EU’ve Been Framed

Idioma de EuropaflagsStop the World Scotland Wants to Get On …  it’s beginning to look as if independence might be the only way for Scotland to stay in the European Union. David Cameron’s UKIP-driven European folly looks more and more like a disaster for the NO campaign.

By Ruth Wishart

The refrain has been constant from all the unionist parties and the No campaign. A two year lead-in to an Independence referendum would be de-stabilising. It would give potential inward investors pause for second thought. It would bring further uncertainty generally to already uncertain economic times. In short, it would be a costly distraction and a piece of irrelevant self indulgence.

Fast forward to January 23rd 2013 and a UK Prime Minister prepared to have a five year lead in to a referendum about whose purpose he can’t be clear, on a question he can’t yet determine, based on negotiations which haven’t begun and show little sign of doing so.

De-stabilising? Discouraging investment? Piling on economic uncertainty? Self indulgent? Irrelevant? You bet! But also emblematic of a leader who has put supposed party interest before that of the country he was – sort of – elected to serve. Who made that carefully crafted, much sweated over speech, because he was trapped in a pincer movement by his own Euro-phobes.

Because he allowed himself to be spooked and bullied by a party which can’t even summon a single member of the UK parliament. A party with more headbangers than the dodgy end at Millwall FC.

Never in the field of human politics has so much been risked for so many by a Prime Minister in thrall to so few.

Let’s be clear. There is not a four deep queue in Brussels anxious to indulge the fantasy life of the most semi detached of its membership. Why would there be ? They have one or two more important things on their minds right now at the heart of Europe. And little appetite for going down a route which might have another two dozen plus states demanding a fresh deal on the grounds of national self interest.

Remember too the loud rattling of cages over Scotland’s future in Europe. How an independent Scotland could not guarantee future membership. How it might have to re-apply? How disingenuous it was to suppose the EU would handily dance to Scotland’s tune?

Now Mr Cameron has ushered in a truly bizarre scenario where he might simultaneously be arguing that the Scots risk losing their European credentials whilst casually tossing the UK’s on the fire – and, in so doing, risking taking all the nations of the UK out of Europe on the back of Europhobic English votes.

Not at all incidentally, he has surely induced a giant headache in the constituent parts of the No campaign. Can the Liberal Democrats really endorse such a rash tactic with their own well established commitment to Europe? Will the Labour party feel obliged to offer its own version to appease middle England’s more rabidly eurosceptic voters? Will the Scottish Tories be happy to argue that Scotland chucked out of Europe is in our best interests?

But the most dispiriting part of this craven obeisance to the loony right, is that a man who came into power telling his party to stop obsessing about Europe has just guaranteed half a decade of obsessive, compulsive disorder on that very subject.

For those of us self describing as Scottish Europeans, a very disappointing day. For the Tory European enthusiasts, a complete disaster. And in the long run, you suspect, not the route to electoral success for the Conservative Party as a whole.

Not that it’s a whole any more.

About these ads


Categories: Economics, English Culture, EU membership

Tags: , , ,

24 replies

  1. I would disagree with one thing – I think this is a good day for Scottish Europeans. It seems inconceivable that this will have anything but a positive effect for those of us seeking to have Scotland as an independent member of the EU. After the silly arguments over the purely syntactical differences between “automatic” membership of the EU and negotiating continued membership from within, we now get to the real truth, that the only credible threat to our place in the EU is from continued membership of the UK.

    However, it’s depressing to think that the Eurosceptic press will somehow manage to become even MORE Eurosceptic over the next five years, in order to ensure rUK votes to leave the EU in 2017. One of my hopes post-Yes is that our media does not continue the warped analysis of the EU that is so predominant in the wider UK media.

    Maybe we could just ban the Daily Mail once we’re independent…? After all, it peddles hate speech.

    • This is a definate boost for the indy campaign. If you want to be in Europe (which seems to have been promoted throughout as A GOOD THING, staying in the UK now risks that. It means thankfully now we can see an end to one line of ongoing scaremongering.

  2. What great ‘top up’ for the yes vote. Seems the only guarantee of staying in the EU is to ensure Scotland gets independence. As much as I class Cameron as an incompetent fool, I’m beginning to like him. I mean who else gives you presents like this?

