Head of CommonWeal policy calls for reassessment of independence case in “drastically” changed world
THERE WAS BROAD acclaim after calls for an independent Scottish currency today (14 January), at a major conference making plans for Yes strategy ahead of a possible second independence referendum.
Loud applause followed the call for an independent currency by Ben Wray, head of the CommonWeal think tank’s policy unit from the Scottish Independence Convention (SIC) 800 strong conference in Glasgow’s Raddison Blu hotel.
Addressing the first full session of the conference, on policy for the institutions of a newly independent country, Wray said that it was one measure designed with a “drastically” changed and changing world.
“A Scottish currency needs to move front and centre in the debate.” Ben Wray, CommonWeal
He said: “A Scottish currency needs to move front and centre in the debate.”
The demand was followed by loud applause in the full capacity hall.
He described the position of a Sterling union in the 2014 referendum as “giving the ball to the opposing team” by relying on the UK to accent to the idea of continuing the pound.
The session ended with an interactive section hosted by Common Weal director Robin McAlpine, who also said he thought “Sterling is off the table now” following the UK’s vote to leave the EU. He called for a vote on three options; Sterling, the Euro or a Scottish currency. The Scottish currency option passed overwhelmingly.
Phillipa Whitford MP, the SNP’s health spokesperson in the House of Commons intervened from the floor of the hall to call for consideration of “Sterlingisation” as an intermediary between future currency options.
Jim Mather of the SNP’s growth commission, organised to re-asses the economic case for independence, told the conference that they wanted to “balance social democracy with an enterprise economy” but also rejected “the current limited UK model”.
Nationalism and statehood expert Professor Nicola McEwan told the conference that she expected a ‘hard brexit’ with the UK putting significant distance between itself and the institutions of the EU such as the single market, and that this could pose some new problems for the independence movement.
In the interactive session conference-goers watched themselves vote on large screens at the front of the hall. Majority votes indicated support for a universal basic income and a “citizen’s second chamber”, made up of members of the public.
Many commentators have claimed that the Sterling zone was one of the policies that damaged the Yes cause in 2014, with other leading campaigners from the campaign arguing that it was the policy that ensured the greatest continuity in economic life following an independence vote.
The growth commission is still to report its view on the future Scottish currency.
Check out what people are saying about how important CommonSpace is. Pledge your support today.