguided then; it feels disastrous now.
Given the importance of the policy, its fundamental importance to everything an independent Scotland would hope to achieve, this is incredible. Independence supporters are left looking at the tattered remains of the Growth Commission Report, with all its shortcomings, unable to believe that this is policy that will be followed by the Scottish Government after independence. Austerity, with no end in sight, except by another country’s permission.
This is why the Independence for Scotland Party’s support for a Scottish currency is of such significance.For the very first time in Scottish history, a Scottish political party supports a Scottish currency in its manifesto for a Scottish parliament election. ISP are attempting to change the narrative and give those independence supporters who can see the critical nature of a Scottish pound to our success a voice and a place to deposit their (second) vote in the Holyrood elections.