Saturday, 17 January 2009


"9.13 We believe that certain functions are integral to the effective functioning of the United Kingdom as a sovereign nation-state with international responsibilities, and where devolution would be undesirable in principle because retaining them at UK level is fundamental to the very concept of Union. These comprise ... currency ... These we will not consider further."
- Calman Commission, First Report, Page 100

Why not?

The following UK Overseas Territories are not independent of the UK - the UK has international responsibilities for them in the words of the Commission - but they all have separate currencies from the UK. We have:So if UK Overseas Territories, over which the UK has sovereignty and "international responsibilities", can have different currencies why isn't it a matter of further consideration by Calman for Scotland when the UK has sovereignty and "international responsibilities"?

After all the matter of Sterling's value and how it affects Scotland (and other parts of the UK) was brought into focus in 1998 when the then Governor of the Bank of England, Eddie George, agreed that lost jobs in the North are an "acceptable price to pay to curb inflation in the South".

Considering such concerns why couldn't Calman consider the Scottish interest in terms of such issues. Why couldn't it look at or suggest Scottish representation on the MPC (as well as other areas of the UK or even Sterling Zone)? Since the Bank of England is supposed to be that notion Calman can't consider - independent - why is such an issue not raised since Calman is "to secure the position of Scotland within the United Kingdom"?

It can only be concluded that Calman is not considering what would be in the benefit of Scotland since even debating and considering this subject can be beneficial so the likes of Eddie George are aware of these concerns. It is failing to consider a union of "unity".

From the off-hand rejection of any consideration it can only be concluded that it is doing as it remits says - protecting the partisan sovereignty of Westminster; keeping power at the centre whether that power is UK Government influence over the Bank of England's MPC or the power it has to appoint members to it.

The Calman report also says currency "is fundamental to the very concept of Union" and that it is "integral to the effective functioning of ... a sovereign nation-state".

Calman would appear to be conflating currency as equaling a single sovereign state. As the following currencies show it is not the case:

  • The Euro is used by Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Andorra, Kosovo, Montenegro, Monaco, San Marino, and Vatican City
  • The US dollar is used by the United States and its possessions, Palau, Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, Panama (alongside the Panamanian balboa), Ecuador, El Salvador, Timor-Leste, the British Virgin Islands and the Turks and Caicos Islands.
  • The New Zealand dollar is used by New Zealand, Niue, the Cook Islands, Tokelau, and the Pitcairn Islands.
  • The South African rand is legal tender in South Africa, Swaziland, Lesotho, and Namibia through the Common Monetary Area.
  • The Central African CFA franc is used by Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, the Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.
  • The West African CFA franc is used by Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal, and Togo.
  • The East Caribbean dollar is used by Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Montserrat, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
In fact it wasn't (and still isn't) even the case with the UK's currency - Sterling.

Sterling's equality as a world currency can be exemplified here which shows the extent of Sterling's reach ... in the past.

What is interesting is that the last place to leave the Sterling Zone was the Republic of Ireland which by that time wasn't even a member of the Commonwealth, never mind an Overseas Territory or part of the UK.

Likewise Canada's dollar predates the Sterling Zone. Could the reluctance to look at currency concern how the Commission's presentation of a single market doesn't square with the fact that Scotland was part of a single imperial market wider than the UK within which there were different currencies?

Or could it be that opening a debate up about currency would highlight the rapid decline of Sterling as a global currency to one that only covers the UK and a few dependencies? And not even them all as the above examples show.

Since Calman's report makes much of strengthening devolution and the UK why isn't currency therefore considered when there is such evidence of Sterling weakening historically?

And it's not just historically as the drop in value of the pound to the dollar over the past year shows.

As well as the drop in value of the pound to the euro over the same period.

By attempting to close down this issue Calman isn't even considering what would benefit the UK and Sterling never mind Scotland. Closing down this issue only assists those parties who wish to retain that power over Sterling - a power that doesn't seem to have been used wisely.

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