Mike Fenwick: Why it’s time to educate yourself on a Scottish currency


Campaigner Mike Fenwick explains his proposal for a Scottish 'Hand' and says Scotland can find its currency solution through sharing ideas

AT the Yes Rutherglen meeting last month on currency, I put forward a proposal that we could call a new Scottish currency the Scottish 'Hand'. 

Maybe you can suggest better, but what it is called, important as that may be, is less important than seeing it introduced – not after independence, in my opinion, but before.

What would it be like to have a new way of paying and being paid? What would the new notes look like? Would they be accepted – who by? Would it be printed on paper which had security features to prevent counterfeiting? Are the issues involved equally valid to those who voted Yes or those who voted No? 

Read more – A 'Hand' for Scotland: Hogmanay currency delivery awaits Scotland's first minister

There's loads of questions – not least how we make it happen. Perhaps one of the answers would be that it was created in Scotland, for Scotland, backed not by a promise from a bank, but through a promise backed in hard cash, paid by your fellow countrymen and women. Is that a 'hand' you would refuse?

I have already had help to this point. Andy Anderson, also on last week's panel, and I have both committed to travel throughout Scotland to meet and discuss what may be involved. 

After the meeting in Rutherglen, I was approached by many who attended, and received offers of help from a graphic designer and two involved in IT, among others.

That reflects in many ways what happened in the Scottish Enlightenment: people of goodwill getting together to ask questions and share knowledge. All of us know something, and none of us know everything. What could you contribute to making it happen?

In my part of the Yes Rutherglen meeting, I tried as best I could to keep things simple, to get the discussions going and out there. Some of the items I raised may have sounded new. They are not often discussed, which is why we need to open them out for discussion. I hope some of these notes and links may help.

Let's discuss all of the questions, try to find the answers, and, having found them, then make it happen.

I used the term 'promissory notes' – if you want to delve just a bit deeper, but not that deep, use this link, where you will find comments such as this: "… Legally Bank of England notes might be viewed as promissory notes within the meaning of the Bills of Exchange Act 1882."

How about "legal tender"? Go here to find out how that term applies in Scotland, and you will find this: "Are Scottish and Northern Ireland banknotes 'legal tender'? In short, 'no', these banknotes are not 'legal tender'; furthermore, Bank of England banknotes are only legal tender in England and Wales."

You will note that I have used sources from the Bank of England. They also have something to say about local currencies, including how, if used, they can create economic growth, and that's maybe something we should take an interest in. 

Via this link I recommend you do download the pdf file they offer. I used the Brixton pound in the meeting, but in the tables in that pdf you will see reference to the Bristol pound, and it has a circulation of one million. Were they lacking in ambition? Are we?

Let's see what the Bank of England has to say in a short video:

Ok, it has had its say, now it's our turn. Let's discuss all of the questions, try to find the answers, and, having found them, then make it happen.

Picture courtesy of Lewis Adams

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