Referendum Tactics

Idioma de EuropaflagsIvan McKee on lessons from the indyref for the EUref.

Just got one referendum out of the way, and another one coming along – this time on the EU.

SNP policy, rightly, is that there is no need for a vote, and the reasons for that need to be made with vigour by the 56. But given the Westminster arithmetic, and Labour’s recent U turn, EURef is going to happen. We need to plan how to best manage the pitfalls, and the opportunities, it presents.

On the substantive issue, the case for continued EU membership is strong and clear. Free movement of people goes both ways, the EU market is essential for Scottish business and being part of a wider international community is a big part of who we are as a modern outward looking Scotland. There are concerns about structures, as in all political systems, but these are no reason to cut ourselves off from our European neighbours.

So when it comes to the campaign what do we know, and what don’t we know? Well the first lesson, based on the IndyRef experience, is be careful who you campaign with. In other words don’t share a campaign with the Tories.

EURef in Scotland will run to a different tempo and with a different backdrop from the rest of the UK. The levels of political engagement in Scotland are higher and a plethora of national and local organisations focus on debate – inside and outside of the political parties. A welcome legacy of IndyRef. People are open to talking politics in pubs and clubs. No doubt we will see a higher turnout here too.

The relationship between Scotland and the EU under current, and any future, constitutional arrangements will colour the campaign in a way that it won’t south of the border. And Scotland has consistently shown itself to be less attracted to the UKIP anti-immigration agenda, their support here a small fraction of what they have seen in the rest of the UK.

All of this demonstrating what is becoming increasingly obvious to everyone: this is a different country. It thinks differently, feels different and campaigns differently.

There will, no doubt, be ‘official’ UK wide campaign organisations for Yes and No, in the same way as during IndyRef. These will be regulated and their funding controlled. There will most likely also be the opportunity for campaigning organisation to register on both sides, as there was during IndyRef. (The CBI famously having decided it was, then wasn’t, officially on the No side).
The position of the political parties is less clear. During IndyRef there was no doubt who was on which side, and political parties were allocated spending limits on each side of the vote. Whether the same will apply during EURef, with more substantial minorities in the Tories (and Labour) aligning with the No campaign, is not yet clear.

The momentum from Indyref drove the membership surge and the election of the 56. On the horizon we have the Holyrood elections next year and then local council elections in 2017.

Activism is contagious. The concept of the perpetual campaigning organisation is attractive. Far from being a nuisance, this is the life blood of democracy.

Timing is key. The expectation has been that EURef will be held in 2017, but some are now noting that a 2016 poll may hold some political advantage for David Cameron.

So we need a plan for EURef. Whether for a 2017 vote, or to be put into action earlier is as yet unclear. A May 2016 EURef adds more complexity, but also possibly more opportunity.
The advantage lies with whoever has a plan.

So where does that leave us. A distinct and separate ‘Scotland says Yes’ campaign and organisation is required. Pulling together all progressive (i.e. non Tory) supporters of the EU. The reality is that the positive grassroots campaigning experience, the number of activists, and the landscape of post IndyRef campaign organisations means that a substantial part of that campaign will be formed from many of those involved in the 2014 Yes campaign.

The door is open of course for other progressives to join.

This presents a dilemma to the remains of the Unionist parties in Scotland. Align with a Tory led, UK wide ‘official’ pro-EU campaign, or be part of the grassroots ‘Scotland says Yes’ movement.

London leadership will no doubt dictate the former. Another nail in the coffin.
It also offers us a great opportunity to engage positively with EU citizens in Scotland who while they don’t have a vote in EURef do vote in Holyrood, and IndyRef, elections.

The campaign can start now, with plans for organisation structures, funding, local groups and key campaign messages being laid down. Preparing for the public meetings and grassroot activism that will make the distinctive Scottish says Yes campaign a news story across Europe in the same way that IndyRef was. The more our neighbours see our distinctive positivism on this issue the better for the future. We know more than anyone the value of ‘the long campaign’. The UK media will be focussed on EURef as their default top news story now for most of the next 2 years. ‘Scotland says Yes’, first out of the blocks, putting up media speakers, making the case for continued EU membership, setting the agenda, dealing with concerns and signing up supporters can’t happen early enough.

