Herald letter: Scotland’s currency (“Haud me back”).

THERE is another very good reason “sterlingisation” is a non-starter for an independent Scotland within the EU: quite simply it is impossible to see how or why Brussels would allow a member state to use the currency of a non-member state as an international currency in direct competition to the euro (Agenda: “Not such a sterling idea for justice and sovereignty”, The Herald, February 13). If Scotland were to do so, why should, for example, other states not use the pound as well, or the dollar, or the yen?

At the same time, there are major impediments to a new independent Scottish currency. On the one side there is the question of savings: would these assets of individuals and families be forcibly converted from sterling to poonds (or whatever they will be called)? Conversely, there is the issue of existing mortgages and loans: in 99 per cent of cases, these are contracted to be repaid in pounds sterling.

As the currency of an untried economy that would immediately be depressed by the loss of a large chunk of its income in the form of tens of billions of fiscal transfers from the rest of UK, the poond would undoubtedly be valued by the markets at a level lower than the pound. So the case of the SNP will be: “Vote for independence to devalue your savings and put up your mortgage repayments.” Tempting.

Peter A. Russell


Herald letter: SNP must withdraw referendum threat if it wants a Brexit role (Warning – concludes with mixed metaphor)

MICHAEL Russell tells us that the UK is in the grip of a constitutional crisis (“We will ‘sup with the devil’ to fix Brexit bill, vows SNP”, The Herald, January 30). If he is correct, he will also surely be in agreement that the current policy of the Scottish Government to hold a further referendum on Scottish independence cannot be helping. Indeed, as long as that policy is in place, any reasonable person would be suspicious of his Government’s motives in dealing with Brexit, especially in the light of the First Minister’s past dictum that independence is an aim that transcends everything else – including Brexit.

Nicola Sturgeon was very quick to announce her intentions for a new independence referendum on the morning after the Brexit vote. Indeed, it looked very much like she welcomed the Leave outcome, as she considered it a game-changer in her independence strategy. Since then, however, she has been proven wrong, as support for independence has fallen and the idea of another referendum remains as unpopular as ever.

If the SNP and Mr Russell now wish to play any constructive part in the unfolding Brexit process, I suggest they should put a further proposition to the Scottish Parliament, formally withdrawing the demand for a new referendum. It might also help to include in its wording that the idea is suspended for a generation, although of course this phrase is damaged goods when uttered by Ms Sturgeon.

This would also let the First Minister off the hook of the precipitate decision which has now blown up in her face.

Peter A Russell,

Herald letter: Institutional Cleansing

THE process described by Allan Sutherland, whereby all signs of Scotland’s Britishness are to be eliminated by guidance, regulation and custom and practice determined by the Scottish Government, could be best defined as “institutional cleansing”. Indeed, there is now a good deal of healthy suspicion that what the SNP failed to achieve by its failed referendum, it now seeks to bring about by stealth.

In that light, it would be far better if ceremonial issues such as the protocol for the flying of flags were taken out of the political arena, and made the responsibility of the Presiding Officer of the Scottish Parliament. This would also reflect the position so frequently ignored by the First Minister and her colleagues, that she and they are in office to serve the Parliament, rather than vice-versa.

Peter A Russell,

Poem re-posted for International Holocaust Memorial Day

Who’s That Knocking At The Door?
Theodor Kramer
(1897 – 1958 b. Vienna)

Who’s that knocking at the door
Too early for most souls?
It’s just the baker’s boy my pet
Dropping off some rolls

Who’s that knocking at the door?
I’ll go, my child, don’t stir
Just a man at the neighbours’
Asking who we were

Who’s that knocking at the door?
Run your bath, you needn’t care
That letter we’re expecting
Here’s the postman on the stair

Who’s that knocking at the door?
Now there, just make the bed
It’s the landlord: we’ll be put out
On the first of the month, he said.

Who’s that knocking at the door?
The fuchsia blossom is so near:
My sweetheart, pack my toilet bag
– And don’t weep while they are here.

Poem: Do You Mind The Time

Do You Mind The Time
Peter Russell 

Do you mind the time, all those years ago
When Nicola was Scotland’s very own queen,
The referendum was our stage and our show,
And Alex was emperor of our airwaves and screens?
Do you mind the time when we were so sure:
When independence was just through the next door?

Do you mind the time, back then in the past
When we pretended we could use the pound
And oil prices at 113 forever would last
And Europe would embrace us with joy unbound?
Do you mind the time, when the downside was nil
When independence was there, just over the hill

Do you mind the time, back then in the day
When folk believed every word that we uttered
Before they got their brains back and voted to stay,
So all of our dreams lay shattered and gutted?
Do you mind the time, when we were so dumb,
When independence was so certain to come? 

Do you mind the time, long ago, it’s true
Before Project Fear ripped back the curtain:
The polls were all lying and everyone knew
That our SNP one party state was certain?
Do you mind the time when hope was inexhaustible
And independence wasn’t impossible and implausible? 

(“Naw. Me neither.”)

Herald letter: cost of leaving the EU vs that of leaving the UK.

YOUR correspondent Alan Watt (Letters, January 17) is quite right to ask whether a calculation has been made regarding the cost to Scotland of leaving the UK Single Market. After all, if the choice which the SNP believes we must make is between the EU and the UK, we need to know what both decisions would entail. If the cost of leaving the EU could be £12.7 billion per annum, this should be scaled up in line with the fact that about 60 per cent of Scotland’s exports go to the rest of the UK while about 15 per cent of exports go to the rest of the EU. Working on this ratio of 4:1, the result is an estimate that the cost could be as high as £50 billion per annum.

One of the key weaknesses of the Scottish Government’s new report is that it does not factor in potential benefits from Brexit – such as removal of or reduction in tariffs on Scotch whisky in the massive markets of China and India – which could reduce the negative impacts. The same applies to any estimate of the cost of leaving the UK. Therefore none of these figures can be taken to be gospel.

We must all also hope that the worst-case scenarios of a hard Brexit or no-deal Brexit are avoided. However, there can be no doubt at all that to leave the UK would be far more costly to Scotland than the UK leaving the EU.

Peter A Russell

Herald letter: Equal Union

RUTH Marr describes the UK as an “unequal Union” (Letters, December 12). One wonders in what kind of world there can be an arrangement more equal than one voter, one vote, the basis on which we decided to leave the EU. Likewise, Scots decided on the same basis to stay in that Union in 2014, which is a good job as the evidence is that, otherwise, Scotland would have left the UK and with it the EU in March 2016.

We can only imagine the chaos that would have ensued when the SNP tried to negotiate simultaneous exits from both unions in a space of 18 months.

Peter A Russell