By Martin Kelly
First Minister Alex Salmond has re-affirmed his party’s plan to keep the pound in the event of Scottish independence arguing that it is in the best interests of both Scotland and the rest of the UK.
Interviewed by Chanel 4’s John Snow, Mr Salmond repeated the argument made by his Finance Secretary John Swinney that the £40bn contribution made to the rest of the UK balance of payments was a compelling reason for a currency union to be agreed.

The SNP leader also hit back at criticisms of the policy by leader of the Better Together campaign Alistair Darling, by saying that the former Labour Chancellor lacked credibility after presiding over the collapse of the UK’s banking industry.

The interview followed comments from several prominent pro-independence figures who have questioned whether an independent Scotland would be better off by adopting its own currency.

However Mr Salmond has insisted that keeping the pound post-independence remains his party’s favoured option.

Asked if he accepted that entering into a currency union will constrain Scotland's economic freedom, Mr. Salmond replied:

"Well, can I just point out that Sterling is Scotland's currency as well at the present moment, it's not the property of George Osborne.  You'd have to have a sustainability arrangement – the sort of thing we spelled out in the fiscal commission report – where Joseph Stiglitz and another Nobel laureate Jim Mirrlees set that out.

"You'd have to have a sustainability arrangement, but that's what you would need. You wouldn't have to have oversight of Scotland's budget, or for that matter Scotland having oversight of England's budget. You'd just need sustainability in terms of borrowing, in terms of overall debt levels.

"But, let me say, last year Scotland was over £4 billion relatively better off than the UK, so we've got a lot of freedom of manoeuvre on the income and expenditure side of our accounts."

He also pointed out that the Bank of England would in fact make a profit if an agreement was reached on a currency union and said: "When the central bank is the lender of last resort, it makes a profit out of being lender of last resort.  That's just a fact."

The First Minister also responded to claims that Scotland was solely responsible for the collapse of HBOS and RBS by pointing out that the vast bulk of transactions happened, not in Scotland but south of the border and that the dominant partner in HBOS was in fact the English based Halifax.

Mr Salmond also reminded the interviewer that the money used to save the banks was in fact an investment that would produce a return at some point in the future and added:

"Financial intervention and equity share, that's owned currently, that is an asset, and at some point it will be sold and will be an asset. We're putting forward a prospectus that the Royal bank of Scotland and HBoS – Lloyds as it is now – are not only Scottish banks in terms of domestic assets.

"The overwhelming majority, not just of the assets but of the bad debt occurred, not in Scotland, but here (London) or in international markets, supervised by the FSA and Alistair Darling."

Questioned on how much financial independence an independent Scotland would enjoy, the First Minister said:

"The monetary policy would be run by the bank of England. The taxation and spending would be run by in Scotland by the Scottish finance minister.

"If we take last year as an example, we had that £4 billion flexibility, which – believe me – is a large amount of money in terms of Scotland.  It's like, you know, almost £40 billion in UK terms. We could have done a great deal to revive the economy.

"I believe the essence of economic independence is to control your taxation, control your spending. That's what allows you to revive your economy and develop a fairer, more prosperous society."

However the SNP leader reserved his most scathing criticism for the leader of the anti-independence Better Together alliance, Labour MP Alistair Darling who the First Minister insisted shouldered most of the responsibility for the collapse of the British Banks.

Pressed by the interviewer who claimed Mr Salmond had shown poor judgement when sending a good luck letter to former banker Fred Goodwin, the First Minister claimed a letter paled when placed alongside the role played by Mr Darling in the collapse of Britain’s banking sector.

Unionists have claimed a currency union between Scotland and the rest of the UK would be difficult to achieve.  However, most independent analysts have said that such an agreement would be in the best interests of both parties immediately after independence.

In an interview on the BBC in January, Mr Darling himself admitted that such an arrangement post-independence would be "logical" and "desirable".

