By Jason Michael

It’s just another Scottish experience of England. We’re the ones always being tarred with the brush of being Anglophobic, but besides from being called “Jock” – all in good fun of course – and being told to “fuck off back to Scotland,” there’s the reoccurring theme of our Scottish banknotes not being accepted in shops and restaurants south of the border. In the past, I’ll admit, I didn’t pay much attention to this. It was simply one of those things; an inconvenience more than an act of anti-Scottish hostility, like Scottish banknotes weren’t somehow proper currency in England.

Our relations with England have been seriously tested in the past few years with the growth of the independence movement here and the tensions caused by the attitudinal differences exposed by Brexit between us and the English. Scotland’s treatment at the hands of the British media in England and the palpable shift in English public opinion towards us – as a result of being informed Scottish independence is all about Scots hating them – have caused many of us to reflect on our historical, cultural, and national experiences of England. Our money and our familiarity with it being snubbed at English checkouts is one of these things we have been thinking about.

Recently Greggs the bakers and Spar have gotten into hot water over individual stores’ management and members of staff turning Scottish banknotes away. In the past this irked us, but we dealt with it. That’s all over now. We have Twitter and Facebook accounts, we’re connected with hundreds of thousands of online independentistas, and we’re a wee bit more militant these days. Our money gets inspected, snorted at, and rejected at a gift shop in London and we go ape. We don’t go all Begbie. That’s so nineties. We get a snap of the poorly spelled, handwritten sign in the window, attach it to a vicious, but hilariously worded tweet, and press send.

Before you know it half of Scotland – the good half that is – is up in arms. Companies’ head offices in Harrow, Middlesex are bombarded with wave upon wave of – to them – near unintelligible angry twitterings in broad Scots calling for a boycott and demanding apologies. It works. This week both Greggs and Spar were forced to issue apologies for the actions of their staff in England, but here’s the law: (keep this to yourselves) Scottish banknotes are not legal tender in England and English retailers are under no obligation to accept them. But here’s the thing, Scottish banknotes are not legal tender in Scotland either, and neither are English and Northern Irish banknotes. Scotland doesn’t do “legal tender.” It never has. We function quite well without that legal idea.

In saying that our notes aren’t legal tender, however, is not to say that our money isn’t good. Scottish banknotes are still sterling and have the same monetary value north and south of the Tweed. Accepting it in England is a matter of courtesy rather than law, and its rejection speaks more to a sense of a pecking order where Scotland is beneath England. That, more than any legal issue, is what underlies this problem we have with our money in England; we, rather than our cash per se, are not seen as equal members of England’s Britain. Refusing to take our banknotes is nothing more than a means of demonstrating this prejudice.

That this is prejudice is something that will be strenuously denied by the very people who refuse to accept Scottish money in England, offering reasonable explanations about their customers’ reluctance to take it. What they don’t realise is that this only proves the freaking point. Aren’t we meant to be a union of equals, where our English neighbours would be heartbroken to see us leave? Could they not begin to show some of this great and deep affection by accepting our money? We’ve been in this union of equals for a few centuries. It can’t be that difficult, but somehow it still is.

What’s the answer to this? Obviously this is something we have to take on and win for ourselves. Left uncontested this is a problem that will continue, and none of us really want this to go on. It’s unpopular and people are rightly wary of it, but I am in favour of a policy of boycotting. We know the counter arguments; that this will only hurt employees of these companies in Scotland. It will, but in reality it won’t. Capitalism doesn’t work like that. Profit – even in English head offices – trumps the prejudice and bigotry of these companies’ employees. If we are prepared to commit ourselves to a series of directly punitive and well-publicised boycotts then these companies will begin the process of educating their staff. We have to learn how to show them that this lack of courtesy is unacceptable, that if our money is not good enough for them in England it will be denied to them in Scotland too.

Our banknotes, like other signifiers of our cultural identity, are symbols of our nationhood – this is soft nationalism; the pride we take in things Scottish. Our movement has been wrapped up in a lot of symbols, and this is no bad thing, but with ScotRef now in our hands we have to be thinking of making the serious transition from symbolism to action. We’re at the point of symbolic saturation. More flags isn’t going to translate into more supporters or forward movement. It is time, as I see it, that independence thinking becomes independence agitation. We can start with the money thing.

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Danny Bhoy – Scottish Money


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35 thoughts on “Our Money isn’t Good Enough

  1. It has bothered me for years. I would likely make my point if it happened to me but the way I look at now is that there will be no difference from now to when we have our own currency, so it’s one less argument they can use against us.

