I have noted previously that I thought the campaign for Independence in 2014 felt more like a campaign for federalism at times than it did for Scottish independence.
The main issues at the time that seemed to sway a large number of people to vote no were membership of the European Union, using the pound, trade and borders. There were other reasons such as feeling British and the relationship with England, Wales and Northern Ireland, fear, additional powers to Holyrood, lingering belief in Labour and the other unionist parties representing Scotland at Westminster, internationalism and for some security.
Now there are some people who will not be swayed no matter what, we all know them and most of them are Brit Nats, they say Scotland is a country but don’t really believe it, don’t really see it. They don’t believe that Scotland can be a successful independent nation again, and they will never change their minds no matter what. Some others feel that they are Scottish and British, for others it’s the belief that we are stronger in the United Kingdom and for some internationalism no matter that that option will never ever happen.
The reasons for my Yes vote are clear and won’t ever change, it’s about democracy for me, but I have gone over that before. However, another referendum could be a year or two away and the Yes Campaign needs to be ready. A huge part of that will involve the following arguments:
The Pound – it’s time to ditch the pound. Yes we can use the pound, no matter what anyone says, it is also our currency but without the agreement of the rest of the UK I just don’t believe that soft no voters will accept that argument. Keeping the UK pound without agreement means that we have no control over interest rates, or any control over exchange rates etc. My opinion is we have to have a Scottish currency whatever we call it.
Now I am no expert in economics, but having our own currency will provide maximum flexibility around monetary policy, would require the UK pound to be replaced at a set time, printing our own money, contracts re-written, deciding to allow it to float on the markets or peg it to the UK pound etc. There would also be the issue of building our own central bank. This would all cost money but I believe it is the only way forward in this debate at the starting point.
I’m not convinced this will be the SNP position though and will require the Yes movement to lead any future campaign as much as possible on this issue.
The Euro – If an independent Scotland were in the EU it could apply to join the European Monetary Union. This would require meeting the convergence criteria but would cede control of interest and exchange rates to the European Central Bank and therefore the same arguments apply as to the level of control we would have similar to using the UK Pound.
Using the Euro, even if possible, may not be a popular proposition going into an Indy2 campaign. There is also some debate about whether an independent Scotland would have to join the euro or have an opt out like Denmark and the UK currently have.
Trade with the rest of the UK – This will be the other big battle ground in any future independence debate and the one that will be the equal fear tactic the next time along with currency. The Act of Union in 1707 provided access to English markets and was the main driver behind the Union in the first place after the disaster of the Darian Scheme, I don’t want to get into any historical arguments that England made Darian fail; it is what it is now.
Roughly two-thirds of all Scottish Trade is with the rest of the UK and this will be a powerful argument against independence and a fantastic tool to sow even more fear to the Scottish electorate. Now while we know that maintaining a trading agreement is in both England’s and Scotland’s interests it will not be easy to negotiate, there will be a lot of hurt, and of course anger, that Scotland has chosen to end it’s union with the rest of the United Kingdom. But saying that England sells more to Scotland (62.7 Billion) worth of goods than Scotland sells to England (50.5 Billion) so it is in both our interests to come to an agreement no matter how difficult that is but it will be used as tool to sow fear.
We will have to promote the fact that we also sell to the rest of the world to the tune of around 40 Billion Pounds a year, while less than what we sell to the rest of the UK, it is a market that we can grow. We could also use the idea being used by Brexit that we will be able to trade with markets that we currently don’t have access to, it won’t be an easy argument, and again the whole establishment will argue against so we have to be ready on this one.
Borders – Who can forget Margaret Curran during the last referendum when she said of her son
“My son would be a foreigner” and “Uncomfortable with the thought that he is now a foreigner” because he attended a University in England. This was a shameful and planned intervention intended to sow fear, no if’s no but’s, it was shameful. Equally disgusting was the current Prime Minister Theresa May who said “An international border would be created where one does not currently exist. This would have implications for people traveling to visit family, go on holiday or do business and for our economies more generally. Again, all about sowing fear, scaring people to influence their vote rather than have an open and honest discussion.
We will need to be prepared for the same arguments and the previous answers won’t do. The SNP will argue that Scotland should form part of a common travel area for the United Kingdom, this would allow free movement around the UK and Eire, now that makes sense, but it won’t be on the table during any future campaign. We will just have to either accept the fact that there will be borders, with passport control or come up with some other narrative but it will be a difficult part of the debate as it was the last time. The rUK will discuss the issue after a yes vote but the key will be that Scotland is not a part of the EU, should it join, Schengen agreement.
These are what I believe what will be the main battle grounds in indy2. There will be others of course like Trident, we know that, but as Bill Clinton said “it’s the economy stupid” and that will be the number one battle ground. While the recent polls give Yes a lead of up to 9% after the Brexit vote, that will probably change depending on any agreement the UK has with the EU, so timing may well be important but it is too close to really call just now.
However, we need the answers to the above questions that will be thrown at us and we will need some form of strong indication that Scotland, should it decide, be allowed to join the EU. Interesting times and we need to be ready and ready soon.