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# Aplinal 2013-05-01 06:32
What a dreadful interview by Jon Snow. He was talking rubbish, but AS did not nail the misdirections well enough. We need a far simpler response.

On the "letter" issue, why not just remind people that Barclays was also after AMRO and that ANYONE can be clever in hindsight! The BoE and Westminster were ALSO happy to have the AMRO take over by a UK bank.

We also need to nail the lie that a currency union is not independence. Maybe it's time for AS to say "OK, as the UK government doesn't want our £1.5 trillion assets (and growing) in the NS, or our exports, or our R&D etc. - You know what, maybe Scotland SHOULD have its own currency". We know we have a sound position, but simply talking about the economists is not having an impact.

New strategy required
# Seagetagrip 2013-05-01 06:47
As a pal pointed out last night in the pub, we would also have the difficulty of quantative easing. If the rUK decided on £100Billion qhantative easing, would we be prepared to shoulder £10Billion which we might not need in anycase.
For a small country,the ncreasing necessary diciplines of the Euro might not be such a bad idea.
# richardcain2 2013-05-01 07:54
Any Quantative Easing would be carried out by the BoE, as custodians of the currency, not by the rUK government. Exactly as it is now.
# Hugo 2013-05-01 07:55
We would not need to have a corresponding 10 billion quantitative easing but we would need to be prepared for the resultant inflation.

An interesting point.
# connect2 2013-05-01 06:49

I think you may have just articulated what the strategy actually may be.
# thejourneyman 2013-05-01 07:10
Jon Snow demonstrated how little he knows of Scottish affairs. His questions were poorly researched and he demonstrated what all commentators do when they lack knowledge he used bullying tactics and was rude by constantly interupting.
# springster 2013-05-01 07:12
Not a good interview and demonstrates once again just how easy it is for interruptions to destroy the flow.

This has been used to great effect before and renders the interviewee virtually unable to address each myth before another is injected.

An approach needs to be developed in order to throw erroneous assertions back at aggressive interviewers forcing them to justify their claims. Faced with having to retract, they will be less prone to using this tactic.
# scotswhahae 2013-05-01 07:19
I have to say, I am even more convinced now that Scotland should Forget all about SHARING this that & the other with England. Independence means going it alone, if we want to leave the UNION (and I do) then let's leave everything to do with that union, including the Bank of England. Let's have our own currency, if other countries can do it surely Scotland with all this wealth we keep hearing about can do it.
# spagan 2013-05-01 07:35
What we should do is whatever is in the best interests of Scotland and its people - short term, medium term and long term. A few years ago, almost every UK politician except the left and right wing fringes was keen on the Euro.
That was then and this is now.
On balance, most knowledgeable and relatively impartial commentary suggests that staying in currency Union with rUK makes sense.
However in a couple of years things may be different. The Euro may look more attractive. rUK may decide to spite themselves. Scotland may decide that another currency arrangement suits us better.
As long as our Government puts Scotland's interests first - all options on the table.
# pomatiaH1 2013-05-01 07:50
Interesting to hear Willie Rennie claiming half of the Yes want the existing Pound and half want a Scottish Pound, then say the SNP are the only ones wanting the Euro!
Labour in the past wanted the Euro if the conditions were right.
The SNP in the past wanted the Euro but only if the conditions were right and after asking the people of Scotland.
Dennis Canavan said it was his personal preference to have a Scottish Pound but was OK with the existing Pound to begin with.
If you Google Dennis Canavan and the Scottish Pound there pages of about splits, and blows to Salmond etc by all the usual suspect.usual scares.
On a cheerier note, I talked to a friend who isn't particularly political and they said they could see the No camp and the UK Government were terrified of Scottish Independence.
# Diabloandco 2013-05-01 07:57
I had an e-mail this morning from a swithering friend saying how awful Alex Salmond was in this interview.
Having seen the interview I was none to impressed with Jon Snow and his pregnant budgie " Hang on a minute" but wanted Mr Salmond to stop him in his tracks by saying " No you hang on and listen to what I have to say after all I am in the position of KNOWING the answers"
# flying haggis 2013-05-01 08:09
I'd like to see a TV debate on currency where Swinney goes head to head with Darling. I think that would really answer a lot of questions and settle a lot of minds.
# Abulhaq 2013-05-01 08:13
Not all the critique of keep sterling comes from outside the camp. Engaging with those who advocate a loosening of the monetary ties with so-called rUK would be helpful. Is having a few options such a bad idea. In 2014 who knows whether sterling monetary union will look as attractive. Even the euro might regain its appeal. Monetary union with Norway? Now that looks cool....
# Al Ghaf 2013-05-01 08:20
Looking on the bright side; the pro-Scotland side must have been pretty sure footed over the years if the best accusation was a dusty old letter from many years ago. Whoever was feeding Jon Snow the questions must have been struggling to find something fresh.