Ivan has worked and lived in a number of European countries, has family and business across the EU, and is old enough (just) to remember the last EU referendum.

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Comments (57)

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  1. James Campbell says:

    Disappointing article. SNP opposition to an EU referendum is staggeringly hypocritical given the indyref (which was rightly held).

    Same old canards being trotted out :

    a) being cut off from Europe (no we won’t – EFTA said we can join and so we will still be part of the EEA).

    b) it’s all about immigration (no it isn’t – it’s about democracy. Immigration is one issue of many.)

    There’s nothing progressive or democratic about the EU which can serve as the basis of a reformed EU. The EU is an ideological juggernaut towards a European superstate, not a confederal structure which reflects democratic mandates in nation states.

    Rightly or wrongly the political loyalties of most people within the EU lie primarily with their nation state. The EU simply ignores this.

    Many people on the right as well as the left can see these things clearly enough and without the need for UKIP-tinted glasses.

    1. One Baw Shaw says:

      @ James Campbell – absolutely right, 100%.

      Of course, hypocrisy being one of the hallmarks of the SNP.

      In September 2014, Scotland voted to remain part of the United Kingdom, by a substantial margin (and remain part of the EU – Yes voters, who lost the referendum, were voting to leave the EU).

      In May 2015, the United Kingdom elected a Conservative government.

      Referendum in Scotland against a backdrop of social, economic and political concerns on whether to remain part of the UK and one integrated, interconnected and friction-less economy and market (where +60% of all Scottish goods and services are sold), based on a democratic mandate (SNP manifesto): Absolutely fine.

      Referendum in UK against a backdrop of social, economic and political concerns on whether to remain part of the world’s largest trading block, and integrated, interconnected and friction-less economy, based on a democratic mandate (Conservative manifesto) TOTALLY UNACCEPTABLE.

      “Democracy” – really? Hypocrites.

      1. James Campbell says:

        Ok thanks. I’m actually a SNP-sympathiser, hence visiting this site regularly. But the EU is one issue where I disagree with them. At least the Greens had enough about them to back a referendum even though their current party policy is pro-EU.

        No-one under 58 years old has ever had a vote on EU membership, despite huge and unexpected transfers of powers from Westminster to Brussels in the meantime. Yet Labour, Lib Dems and SNP were all content for that to continue, perhaps for my whole lifetime.

        Now the SNP want to extend the franchise to other EU nationals specially for this vote (not a big deal in last month’s GE, it seemed) and have an ad hoc constitutional innovation of a 4-nation veto. They’ve never been interested in making the union work better before – just leaving it. And that’s totally reasonable.

        So their designs over the UK on this issue are ridiculously partisan. The route of integrity would be to say that an OUT vote is a deal-breaker for them and seek a mandate for another indyref.

        1. hindmost says:

          The closer political union inherent in the EU treaties has been there since 1975. It wasn’t hidden or obfuscated in any way prior to the 1975 referendum. Both the daily mail and the telegraph printed editorials about the closer political union explicitly stated in the EEC treaties. Both were strongly in favour of it. The daily mail’s position was that it felt so strongly in favour that it didn’t want the referendum to be held at all. I’ve no problem with people campaigning to leave the EU, I just want them to do so honestly. This nonsense about closer political union being hidden or covered up in some way simply isn’t true. All you are going to achieve by lying about that is that people will not trust your other arguments.

          1. James Campbell says:

            I was only 3 in 1975 but the overwhelming impression I get from older people is that they didn’t have a clear sense that the EU would pull Britain into a European superstate, and many feel betrayed and regret voting in. I don’t think the campaign was framed in the terms of – vote in for an “ever-closer (political) union”. It was more vote in for the common market. (Perhaps older readers can set me straight on this.)

            I studied EU law in the early 90s when Factortame came out and this was a big thing – the supremacy of EU law over national law. It wasn’t greeted with a “thought so” but, with much controversy and debate.

