However some of the points made by the Treasury have at least a little validity. The Treasury isn’t always wrong just because it’s part of the UK government. I’m not sure that the RUK could, even if it wanted to, actually prevent an independent Scotland from declaring the pound sterling to be legal tender. As a parallel, there are plenty of places in the world quite happy to accept US dollars without having any input into dollar policy. There’s the rub though – the RUK could indeed decide not to give an independent Scotland any input into its monetary policy.
Whether they would do so or not is another question; I suspect that the SNP is right to assume that this is little more than posturing at this stage. Everything in the UK’s history suggests that pragmatism and negotiation will be the order of the day if Scotland votes yes – they are just trying to make sure that that situation never occurs.
Acceptance or otherwise of Scottish banknotes looks like a little bit of froth on the whole argument; it’s pretty hard to get them accepted anywhere outside Scotland at present, and that seems unlikely to change.
The real underlying point arising from the Treasury report however is that Scottish influence on monetary policy for sterling would be close to zero in practice, yet that monetary policy would have a huge influence on the Scottish economy. In effect, that means little change from where Scotland is today, but I can’t help thinking that “independence” would be more meaningful if Scotland were to break its link with a monetary policy primarily designed to suit the south-east corner of England.
The political rationale for keeping the pound sterling is obvious; it makes independence look like less of a change and less of a gamble, and therefore easier to garner support. The economic rationale is a lot less obvious to me; I suspect that membership of the Sterling area would turn out to be, in the timescale of these things, a comparatively short phase before Scotland’s eventual adoption of the Euro; a commitment expected of new EU member states.
It’s for Scotland to decide of course; but if it happens there will be some useful pointers for Wales coming out of this debate.