I enjoyed reading Alan Cochrane’s recent account of his trials and tribulations with Scottish bank notes down here in England. The crux of his issue has been present for decades, non-Scots don’t always recognise and/or accept Scottish banknotes. Incidentally, far from partaking in his stated practise of ensuring one has English banknotes before heading south, I always make sure that I get a good £250 of Clydesdale, RBS or HBOS notes whenever I am up in Edinburgh for a visit, but that’s just cos I like a good fist-free barney over the till.
My experience is that the vast majority of sales people here in London accept Scottish notes with little more than a second glance and raised eyebrow and, contrary to Mr Cochrane’s view, it is the homegrown Brits who have the biggest problem rather than sales staff from abroad. Unfortunately for me, incidents are few and far between, though this is good news for people who aren’t quite so ornery. However, if there is a problem here, surely there is one simple solution – get rid of Scottish banknotes and standardise the currency that we spend on this island.
Let’s be honest, where confusion reigns, it is generally worthwhile to stamp it out. If we are one country with one central bank, then why not just have one set of banknotes? Team GBP, if you will.
Indeed, from a political perspective this makes perfect sense for Cameron and Osborne. De-Scottishifying Scotland has its upsides with 2014 on the horizon. The more we feel a part of the rest of the United Kingdom, the more easily it will be to vote Yes to it, similar to why all this supra-national, positive Olympics fervour, I now grudgingly admit, is a real body blow for the SNP. Sure, there’d be plenty of grumbling if Scottish notes were discontinued, but it’s not exactly on a par with the old banning bagpipes of yesteryear. There is a perfectly valid logic behind the suggestion that even UK-loving Alan Cochrane has seemingly failed to grasp, ending unnecessary confusion. Not only that, many foreign exchange desks will give you a lower currency rate for a Scottish note than they would for Bank of England note. It’s a no-brainer really.
And is there an upside for the SNP here? Well, possibly. Scotland enjoys its many distinctly Scottish traditions, to such an extent that we are perhaps satisfied enough with our identity, culture and practices that independence feels unnecessary. Perhaps pushing Scotland deeper into the bosom of Britishness will increase resistance and foster a desire to make that Scottish stamp even more bolder.
Either way, Scotland inside the UK perhaps has to accept that it can’t always have its Tunnock’s teacake and eat it. The only Scottish pound should be an independent Scotland’s Scottish pound.