Hard work, but not difficult work

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!


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40 comments on “Hard work, but not difficult work

  1. Finished reading it this very afternoon. It’s a grand read, a huge boost, and one that packs a great big Aye We Can punch.

    Oh, and congrats to you and Peter, Paul; great to have you back.

  2. It’s very much a volume that should be held in every Yes Hub, along with a few others I can think of.

    Aye, Robin’s good, but, as it happens, I ken’t his brother, and he is named after our former king, which is not entirely a coincidence.

  3. Walt Hopkins says:

    Brilliant! Both Robin’s book and your review!

  4. heathermclean19 says:

    Great news! I’m sure this will be an invaluable tool for Yes groups across the country – any idea if there will be a kindle version?

  5. […] Wee Ginger Dug Hard work, but not difficult work The one-man whirlwind that is Robin McAlpine of CommonWeal has recently published a […]

  6. Macart says:

    I do like that title. 🙂

  7. Gavin C Barrie says:

    Common Weal meeting, 25th April in the Glenpark Park hotel Ayr. I’ll buy my copy there.

  8. Andy Anderson says:


    I have been looking at their White Paper project for some. Will now buy the books and get the download too.

    Thanks Paul for the reminder.

  9. From the now infamous 1974 McCrone Report.

    “It must be concluded therefore that revenues and large balance of payments gains would indeed accrue to a Scottish Government in the event of independence provided that steps were taken either by carried interest or by taxation to secure the Government ‘take’. Undoubtedly this would banish any anxieties the Government might have had about its budgetary position or its balance of payments. The country would tend to be in chronic surplus to a quite embarrassing degree and its currency would become the hardest in Europe with the exception perhaps of the Norwegian kroner. Just as deposed monarchs and African leaders have in the past used the Swiss franc as a haven of security, as now would the Scottish pound be seen as a good hedge against inflation and devaluation and the Scottish banks could expect to find themselves inundated with speculative inflow of foreign funds.”

    If the Scottish Pound began life at parity with Sterling, and Scotland remains within the EU while all economic forecasts for EngWaland post Brexit predict Eurmageddon, then the Scottish currency would soon increase in value against the Brit Pound.
    The North Sea oil and gas industry as a whole contributed £35 billion to the UK Treasury in 2014.
    Whisky exports last year topped £4 billion, the UK’s biggest food and drinks export, and so on.
    I observed before that we are too big, too rich, and too clever for the English Establishment to ‘allow’ us Self Determination.
    I may visit the Glenpark in Ayr next Wednesday; I’ll pick up a copy then.
    All information and post Independence strategies and visions are of course welcome.

  10. grumpydubai says:

    Have not read the long version but have read the short (simple? and understandable) version.

    Certainly no easy walk in the park for us but certainly doable for us.

  11. Brilliant! I’ve sent for a copy and can’t wait to read it! Thank you, Paul.

  12. Tol says:

    THAT is such a relief that these foundational pieces are starting to appear. Now Scotland can get on and start campaigning for that wonderful…

    YES day!

    Scotland, its time to take the reigns; England has decided to jump out of the plane without a parachute and is trying to drag you with them.

    This is not a re-run of the 2014 Indyref question of self-determination, this time the risk are huge and potentially Scotland needs to decide if its very sovereignty is valuable.

    Its not just a question of self-determination,
    its about self-preservation.

  13. Robert Graham says:

    Good to see movement in the YES support things are starting , possibly because a lot of folk are aware of trouble ahead , something in the Air .
    On that note sometimes and from unexpected places a gift is presented , I believe Mrs Mayhems Tory party supported by a useless Labour Party Have possibly woken a few folk up as to the hopelessness of continuing with this Union .
    Both parties are complicit in this disgraceful immigration scandal and removes the veil of we are better than that lot , now we see their both the bloody same Usless and incompetent,
    BBC Scotland would have a bloody feast if they were reporting from south of the border the treasures would keep them going for weeks they wouldn’t have to invent stuff it’s all there in full view, the Unionist nightmare .

  14. Macart says:

    O/T (sigh) Kinder more honest politics…


    (Just add https://)

  15. John Lowe says:

    I think buying both copies is my best choice

  16. jake says:

    Remembering the demographics of the yes/no vote last time, what’s needed is a “big print” version.

  17. Macart says:



    (Just add https://)

    Do we really need to put up the front page of the VOW or the copious bullshit promises of BT over Clyde shipyards? THIS IS WHAT THE SCOTTISH MEDIA CAMPAIGNED FOR IN 2014. Suck it up and own it.

  18. Abulhaq says:

    The big issue for independent Scotland isn’t currency, if we wanted we might adopt and use any currency on the planet provided it suited, no the big issue is whether Scotland sheds the historic cultural baggage acquired during three hundred years of subservience to the faux identity of Britishness.
    Getting that out of our collective consciousness will be a major shift akin to quitting an addiction.
    And the dealer in this addiction is the English language.