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  2. If only they would refuse to accept our best people , then Scotland could flourish. Our brightest and best always having to go south for career progression has diminished Scotland over centuries. It explains our somewhat pessimistic outlook and lack of confidence.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Legal tender has nothing to do with it. Legal tender is an old term and means bank of England will insure a transaction to settle a debt if paid in legal tender (only select denomination of bank of England note). It has nothing to do with what’s acceptable in a shop. As far as it goes a shop can refuse English notes if they wish. They are under no obligation legally (morally, fairness is a diff matter) to accept any note or method of payment.

    If you put all the stuff on the counter and they scan it you are not owe them money as you don’t have the product in your possession so are not due them a debt at this point. So if they really wanted to they could say sorry I am not selling you these for any reason they like.

    Now say its a petrol station and you fill up and go to pay. In that case you do owe them a debt as you took a product and can’t very well give it back. So until you pay you are in debt to them. In this situation it changes. It then becomes illegal for that business or shop to refuse any reasonable offer of settlement (as a Scottish note is worth the same value and will be taken by their bank then it is a perfectly reasonable offer to settle the debt). In this case they can not refuse your Scottish note no matter how much they protest.

    Like is say this is nothing to do with fairness and what is the right way to deal with Scottish notes just a little detail and clarification of law and what it means.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Legal Tender is not used correctly. Legitimate Currency is the term
    HOW MANY SCOTS WOULD RECOGNISE NOTES FROM FIRST TRUST or DANSKE BANK and how many would accept them? All legitimate currency bank notes are not legal tender English Irish or Scottish.
    Shake the chips off your shoulders folks and realise how many forged notes are tendered where they are not in everyday use.
    Any transaction may be refused anywhere by anyone.

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    1. Dave, Northern Irish notes are taken in Scotland without any problem. They might give them a second look but they accept them, after all, it has “Sterling” clearly printed on it.

      I’m sure I read that there’s many more forgeries of English notes, because it’s easier to get away with simply because there are so many more in circulation

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    2. I’ve accepted Danske Bank notes. Had to do a double take but it said Sterling so I accepted it. It was the first I’d heard of it though, seriously thought it was Danish not Irish lol

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  5. “Legal Tender” only means that for a court-enforced debt (eg danages if someone sues you), the recipient is obliged to accept it. In the context of buying something from a shop, it’s irrelevant whether north or south of the border. Both Scottish and English notes are equally valid in normal use north and south.

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  6. I’ve re-posted your picture on Facebook – with an additional line of text. It now reads “We don’t accept Scotch money Thank you” – “That’s fine, I don’t buy from racists.” I agree – boycotting works. The capitalists don’t like losing custom.

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  7. For many years I have pursued the following strategy; I offer to pay for goods or services in England with Scottish banknotes. If the vendor doesn’t immediately accept the money tendered I simply say that’s all I have so he can either accept it or lose the sale. 99% of times it does the trick and my money is accepted.

    The threat of losing trade overcomes any reluctance on their part.

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  8. I live in England and it winds me up when I try to spend Scottish notes to be told “we don’t accept” Scottish notes. I had a conversation with a street trader “burger van” a while back, I asked the lady why she didn’t accept “Scottish” notes, to be told it was because it’s harder for her to tell if they are counterfeit. I asked her about any losses she had due to counterfeit notes and she replied “yes I had £60.00 of counterfeit notes the other week” I said to her “how much of that £60.00 was Scottish, her answer shocked me, she answered £20.00 !!!!. So she has two thirds of her loss in Bank of England notes and one third loss in Scottish notes, yet she only refused the Scottish notes, now surely you’d refuse the notes you had the biggest loss with due to counterfeit. It beggars belief.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I am already boycotting the sun newspaper and the bbc for their anti Scottish broadcasting practices and have started refusing bank of England notes that I receive as change at my local supermarket and I am more than happy to join in any boycott of English firms companies shops etc that show any racist sentiment towards scots

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  10. I looked into this a wee while back. Scottish banknotes have the same monetary status in England as debit/credit cards, i.e. not strictly legal tender but can be used to pay for goods and services. If they will accept a card then they should accept Scottish notes.

    The article is also spot on re legal tender. The only legal tender in Scotland is coins.

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  11. I’ve been in a fair few shouting matches in England about this. Got to the point I’d make my Husband pay in case they started their nonsense cause I couldn’t handle it, until I realised that Clydesdale, Bank of Scotland and RBS all have their own note design. Maybe this is obvious to everyone else but I had no idea. I simply had never noticed . As soon I realised this I had an ‘awwww right, I see’ moment. It must be very confusing dealing with these notes and the fear they are counterfeit . Maybe they should educate themselves a bit more and have a look on the web every now and then to remind themselves what they look like but since realising this I really think it is nothing more than confusion and fear of being done rather than any sort of racism . Maybe Scotland could sort out this nonsense of loads of different note designs and just have one. Its really stupid.

