Sunday, August 21, 2011

Independence within the UK?

According to Scotland on Sunday, the SNP is backing off from its long-standing policy of Euro membership. Significantly, they have also appear to have rejected the idea of creating a new Scottish currency and would retain Sterling as the currency in an independent Scotland.

It's hardly a shock. For many observers this is not only the best, or the least worst, option but the only one that makes any kind of economic sense. Apart from the present travails of the Eurozone, what appears to have put a nail in the Euro-membership coffin is the realization that if the Euro is to survive, it will require some kind of common fiscal policy.

The question is, where does this leave the independence project? To my mind there is no reason why the SNP shouldn't now talk about 'Independence within the UK' but I doubt they will for a couple of reasons:

1) One would imagine that when the real-world economic restraints are discussed in terms of a relationship to London rather than Brussels, there'll be a lot of rather disgruntled Nats.

2) It would be rather difficult, and almost certainly too late, for them to be doing so, given the rhetoric of previous years. Alex Salmond could be made to look rather foolish if he is reminded of his previous statements on the position.

It's unfortunate for the Nationalists because 'Independence within the UK' doesn't make any less sense than 'Independence in Europe' in terms of the monetary and fiscal restraints that come with being a member of a common market with a single monetary policy - but the latter didn't make much sense in the first place anyway, at least not in the way that it was sold by the SNP.

I'm repeating myself but I think it's a point worth driving home. It's been suggested to me that the SNP are rather enjoying themselves at the moment. I wouldn't know but I doubt it. They certainly shouldn't be because there are some uncomfortable times ahead for them as the rhetoric of the past collides with the present reality - and the more thoughtful members of the party, I think, realised this some time ago.

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