  3. Ruth, thank you for calling a spade a spade: these people are Europhobes. I’M a Eurosceptic, since anyone would be daft not to be sceptical about some (many?) of the European bureaucracy’s doings. But the folk who cunningly stole the name Eurosceptic to hide their real intentions just appear to want out. Perhaps Euroseptic would be a better name for them?

    • An important distinction. Euroscepticism is perfectly justified, given the undemocratic decision-making structure of the EU which gives most power to the relatively unrepresentative Commission and Council of Ministers and least to the more representative Parliament (with around 43 parties or groups represented). Unfortunately, the Commission and the Council are the groups most susceptible to the undemocratic influence of lobbyists and foreign governments serving corporate, financial and military interests.
      Worst of all perhaps is the way the EU has been effectively subsumed into NATO, helping to fight its illegal wars which serve only Western geo-political, neo-imperialistic interests (based on egregious lies about global terrorism). Some 876 EU soldiers have been sacrificed to those interests in Afghanistan. A priority for an independent Scotland would be to detach itself from NATO and its warmongering.
      Scotland could best contribute to the re-democratisation of the EU by having a robust constitution solidly based on popular sovereignty and including the kind of participatory rights that the Swiss and others take for granted. A democratic Scotland committed to social and economic justice and the resolution of conflict through peaceful means could – and should – be a powerful example to the rest of Europe.

  4. Ruth, I think you are right to draw attention to Cameron’s Janus-faced gymnastics on Britain’s relationship with Europe, although he’s only the latest in a long line of Tory leaders to perform this unenviable feat. Not sure I agree with your conclusion here, though. This is a calculated move by Cameron in spite of the (inevitable) contradictions that run through his speech.

    Britain or, more accurately, England has always had a problem with the concept of a unified Europe. Ever since the end of the Second World War when Churchill told De Gaulle:

    “If it’s a choice between Europe and the open sea, we will always choose the open sea”,

    and with greater force since 1958, both the main parties at Westminster, when in opposition, have used the issue of Europe and its threat to ‘British’ sovereignty as a means of increasing the discomfort of the incumbent British government (Labour or Tory). The Tories, though, have never really recovered from the events that precipitated and followed John Major’s exasperated “put up or shut up” ultimatum to his backbench Eurosceptics in 1995.

    The Tories, of course, were toast before 1995. ‘Black Wednesday’ saw to that. In 1992, the combination of those old reliables – British government and UK Treasury mismanagement and incompetence – saw £30 billion of reserves being spent in the fruitless attempt to support sterling in the ERM and, when the dust had settled, British taxpayers ‘only’ lost £4 billion, £1 billion of which was gratefully pocketed by the currency speculator George Soros.

    In the same year of Major’s ultimatum, one of England’s most astute political analysts, Andrew Gamble, wrote a classic essay – ‘ a classic is news that stays news’ – ‘The Crisis of Conservatism’ in the New Left Review, that forensically documented the secular decline of the ‘four pillars’ of Conservatism. But Gamble’s essay could, and perhaps should have been re-titled ‘The Crisis of Britishness’ for, with some modifications, that is what the bigger picture was telling us, then as well as now.

    And for England, in particular those in England who await their political version of a Copernican revolution – it’ll be a shock to them when it comes but the world does not revolve around Westminster – the issue of ‘Europe’ is both a cause and a symptom of the crisis of Britishness. One of the many areas of consensus between the British Labour and Conservative parties is the issue of British ‘red lines’ in their negotiations with Europe – the ‘awkward partner’ indeed. But ever since the shelter of Bretton Woods was removed in the early 1970 (and it’s no coincidence that this precipitated Britain’s membership of the EU), it’s difficult to identify a year when the British were either not in crisis or were not creating the conditions for crisis.

    It is perhaps an index of the ontological security that Britishness seems to provide to many Scots that we have had to wait all this time for an independence referendum. We’ll never know how an independence vote would have fared if it had been held in 1979. But if counterfactual history can ‘prove’ anything we can confidently assert that if we knew in 1979 what we know now there would surely have been a Yes vote in 1979. But perhaps this is a question that we should reserve exclusively for the Scottish Labour party?

