We are always being told that we can’t become a free and independent country until we have solved the riddle of the pound. From the very beginning this argument was a smoke screen. We will have a currency. All we need to do is let go of the pound.
Currency has dogged the Scottish imagination for years. Two years ago, as we were about to go to the polls to vote on the question of independence, it was the currency conundrum that weighed heavy over the country, and now still we are being told that there won’t be an independent Scotland until we can put this issue to bed. The more informed have always known that the panic caused over what currency we would use in an independent Scotland was always a paper dragon; it was a wholly fictitious fear conjured up to sow confusion and doubt in the ranks of the Scottish electorate. Like every other newly independent country Scotland would have its own currency, and that currency would be valued in relation to the assets and product of the nation.
In all likelihood Scotland would continue to use Sterling, no matter the threats before the next referendum. Scotland’s economy is so deeply interwoven with that of England and Wales, and on the morning of independence we would immediately become England’s closest trading partner. Regardless of the intimidation it would not be in England’s best interests to cut Scotland off straight away from our present currency union. Much in the same way that Ireland did – after waging a war for its freedom – Scotland will continue to use the pound, and may well be linked to the Sterling exchange rate for decades after independence. This is, after all, how the real world works.
What really makes this threat so potent is the belief that so many of us still have in the pound as a symbol. Scotland has always been a world leader in trade. As a nation we have boxed well above our weight, and over three centuries so much of our national interest has been invested in the success of the union’s mighty currency. Those days are gone, and yet there is no reason to think that Scotland cannot still box above its weight like other European countries our size, but the ghost of the symbol of the pound still haunts us. Our unionists are in thrall to the image we have made with our own hands, and, as natural conservatives, they fear letting go. They fear change.
Apparently the Buddha says that suffering is the fruit of our refusal to accept change. Unionists are in a constant state of suffering because they are refusing – as they always do – to accept the simple truth that all things are forever changing. Britain has changed. Britain has always been changing, and a natural neighbour of change is decay. Britain is in an advanced state of decay. Holding onto invented stories of the past is hurting us. It is hurting everyone. It is time that we let go of Great Britain – its former glories, its war crimes, and its pound – and embrace the empowering change that will be the dynamism that will launch us into a future on our own account.