Yes Edinburgh North and Leith (YENL) are a large, highly active independence supporting group formed in early 2013. We are very proud to say that our area voted Yes in 2014, including some parts which polled over 65%. We have focused our time since on trying to 'act like we own the place', plotting, planning and preparing for next time.
At our March 2018 meeting, the members agreed that it would further our campaign aims if we took a position regarding what currency an independent Scotland should use. Following a lively and informed discussion on the different options (such as a Scottish currency, sterlingisation and the Euro), the meeting voted unanimously in support of setting up a Scottish currency. Following the democratic principles of our movement, so well set out by Yes Kelty in the Indy pledge, a draft statement was circulated online for further comment.
The statement below reflects our final position:
"Yes Edinburgh North and Leith believe that the economy and prosperity of Scotland are best served by creating its own currency, supported by a Scottish central bank. After a vote for independence, it urges the Scottish Government to oversee the transition, as soon as practically possible, to a Scottish currency, preferable on the first day of Independence."byYes Edinburgh North & Leith
Why have we taken this position?
It is vital we do not repeat these mistakes and must campaign on a currency position that is: economically justifiable, is understood to be under our control to deliver, supports the notion of self-determination hence representing the normal position for an independent country. A Scottish currency is the only option that meets these three criteria.
We were very concerned to read in The National that the Growth Commission's prefered position involves a period of sterlingisation before moving to a Scottish currency only after a series of economic tests have been satisfied. Whilst perhaps designed to make their economic plans look prudent, it serves to increase the complexity surrounding the currency question and will increase uncertainty in the minds of the voters.
By campaigning on such a three-part currency solution, we are inviting prolonged and difficult questions- How long will the sterlingisation be? What if the UK government say no or make it difficult for us? How will the tests be met? Can we definitely meet them? How long will it take to satisfy them? So, when will we actually have a Scottish currency? Etc etc, etc. An answer to a question that leads to many more questions, is a poor answer. And of course, this lack of clarity will be easily capitalised on by our opponents to seed even greater uncertainty and undermine voter confidence in an independent Scotland.
We know from research commissioned by the Scottish Independence Convention (SIC) that the electorate are feeling overwhelmed by politics and life under Tory austerity. The need to have clear, concise, realistic answers to key questions is even greater than it was in 2014. Otherwise we will increase the uncertainty faced by voters and we risk pushing them to a point where they disengage (or not re-engage) and stick with what they already 'know' -- the Pound and the Union.
In coming to YENL's position on currency, our members reviewed and considered a range of sources including work by the Scottish Institute for Research in Economics and the Common Weal. Whilst the sources differed in their technical explanations of the process required to set up a Scottish currency, they agreed that this option is the most appropriate for supporting and protecting the economy of an independent Scotland.
We argue that for Scotland to truly function and flourish as an independent state, it needs at its disposal, the full range of monetary and fiscal levers. Many of these, such as setting interest rates and determining money supply are dependent on it having its own currency and central bank. A Scottish currency is the only option that provides us with the freedom to set our own macroeconomic policies that both support our desired economic direction and respond to potential challenges and opportunities.
We hope by taking, and publicly declaring, this position we might stimulate debate in other independence-supporting groups around this vital pillar of the next campaign. We also hope that these discussions will be useful for campaigners whose conversations with voters will form the backbone of our efforts next time.
The decision around a currency is not for any one person or party to make. We trust that by adding our voice and inviting others to add theirs, we will help develop a unified campaign based on an economically and politically sound plan for the next, and last, Scottish independence campaign. It's coming yet for a' that, Saor Alba!
Yes Edinburgh North and Leith