MANY PEOPLE THINK the SNP believes in Scottish independence and is against unionism – and yet the nationalist’s utopia is a paradox. Why, in what way?
Look no further than the SNP currency plan for an “independent” Scotland, coupled with its support for the European Union.
As outlined by the SNP’s Sustainable Growth Commission, in the event of “independence”, the SNP’s currency plan for Scotland is to continue to use the pound Sterling informally – what is called ‘sterlingisation’.
This means an “independent” Scotland would be using a foreign country’s currency with no control over that currency. The bold new Scotland would have no say, over monetary policy, or interest rates, or be able to print money, or use quantitative easing to suit Scotland’s local circumstances. The central bank of a foreign power would be making the important decisions that affect Scotland’s finances. This is not independence – this is dependence and subservience.
The Sustainable Growth Commission’s plan is for at least ten years of this national humiliation.
A country with no control over its monetary policy cannot be called independent. Why is the Growth Commission recommending this course of action? Andrew Wilson, the head of the Growth Commission, has been very open as to the reason,
“My sole motivation in many of these arguments, which feel like they are a challenge to the orthodoxy – that are different – is about trying to grow a consensus – to win middle ground people over to the case for Scottish independence.”
No-one, apart from the Sustainable Growth Commission and the SNP leadership, advocates sterlingisation.
In fact, the SNP party conference voted to replace the pound Sterling with a separate Scottish currency “as soon as practicable”.
Richard Marsh, an economist who worked on the SNP’s Growth Commission has said, “no credible economist would advocate sterlingisation as the policy of choice”. He also warned that an “independent” Scotland using the pound Sterling could put Scotland in an even worse situation than that faced by Greece at the time of the Great Financial Crisis, with monetary policy acting independently of the Scottish economy, potentially causing serious economic damage.
Robin McAlpine, director of the Common Weal think tank and a prominent voice in the Yes movement celebrated after the SNP conference vote saying “sterlingisation is dead”.
Ronald MacDonald, research professor of macroeconomics and international finance at Glasgow University’s Adam Smith Business School has written that sterlingisation would lead to a currency crisis and national bankruptcy.
With unanimity across the political spectrum as to the dangers of sterlingisation we have to ask again why the Growth Commission recommended this disastrous policy? To answer we must return to Andrew Wilson’s focus on the middle ground people of Scotland. The SNP leadership is well aware that the only other currency option – a separate Scottish currency – would spook the horses. The nationalistic fervour of the middle ground voter does not extend to doubling of mortgages and halving of pensions. The SNP does not want the middle ground to bolt for the hills.
Sterlingisation would leave Scotland hobbled and handicapped but expediently it is a currency plan the Growth Commission and the SNP leadership hope would not scare middle ground people in Scotland from voting for independence.
How would Scottish banks respond to sterlingisation? The Commission expects the big Scottish banks would move their headquarters to London post-‘independence’ to cope with the new situation. So the Commission is content to see Scottish banks flee Scotland? How economically damaging and humiliating.
And so to the European Union.
The SNP have developed an infatuation with the EU since Brexit. This ignores the fact that Scotland would have left the EU if we had voted to leave the UK in 2014. And, historically, the SNP was vociferous in its support for a withdrawal from the European Economic Community in the referendum of 1975. But the SNP’s apparent support for the EU now is no surprise – the SNP is a party of shapeshifters; adopting whatever position appears popular at any given time. As with its currency policy, so with the EU – expediency rules with the SNP.
We should also note the fact that an “independent” Scotland using sterlingisation would not fulfil the entry criteria to the EU – according to the Copenhagen criteria countries joining the EU must have their own currency.
We can have sterlingisation or we can join the EU. We cannot have both.
So, the SNP plan post-‘independence’ to use Sterling and join the EU is impossible. The two are incompatible. You are never told that.
The present SNP grievance about Brexit is that Westminster will attempt a power grab of powers returning from the EU to UK control. Scores of these powers are likely to end up in Holyrood, increasing the parliament’s influence. And yet the SNP’s desire is to rejoin the EU – we would then have to hand these new powers straight back to the EU, making Scotland’s own parliament less powerful and lessindependent. Strange.
The SNP mantra is “independence in the EU.” But consider this:
There are 650 MPs at Westminster and 59 are from Scotland – 9 per cent.
Now that the UK is out of the EU there are 705 MEPs – if Scotland ever got in to the EU we would have 6 MEPs ie 0.9 per cent.
So ‘independent’ Scotland in the EU would have one tenth of the representation it currently enjoys at Westminster.
Many people consider the EU undemocratic. New laws can only be proposed by the unelected Commission.
MEPs sometimes have little time to read the proposals and then only have a few minutes each to comment on them in the European parliament. What influence would our 6 MEPs have on European law covering Scotland? How much power and influence would our 6 MEPs wield amongst the 705 other MEPs? Very little. We would be told what to do and be expected to do it.
Independence in the EU is an oxymoron.
And what of unionism? Well, it is a revelation when you realise the SNP is a unionist party. It is just that the SNP supports a union with 27 very different European countries, rather than a union with the 3 countries closest to us geographically, socially and economically.
Why does the SNP prefer a union with the EU as opposed to the UK when many of us have family and friends in the rest of the UK; we share a common language, culture and history; we conduct 3 times more trade with the rest of the UK than the EU and our representation in Westminster is 10 times more than we would have in the EU? Anglophobia.
There we have it – the paradoxical SNP – acting out of Anglophobia to damage Scotland economically, socially and politically.
Dr Bruce Halliday is health spokesman for Alliance for Unity and prospective candidate for the South of Scotland.