            It is certainly true that the “ever closer union” philosophy was well known about by politicians and the words were in the treaties. But it doesn’t ring true when you give the impression that ordinary people had a clear idea that it would lead to the kind of political union that’s now taking shape.

            And by the way, it’s not on to accuse me or posters of “lying” – very poor effort from you on that.

      2. WILL CASEY PURVIS says:

        NO EU=====================LATER MAYBE

        1. MBC says:

          I voted in 1975 for the EU and I can’t remember there being much debate then about closer political union. I was very young at the time, and maybe not paying as close attention as I would now. To my memory, it was all about trade, and freedom to travel. What was not to like, if you were young and adventurous? At that time Scotland was just beginning to emerge (finally) from the war. (I remember older people saying of the 50s and 60s that in Scotland, ‘The war never seemed to end’ as few feel good factors were evident; post-war reconstruction finally took place in the 60s and 70s. Certainly, my memory of the 60s was that there were a few green shoots, but it was finally in the 1970s when you began to see a wider range of foods in the shops, and wine other than The Blue Nun).

          1. stephy says:

            MBC
            It’s still all about trade and travel: political agreement’s are an integral part of making it work, for all of us, (Scots included).

            “To my memory, it was all about trade, and freedom to travel. What was not to like, if you were young and adventurous?”

            Don’t our young people – our children and our grand children – deserve that same opportunity that so appealed to you? What about their sense of adventure?

            Freedom of movement is as important to us Scots as those from other EU countries. It works both ways!

          2. James Campbell says:

            It’s not just about trade though. Politics and democracy is more than trade policy. Freedom of movement will continue in the EEA. To cast the issue as one of denying the next generation rights that we enjoyed is to be ignorant of the realities of withdrawal from the EU. The UK would still be part of the UN, UNECE, WTO and the EEA.

            Most EU trade policy is made at the WTO level and repackaged by the EU before being enforced on member states. Leaving the EU would mean the UK would resume its own seat at the WTO, instead of having its interests represented by the EU. Given that the EU acts for 28 member states, it is pot luck if the UK’s interests co-incides with the whole of the EU’s.

            Ultimately, if it’s just about trade and free movement, then leaving the EU makes sense. If you desire closer political integration across-the-board with our European neighbours, then EU membership makes sense.

            Choose your country, Europe or UK (the latter being potentially subject to future internal change!).

          3. Darien says:

            “Freedom of movement is as important to us Scots as those from other EU countries”

            I have Norwegian friends who work all over Europe, and indeed all over the world, albeit mostly in well-paid high-skill posts. Labour mobility does not seem to be a problem for Norwegians despite not being an EU member.

  2. Neil says:

    It is about immigration. Have you ever driven through Birmingham?

    I have a really delightful family of Lithuanians next door to me, but I do think they should be working for the Lithuanian NHS instead of the one in Edinburgh, as do they, but such is the delights of the world where you have to bribe the nurse to get your shitty bedclothes changed for your relatives.

    1. James Campbell says:

      I live in Birmingham. Immigration is an issue, I agree, but not the only one. The point is that leaving the EU will be the first step to reclaiming more sovereignty over immigration and various other issues. For me, the issue is sovereignty. I’ll be more than a bit angry if Farage et al play the immigration card in the EU ref like he did shamefully during the GE.

    2. hindmost says:

      If it wasn’t for the Polish, Lithuanian, Spanish, Italian, Rumanian, Ghanian, Nigerian, and indeed French and German people working in the NHS you wouldn’t have a functioning NHS at all.

      1. Fed up with the Lies and Propaganda of the London Media Industrial Complex says:

        Hindmost

        No sick people in Africa then ? Britain is plundering the Third World of badly needed doctors and nurses.

  3. Neil says:

    A point? The UK NHS is vastly better than the Lithuanian NHS, and vastly better paid. Hence, people from Lithuania that can speak English will come to Edinburgh, to do pretty much anything, because it pays.

    So, nationalism? EUism?

