opposition to the Euro a key plank of the 2001 manifesto. He was, as it turned out, quite wrong to assume that a Labour government were going to sign Britain up to EMU but he was also wrong to think this was a burning issue for most people, regardless of their political inclinations. Euro-sceptics saw membership of EMU as an unacceptable capitulation of national sovereignty, whereas Euro-enthusiasts associated it with a rejection of "little-Englanders" and an embrace of all that they perceived to be funky and cosmopolitan about the EU. I'd suggest that most of the British electorate saw the euro currency issue in this symbolic way too but the polling evidence would seem to suggest that, however they saw it, it was not anything like as important to them as it was to politicians and pundits. It's a bit like the pervasive attitude to religion; people are very suspicious of enthusiasm.
There's a sense that this is being repeated in the independence 'debate'. What 'keeping the pound' means to people in Scotland is difficult to say. For the Nationalists, the prospect of remaining in a sterling zone is the flagship of their 'independence by stealth' strategy; they hope that it will give the wavering voter the assurance that Scotland's departure from the Union will be achieved with a minimum of disruption. For those of us who are implacably opposed to independence, it represents the unwillingness of the Nationalists to make an honest and unambiguous argument for what they claim to believe in. But there's a danger that both sides are devoting energy to a rather arid conversation that passes most people by. This is not to say that the currency issue doesn't matter. I think it matters a great deal but there's little chance of engaging people in any kind of conversation without a willingness to be candid on the matter. Can I give what is, I hope, a non-partisan example? A currency union is less likely than some people assume because those responsible for arranging it would assume such an agreement would require a sort of mini-stability pact that set mutual limits on government borrowing and such like. Even if he was so inclined, what sort of agreement of this type would George Osborne be able to keep to? None that would have any credibility in the present situation, as far as I can see. But it is not in the interests of any of the participants in the independence debate to point this out. Not the Tories, for obvious reasons - and not anyone in Better Together either. Neither would the Nationalists lest they concede the possibility that rUK might just have reasonable grounds for ruling out a currency union after all. What we're left with is indeed bluff and bluster, although not necessarily for the reasons that people are suggesting.