The one-man whirlwind that is Robin McAlpine of CommonWeal has recently published a book which is an invaluable contribution to the independence debate and which provides many of the answers which we were struggling for during the first referendum campaign back in 2014. Called How to Start a New Country, a Practical Guide for Scotland, chapter by chapter, issue by issue, the book lists all the steps that Scotland will have to go through from the victory for independence in a referendum to the declaration of independence and Scotland regaining its rightful place amongst the independent nations of the world.
It’s one of those examples of nominative determinism, like someone called Baker ending up working in Greggs, or someone called Essenpeebad becoming the director general of BBC Scotland news. Robin’s surname is of course also that of Kenneth McAlpine, the king of Dalriada who founded the kingdom of Scotland after that dodgy dinner party when he gave the Pictish aristos some seriously severe stomach upsets.
Given his name it’s quite fitting that Robin has produced what is the definitive guide to starting a new independent Scottish state. The only people who are likely to have upset stomachs after reading Robin’s books will be all those British nationalists who keep telling Scotland, “Naw ye cannae.” This is a book which not only asserts “Aye, we can,” it explains in detail how we do so. It doesn’t come with a free serving of Gaviscon for British nationalists, but hell mend them. This is a book that they’ll choke on.
The key message from the book is that starting a new state is hard work, but it’s not difficult work. The path to independence is a path that many nations have trodden. It’s well marked, it’s well sign-posted. There are no terrors or horrors lurking in the unknown along the way. By becoming an independent state, Scotland will not be taking the leap into darkness that British nationalists would like us to think it would be. The problems that Scotland will face along the way are entirely predictable, and so are the solutions to those problems. Both are known quantities, and both can be tackled. Establishing an independent Scotland is a series of practical problems, all of which are problems that other newly independent countries have tackled, and all of which are problems with practical solutions. This isn’t rocket science.
British nationalists want to make out that the establishment of an independent Scotland is a fearsomely difficult task which is unprecedented in human history, so they constantly throw up questions which are really non-questions. Questions like “Which currency will you use? Eh? Eh?! A-ha!” Because of course no country in the history of the planet has ever become independent and then had a currency.
Robin’s book details the steps that an independent Scotland will have to take in order to set up its own currency, the Scottish Pound, which he suggests should be held at parity with Sterling. Setting up a new currency is, as he states, hard work, but it’s not difficult work. It’s the difference between getting your garden redesigned and coming up with a solution to the problem of cold-fusion reactors. British nationalists want us to believe that setting up a currency for Scotland is like delving into the complexities of particle physics and solving problems that no one has ever managed before. Oh my god we just can’t do it! Let’s call the whole thing off.
On the other hand, step by step Robin explains the process to us, because really setting up a new currency for a newly independent country is rather more akin to redesigning your garden. It’s hard work re-doing your garden, it’s a slog. It involves a lot of effort and grunt work, but there are plenty of experts to consult, there are plenty of other people who have done the same thing from whom you can learn, there are plenty of plans and designs to copy from. That’s what it’s like to establish a currency for a new state. The book explains how Scotland would go about establishing a new currency, how it would be introduced, and how it would then found a central bank in order to manage it. It’s all eminently doable, and it’s all quite affordable.
It’s the same with the other big scare story of the Better Together campaign, pensions. When Scottish pensioners were warned that independence would mean that they’d no longer get a pension, they were being lied to. Robin’s book explains that the UK government has a legal obligation to pay pensions to everyone who has contributed over the years via National Insurance, and it can’t simply walk away from that obligation without compensating Scotland accordingly. The upshot is that whether it’s the UK government that continues to pay Scottish pensioners their pensions after independence – in the exact same way that it pays the pensions of those who’ve chosen to settle in Spain or Portugal or Greece – or the pensions will be managed and administered by Scotland, the net effect will be the same pensions being delivered for the same cost to Scotland. This is a message that the independence movement needs to scream from the rooftops.
The only slight criticism is that an index would have been extremely useful, but from citizenship, to the media, defence, energy, paying for the new nation and much more, you’ll find the answers in How to Start a New Country. It’s the independence movement’s one-stop shop for shutting up nay-sayers. Everything that Scotland needs in order to become a successful and prosperous democratic independent state fit for the 21st century can be achieved within three years of a yes result in the next independence referendum. No one is pretending it’s going to be a doddle. It’s going to involve a lot of hard work, but it’s not difficult work. It’s work we’ll do because we really will be in the early days of a better nation. Hard work, but not difficult work.
You can purchase a print copy of the full book for just £10 here
A print copy of shorter and more user friendly version detailing the main points can be bought for just £5
Alternatively you can purchase both together for just £12
The good news is that you can get a FREE e-copy of both versions of the book by following the instructions on the following links. Download, link and share!
The Wee Ginger Dug has got a new domain name, thanks to Indy Poster Boy, Colin Dunn @Zarkwan. http://www.indyposterboy.scot/ You can now access this blog simply by typing www.weegingerdug.scot into the address bar of your browser, the old address continues to function, the new one redirects to the blog. The advantage of the new address is that it’s a lot easier to remember if you want to include a link to the blog in leaflets, posters, or simply to tell a friend about it. Many thanks to Colin.
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