Salmond must be hoping for more old chestnuts to swat aside.
# src19 2013-05-01 08:25
Not the best interview, Another Brewer style interview, Ask a question and interrupt the answer with another question, Very poor by Jon Snow.

Thought the interview on Channel 5 News last night with Mr Salmond was much better at least the TV Presenter allowed Mr Salmond to answer the questions with no interruptions.
# VarisLoon 2013-05-01 08:29
AS needs to finish what he's saying before moving onto the next question even when interrupted. It worked for Thatcher, he'd get more respect for it too and it would increase support too by showing he has the mental strength to stand up to bullies.
# jinglyjangly 2013-05-01 08:55
I think the reason its best to stick with the pound is that our exports will earn us much more being tied to a week currency, the pound will drop back significantly once we gain our independence. that could mean that our balance of payments will be a lot better than if we implement our own currency which due to the underlying strength of the Scottish economy will be strong against the dollar.
# X_Sticks 2013-05-01 09:00
And today's scare story is:

Scottish independence: Damage to UK's reputation 'inevitable' say MPs

Notably the bbc is not allowing comments on this one.

Independence can only enhance Scotlands reputation as far as I can see. Given the interminable scarmongering propaganda from the union camp I really don't see why we in Scotland should give a toss about the uk's reputation.

Do the unionists really think this will help their case somehow?
# RTP 2013-05-01 09:52
What about this story.

Escalating whisky duty lowers spirits

The Treasury was under fresh pressure to axe its alcohol duty escalator last night as whisky producers revealed sales in the UK had dropped 12% since it was brought in.

This escalator which says the duty should rise by 2% above inflation every year and who do you think brought in the Escalator none other than DARLING he of the BT mob.
# Abulhaq 2013-05-01 09:04
The tenor of Jon Snow's questioning is an indicator of what we might expect from a revanchiste rUK. Our going will be viewed as "treachery" by many in the Establishment and they will want their kilo of flesh. Operating a currency union under such heated circumstances would be very difficult. The cooperation of the old order cannot be taken for granted. The Benelux union was in another and more civilised sphere altogether. I do trust the SNP has a plan B.
# Clarinda 2013-05-01 09:23
A tricky act to robustly answer tired, redundant and limp 'questions' - and when Mr Salmond appeared to get into a flow he was cut off by interruption.

Good grief - even I could have given Mr Snow a run for his money last night and so I hearten myself with the vacuity of the unionist and BT argument.
There is some time to go - and as difficult as it may be - waiting for that crucial tipping point before reaching the best political threshold where Independence makes it's full on pursuit should take precedence over superficial point scoring - however enjoyable that would be to watch!

Patience, persistence and perseverance out runs the irrational alarmism, bluster and smear that appear to be the chosen tactics of the BT gang and their cohorts. I'd be much more worried if Mr Snow&Co asked truly destabilising questions rather than churning out same old - same old, that seems to be their only ammunition and strategy?
# Dowanhill 2013-05-01 09:41
Still to watch this interview but my patience is wearing thin at being on the back foot on everything the pro-unionists parties are throwing at us, no matter how absurd, ridiculous or blatantly incorrect. These questions are now beginning to sow the seeds of doubt.

