Scottish Parliament's historic vote for independence

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Parliament in historic "milestone" vote to back Scottish independence

Scottish independence: Scottish Parliament's historic vote for independence

In a symbolic move which will send a signal around the world, MSPs voted by 69 votes to 52 to support a motion supporting Scottish independence.

First Minister Alex Salmond welcomed the vote as a "milestone". He said: "For the first time since the beginning of the political union, the elected representatives of the people of Scotland have agreed that this nation should be an independent country."

The historic motion read: "The Parliament agrees that Scotland should be an independent country." In support of the motion were the SNP, Green MSPs and independent MSP Margo MacDonald.

The minority against the motion comprised the Labour, Conservative and LibDem parties who argued that Scotland would be better run from London than Edinburgh.

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Mr Salmond expressed his reasoning for independence: "I want Scotland to be independent not because I think that we are better than any other country but because I know we are just as good as any other country.

"As a Parliament and as a people we have shown we can make a success of running our own health service, schools, local government, police and courts and much else besides.

"If we are capable of doing all these things successfully why shouldn't we have responsibility for running our economy, our pensions and representing ourselves on the world stage?"

Labour leader Johann Lamont rose to the occasion saying the Scottish Government would "attempt to entice us all into a communal hallucination".

She added: "Had Scotland been a separate country right now, I believe we would be looking at creating the type of union we currently enjoy, the type of social, economic and political union that has brought us 300 years of peace and stability.

"The type of union that allows us to weather the worst economic crisis of our lifetime when the banking sector collapsed."

Leader of the Greens Patrick Harvie said the SNP had to answer questions on areas such as currency and a written constitution.

He added: "There are times when I have concern the SNP's desire not to scare the horses, not to scare anyone from voting independence, will also fail to inspire those who can be persuaded.

"Johann Lamont has been asking serious questions on the issue of currency and they're deserving of serious answers."

Alex Salmond also revealed that 15,000 people have backed a declaration stating it is "fundamentally better" if decisions about the country's future are taken by the people of Scotland.

The declaration underpins the cross-party Yes campaign for independence launched last week.

Analysis

The Scottish Parliament's backing of the cause of independence is truly historic. Some years after the parliamentary Union with England Scots MPs who considered voting for Union to be a monumental blunder on their part tried to reverse the move. One English Commissioner's infamous response has rung in Scots ears down the centuries: "We have catch'd Scotland, and we will bind her fast."

Not since then have a majority of Scotland's Parliamentarians voted in favour of political independence and so yesterday's Holyrood vote is indeed a "milestone."

Away from the symbolism, the Green's Patrick Harvie is calling for a debate on what currency an independent Scotland should have. This news outlet is clear that the SNP's policy of remaining in sterling threatens the entire Yes campaign.

Over the last 5 years Scotland has been in surplus while south of the border the public deficit has risen by over £500 billion. After independence this trend is set to continue. What this means is that Scotland will have a balanced budget while England's will still be spiralling out of control.

In response to this the Bank of England will expand the money supply. The point where money expansion begins is in London's banks. London speculators will go on a spending spree in Scotland buying up companies and so headquarters will move south. It will be the same for property and other assets and so inflation will grip the Scottish economy and Scotland's Government will be powerless to stop it. This is a reality which influential business leaders and civic organisations will begin to understand and so will undermine the entire case for independence. Scotland's economy would be crippled for decades making a mockery of the idea that Scotland can be independent within the sterling zone.

As if to underline the point the Treasury is now saying that an independent Scotland will have no influence at all over the Bank of England's monetary policy. Whether Scotland would legally have some representation in the Bank of England would be totally meaningless. There is no question that, as is the case now, monetary policy will serve the south of England.

Control over monetary policy is the most important economic power a country can have. Without it you have very limited control over your economic affairs. The Scottish economy would be at the mercy of Westminster and it would be in London's interests to flood Scotland with 'hot' investment money.

Scottish Times has argued that you can not park the fundamental issue of currency until after the referendum. That is now becoming obvious and the SNP will be hammered in debate after debate until finally it will be forced into an embarassing U-turn.

