So the gun was fired in the issue that really matters in the Independence debate – Money. Little Georgie Osborne came out and set out the four possible options for the post Independence positions of currency.
Option 1 – Status Quo. We retain the pound and have our interest rates and many other issues connected with money linked to the UK economy and ultimately be organised by the Bank of England. No real fiscal autonomy.
Option 2 – Sterling zone. Like the Euro Zone we would be tied to decisions made by the rest of the UK – i.e. 90% of the power of our currency would lie in a foreign land. We’d be worse off that we are now I terms of control.
Option 3 – Join the Euro. We’d be at the mercy of France and Germany instead of England.
Option 4 – Our own currency. Expensive and would cause issues with existing businesses and potential investors.
Now we all know it’s not as clean cut as this and Osborne and Danny Alexander are firmly in the “Better Together” camp. But the overall issues are here in these four steps – the only other option is we don’t leave the Union. What is the rebuttal from Jabba Salmond? That it’s “Scaremongering”. We know that either of the first two options is where the SNP want to be but can they actually dictate that to three other countries? And therein lies the big problem.
The decision to become independent will largely come down to the money in people’s pockets:
- Are we better off as a country?
- Am I better off as an individual?
- How does my tax change?
Which currency we use is an important issue – but more political one, and it seems that the Unionists in this debate realise that they won’t win over those who have Scotland’s breakaway in their hearts, but they may win over those who go with Scotland’s independence in their minds. The political and logical argument is more likely to win people over so they are approaching this is a certain way. Neither side can come out with the facts and stats because as part of the UK we are inextricably linked to the other 60 million or so people involved. Neither side can really see the true picture financially of a post Independent Scotland yet so we are discussing around the real issues.
“Why does it have to be about money?” Because whether we like it or not it is the thing that allows us to continue as a country – no money or a financial crash would see us either crawling back to the other countries for a bail out or for a reversal of the independence decision. There are numerous issues that we have to consider and most link back to money: Pensions, health service, armed forces, education, roads, etc. Now we may have full policy powers over some of these areas but we don’t have the fiscal autonomy and to get it would cost us money. Your pension in Scotland is linked to the other countries of the union, as are your health spending, education budgets and tax levels – and remember as part of Devolution the Scottish Government has the power to raise and lower the tax threshold in this country for up to three pence in the pound, but it’s never been used.
Again we are in a situation where experts are wheeled out to show that x is better than y or vice versa but we still don’t know the truth of the matter. Of the four options above it is a case of the least worse option and is that any way to start a new country?