    The SNP voters are the the no 1 anti-eu voters in opinion polls, so you need to get on that shibboleth, firstly. You probably don’t have it in you? Independence – Unionism – I am an Idiot. Good grief. Get a grip.

  4. One Baw Shaw says:

    “SNP policy, rightly, is that there is no need for a vote”

    Yes there is. In September 2014, Scotland voted to remain part of the UK. the Conservative party made a commitment to this vote in their manifesto. They then formed the current UK Government in May 2015.

    If you are not happy, Scotland is free to leave, at any time, by making a unilateral declaration of independence. (Let me know when it’s happening, i’ll want popcorn and stuff).

    “and the reasons for that need to be made with vigour by the 56”

    ‘the 56’ can masturbate vigorously in the house if they want – it makes no difference. The vote is happening.

    “We need to plan how to best manage the pitfalls, and the opportunities, it presents.”

    No, you should not be continually, cynically thinking about how to make political capital out of this, rather you should get busy with doing your bit to make the case for the UK’s continued membership of the EU. If I may paraphrase David Cameron; stop blowing and gassing, and get some f*cking work done.

  5. dunderheid says:

    Good luck with the planned progressive paradise once Scotland is independent if it stays in the EU….just ask Syriza.

    Also I find the SNP attitude to the breathtaking in its hypocrisy. The just spent the referendum and the general election saying the following:

    “We should not be governed by remote elites who do not understand our specific needs and desires”

    “Of course we can survive, even flourish, on our own…it is defeatist lies to suggest otherwise”

    “They may promise you reform…but they have promised you that before…have they ever delivered?”

    “We don’t need to be lectured to from outsiders what is best for us…we’ll decide that for ourselves”

    “Of course we don’t hate the others…we respect and admire them. We just understand that we’d be wealthier and freer once we control our own destiny”

    Is it really so different from what UKIP or other eurosceptics have been saying?

    (Disclaimer: If it matters I am personally ardently pro-european and believes that the necessary reforms are better done from a position of strength within Europe)

    1. One Baw Shaw says:

      In fairness, it is slightly different from what UKIP (and some other ‘eurosceptics’ say). It’s a somewhat more nuanced, sophisticated, insidious version.

      The UKIP narrative that is peddled to its supporters (who I have no sympathy for), and I am simplifying a little to make the point, is a three legged stool of “If we just 1. get rid of all the ‘old, corrupt, distant, elite, out of touch politicians’ (and replace them with UKIP), 2. ‘take control’ (i.e. close) of our borders and 3. leave the EU – then all will be well, and we will jump into our time machine back to an idealised post war UK that of course never existed.

      I think the parallel with the SNP (and particularly the ‘Yes Campaign’, particularly in its madder unhinged later stages) is the narrative that post -independence, which will be a smooth and easy transition, esp. once freed from the yoke of Westminster, is that all will be well – for everyone.

      And it won’t.

      1. James Campbell says:

        UKIP are certainly not the professional machine that SNP are, and their command of detail on Brexit plans is patchy. Nigel Farage is mistrusted by most voters on the EU, unsurprisingly.

        There are thinkers out there working on the detail of Brexit plans. Have a look at the “FlexCit” proposal on a detailed Norway-style option.
        YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KfEo_TNllk4
        Detailed doc http://www.eureferendum.com/documents/flexcit.pdf

      2. dunderheid says:

        I think its even worse than that….one of the great arguments of independence is that it will allow Scotland to stand or fall on its own decisions.

        However the irresistible temptation of every independent Scottish government will be to blame whatever unpopular problems arise (e.g one ironical example linked to this debate might be the cancelling of free student tuition to prevent it getting swamped by English EU citizens) on the actions or inaction of the evil English government. Our politicians will have all the responsibility but none of the accountability…a terrifying thought

        1. One Baw Shaw says:

          “Our politicians will have all the responsibility but none of the accountability…a terrifying thought”

          I think of greater concern is what will happen when Scotland does become independent**, and what the reaction of the least well off will be when the jobs, money, social programmes, benefits and other nice things that will no doubt be promised again by Elaine C Smith et. al on a future tour of the schemes do not appear.

          People can be very impatient.

