By Ronnie Morrison
Watching the much vaunted Salmond/Darling debate I speculated whether this reflected the opening encounter at Bannockburn or the closing stages of Flodden Field. Is there really no Plan B for the currency and are we to approach the polling booth still confused about EU membership? Or were we witnessing a Bannockburn moment?
The secret of success is not only having a trap but also waiting for the precise moment to spring it. What if the dogged pursuit of sharing Sterling was designed to lure the Unionists into a point-blank and irrevocable refusal to share? What if the uncertainty over Europe was engineered to generate an in/out referendum in Scotland following that promised by Mr. Cameron and UKIP?
I am not privy to the inner stratagems of the Scottish Government or the YES Campaign, so I am obliged to make my own judgement of this moment. I cannot risk it being missed, and I am now satisfied that there is no going back for the Unionist camp. It may be a cunning Salmond plan but it may also be no more than serendipity. So I believe the time is now.
Scotland will appear to have been literally forced into adopting its own currency, the only realistic option in the circumstances. Using this refusal as a scare tactic will be a very expensive mistake if the vote is YES because the cost for the rUK will be far greater than to Scotland. With our own Central Bank able to control interest rates this will far outweigh any transaction costs.
The persistent rUK Balance of Trade deficit will double with the loss of oil revenues, whereas Scotland would be in surplus. That together with a balanced domestic budget will offset any jitters about the seven-day wonder of the new currency.
Scotland incurred its share of the National Debt in its own currency and will be obliged to service and repay it in its own currency – now the Scots Pound. It could not be criticised if it did so in the manner which half of its share was incurred – by printing money. It is more likely however that the Scots negotiators would honour their share of debt held by pension and insurance companies although surely not that held by the Sterling banks.
Mr. Salmond’s avowed predilection for sharing Sterling may thus prove a master stroke – if indeed he appears to have been forced into abandoning Sterling because it would then be very difficult for anyone to criticize the rejection of its so-called ‘financial assets and liabilities’.
Similarly there are almost as many euro-sceptics in Scotland as the in the UK. No one knows the state of Europe two years hence nor if the UK will remain a member. Either way, a referendum in Scotland would make good sense and demolish that other Unionist argument.
The detail of this ‘surprise factor’ sits quietly tucked away on a Think-tank website at Scottish Constitution -Alternative Financial Plan for Sovereign Scotland (PDF)
Now’s the time and Now’s the Hour…. No doubt we will hear much more of this in the coming weeks and if anything could swing the yes vote it will be that the Scots pound is likely to prove stronger than Sterling, and the people will decide the European question, not Strasbourg or Westminster.