As the Scottish Liberal Democrat conference draws to a close, it is interesting to reflect upon the messages given in it. Leader Willie Rennie stressed the need for the Better Together campaign to push the positive side of staying with the current union at the conference in Aberdeen.
The Scottish Liberal Democrat Leader conceded in an interview with BBC Scotland that there was a “distinct possibility” that Scotland could vote for independence in the referendum on the 18th September this year. He continued, saying the “no” campaign had to “focus really hard” on accentuating what his party call his “sunshine strategy”, and push the positive case for remaining with the rest of the UK.
However, it would appear the sun has set on the happy side of the Better Together campaign already.
The LibDem leader Nick Clegg said in his speech at the conference in Aberdeen that Scots needed to resist the “false patriotism” that the SNP are attempting to create around the independence debate.
“We will give people a reason to resist the lure of false patriotism – wherever it rears its head…”Britain is at its best when we are united, when we stand tall in our own backyard, when we are open, outward-facing and engaged – and that is the Britain we will protect.”
Clegg also hinted at the possibility that a “no” vote following the referendum could mean more powers being handed to Scotland.
Nevertheless, the recent publication of the Guardian appears to have brought the rain clouds over the sunny picture the LibDems are trying to paint.
The Guardian quoted an unnamed minister, said to be a key figure in the pro-Union campaign, as saying “of course” there would be a currency union” following a “Yes” vote.
“Of course there would be a currency union. There would be a highly complex set of negotiations after a yes vote, with many moving pieces. The UK wants to keep Trident nuclear weapons at Faslane and the Scottish government wants a currency union – you can see the outlines of a deal.”
Following this, George Osborne and Danny Alexander released a join statement assuring that there was absolutely no possibility of a currency union between an iScotland and rUK.
“Walking out of the UK means walking out of the UK pound. A currency union will not work because it would not be in Scotland’s interests and would not be in the UK’s interests.”
The Scottish Secretary Alistair Carmichael has reiterated these statements, arguing: “An anonymous, off-the-record quote does not change the stark reality on the currency.”
The SNP’s deputy leader has welcomed the statement from the unnamed minister.
Nicola Sturgeon told the Guardian following the release of the article: “This was supposed to be the no campaign’s trump card, but as the polls show it has backfired badly – the gap between yes and no has halved since November, and most Scots simply do not believe the bluff and bluster we had from George Osborne, Ed Balls and Danny Alexander.”
Indeed, the Guardian journalist who wrote the story, Nicholas Watt, agrees that Westminster’s “absolute trump card in this campaign is to say there will be no currency union and they will be saying that from now until midnight on the 17th September.
“But in the unlikely event of a Yes vote, in a very lengthy negotiation, you may well find that a trump card in a campaign will come quite different in these negotiations.”
Albeit an ‘unlikely” event, recent polls show that, despite the UK government’s refusal to approve a currency union following a “Yes” vote in September, the Yes camp has seen a rise in its popularity across the polls. Furthermore, a Times/YouGov poll showed that 45% feel that the rejection of a currency union is merely a tactic by Better Together, adhering to Alex Salmond’s claim that it is all “bluff and bluster”.
The Yes campaign continue to argue that a currency union with an iScotland is in the best interest of rUK, stating it will allow for easier trading and allow Scotland to pay off its share of the UK debt. However, Better Together say that a union is out of the question, leaving Scotland with the options of joining the Euro; setting up its own currency, or – as Sam Bowman, research director of the Adam Smith Institute stated – continuing to use the pound; just as “countries like Panama, Ecuador and El Salvador, which use the US Dollar without American “permission”.
Scotland will vote on whether it wishes to be an independent country on the 18th September 2014.