          ** I do think this is inevitable now, the various false narratives now have and are gaining more and more traction, “we’ve been subsidising the rest of the UK for all these years”, “everything that has ever gone wrong in Scotland is all Westminster or (insert ‘other’ / enemy of choice here), and that combined with the glazed eyed moonie crowd will get the Separatists over the line).

    2. Anton says:

      Dunderheid, you land some telling blows. I’ve often thought that the SNP’s rhetoric has often been pretty much interchangeable with UKIP’s by way of the sorts of slogans you set out. Which is of course not particularly surprising, given that they are both nationalist parties. The huge difference is in the kind of societies they envisage in the event of independence from “remote and unrepresentative elites” – Westminster in the case of the SNP, and Brussels in the case of UKIP. The arguments are the same, though the hoped-for results are very different.

      Perhaps it’s not too surprising that Alex Salmond and Nigel Farage have been so successful. Essentially they’ve been saying the same thing.

      I believe that’s one of the reasons that the Referendum was lost.

      1. James Campbell says:

        Despite agreeing with UKIP on EU policy, sadly their core supporters are mostly angry reactionaries and most of their politicians are cast in this mould (with some honourable exceptions).

        On the other hand, as I see it, the core supporters of the SNP have a much more energetic and positive agenda to improve their country (with some reactionaries on the fringes). This makes the SNP and UKIP quite different parties, and explains the huge rise in fortunes of the former and the modest rise in the latter, in my opinion.

  6. WILL CASEY PURVIS says:

    SCOTLAND 1ST
    THEN THE EU MAYBE

  7. WILL CASEY PURVIS says:

    NEIL TO STAY IN SCOTLAND NEED 500 TO 1000 YEARS HERITAGE
    LONG LIVE SCOTLAND

  8. Kilsally says:

    Of course leaving the EU does not mean ditching trade with the EU.

  9. MBC says:

    I’m personally very worried about certain aspects of the EU, about TTIP for example. Chomsky describes the EU unfavourably as being wedded to neoliberalism. On the other hand the EU has forced us to do things we wouldn’t otherwise probably have done, such as renew and replace Victorian water pipes or reduce landfill and clean up beaches. Not exciting stuff politically, but worthwhile improvements. Immigration has never particularly bothered me, but I am minded to query if it really benefits Europe as a whole if the best educated and most ambitious East Europeans leave en masse to take up jobs in western Europe. I would like to see evidence that it wasn’t holding up development there. To what extent is there any benefit flowing the other way? I.e. western European businesses setting up in easteen Europe and investing in and developing that economy?

    1. James Campbell says:

      For me, it’s the ideology which is the root cause of the problems. Jean Monnet was convinced that war would only be avoided if we worked towards eliminating nation states – a half-baked half-truth, at best. The EU is an outworking of that ideology, which is written into the treaties and entrenched in the praxis of the Commission and ECJ.

      EU officials are probably competent in the main but if we are half-decent democrats, we cannot tolerate the drip-drip sovereignty grab which is the daily reality of the EU machine.

      I feel sorry for the former Eastern bloc states. They had little chance to rebuild their democratic structures before the EU acquis had to be swallowed. Only Vaclav Havel, to my knowledge, pointed this out.

      In Slovakia, for example, I understand that the EU is considered a good brake on domestic corruption. It could have been so different if top officials from the original member states in W Europe had helped E European states to build up their institutions in their own way. Strengthening good governance in nation states is definitely not on the EU agenda.

  10. My Cocaine says:

    I’m pro Scottish independence, but anti-EU.

    Remember Ireland a few years back when they voted no on treaty change, and then the EU made them vote again until they got a yes vote? Or when the people of Denmark and Holland voted no, and Brussels ignored them and pressed on.

    I’ll never forgive the EU for that. Totally anti-democratic.

    1. Fed up with the Lies and Propaganda of the London Media Industrial Complex says:

      Greece made the deal with the Devil, they wanted a bail out from the EUSSR bankers but by doing so they sold their soul and are now in debt which will never be paid off.

      Iceland was also in debt but refused the bail out and told them to piss off.

