By Russell Bruce
Listen to Alex Salmond speaking to business leaders at the Vision for Scotland Conference in Edinburgh on 6th August. It is vital there is no doubt what the position of the Scottish Government is going into the negotiations following a Yes vote.
The First Minister explains the pros and cons of the other options considered by the Fiscal Commission.
The Fiscal Commission includes world leading economists from the Universities of Cambridge, Columbia, St Andrews and Trinity College, Dublin. Two have won the Nobel Prize for their work. Professor Sir James Mirrlees for his work on economic models and equations about situations where information is asymmetrical or incomplete. Professor Joseph Stiglitz won the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2001.
Following a Yes vote, the negotiating team will include members drawn from the Fiscal Commission.
On one side of the current debate we have Alex Salmond, and world leading economists whose recommendations form the policy position of the Scottish Government. On the other side we have Alistair Darling, George Osborne, Danny Alexander, Ed Balls, Ed Miliband with Johann Lamont bringing up the rear.
A currency union is not Alex Salmond’s idea. It became the policy of the Scottish Government when they accepted the recommendations of the Fiscal Commission. Whatever the outcome of negotiations, the pound in your pocket and in your bank account will still be the pound. The technical arrangements that then are put in place to ensure its stability are important to businesses which is why a currency union is the only option the Scottish Government is considering.
It is also the position of Yes Scotland and I quote from their website "After independence, Scotland will continue to use the pound and enter into a formal currency agreement with the government of the United Kingdom." What this means is that advocacy of a currency union is the policy position of Scotland’s negotiators and it will be backed by the mandate the people of Scotland give our negotiators in the wake of a Yes vote.
There are those who would prefer one of the other options. Some favour using Sterling anyway and others would like to see us create our own currency [nobody favours joining the Euro] but there are drawbacks to both.
The Yes campaign is made up of people right across the political spectrum so there is bound to be a variety of views on some issues. What is really exciting are the threads that hold us together, a firm belief that we will get the government we vote for. Being able to use the tremendous strength of the Scottish economy to create a more equal society. As the fourteenth richest country in the world by GDP per capita, we have the means to end austerity.
Make food banks redundant. Move more of our people onto the Living Wage.
Austerity is bad for people, bad for the economy and bad for business.
Better Together will go on and on about a 'Plan B' for currency, but is not going to be a 'Plan B'. Nothing will please Better Together more than Yes campaigners arguing over other options. A currency union is plan A and it is mandated by achieving a yes vote. It is a very carefully thought througha and workable stance.
We are entitled to a share of the Bank of England and all the things that we have contributed to underpin the value of Sterling. No fair share of the assets, then no share of the debt falls to Scotland. The Treasury had to calm the fears of the market by announcing they stood behind the total debt of the UK, regardless of the outcome of the referendum and negotiations.
With debt scheduled to rise to £1.6 trillion and Scotland, as the wealthiest part of the present UK after London, moving towards independence we have a strong hand to play. All Better Together have is what’s your Plan B?
However, more important is what is Westminster’s plan B when they don’t get what they want out of their EU renegotiations? The pound in your pocket will still be the pound in your pocket after independence.
What the No campaign doesn't want to talk about are the dangers to the NHS in Scotland posed by the privatisation of the health service in England. Only independence can prevent that. With a Yes vote we have access to all Scotland’s revenues and are in control.
A No vote means more cuts to the Scottish block grant, cuts that are already in the pipeline. As the NHS in England is increasingly privatised there will be further cuts to the block grant and at some point the NHS in Scotland will cease to exist as we know it. A No vote will make this inevitable.
As Ed Miliband admitted in an interview with the BBC on Friday, the pound is not owned by any one part of the UK, it is owned by all four constituent parts. It does not require this political Union to remain in place for the four parts of the Union to carry on sharing this valuable asset.