Positive Money Edinburgh local group ran a stall for the 3 days of the Scottish National Party (SNP) Conference in mid-October.
The main event was held in the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre on the banks of the river Clyde in Glasgow. The cost of stalls at the conference proper was prohibitive and, along with about a dozen other organisations and campaigns, we took a stall at IdeaSpace run by Common Weal with a programme of fringe events as well as the stalls. We were immediately across the river in the Glasgow Science Centre. There are two footbridges joining the two venues, and we had a steady flow of conference delegates with their yellow ID lanyards in addition to people who came specifically for the IdeaSpace events and the occasional family who were visiting the science exhibitions and just popped in to see what was happening.
The context for any discussion of money just now in Scotland is the possibility that there may be a second independence referendum. Currency was one of the most significant issues in the 2014 referendum – those who followed the events at the time will remember that Alex Salmond declared that Scotland would keep the pound. George Osborne and Alistair Darling were successful in making this look like a daft position, and it was the top concern for those who decided to vote ‘No’. So the question of what currency Scotland should adopt in the event of independence is certainly occupying the minds of those who are thinking strategically about the potential for another referendum – and it was a question for many of the SNP delegates we spoke with. Positive Money is neutral on the question of Scottish Independence, but we were able to build on that interest in the question of currency by suggesting how the serious problems with the current system of creating money could be addressed with a fresh start.
Our local group convenor, Richard Taylor, made a presentation to about 100 people at one of the fringe events, sharing a platform with Ronnie Morrison and Andy Anderson, the two authors of “Moving On” – a description of how a newly independent Scotland should approach its economy. The fringe events all shared this character, with several presenters representing different perspectives on an issue. Richard did a good job of presenting the Positive Money message clearly, in a context where some wider agendas were intruding. To be fair, some of these wider agendas, including some conspiracy theories, were raised by audience members rather than by those on the platform. We took the opportunity to hand out Positive Money leaflets at the door as people left.
Four of us, Richard, Andrew Millar, Stella Thomson and I, covered the staffing of the stall. Being on a stall about Positive Money was a new experience for me and for Stella. We had both been a bit anxious about whether we would be able to represent the campaign adequately, but we found that many people were prepared to spend 15 or 20 minutes to understand more about the money system and how to change it.
It was a really enjoyable experience. We also gathered signatures for the QE campaign and managed to sell a few books.
Report by Donald Scott, Positive Money Edinburgh local group