Regarding Scotland using the pound, the question should be put to Alexander & Osborne : How is the remainder of the uk going to makeup the shortfall in the deficit and trade balance if 40-50billion is taken out of the economy? Or, What level will Britons credit rating be ranked at if oil, whiskey, fishing and life sciences are removed from the uk economy?

We have are own printed Scottish pounds notes and have been legal tender well before the Bank of England was established so the format of a recognised currency is already in force.

The whole point of a long run into the referendum was too establish a convincing argument for independence. So far, this is not happening.
# Breeks 2013-05-01 10:23
Selling the concept of an independent Scotland's share of the Bank of England's pound to an English/British news anchorman is not going to be an easy sale at the best of times, irrespective of the actual merits of what was being said. It's just a bad combo - period.

It's not the easiest idea to sell to Scots either, but however awkward it may be, it is the sensible choice.

It wasn't the best interview in the world, and I doubt Jon Snow will remember it as one of his best either, but it could have gone worse.

I'm glad that Alex Salmond didn't start preaching about the structural weakness in the UK economy, and the potential for collapse there is without Scotland. He knows after the fuss has died down that we will have to work together or both suffer the consequences.
# call me dave 2013-05-01 10:39
Yes you are right, it is a tricky one to get right and too much apparent bluster and bravado will do more harm than good at present.

These scare stories are like the perennial weeds, always the same, appearing on a regular basis and hard to eradicate,takin g time away from other duties in order to slowly move the debate forward.

This period of treading water will pass and momentum will grow as folk really begin to look at the options and the history in recent years.

Who to trust? A series of UK government failures for 50 years or a SG who have been doing alright in the teeth of a savage economic downturn.

Aye right! I know what I'll be doing,
# WRH2 2013-05-01 10:23
It was a poor interview due to the interruptions which didn't allow proper debate of the issues. The whole thing was just a confused jumble that didn't inform viewers in any way which I obviously naively thought was the purpose of such interviews. It showed Snow's bias very clearly indeed.
I think this whole debate exposes the No campaign's real concern that our currency union might be very short lived. If its just during the transitional phase between the referendum and full independence, rUK will not be in a good place. Is this what they are trying so desperately to get answers on? Having other people/parties in the Yes campaign supporting a Scottish currency is probably really unsettling them knowing that there could be a groundswell of support for it. I don't for one minute believe they are "concerned" about Scotland!
# bunter 2013-05-01 13:07
The media are being misdirected into thinking that what the SNPs policies are re an independent Scotland, is what voters are going to be voting on come the referendum.It also suits the media agenda that a YES vote is a vote for the SNP and A.S.
There is I think a clever tactic emerging which is going to highlight to people that the YES campaign is different, is one full of ideas and possibilities and it is not an SNP patsy, and that the Scots will be making the decisions on currency and everything else for that matter come a YES decision.
Clever stuff, a negative which now appears a positive potentially!
# cokynutjoe 2013-05-01 13:26
Ming Campbell gave a hand-wringing performance, regarding Britain's loss of prestige abroad post independence, on the wireless this morning.
A great pity his obvious concern for Britain's image wasn't exercised when he was caught with his hand in the cookie jar during the Westminster expenses scandal. His present worries obviously have more to do with the threatened loss of his fancy MP's salary & expenses.
# Massacre1965 2013-05-01 21:26
Ming the Useless was his usual creepy self this morning. His interview had more holes than a Swiss cheese and the interviewer gave him an easy ride (oooerr missus), Anyway this guy has made a lot of dosh out of doing fck all for more than a generation - he just sails under the radar and is truly the Mr Barraclough of politics
# bunter 2013-05-01 13:30
What effect will there be in the bond markets and sterling in the run up to referendum if YES and NO are neck and neck and there is no agreement on a currency and all that uncertainty. Would that not be a dangerous scenario for the UK and should the treasury not be having kittens at the thought!
I think by the time the UK realise they are getting played for mugs, it will be too late.....I hope!
# Viking Girl 2013-05-01 14:48
I saw Ming Campbell wringing his hands on the telly. I couldn't help but ask myself: 'What prestige is that?' It seems that RUK will be regarded as a failure if they lose the last part of their Empire, but by whom? The only folk I can think of are those down south who think the British Empire has never gone away. They gather once a year at Wimbledon. The rest of the globe got over empire a while ago.
# Dunnichen685 2013-05-01 15:46
O/T Do you know that today is the anniversary of the Act of Union, signed on the first of May 1707. I am surprised that none of the better together crowd are marking the anniversary. They should be out on the streets waving the union flag, having street parties and demanding that it should be made a national holiday.