    If Europe is both cause and symptom of the crisis of Britishness the same can surely be said of next year’s independence referendum (is it next year already?), which is itself the culmination of a slow-burning fuse in the increasingly tortuous and fragmenting relationship between Scotland and Britain. As Alex Salmond has already publicly implied this afternoon, David Cameron’s speech is helpful to the cause of Scottish independence. It’s true that Cameron wants to remain in Europe but his pledge to “re-negotiate” Britain’s relationship with Europe only underlines the fundamental British problem with Europe. Both British Labour and Conservative governments have, historically, tried to mould Europe in Britain’s image, sometimes with limited success. For example, as Thatcher was the cheerleader for the EU’s single market in the 1980s so New Labour was the cheerleader for the EUs neo-liberal turn to the Lisbon Agenda some two decades later.

    We know that Cameron’s speech has as much to do with England’s domestic politics as it does with the ongoing predicament of the EU. For some time now, UKIP have been consistently polling into double figures in England, and with the right in the ascendant in English politics there’s a lot of disaffected (quasi-)Tory votes for Cameron to capture in the run-up to 2015 to add to the 35 per cent or so that the Tories are currently polling in England.

    As things stand now, a No vote in 2014 raises the spectre of Scotland living in splendid British isolation, facing the prospect of being reduced to an irrelevant and remote northern outpost of Scotlandshire appended to little England. Who are the ‘separatists’ now?

    In Scotland though, this is more than a little local difficulty. This spectre takes us back to the recurring problem for Scottish Labour in Scotland. The latest YouGov poll on British membership of the EU shows England for withdrawal and Scotland, marginally, for remaining in the EU. Ironically, in the poll, Scotland and London are the only two areas of Britain that favour continued membership.

    In the event of a British in-out referendum on EU membership, it’s not unrealistic, therefore, to argue that England would vote to leave the EU and Scotland would vote to remain in the EU with the result that Scotland would leave the EU. The question then is, in the event of this outcome, what would Scottish Labour’s position be? In other words, this is yet another example of the potency of the no mandate argument for Scottish independence. For once again, Scottish Labour would have no alternative but to turn to Scottish voters and say to them, ‘Sorry, but your votes are irrelevant, we’ll get back to you sometime in the future’. It would be a brave bookie who would give generous odds on which of the two unions will end first, Scotland’s union with England or Britain’s union with the EU. But the end of the British state, as presently constituted, is definitely the favourite, especially now.

  5. Not convinced that this will top up the yes vote, while it may sway labour diehards, there are a huge number of indi supporters and undecideds that are also europhobes that may be influenced by the tabloid slavering that’s bound to follow.
    sadly this attitude just lifted from a facebook conversation is very common
    ” I am also against having another layer of government as in the EU, why become independent just to sign a lot of the powers you’ve just wrestled from London to hand some control to the EU?”

  6. No doubt Cameron thinks that he is being democratic, but he really he is running scared of a fringe party and, showing his true colours of hypocrisy.

    Of course, wee Davy wasn’t even a twinkle in his Dad’s eye when Labour held this very referendum back in 1975 in response to strong populist anti-EEC feeling and a promise by the Prime Minister (Harold Wilson) to renegotiate terms of membership. The polls all indicated a crushing defeat for the Government and an early exit: 68% voted YES with a turnout of almost 65%.

    The difference now is that a) the UK, with its devolved governments and rising nationalism, is far less cohesive than it was in the early ’70s; and b) it threatens to tear the Conservative Party apart and dissolve any real chance of another coalition with the LibDems in the very likely scenario that they are unable to achieve a majority.

  7. As always an insecure electorate with a clearly defined threat (or collection of threats) and perceived enemy is easier to manipulate, less resistant to erosion of conditions and less likely to demand progress. A general air of instability is a tool to used to paralyse us. “Don’t rock the boat and we might just make it to shore”

  8. This is a big boost to the Yes campaign. Given that unionists always go on about what they see as the isolationism and separatism inherent in independence, this move by Cameron effectively points to them as the isolationists and separatists. There can be little doubt that this looks like the beginning of the end for the UK’s membership of the EU. UKIP will be significantly boosted in England in time for the European elections next year, and now have a major reason to support the Tories at the next general election. In addition, the uncertainly argument against independence has been badly damaged, possibly fatally by this intervention by Cameron. After all, Cameron is saying that there might be a referendum in 2017 (he is not even saying there will be definitely one), more than four years away.