Scottish Times believes it is time to consider a "parallel currency" whereby Scotland moves to having its own currency for domestic use whilst keeping sterling for international transactions. This would provide a monetary framework whilst at the same time protect Scotland from London asset speculators and Bank of England money printing.

There is absolutely nothing to lose from having this debate. The SNP obviously balks at the hitherto unpopularity of having an independent currency but the issue permeates the entire debate. A sign of an open mind on the subject would send out the right signal and minimise any damage while providing the space for a proper debate on this key issue.

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commented 2012-06-05 05:26:41 +0100 · Flag
Dr Reynolds

The Scottish Democratic Alliance (SDA) is engaging in developing policies for independent Scotland. I would suggest you take a look at http://scottishdemocraticalliance.org/ .

Regarding your interest in currency alternatives and monetary policy, I suggest you take a look at http://www.policyforumscotland.com/include/publications/Whitecurrency08.pdf.
commented 2012-06-04 08:38:15 +0100 · Flag
Firstly,it is so nice to have a majority in the Scottish Parliament for independence.We are not there yet but it is progress.

Regarding the currency issue,the argument for retaining the pound alongside a parrallel currency sounds interesting but I suspect that most people do not understand the issue.Having listened to the unionist attacks that retaining the pound does not mean independence,I can see that there is a need to counter those arguments.Actually,if Scotland had full fiscal autonomy,retained most of its taxes,controlled its natural resources ,could join the worlds institutions and control its international policy,that would mean independence for me,and I suspect for most people.

However,I am interested in issues around monetary policy such as the setting of interest rates.There is a need to find a strategy for dealing with that and to express it in a language understandable to the ordinary man.The problem is that the Yes camp is not a political party.It is a broad church comprised of people across the political spectrum,and people from all walks of life,some of whom may not be political.How all of these groups can collaborate to fashion policy is unclear.What is clear is that something needs to be done to demolish the narrow (unexamined) assunprions postulated by people such as Johann Lamont.Hopefully some ideas will emerge on this site.Often I can see that we know what the problem is,but we do not yet,have the solution?
commented 2012-06-03 12:35:12 +0100 · Flag
The symbolic “signal” must be heading eastwards, as it doesn’t appear to have reached the BBC or STV yet!
commented 2012-06-02 12:25:59 +0100 · Flag
The motion was a brilliant tactical move, and will be reported internationally. The SNP is clearly on the ball as regards its main function of bringing about independence. It is weaker on the structure and functions of government post-independence, but there are plenty of other knowledgeable people with ideas on the subject, not least the Scottish Democratic Alliance (SDA), which is concentrating on the post-independence situation.

The SDA regards the retention of sterling as a very temporary phase, and believes that the new Scottish currency should be introduced at the earliest practical moment.

One significant factor that few people seem to be mentioning is the effect of Scottish independence on the Pound sterling in the international markets. It might be prudent to keep the Pound alive in Scotland for as brief a period as possible after independence. Quite apart from the date of official introduction, it would be advisable to have all the technical details of the Merk (SDA) or other currency worked out in advance for such a situation.

When Slovenia declared its independence of Yugoslavia, the Slovenes had their new currency, the Tolar, ready minted and printed a full year in advance of taking the step. The Yugoslav Dinar was in a state of collapse by then, since Slovenia had created some 28% of Yugoslav GNP with 8% of the federation’s total population. Slovenia has since converted again, to the Euro, but it would not surprise me in the least if something similar happens to the Pound as a result of the loss of Scotland and its resources to the UK fiscal system.

The article is an excellent report and commentary that deserves wider circulation.
commented 2012-06-02 05:04:17 +0100 · Flag
Excellent article. It is going to be difficult to establish a “parallel currency” – please let’s call it a Scots Merk – but it can be done. The Banking & Finance Committee of the Scottish Democratic Alliance (SDA) is studying this subject, and we hope we will have a fully developed policy within the next months.
published this page in News 2012-06-01 14:04:16 +0100