  19. I’ve never understood the problem with currency. During the run up to the referendum (2014) there was a wee shop under the Central Bridge in Glasgow which had a notice in the window – “We accept Euros”. I thought at the time if a wee shop could use whatever currency it wanted, why couldn’t Scotland.

    I have bought and am reading the books, starting with the shorter version. It is worth the effort. I hope the SNP can do something about incorporating the ideas into a manifesto for independence. They will be of immense use to the wider Yes movement.

  20. Robert Graham says:

    All the guff and flag waving about the Commonwealth only fools the fools I guess, what a great distraction for Mrs Mayhem and her band of Crooks , the well heeled commentators gushing about their empire , while conveniently forgetting to mention while speaking about the assembled heads of state that Immigration officials were waiting outside ready to deport half of them .What a bloody Circus .

    With so many scandals engulfing this rotten Tory regime labour can’t fail can they ? , I know stupid remark ,labour can’t or won’t go after the Tory government because they are as rotten as them .

    Our media in Scotland are involved in what is fast becoming a rearguard action by panicking Unionists, they know and we know they can’t fool everyone for ever Chinks are beginning to appear , once people waken up they never return they are lost forever, if ordinary people can’t see what is going on around them I despair I can only imagine they don’t want to see and are in terminal denial, these fools could be pished on every day and still believe it’s Raining.

    • Abulhaq says:

      Elizabeth Windsor IS the Commonwealth. After her, the rather silly collection of ex-colonies will disappear. That is why she is unlikely to abdicate in favour of her son.

  21. emilytom67 says:

    Have always thought that the proposals of Robin/Common Weal are the way forward for us even to the extent of The Common Weal should stand in some /any shape or form for government,we could then wash away all poitical parties and bring true democracy to our land.

    • Robert Graham says:

      drop into Bella read some of the contributions , then ask yourself are these people Pissin in the tent or out ? ,make up your own mind .
      Stand for election yeh they pulled that stunt at the last holyrood election openly promoting RISE just have a look at what they achieved , Let me help you a lost majority and that tosser Ken McIntosh as presiding officer , thats what that lot achieved , check it out its all out there the bloody chaos that lot caused

  22. emilytom67 says:

    Thing for me R Graham is that all political parties/politicians have had hundreds of years to “get things right” and have failed totally so yes keep on returning them things will get better,I very much doubt it.

    • wm says:

      I am a bit late in catching up with your blog Paul, I could not agree more and Robin’s book is not a moment to soon, can’t wait to get both copies.

  23. Ian says:

    Just wondering how Scottish pensions would be payed in the unlike event of Indy ?

    • weegingerdug says:

      Try reading the book.

    • Cubby says:

      The question you should be asking yourself is how will the English, Welsh N.Irish Pensions be paid after Scottish independence. The 3rd poorest Pensions in the world. Turkey pays a higher pension than the UK. After independence the English pension will probably be paid when you are 90 and be the lowest in the world.

      • Hazel Rodgers says:

        Cubby, I hadn’t thought of that one. Nothing will persuade me against voting again for an independent Scotland – but it now occurs to me that if the Scottish currency ‘takes off’ against Sterling, my work pension ( Local Govt authority in England ) will assume less buying power here via exchange rate. *starts to stockpile toilet rolls*

  24. We must have positive targets for voters to get out and vote for in Indyref2. Such as doubling the pension. Such as, halving the price of petrol/diesel/electricity/gas. Now, you may say that’s unrealistic. However, in 2014 we were almost apologetic in our approach. We need to be bolder, much bolder. We need a confident leader of the YES campaign.
    With all respect to Blair Jenkins, he could have been the choice of Better Together. How was he chosen anyway? What was the process? Weak, apologetic, denier of BBC bias. He was beaten before he started.
    We want someone strong and charismatic. Who puts the fear of God into the BBC unionists? Who isn’t afraid to highlight BBC bias. Who isn’t afraid to ask questions about BBC emails discriminating against supporters of Scottish Independence. Following the logic of the BBC email, everyone, except for elected politicians, must be a unionist if they appear on the BBC.

  25. Cubby says:

    Totally agree. We need to say the pension amount will be higher. Point out the UK pension is the 3rd lowest in the world. Point out that Turkey has a higher pension. Point out an independent Scotland can do a lot better for Pensions. Point out the amount of money wasted by the UK . Point out how much has been spent on illegal wars.
    Point out that probably everyone who works for the BBC is aBritish Nationalist. Nasty discrimination at its worst. Point out all their broken promises from the last indyref2. I could go on and on. We have the ammunition/facts we just need to use it properly. We need passion.

  26. Graham Niven says:

    Books like this while worthwhile may not get much of a readership.
    I would expect that the bulk of the electorate wouldn’t have the motivation or stamina to plough their way through the abriged version never mind the full one.

    What we need is a big advertising campaign of catchy slogans which stick in the conciousness.

    for example: “Independence is normal”

    Imagine that on huge billboards everywhere.

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