There is now only just over a year until the long awaited Scottish independence referendum. It will be a vote that most people will take far more seriously than other elections. However, Scots will be voting for a false choice. To either stay within the United Kingdom with additional powers thanks to the Scotland Act 2012. Or to separate but share most of our institutions with the rest of the United Kingdom, and have additional fiscal levers.
The most recent example of this shared arrangement is that there was a report, delivered by the The Expert Working Group on Welfare, saying that an independent Scotland and the smaller United Kingdom should share the welfare set-up for a transitional time. The Scottish government welcomed the report showing that Alex Salmond, despite wanting independence, welcomes retaining many links with the UK.
This is the latest in a long line of things that the SNP government has said they would ideally retain if Scotland was to become independent. With reports that the SNP wish to keep the BBC, the pound, the Queen, the British army and many other features, this shows that, if Alex Salmond got his way, then an independent Scotland would be almost indifferent to a future Scotland in the United Kingdom.
Furthermore, if an independent Scotland was to remain in the EU, NATO and have open borders - with shared passports - with the United Kingdom, would life for the average man or woman be any different. I support remaining in the United Kingdom, but it is important to point of the flaws in what the SNP are offering, and how a 'Yes' vote will not equate to independence.
If Scotland became independent and managed to keep the pound there would be, of course, another way in which we would not actually have independence. While it would be in the interest of everyone in the 'Sterling zone' to have a strong currency, most of the zones money supply would be in the new UK, rather that Scotland. The country may well get representatives when it comes to monetary policy, but Scotland would be a tiny part of a greater monetary union. There would certainly be some fiscal restraints. Furthermore, monetary unions are typically dominated by the larger countries, as exemplified by the eurozone. Where would this leave Scotland?
Monetary unions lead to fiscal and political unions, which is exactly what is happening in the eurozone, with the fiscal compact. That would ultimately lead an indepedent Scotland back to where it started.
One does not need to be an economist to realise that a currency union made up of countries with different fiscal policies would be detrimental to the smaller participants. Independence with the pound would be a negative outcome for Scotland. Furthermore, Scotland would still not be truly independent. Monetary union leads to fiscal union and voting for independence would mean voting for fiscal independence. But fiscal leavers need to work with monetary levers. Therefore, as Scotland's lever monetary policy would be controlled by London, Salmond's Scotland is not one of radical independence, but closer to previous models of devo-max.
Whilst I do not support independence, if in 2014 that's what the people of Scotland vote for, a new currency one which we could control effectively and devalue if necessary could be the answer.
It is clear that the SNP's version of independence is not full independence and that could be detrimental to Scotland. The report supported by the Scottish government to retain the same welfare set-up with the UK has been the latest report to exemplify this point. We are stronger and better together. And as the SNP cannot set out a credible alternative, but offer one where Scotland is fiscally stifled, this clearly shows another reason as to why we must remain in the United Kingdom.