Independence or ‘independence’?

Firstly, let me point out that this is not a piece about the pros and cons of using Sterling post-independence. That’s a different subject – one that’s been discussed at length around our kitchen tables, in meeting rooms and in conference halls around the country and on online discussion sites, and it’s one that I’m sure everyone has their own views on.

This entry is about what I perceive to be the increasingly used criticism that unionists have regarding the Scottish Government’s plans to continue to use Sterling as our currency.

“How can you call that independence!” they cry. “What if the rest of the UK says no?”.

The second question has been dealt with many a time now: we don’t NEED rUK to agree to a so-called ‘Sterling Zone’. It would be the preferred option, but it is not essential to us continuing to use the pound. The pound is a freely traded currency – a colony of dolphins off the coast of Gambia could use it, if they had an understanding of, or need for, currency.

Increasingly though, desperate unionists are using the “that’s not independence” line.

So let’s look at some of the evidence that already exists, to see if there’s any reason to think that our continuing use of Sterling will mean that we won’t really be independent.

We could use the Republic of Ireland as an example, as many already have, which continued to have its pound directly tied to Sterling for decades after becoming politically independent. They even decimalised at the same time as the UK, and only stopped direct ties in 1979, when Ireland joined the European Monetary Sytem, and the ‘Irish Pound’ was renamed the ‘Punt’.

Would unionists have the cheek and arrogance to suggest that the Republic of Ireland was not really an independent nation until 1979?

There’s also this shared currency that many of our closest neighbours use, today: the Euro.

Yes, the Euro undoubtedly had somewhat of a baptism of fire, but I doubt very much that even the most ardent of Europhiles would suggest that any of the 17 Eurozone countries are not independent of one another. The  Farages and Moncktons of the world would disagree of course, warning of the ‘imminent formation’ of a ‘United States of Europe’, but those who take heed of the words of the right-wing xenophobe have no place in any mature debate on modern democracy.

One major difference between the union of the UK and the union of the EU is that any member state can simply ask its citizens if they want to leave the EU, if they feel a need to. The EU would not create a series of imaginary hoops and hurdles for that member state, along with a relentless barrage of negative propaganda. The same cannot be said of the UK.

Whether or not a ‘Sterling Zone’ is officially agreed to by Westminster, Scotland can and will use the pound until such time as it sees fit to change that. It will be no less politically independent of rUK as Finland is of Belgium, for example, or as Denmark is of Austria.

So please unionists, stop talking nonsense about Scottish independence not being ‘real’ independence. If the best you’ve got is poor attempts to redefine a word, perhaps you should be thinking about why that is the best you’ve got.

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