Yet no one, not even the unionist press are mentioning the significance of today's date. I wonder why ?

VOTE YES in 2014
# Kiltshy 2013-05-01 16:17
We should be asking, at every opportunity, what is ruk going to do without Scotlands input (Oil, Gas, Electricity etc) how will our friend osborne balance the books then. No wonder they are trying so hard to hold on to us. I also think it's about time we got some teeth and give camoron etc an ultimatum either go with this currency union or we will walk our own way. Personally I would prefer a Scottish currancy (what ever it's name is) to sharing something with england, I do not trust them, westminster, and I believe no good will come of it. We are being way to soft here lets show some bottle
Vote yes in 2014
# Old Smokey 2013-05-01 18:04
I personally think that Scotland should have its own currency, post independence. But it would be prudent to have a transitional period, that has the Scottish pound in a currency union with the English pound, alongside the Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey pound's (which are already in a currency union with the Bank of England). But during the transitional period, Scotland should be working to have its own currency . The associated 'problems' that could arise, is that the new Scottish pound would be very strong as its backed up by Oil, so exports expensive. The English pound on the other hand would devalue as it would no longer be backed up by Oil
# Kiltshy 2013-05-01 18:44
Hi Auld Smokey, I agree with what you said re the transitional phase, but for an agreement to work you need trust, like any relationship, and if you trust them (westminster) you will eventually get knifed in the back
# govanite 2013-05-01 19:51
I've waited all day to see this alleged car crash. Nonsense, a fairly aggressive interview & Eck was his usual composed self. On the RBS letter, so whit, of course he wanted a successful deal. The fact it wasn't was due to poor diligence on the part of the buyers, nothing to do with the FM.

O/T - that invalid token thing gets on my nerves, gonny fix it.
# robert de brus 2013-05-01 20:42
A much fuller discussion between Jon Snow and Alex Salmond can be viewed at:
# fordie 2013-05-01 23:04
I think that this wasn't one of AS best interview. To note I have enormous respect for him. Shame really as C4 news is the one I watch as it is 'more neutral' (contadiction in terms). Fascinating that Jon Snow - who I like - is so hostile to the SNP and/or the referendum debate. Why? Sublimal fear? Evidently unacceptable. Shall email to complain.
# UpSpake 2013-05-02 05:54
Had Sarah Smith been the interviewer on Channel 4, she who is John Smith's daughter, the whole tone of the interview would have been much more fair and balanced. As it was, the very lack now of a Scotland correspondant on Channel 4 is depressing and obvious.
As for the vacuous discussion on currency, on this subject, the SNP's Achilles Heel, Salmond is plain - wrong.
# UpSpake 2013-05-02 16:34
Old Smokey. Precisely what I have been saying for many years. Main reason I left the SNP in the first place. Utter dismay at their lack of joined up thinking on monetary policy and intensly vague on fiscal policy. Very, very poor show.

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