Scotpound and a People’s Economy

“The real initiatives …….. can and and must originate from outwith the party political structures and be rooted in ideas of grassroots democracy.” Duncan McCabe looks at  the development of radical alternatives in the year following indyref.

As the anniversary of the referendum approaches, it’s easy to wallow in a nostalgia for the halcyon days of comradeship and common cause that characterized the Yes movement. But politics moves on, parties vie for position and governments act like governments.

The hopes of many hundreds of thousands were placed in delivering an unprecendented electoral victory to the SNP in May, only to discover that six or fifty-six, their MP’s make little impact on the entrenched intransigence of the archaic Westminster system.

It’s a lesson supporters of Jeremy Corbyn may also have to learn as even if Labour were to win the next general Election, even if they won 656 seats, the rest of the UK’s own troika, Whitehall and the City, would resist and stifle any meaningful change.

Of course it should be no surprise to us that the Westminster system is unmoved by the SNP success. The lack of genuine democracy in the UK is one of the prime reasons for independence and the the SNP’s impotence in London just re-inforces the need for genuine self-government.

Let’s stop waiting in vain for change from the top that never comes. Independence won’t be given, it has to be taken and we must begin that process now.

We must begin to disengage not just from Westminster, but from the control of the City of London and the global corporations. The real initiatives that can bring this about can and and must originate from outwith the party political structures and be rooted in ideas of grassroots democracy.

Potentially the most important and far-reaching of such initiatives at the national level has just been launched. Scotpound, the Scottish digital currency being developed by the New Economics Forum and Commonweal, is the fundamental requirement of a future co-operative locally-based economy freed from the shackles of the global financial elite. The idea had previously been outlined by Duncan McCann of NEF at the RIC2015  Spring conference in Dundee.

ScotpoundEven at 1% of the money supply it can impact on individual lives and strengthen local economies. Given support from local and national government it could grow quite quickly and, if successful, would lessen the fears associated with ‘losing the pound’ in any future indyref2.

At Holyrood however, the Scottish Government re-iterated the ‘share the pound’ Plan A of indyref1 and seemed to fail to grasp either the role or the potential impact of a new multi-currency ecosystem. As Robin McAlpine of Commonweal commented;

“A digital currency is the kind of idea a modern, innovative and entrepreneurial government should be exploring. The process would also be instructive for a nation which might conceivably one day have to create its own currency.”

Indeed Robin, but our governments all seem to tend towards conservatism once in office and the SNP are no exception.

Locally, another idea of the immediate post-referendum period was the creation of networks of food-co-ops to provide good-quality food at reasonable prices, building an alternative to the supermarkets. Along with community renewables schemes, potentially resourced from  not-for-profit community share issues, possibly even using the Scotpound digi-currency, the foundations of an alternative grassroots-driven economy can begin to be discerned.

But progress is slow, and although it is important that these initiatives come from community or independent sources, local government in particular can have a catalyzing and supportive role.

But too often it seems our councillors prefer the grand designs of expensive prestige projects to enhance civic pride, rather than supporting or investing in people.

They urge us to “Take Pride in Your City”: A city where 42% of households live in fuel poverty, whose much vaunted new ‘café society’ is built on minimum wages and zero-hour contracts, and a city which has the worst rates of sexual crime in Scotland.

This city, this country, needs change, it needs innovation, but it needs to put its people first. We need to move beyond protest and start to build. Lets stop demanding that some high heid yins to do it for us, regain our common cause and comradeship, and begin to sow the seeds of lasting sustainable change ourselves.



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