The sad life, sudden death and strange afterlife of Scottish money: historical perspectives on current conundrums.

When:23 Jul 2019, 12:30pm - 2pm
Venue:Room 310, Morven Brown Building, Kensington Campus
Who:David Blaazer, Interim Dean, Arts & Social Sciences
David Blaazer

Abstract: In the 2014 referendum on Scottish independence, the Scottish National Party (SNP) was blindsided by the emergence of the currency question as a central issue in the campaign. Paradoxically, while the SNP argued that Scotland could and should continue to use sterling, Unionists and UK monetary authorities insisted that an independent Scotland would not be permitted to do so, and that Scotland would have no choice but to create its own (inherently weak and unstable) currency.

Both sides in this debate appear to have been afraid or incapable of mobilising the monetary history of either Scotland or the UK to support their cause. In this paper I will scrutinise critical episodes in British monetary history in an attempt to account for this strangely muted and mostly absurd historical ‘debate’. Focussing mainly on the Anglo-Scottish monetary union of 1707, I will show that the life, death and subsequent ghostly existence of Scotland’s independent money have been characterised on both sides of the border by a mixture of criminality, opportunism, indifference, national chauvinism and devotion to largely meaningless symbols, making the construction of any kind of affirmative national narrative all but impossible for any participant in the independence debate

Bio: Associate Professor David Blaazer is an historian of modern Britain and Ireland. His early research was on the non-communist left in Britain and resulted in the publication of The Popular Front and the Progressive Tradition: socialists, liberals and the quest for unity, 1884-1939 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992) and a number of articles on the history of Guild Socialism. His current research is towards a book on currency, power and national identity in Britain and Ireland since 1603, a topic on which he has published a number of articles and given numerous papers at international conferences. He has also published on the Northern Ireland conflict, and on the historiography of globalisation.

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