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  12. Our shop’s and retailers should start refusing English notes and then we’d see how long it takes for the English to start taking Scottish notes again. Job would be done in weeks

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  13. I can honestly say that I have never had this problem. The nearest to it has been in independent trader shops where one member of staff hasn’t known what it was and another member has said that it was good. Maybe I’ve just been lucky. Having said that, I’m up for boycotting firms who won’t accept our money. It shouldn’t happen.

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  14. The answer is to go in an English restaurant, order your meal, eat it then when presented with the bill offer them your Scottish notes then if they don’t accept them walk out of the place!

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  15. The year was 1992, I was visiting relatives in Scotland and returned to England to complete my visit to the U.K. I was staying at a bed & breakfast in the country side near a US Airbase near Woodbridge. When I went to pay owner in cash with funds from Scotland , they refused to take it. After a half hour of defending myself, they finally took the money. In return they did not make up my room on the last night and no clean dry towels. But there was know problem in London, with Scottish sterling .

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  16. Years ago had an incident in Blackpool when the police were called, as shop owner said Scottish notes weren’t worth the same as English notes and short changed me. When the police arrived he changed his tune when he was told Scottish notes were worth more as they are printed on better quality paper….and Greggs need to realise SCOTCH is a drink!!!!

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  17. Totally agree with this boycott! It is offensive and just downright ignorant of companies or individuals who want to enforce it. During my six years at university in Lincoln I used to carry a google print out stating that Scottish bank notes were worth the same as English. Taxi drivers were the worst and if they wouldn’t take the notes they didn’t get paid and I would stress to try taking me to court about it. If this is how the English want it, Scottish shops should refuse on principal to take English notes! Working in retail in Scotland, my employer even accepts Northern Irish notes as their bank accepts and gives them the same monetary value for them. Now if any shop did not accept my Scottish money, I would take my business elsewhere. In this day and age and especially given the state of the UK’s bank balance, can any retail outlet, restaurant, etc really afford to be turning away trade?

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  18. This is correct all bank notes are promissory note. The only legal tender is coins.
    I suggest the note have the text highlighted on them that says “Promise to pay the bearer on demand X pounds Sterling”.
    This is on all notes. It might come down to the banks saying it is happy to take these notes. I personally always carry both note when traveling in England but sometimes just think you cheeky beggar.

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  19. Banknotes are only promissary notes which are used to prevent people having to wear cargo pants to carry around a shitload of coins; I suspect that the status of Scottish notes goes back to the 17th century when the Scots pound was worth less than its English counterpart. A simple tweak of the law would eliminate what is now an obvious discrepancy. Saor Alba.

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  20. This is not a joke,I was living in my home country of ALBA,IRVINE was the place situated of the North Sea where they built all the ammunition making stores using our sandbanks so if one went up the rest never,as one factory exploded the next didn’t anyway one day a call a Yorkshire man a pudding after flooding my flat below,for the 4th timethe son of a unwed couple phoned police and I got took to court and fined for £350 SO MUCH FOR ONE NATION G.B. Only time it suits them we are all BRITISH as long as you don’t rock the boat in SCOTland!!!

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  21. was in London in the sixties Scots pound was 20 shillings in Scotland London 95 shillings been going a long time at that rate up here in Orkney english tourist went into shop got some grub would not take Scots money back shop said scots money no good scots grub no good bugger of haha

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  22. Boro Cars (Teesside’s largest taxi company) have a policy of not accepting Scottish money due to the “high counterfeit risk”.
    Lived in Middlesbrough for some years and took my Scottish mother down to visit, first time she was shouted at by the driver due trying to use a Scottish £5 note.

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  23. I stopped believing we were a union of equals about 50 years ago. When I visit Spain I change my money to Euros, for Canada, dollars and for England, English pounds. They are all foreign countries to me. So no big deal. I think there are more important things to complain about than that.

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  24. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander, am sorry, but get the English bastards tae fuck, or rather get us tae fuck away fae they poncing cunts. Scottish independence all the way n then they’ll c who’s subsidising who. Boycott everything English!

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  25. Best way to deal with a sign like that is to choose as many items as you can, careful in case your bluff is called, then simply walk away. The time and effort to return your items to a shelf, or bin surely if it’s hot food, will make those store keepers ‘think again’.

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