Common Weal poses seven questions about new currency plan


Common Weal welcomes SNP commitment to a Scottish currency – but seeks clarity on the details.

Common Weal today welcomes news that SNP members will be able to vote for a Scottish currency at the Spring Conference. Common Weal has campaigned for this for the last two years and this positive step is a victory for that campaign.

However, there appears to be some substantial problems with the detail of this proposal and we are seeking clarification on seven questions (outlined below). Common Weal believes that when voters are asked to vote for independence, the case presented should include a Scottish currency. With this implicit mandate there is no need for a subsequent vote in a future Scottish Parliament and so the process of setting up the currency can begin immediately.

The seven questions are:

  1. When people vote in an independence referendum, will they be voting for an independent Scotland with its own currency? If so, why does there need to be a secondary vote in a future Scottish Parliament?
  2. Under these proposals it looks like the earliest a currency would be set up would be about nine years after a vote for independence (assuming two years from the vote to Scottish elections, four year term with a vote on currency at the end and then three years to set it up). It would be longer if a constitutional amendment was required. Is this correct?
  3. What will be Scotland’s economic policy in the event of a financial crisis in London or the wider world economy during the nine years in which Scotland will have no control over monetary policy and limited control over fiscal policy?
  4. What happens if the SNP does not become the government after the first election in an independent Scotland, or if there is a vote against a currency in the Parliament? Are we to be permanently Sterlingised in that circumstance?
  5. If austerity has been rejected, does that meant that the six tests for a Scottish currency have all been rejected AND that all the fiscal rules limiting public sector expenditure set out in the Growth Commission report have also been dropped?
  6. Will an independent Scotland adopt the UK’s financial regulation and tex system more or less as is, as is proposed in the Growth Commission report?
  7. Is the SNP committed to the ‘Solidarity Payment’ in the Growth Commission which would mean Scotland accepting a population share of UK debt without negotiation?

Commenting on the proposed policy, Common Weal Director Robin McAlpine said:

“This is a big win for supporters of a Scottish currency and a major step forward. However, there remain some substantial concerns over the proposed process and timescale. Above all, the membership of the SNP should amend this proposals so that the mandate for a Scottish currency comes from the referendum vote and not from a future vote of the Scottish Parliament. Having our own currency is fundamental to making independence work and Scottish voters should know exactly what they’re voting for.”

Common Weal has published several papers detailing how Scotland could launch a new currency by day one of independence and why such a policy is important to maintain a “future neutral” approach to independence without chaining the hands of future governments. Common Weal has also published a book, “How to Start a New Country”, which lays out how to build all of the insitutions that an independent Scotland will need – including currency and a full Central Bank – in the transition period between a referendum and independence day.

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