      1. One Baw Shaw says:

        “Greece … are now in debt which will never be paid off”.

        Who says Greece needs to ‘pay off’ its debt? (Well, not for the moment, anyway)

        It’s far more important that Greece reforms its institutions, starts collecting taxes properly, reduces its deficit and services its debt sustainably.

        No-one says they have to ‘pay off’ their debt.

        1. Fed up with the Lies and Propaganda of the London Media Industrial Complex says:

          ”Who says Greece needs to ‘pay off’ its debt? (Well, not for the moment, anyway)”

          My child, You’ve just contradicted yourself.

          ”No-one says they have to ‘pay off’ their debt.”

          They signed the contract.

  11. Fed up with the Lies and Propaganda of the London Media Industrial Complex says:

    I’m so disappointed in the SNPs policy over Europe, they want to regain our independence from Westminster to then hand those powers to a bunch of bankers in Brussels !! It doesn’t make sense. I would prefer Scotland take the Norway, Iceland road. Complete independence.

    1. One Baw Shaw says:

      “I would prefer Scotland take the Norway, Iceland road. Complete independence”

      Iceland – Population: 329,000 (homogenous)

      Norway -One of the wealthiest countries in the world per capita, blessed with huge natural resources beyond almost any other – with government spending determined entirely by its own contribution and productivity. And a commonly agreed approach to high public spending for common benefit. (Scotland = same as rest of UK = don’t want to pay any more taxes / tax ‘them’ i.e. someone else, ‘the rich’, a model which has never succeeded in raising and maintaining quality of life and standard of living, ever)

      Scotland is nothing like Norway (or Iceland), and never will be.

      1. Fed up with the Lies and Propaganda of the London Media Industrial Complex says:

        ”Scotland is nothing like Norway (or Iceland) ”

        Correct, Norway and Iceland are truly independent while Scotland is a vassal state of London.

        1. WILL CASEY PURVIS says:

          WE’LL TAKE OUR OWN ROAD—

      2. WILL CASEY PURVIS says:

        THERE ARE STUPID SCOTS———THANK GOD NOT MANNY

        1. Jim Bennett says:

          Why single our Manny?

      3. Hoss Mackintosh says:

        hmmm… Natural resources.

        Scotland had more oil than Norway. What happened to it all?

  12. Graeme Purves says:

    The trick will clearly be to keep the knee-jerk anti-Europeans tied up in the trollosphere while Scotland Says Yes gets on with positive campaigning.

    1. James Campbell says:

      What positive reforms of the EU does the SNP / Yes campaign have up its sleeve? Or is the EU working just fine?

      1. Graeme Purves says:

        Its institutions clearly need to be democratised. On the other hand, it already does cross-border collaboration much better than the ramshackle United Kingdom.

        1. WILL CASEY PURVIS says:

          WATCH OUT FOR THAT DEMOCRACY SHITE.——–AMERICA IS NOT A DEMOCRACY!!
          WE ARE A REPUBLIC.

        2. James Campbell says:

          What if its institutions are never democratised, despite the obvious need? There is no groundswell within the EU institutions themselves to democratise, 60 years on.

          And how would it work in practice? Will the people be consulted on handing back powers to nation states? I don’t think so.

          The trouble with the EU is that it is intrinsically undemocratic. That’s too hard for most people to accept and so the illusion of democratic reform persists.

          1. Graeme Purves says:

            The democratisation of EU institutions can only be achieved by Europe’s people. Developments in Greece, Spain and Scotland give grounds for optimism.

  13. Fed up with the Lies and Propaganda of the London Media Industrial Complex says:

    Irish journalist Vincent Browne taking on European Central Banker Klaus Masuch on Irish Debt.

  14. Darien says:

    “It’s still all about trade ”

    And what exactly has 40 years of EU membership done for what is left of Scottish exporting ‘industry’ today? I would suggest very little given Scotland’s relatively poor performance in exporting, as highlighted in evidence given to Holyrood infrastructure and economy committees respectively. Likewise the impact of 300 years of UK ‘membership’ is highly questionable too. Scotland is still seriously questioning its UK membership, but also needs to seriously debate EU membership.

