Parallel currency may be the key to understanding the Brexit mindset

I have a friendly electrician who is married to a Scot and who is a rampant Brexiter.

He thinks Scotland is nuts to want to sacrifice a 300 year, or rather longer, association with the rest of Britain, in favour of the EU. He has a point. Getting out of the EU after 45 years has proved so difficult – how on earth is a 300 year Scottish ‘marriage’ going to be ended?

I have every sympathy with this view.

Quite unknowing of my interest in money he suggests that an independant Scotland will find it difficult, if not impossible to have its own currency.

I suggest that New Zealand – true it is isolated – with a population of just 4.6 million and its own currency, against Scotland’s 5.5 rather disproves that.

I have to say that for me there is a similar question to that I have asked on Brexit – to what question is Scottish Independence the answer? The problem, I suggest, in both instances, comes down to a lack of local control.

This is the same for Scotland as for England or Wales. Yes, there are assemblies for both Scotland and Wales – which is more than England has. But creating local curriencies is possible for us all. Not necessarily printing it but creating a local ‘virtual’ currency that is not internationally convertible but runs in parallel to Sterling which would be accepted for local taxes such as Council Tax. (Yes, this Council Tax is regressive, but a local Land Value Tax would easily replace it). This revenue raising power gives spending choices locally and stops the extreme centralisation from which we now suffer.

That, I suggest is a real answer to Scotland, who, let us not forget contributed 13 MPs to support what some suggest is this disastrous ‘English’ government.

It is indeed disastrous of course. But it is certainly not ‘English’. Think not only of its Scots supporters but also of its non English members such as Michael Gove and (of old) Liam Fox.

Then we have this comment from a lady who describes herself as a writer, researcher, lecturer and holder of a Northern Writers’ Award:

Fine, how on earth does being more democtatically accountable relate to leaving the EU?

Surely she should start with Westminster?

If we leave and still continue to trade with the EU, we will be automatically less democratically accountable – indeed if we’re in the EU, as we’re part of it, we are absolutely democratically accountable!

But when trading with a country or a trading block we are not part of, the only democracy is standing over the shoulders of the negotiatiors. And in which trade agreement has that ever happened? I think none is the unequivocal answer.

We may indeed have a democratic say on the result – but that is the same as we do in the EU, albeit we share that scrutiny with 27 others. Trade-offs certainly result – but they would also result, were we, (God forbid) an independent, yet ‘Global’ Britain.

I suggest a local parallel currency is key to a more decentralised and indeed Federal Britain, where we will have to put up with what is called a postcode lottery – because in our postcode we voted for it.


  1. Sean Danaher -


    thanks. I agree that local currency is a good idea, and I’m sure Scotland can thrive – hopefull with a less traumatic start than Ireland.

    I have always found the “take back control” argument superficially compelling, but one that disintegrates very quickly on close inspection.

  2. Samuel Johnson -

    Was Ireland mad to want to leave the UK? The outcome suggests not, not just in terms of prosperity but in terms of sovereignty. Surely it provides the appropriate comparison. How many Irish would change places with the Scots? Vanishingly few if any.

    What if the Scots had left in the years of the oil boom and set up a sovereign wealth fund and were now as well off as Norway, would they have been mad? The Irish, of course, departed with no such assets and were then subjected to an economic war and still expected to sign up when UK next went to war. As in, sign up or else.

    Local control is indeed the issue, but this is not simply a matter of local currency but of law. The crux of the matter lies in the distinction between voluntarily agreeing to share sovereignty as an equal with others and having it done for you, effectively as a subordinate. English blindness about this is pretty astonishing since it is well-known that the decisive factor that resulted in Cameron’s majority was the billboard campaign showing Alex Salmond picking and Englishman’s pocket and the visceral “not being governed by the Scots” reaction it elicited. Not just blindness, frankly, but hypocrisy.

    Sauce for the goose, something up with which the gander will not put.

    1. Peter May -

      Scotland already has its own separate legal system as part of the UK. Sharing sovereignty is not a question of particularly English blindness. After all, 38% of Scots voted brexit and the English had to share their sovereignty with the scots in the form of Prime Ministers, Cameron, Blair and Brown …

      1. Samuel Johnson -

        All true but … Scots are simply not an equal partner in the union and an occasional Scottish prime minister at the head of a largely English political party doesn’t alter that.

