Stop 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.
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.