  15. Becka says:

    There are good and rational reasons to leave the EU and there are good and rational reasons not to. Unfortunately the debate has become so tainted by immigration panic that it’s hard to have those conversations.

    One of the biggest is that non-euro countries were able to dodge the worst of the debt crises that hit the euro zone because they pretty much ignored the EU regulations that would have stopped them making the necessary adjustments. We all know austerity is bad but if the governments had tried to keep inside the rules it would have been worse. Which is why the EU is tightening the rules to make sure they can’t just ignore them next time.

    Before I decide how to vote I’m going to have to think hard about it.

    1. James Campbell says:

      Good points. Think about the direction of travel too. Where is the EU likely to be in 20 years time? The agenda of ever closer union marches on – witness current moves by France and Germany to integrate their national budgets.

      For me, the stark choice is between leaving the EU or full political union within a generation. I don’t want this to be the choice but the nature of the EU means that in practice, this is the choice.

  16. Fed up with the Lies and Propaganda of the London Media Industrial Complex says:

    It was revealed in the 1990s that Ted Heath said ” Selling out the Scottish fish industry was a price worth paying to join the Common Market.”

    1. James Campbell says:

      Good point. Fishing communities is one area where joining the EU has had a very negative impact on the historic way of life of many communities across the UK, Scotland being disproportionately affected.

      Scots are rightly angered by Westminster’s squandering of North Sea oil resources. Some bile should be reserved for those who have permitted the decimation of fish stocks in the North Sea by fisherman from other countries.

      UK fishing catches now account for only 12% of the total North Sea catch.

  17. Flower of Scotland says:

    My God, Bella has become infested with trolls!

    It’s the same on the facebook page. Ivan McKee should not bother writing on here when people don’t even read his work properly.

    There are too many SNP haters on this site for my liking.

    Sorry Mike but a lot of posts on here and on Facebook just attack the SNP who have been the only Independence Party since 1948.

    I like a good debate but these people are trying to undermine Scotland and our future! It’s becoming tiresome!

    1. James Campbell says:

      If you like a good debate, why don’t you contribute something substantive to this one? I’ve not seen a plethora of “SNP-hating” comments. Don’t you think you’re being a little hysterical?

    2. Hi – yes we are trying to respond to this – both here on the site and on the Facebook group. Its always difficult because you want dissent and challenging debate and we need to make a judgement when that tips into relentless negativity and deliberate spoiling. Rest assured we will (and have) taken action to weed people out. We have 5 admins on the FB group. Having said that the SNP needs to be able to take criticism. Bella is not a mouthpiece for any one party.

      1. Andrew says:

        I don’t think the discussion is massively anti-SNP (not least when the article itself was an endorsement of SNP policy). I also don’t think supporting independence for Scotland should automatically mean supporting the SNP position on the EU and an EU referendum specifically.

        Bella has a pretty good culture of debate, and challenging the view of the dominant party/ Scottish Government has to be a part of that debate.

      2. James Campbell says:

        I’m English with family and political interests in Scotland. I’m pro-Scottish indy and in favour of BREXIT, and have expressed these views on here. However, the last thing I want is to be considered a “troll” on this site.

        If Bella’s official line on the EU is IN and arguing for OUT is considered trolling, then please just say it clearly and I’ll leave you in peace.

    3. Darien says:

      I agree with many independence supporters that EU memberships needs to be debated and questioned.

      On trade, being part of the EU for the last 4 decades has not expanded Scotland’s exports much, if at all. See recent evidence submitted to Holyroon Infras and Economy committees. Norway’s manufactured trade in goods far exceeds Scotland and they are outside the EU.

      On immigration, most countries are able to plug any skills gaps without being part of a large single market like the EU. Australia is a good example, as is Norway which is closer to home.

      On bureaucracy, anyone who has had dealings with Brussels will know that the EC is a high-cost nightmare with a great deal of its public expenditure wasted in one way or another.

      So, give us some actual examples of benefits of the EU and evidence?

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