        I’ve forgotten which of the political podcasts I listen to I heard it referenced (possibly On The House — with Sam Gymiah and Philip Lee) but a recent episode featured the “visceral reaction on the (English) doorstep” to Scots getting above themselves (I paraphrase).

        The kind of sharing of sovereignty the English are up for is evident every time the leader of the SNP gets up to speak in parliament and the Tories promptly walk out.

  3. Peter May -

    Sorry, I just do not agree. I’m half Cornish and half Essex and I feel completely disenfranchised. As someone who is half Cornish I can perhaps play the anti -English card – but not from Essex.
    I am definitely not an equal partner in the union.
    The union is run by a privileged elite largely unconcerned by the actual union. Or even the Cornish – for example.
    I’m entirely English in theory and definitely up for sharing sovereignty but not up for the current crop of lying charlatans – after all Johnson is English only in the sense that he
    has washed up here.

    1. Graham -

      Peter, I think Samuel is absolutely spot on about Scotland. But you have identified the real problem, which is actually England and the English. Anthony Barnett in The Lure of Greatness acknowledged this fact. Others have too, going back to Dean Acheson, although he spoke about GB (lost an empire and not found a role), which included Scotland, which of course was a collaborator in the empire project. But I think the Scots have dealt with that, hence a strong movement for Independence coupled with a sense of Internationalism – and hence a strong vote to stay in the EU. (and lets not forget that there is a substantial English “ex pat” population in Scotland many of whom voted against independence)

      You rightly point out that many regions of England probably feel left out and ignored while power, influence and money accumulate around London and its environs. The imbalance is astonishing. In some of Danny Dorling’s books he provides maps redrawn to a scale to show the disparities in wealth, poverty and so on throughout England. It really highlights the problem of inequalities between different regions.

      I really don’t know how this problem can be solved, regardless of which party or coalition of parties form the next government as I can see no evidence that any of them perceive this to be a problem. And the English themselves rejected devolution.

      I’m afraid the current crop of “lying charlatans” with their delusional concept of a UK “taking back control” will drag England and the rest of the UK, if it still exists, into a deep depression where everything will be handed over to (probably US) corporate interests – which is one element of what we call Fascism.

  4. Ken Mathieson -

    Peter, re your statement “Getting out of the EU after 45 years has proved so difficult – how on earth is a 300 year Scottish ‘marriage’ going to be ended?”

    UK getting out of the EU would be a whole lot easier if the UK Gov had a clearly mapped path to its goal and a clear definition of that goal. It quite patently hasn’t got either, not during the last three years nor even now. Instead we’ve had endless mantras (Brexit means Brexit, strong and stable and now get Brexit done), little or no coherent planning and incompetence galore.

    Scotland on the other hand has a clear goal and a clearly mapped route to goal (just read How to Start a New Country for the blueprint), its laws are in convergence with EU law, its democratically-elected (using PR) government has more than one mandate to pursue independence. This is not to underestimate the difficulty of negotiating a fair division of assets and liabilities with the rUK gov, but, on the evidence of the UK’s negotiations with the EU, it’s perhaps not as hard as might be imagined.

    I’d contend that the comparison made in your statement is not a realistic one.

    1. Peter May -

      Agree with the first part of the comment, but not the second.
      What about the border?
      And trade?
      Never mind citizenship.
      Of course if everyone remains in the EU none of this matters much but if one or even both don’t then, sorry, it’s all up in the air…

  5. Andrew (Andy) Crow -

    “What about the border?”

    It’s a damn sight shorter than the border in Ireland which doesn’t seem to bother Team Brexit. And which nation in it’s barmy desire to ‘leave’ the EU is the one causing the border problem in the first place?

    It’s a very English habit to blame anybody and everybody for England’s woes. Brexit itself is entirely predicated on decades of Westminster failure and incompetence blamed on the EU.

    An independent Scotland is a viable option which is negotiable. It will liberate a medium sized well resourced county from an absentee and careless Westminster government. Brexit UK is not viable, and not sensible and apparently not negotiable. Was not planned was not even intended and cannot sensibly be delivered. ‘Get it done’ says Johnson. Get what done exactly? Cast England and Wales into the metaphorical mid Atlantic in the hope it will stay afloat long enough to survive? It’s barking. Collective insanity, wheres an independent Scotland is now quite clearly a safer default position. It may have looked a little rash in 2014, but it certainly doesn’t now.

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