IN this series of articles, members of the Scottish Currency Group outline the case for a separate Scottish currency – the Scottish Pound – to be established as soon as possible after independence; highlight the transformational opportunities this will create to address the economic and social challenges facing Scotland; and answer questions about how the change is likely to affect households and businesses in practice.

Among the reasons the Scottish Currency Group values this column in The National is that it effectively allows us to write open letters to government ministers.

This seems to be almost the only way to have any conversation with these busy people about their plans for achieving Scotland’s independence.

We were a little surprised to read Jamie Hepburn’s on September 28 that the Scottish Government has already “set out a macroeconomic framework, including currency proposals, plans for a modern constitution which will enshrine the right to access a system of health care [which is] free at the point of need, and a welcoming and inclusive approach to citizenship”.

We recognise that there are plenty of good ideas in the papers which the Scottish Government has already published. But we have not managed to find a coherent macroeconomic framework in them and we have very substantial concerns about the plans for a Scottish currency.

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The Scottish Government intends to introduce a Scottish currency after a transition period in which Scots would use sterling. The currency group accepts such an arrangement would be possible – but it is in the gift of the UK Government.

As in 2014, the Scottish Government position will give Alister Jack, or whichever numpty gets to be secretary of state for Scotland after the next General Election, a veto on its currency plan.

I don’t know how Scottish ministers manage their money. But I’m guessing they are like most other people and flash a card or wave a smartphone at a payment terminal.

In doing that, they are ordering their bank to debit an account, and make a payment to another bank. The route which their money takes will almost certainly pass through the Bank of England’s sterling payment settlement system.

It is all digital.

And it is only open to banks which are members of the Bank of England’s Real-time Gross Settlement system.

The Scottish Government’s plan is that Scottish commercial banks, incorporated in Scotland, rather than the UK, and regulated by a Scottish Central Bank, rather than the Bank of England, will still be allowed to participate in the Bank of England’s payment system.

It’s not an unreasonable idea. It’s not an impossible idea. It could easily be the outcome of negotiations after a successful vote for independence.

But it provides a hostile UK Government with the perfect opportunity to ramp up Project Fear 2.0 as it shapes the campaign against independence by saying an independent Scotland could not have access to the Bank of England system. It’s a straightforward threat – declare independence and we’ll make you struggle to pay for food.

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This seems to be learning the wrong lessons from the 2014 referendum campaign, which was based on persuading “soft” No voters to choose independence by promising them that scarcely anything would change. They would still have the pound. They would still have UK pensions.

Back then, it was all too easy for George Osborne and the UK Treasury to say: “No, you jolly well won’t.” To that easily foreseeable response, the Scottish Government had only a limp reply.

There was almost no mention of the Fiscal Commission’s advice that the best alternative to a currency union, even in the short term, would be the establishment of a Scottish currency.

The stance on pensions also made it much more difficult to argue that part of the social contract between government and citizens would be a sustained increase in pensions – payable as a universal social benefit. It was left to grassroots campaigners to argue that independence would be an opportunity to rethink what it means to be Scottish and what Scots should expect of their government.

Jamie Hepburn seems to have in mind a variant of Peter Hennessy’s “good chaps” theory of UK governance – that there is no need for too many rules or too much oversight because ministers are “good chaps.”

Does he – indeed, do other ministers – really believe after Brexit, after Boris and after a Section 35 referral, that their counterparts in London will play fairly, and disinterestedly allow Scots to break up their precious Union?

Does he believe English politicians would fail to threaten to cause maximum damage to frighten voters into keeping the Union?

Saying that there will be a Scottish currency on independence means little more than confirming that the mandate of a Scottish Central Bank will include the design of a payments system and that there will be a sound macroeconomic framework.

We will deal with the macroeconomic framework in our next article.

But by their timorous prevarication on currency, Scottish ministers have chosen to make a rod for their own backs. And all of us in the independence movement will pay the price for that when we try to make the case for independence.