The former Greek finance minister described the idea of sharing the pound after independence as “nonsense”
YANIS VAROUFAKIS, the controversial Marxist economist and former Greek finance minister, has stated that he would vote for Scottish independence if he were living in the country, but only under the condition of a separate currency.
Varoufakis’s remarks, made during an interview with Holyrood magazine, represent his first intervention in the Scottish constitutional discourse since the publication of the Growth Commission, which advocated a policy of sterlingisation.
Varoufakis said: “If I were living here, I would vote for Scottish independence, on one condition. A separate currency. Alex Salmond’s great error, which I very much fear Nicola Sturgeon is going to repeat, was to propose independence while keeping the pound. That is nonsense. It is ludicrous. Don’t do it again.”
“I remember talking to my friends in Scotland, those in the SNP, back then and said to them: ‘If you say you are going to keep the pound, you are giving London a fantastic opportunity to rubbish you by saying no, you can’t have it. Bugger off.’ Which is what they did.”
These remarks echo earlier arguments made by Varoufakis on the potential currency arrangements of an independent Scotland. In February of this year, Varoufakis expressed his agreement on Twitter for CommonSpace editor and then-Common Weal head of policy Ben Wray, who argued in the Herald newspaper that a new currency was the only “good” option for an independent Scotland.
In 2015, during a public discussion with the journalist and author Paul Mason, Varoufakis said that he would support an independent Scotland “in the context of a united Europe”. However, writing in a 2013 article entitled ‘Scotland must be braver’, Varoufakis wrote: "A 'minimalist' Independence, of the sort proposed by the Scottish government's White Paper, will fail either to inspire the Scottish people to vote in favour of Independence or to deliver genuine independence if the referendum is won. Scotland must bite the bullet and fearlessly seek to establish its own currency."
Varoufakis also argued in favour of a Scottish pound as during the referendum campaign of 2014, contending that a shared currency with the Bank of England would tie the Scottish economy to a system designed to benefit the City of London, which would hinder Scottish economic growth and risk insolvency.
“Alex Salmond’s great error, which I very much fear Nicola Sturgeon is going to repeat, was to propose independence while keeping the pound. That is nonsense. It is ludicrous. Don’t do it again.” Economist Yanis Varoufakis
Varoufakis also highlighted the existence of Scottish banknotes as a reason why the transition to a Scottish pound could be relatively straightforward, limiting the possibility of a run on the banks, as well as Scotland’s relatively low public debt, which could allow the new currency to be supported by an underlying financial security.
In his assessment of alternative options, Varoufakis wrote: "I can think of no better 'strategy' than the SNP's commitment to sterling if its aim is to lose the referendum and to alienate those Scots who want to vote with pride for an independent Scotland that seeks a path radically different to the one England embarked upon in 1979."
Commenting more generally on the nature of the Scottish independence movement to Holyrood magazine, Varoufakis continued: “Scottish nationalism has nothing to do with English nationalism, German nationalism or Greek nationalism. It’s very cuddly. It’s cuddly.
“I would call it patriotism, I wouldn’t even call it nationalism. I make this distinction, and my definition might be wrong but I stick to it. A patriot loves his country, a nationalist thinks his country is superior to the others. I don’t think the Scots think that. That’s why this place is so open, welcoming to refugees, to migrants, to foreigners like me. Whereas English nationalism is not. You can see that with the Scots voting in favour of staying in the EU.”
Picture courtesy of EU Council Eurozone
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