  9. Fully off-topic:
    Out of curiosity, where did that Asturian flag came from? I haven’t seen that in all my life. Here’s the real thing: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flag_of_Asturias
    Keep on your good work, this site is really useful to keep informed people sympathetic with Scottish independence around the world.

  10. I must admit, I’d quite like to see this used as a debate for up here as well because I haven’t seen one good reason for staying in Europe apart from ‘because we should’, so let’s see the Pro-Europeans (on both sides of the debate) say why Europe is so awesome.

    • Here’a reason to stay in Europe – Environmental Legilsation. If it wasn’t for the EU Urban Waste Water Directive you’d still find sanitary towels and condoms on North Berwick beach and every other beach near any settlement In Scotland. Just an example you understand. ANd here’s a few others that make a real difference to the protection of Scotland’s environment:

      The Water Framework Directive
      The Habitats Directive
      The Birds Directive
      etc.

      And of course there is also the Working Time Directive and other EU attempts to improve the conditions of working men and women against the neo-liberal ‘consensus’ forced on us or opted out of by Westminster. Sure, the EU has its faults but a lot of good has come out of it that most of us take for granted. Plus there hasn’t been a European War for nearly 60 years, which may be a record.

      • Doesn’t this sounds more like an argument for remaining in the EU as long as we are still members of the UK?

        I would consider myself pro-EU but with the whole Barosso affair I’m starting to queston if my support for the EU over for example just EFTA & ECHR membership, isn’t predicated on the fact that, without the EU, all decisions are the sole remit of Westminster.

      • Correct, our European cousins have been a bulwark against more madness from Westminster than virtually anything else. Under examination this evening what William Hague managed to splutter was basically all about deregulation. Cut threw the rap and that’s basically what this is all about – a light touch approach to.. everything. Remember this is the light touch approach that brought you Leveson, the banking scandal and a litany of corporate abuse.

        As a friend on Twitter suggested, every time this is proposed just shout ‘Horse Burgers all round!”

      • “As a friend on Twitter suggested, every time this is proposed just shout ‘Horse Burgers all round!””

        Heh I saw that tweet still laughing, I need a vegetarian alternative though, perhaps traces of turnips in quorn.

  11. We wait and wait for England to decide our future by delivering a Labour government, now we wait for England to decide our future in the EU. Time to stop sitting back and letting others make the decisions on our behalf – we should be deciding our own political future. To do that we need the mechanisms of self-determination..

  12. This is certainly a fair point, however I would suspect most in the pro-indy but anti-EU camp resent being in the UK more than being in the EU. This is of course just my opinion, having no data to back it up.

  13. Well we can only wait and see what the daily papers say over next few days,can they support a Westminster on the sovereignty issue,then tell us Scots that our sovereignty is not so important!

  14. I presume that if Scotland votes ‘Yes’ then we won’t get a vote in the EU referendum. It’ll be an ‘In’ vistory anyway. The ‘outers’ a anoisy monority whose flimsy arguments will be exposed. Cameron will be campaigning for a “In’ vote come what may. He can’t negotiate and then campaign against the outcomes of his negotiations. And if the Tories lose the next election, then it won’t happen at all.

  15. I suppose that as usual we are in the Manichaen dualist era. This EU thing? Good for some people but not for others. No so-called pro-European ever cites a genuine reason for staying in. Leaving would be… what? What would happen? The lady serving coffee in the University knows that her son did not get a place because others were willing to pay more. What a fool she would be if she actually thought her interests outweighed the huge,the unmistakable benefits of EU membership. Like someone from France edging at a time of recession her son out of higher education. Might is right, God is on the side of the big battalions. People who cite vague spiritual evil without any data or fact behind it as why Scotland should not leave the EU will not be able to show it makes any difference. Do not forget the tea-lady: you and she must live together whether Scotland leaves the EU or not. Art + Politics = Nazism.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: