USUK – You Suck! And So Do EU!

Rob Brown makes the case for nationalism without neoliberalism.

Due to the phenomenal success of Rebecca, Daphne Du Maurier was too often classified as a romantic novelist. Yet most of her prolific output, especially her short stories, contained a dark or even nasty side. Moreover, her final book prophesied Brexit – even before our initial membership of the European Economic Community had been confirmed by the 1975 referendum.

Hastily reissued in 2016, Rule Britannia portrays the United Kingdom storming out of the EEC then seeking refuge in a full-blown political, economic and military alliance with the United States. As a contingent of American marines are parachuted into the author’s beloved Cornwall to slap down a local resistance movement, USUK soon comes to be pronounced “You Suck” in that gentle corner of the Celtic Fringe.

A crude and zany state-of-the-nation novel was how Du Maurier’s literary swansong was easily dismissed for four decades as the Common Market gradually evolved, like a political caterpillar, into a far more integrated entity. But that changed abruptly on 23 June 2016.

Since the Leave campaign’s shock referendum victory, several prominent UK neoliberals and neocons in the UK Cabinet seem to have been treating a wacky piece of fiction as a diplomatic instruction manual.

Liam Fox, the international trade secretary, recently told the American readership of Time magazine: “The relationship between our countries has been ‘special’ for many years, but Brexit has given us a once-in-a-generation opportunity to raise it to a new level.”

For the gung-ho defence secretary Gavin Williamson, that means “enhancing the reach and lethality of our forces and reinforcing that the United States remains our very closest of partners.”

Naïve adoration of America is nothing new among the British political class and their favoured courtiers in the metropolitan media. All those freebie trips to the Land of the Free – which an offshoot of the CIA laid on over several decades for rising political stars and opinion formers across the US’s satellite states – were not all a waste of federal funds.

The British American Project and other secret elite conclaves also implanted Atlanticism into the minds of a succession of Labour Party leaders. Much of which was driven by a determination in DC to maintain a not-very-British nuclear deterrent at the mouth of the Clyde – a source of massive orders for the American military-industrial complex.

Even Jeremy Corbyn, a lifelong advocate of unilateral nuclear disarmament, has caved in to plans for the renewal of Trident. But nobody close to him doubts that he remains instinctively opposed to external domination by Washington – and by Brussels.

Even when Theresa May’s original Brexit strategy plainly lay in tatters, Corbyn was remarkably slow in angling for a second referendum. While some of that can be attributed to a sensible fear of antagonising Leave voters in Labour’s heartlands, it also suggests he was not personally heartbroken by the outcome of the first People’s Vote.

For Nicola Sturgeon it was a nightmare. ‘Scotland in Europe’ had been the SNP’s holy grail for decades. Suddenly the guarantee that stance seemed to provide of totally uninterrupted trade with both England and EU post-independence was plunged into severe jeopardy.

The shock among the party’s high command perhaps explains why it no longer seems capable of calm, joined-up thinking. Amid the Brexit bourach, the SNP’s chieftains have become feverishly committed to the speedy creation of a Scottish currency and a Scottish Central Bank, ditching their previous desire to keep the pound for as long as judged necessary.

Their Damascene conversion will doubtless be endorsed at the party’s spring conference in Edinburgh at the end of the month, during which the foot soldiers will finally be allowed to debate Andrew Wilson’s Sustainable Growth Commission report. A few dissident voices will get a turn at the microphone, but this top-down policy change seems certain to be publicly rubber-stamped just as opposition to Nato was ditched back in 2012.

There is a case to be made for a Caledonian version of the punt but it cannot be credibly combined with advocacy of rejoining the EU somewhere down the line. One point this massive monetary union is very clear about is that any new member state must be fit and willing to enter the Eurozone.

In practice that would mean submission to the tight fiscal constraints the European Central Bank in Frankfurt imposes upon every finance ministry from Dublin to Tallin – something our current finance secretary knows most Scottish voters would not be prepared to stomach if the full implications were spelled out to them. As they were by Wilson.

Determined not to frighten the horses as he did, Derek Mackay recently sought to water down the corporate PR man’s projection of further painful austerity post-independence. The implication of Mackay’s sunny statement in early March was that the Growth Commission massively underestimated how rapidly and spectacularly Scotland’s economy could grow once it had wrested full macroeconomic levers from the Treasury.

They can put whatever spin they like on this drastic revision of Wilson’s original toxic document, but it suggests that body’s supposedly distinguished membership – which did not include a single trade unionist – didn’t really know what they were talking about when they drew up their conclusions.

Plucking wild figures out of the air, as both Wilson and Mackay have been doing, could fatally undermine the Yes campaign in any future IndyRef2. It certainly won’t impress the powers-that-be in Brussels or Frankfurt if a future Scottish Government does ever lob in an application for renewed EU membership.

Make no mistake – and check with the Greeks if you need confirmation – the EU can be a brutal behemoth. Not only would an independent Scotland need to adopt the Euro, it would be forced to free up its ample fishing grounds again and submit once more to the monstrosities of the CAP.

Great news for all those fat cat farmers up in Aberdeenshire who have become a perennial feature in the Sunday Times Rich List on the back of huge public subsidies. But the rest of us?

Those who imagine a small fledgling nation-state on the north-western edge of Europe could drive a great membership deal should take a long, hard look at how Brussels has played hardball with Britain throughout the Brexit negotiations. ‘Scotland Loves Europe’ and ‘Don’t EU want me, baby?’ were smart demo placards, but such grovelling sentiments won’t cut much ice come the crunch talks.

As soon as the true nature of full European integration dawned upon the chief architect of the SNP’s (always oxymoronic) ‘Independence in Europe’ strategy, he completely disassociated himself from it. A lifelong democratic socialist, Jim Sillars came to grasp that the EU could never deliver pan-continental socialism or democracy to its powerless citizens.

‘Stay in and we’ll shift it leftwards from within’ is the prevailing wisdom among all sorts of Scottish progressives. But the stark reality is that a United Socialist States of Europe isn’t even as much as a pipedream.

Danny Nicol, Professor of Public Law at the University of Westminster, has spelled it out: “The EU treaties not only contain procedural protections for capitalism – as is the case in the US Constitution – they also entrench substantive policies which correspond to the basic tenets of neoliberalism.
“Unless those who seek such change face up to the constitutional obstacle that confronts them, the only progressive reforms to materialise will be confined to the realms of their own minds.”

Andrew Wilson and Derek Mackay, along with all their pinstriped pals, would be perfectly content if that turned out to be the case. But those of us committed to nationalism without neoliberalism should not stoop to begging our European neighbours for anything. Nor should we be hoping or praying that the Anglo-American empire will agree to an orderly and amicable withdrawal from Faslane.

It’s time to take a stand for true self-determination by sending a clear, uncompromising message to Washington, Whitehall and Brussels: USUK, you suck! And so do EU!

Comments (43)

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  1. Tom Parkhill says:

    Interesting article, but there are a couple of points where I feel Mr Brown is stretching things. Firstly, only 19 of the 28 EU members are in the Euro. UK and Denmark have opt-outs, the others just have not taken it up. In particular, Euro membership is conditional on 2 years successful membership of ERM2 (exchange rate mechanism). If you don’t apply for ERM, you cannot become a Euro member.

    Prof Nicol has said that the EU proscribed nationalisation, which is not so. It is true of monopoly nationalisation (or monopoly capitalism); but we have seen recent nationalisation even in the UK (East Coast Rail Line).

    A united socialist Europe is not on offer anywhere. Brexit is driven by the extreme right.

    It’s not that the EU is ideal, it’s that the alternatives are worse. Like in all treaties, even marriage, you accept a compromise. Independence will lead to a renegotiation of how we relate to the UK. We certainly would find it difficult to drop the UK and the EU at the same time.

    1. Rob Brown says:

      Thank you for your thoughtful response, Tom. I have a couple of rejoinders. Firstly, a newly independent Scotland wouldn’t be a long established EU member state like Denmark. When the UK exits, Scotland will go with it.
      In the meantime there is absolutely no desire among the EU’s dominant powers to negotiate separately with the Scottish Government. It’s been made crystal clear to Nicola Sturgeon that the EU won’t even be acceding to her request to maintain a symbolic office in Edinburgh. The only lights being kept on for Scotland are in Alyn Smith MEP’s fevered mind. So we won’t need to drop the UK and the EU at the same time. The EU will have dropped us.
      Personally, I consider that a blessing of Brexit. Having reported from Ireland throughout its recent economic slump – caused in large part by the ECB’s brutal determination to protect banksters and bondholders rather than the Republic’s most vulnerable citizens – I have come to regard ‘Independence in Europe’ as a dark and dangerous illusion. Certainly not what the 1916 rebels fought for.
      While deploring the right-wing ideologies and opportunists who have spearheaded Brexit in league with their neoliberal and neocon allies across the Atlantic – something I made clear in my article – I draw inspiration from the fine tradition of suspicion towards a European superstate on the left of the political spectrum, most eloquently expressed for many years by E.P. Thompson.
      Currently the most prominent standard-bearer for this cause in Scotland is Jim Sillars. I accept he is past his political prime but he certainly wasn’t so when he first became disillusioned with Independence in Europe and eloquently articulated the reasons why.
      It took courage and principle for a former SNP deputy-leader to disavow the flagship policy which he drafted. It also takes commitment and resolve to keep swimming against the sleekit right-wing current in Scotland’s governing party these days.
      Those who stealthily combine diluted nationalism with disguised neoliberalism are always ready to dismiss as a left-wing dinosaur anyone who rumbles them. I know who I’d rather be in the trenches with.

      1. Interpolar says:

        Fine. But if you do head count of the countries who have joined since the Euro went into circulation, how many have had to adopt the Euro practice? Only half have decided to.
        Similarly, how many countries have stopped using the Euro because it sucks so badly?

        That said, what would be so bad about joining the Euro? As someone who has lived on the continent before and after Euro’s introduction, I can only say, I wouldn’t want to go back to travelling around with wads of banknotes and a pocket full of motley coins. Having the same currency also makes business transactions simpler.

  2. Michael says:

    Mr Brown doesn’t seem to fully understand the currency issue in two critical ways which leave this article open to being accused of being misleading: 1) the SNP leadership are currently involved in a duplicitous campaign to tie Scotland into a policy that essentially stops the formation of a Scottish currency for the foreseeable future, even after gaining independence; 2) having a Scottish currency is a prerequisite for applying to join the EU, but joining the Eurozone is not necessarily a prerequisite for joining the EU. The way these issues are framed above is misleading.

    The main point Mr Brown seems to miss though, is that meaningful independence is quietly being chocked off by the SNP leadership and the Growth Commission. The fight for meaningful independence is happening on establishment terms and under the cover of the Brexit fog of nonsense. The real fight for independence is happening now and most Scots aren’t even aware there is a fight going on 🙁

    Kerevan on Bella and CommonSpace have been covering this issues from well informed positions – see links below.

    Replying to Andrew Wilson: a Scottish Currency is not Symbolism, it’s Power: https://bellacaledonia.org.uk/2019/02/14/replying-to-andrew-wilson-a-scottish-currency-is-not-symbolism-its-power/

    Robin McAlpine: Noise and silence – why the Growth Commission is the fight of our lives: https://www.commonspace.scot/articles/14014/robin-mcalpine-noise-and-silence-why-growth-commission-fight-our-lives

    1. Rob Brown says:

      Michael, thank you for your response. Firstly, it is hard to be certain where the SNP stands on the currency issue as its position keeps changing – a gift to Unionists in any future referendum. But there’s no ambiguity about new applicants for EU membership needing to commit to entering the Eurozone. And a prerequisite for that is two years successful membership of ERM2 (exchange rate mechanism) – the success being measured by strict adherence to the ECB’s tight fiscal constraints, which would not be possible without much further eye-watering austerity.
      As for the Scottish Growth Commission, you don’t need to tell me about it’s toxicity. I penned one of the most ferocious polemics against this published by Bella Caledonia under the headline ‘The SNP’s Great Moving Right Show’.
      I was told by many respondents to keep quiet and not risk rocking the IndyRef2 boat – totally foolish advice I have no intention of abiding by.

      1. Wul says:

        Surely as current members of the EU, we are already experiencing the prescribed level of austerity? Why would an iScotland need to have “further eye-watering austerity” ?

        ( And presumably, as existing EU members during the late 90’s to early 2,000’s, when Tony Blair was splashing the cash on the New Deal, Surestart etc. (a veritable boom-time in public spending) we could sensibly expect similar rates of public expenditure in an iScotland? ( assuming we wanted and could afford it of course)

        1. Rob Brown says:

          Wul, the ECB’s fiscal constraints aren’t imposed upon the London Exchequer because the UK isn’t in the Eurozone.
          But they would be imposed upon iScotland if we seriously wanted to join the EU/Eurozone (one and the same for new member state applications).
          That is why it is astonishing that the SNP enthuses simultaneously about minting a new Scottish currency and a “phased return” to the EU.
          About as coherent as committing to Nato but being opposed to nuclear weapons.
          If the IndyRef 2 Yes campaign is spearheaded by people so lacking in clear, joined-up thinking it is assuredly doomed.

          1. Me Bungo Pony says:

            You are fixated on this fantasy that an independent Scotland would HAVE to adopt the € if it sought to join the EU. It is utter nonsense and renders all your arguments dependent on it worthless. If you are going to be so mendacious on that one issue critical to your article, how much faith can we put in the rest of your “arguments”?

            The “forced adoption of the €” issue is the Dracula of the Indy debate. No matter how many times a stake is driven into its dead heart, some useful idiot keeps resurrecting it. Let it die.

      2. Michael says:

        Thanks your clarification and sorry for my misunderstanding of your position.

  3. florian albert says:

    ‘the SNP chieftains have become feverishly committed to the speedy creation of a Scottish currency’

    I disagree with this part of Rob Brown’s analysis. The SNP remains cautious and is unlikely to make any firm commitment to the speedy introduction of a new currency at its annual conference. The demand for such a currency comes from the left wing groups that made up the YES Coalition in 2014. Andrew Wilson has stated that the creation of a successful, independent Scotland is the work of a generation.

    On the general point; creating a different, fairer Scotland, the main obstacles are the weakness of the Scottish economy and the reluctance of the already well off to make sacrifices. After a decade of austerity, the group singled out for preferential treatment was the teaching profession. Materially, teachers are far from the most deserving in Scotland in 2019.

    1. Rob Brown says:

      On March 3 Derek Mackay said he hoped SNP delegates would back a motion at the party’s spring conference to change policy and commit to a new Scottish currency following independence after using the pound for a transition period.
      This was at considerable variance with the Sustainable Growth Commission report, which proposed that the new currency would only be adopted after the projected £13 billion annual deficit – the gap between public spending and taxes raised to fund them – was halved. The commission (upon which Mackay himself sat) estimated this could take five to ten years.
      Asked on March 3 if that could be done sooner, Mr Mackay told BBC Sunday Politics Scotland: “Yes and I can tell you why. After we published the growth commission report our economics and the financial position was improving.
      “With the powers of independence , yes we can stimulate economic growth, grow our economy, get that notional deficit down.”
      What he really meant was that there was such an almighty rammy about Andrew Wilson’s projections of further eye-watering austerity that somebody had to try to detoxify the document, hence the finance secretary plucking out of the air another set of random figures which only serve to show that the current SNP high command is all at sea when it comes to this crucial issue.
      Mackay also said an independent Scotland would not adopt the euro if it rejoins the EU – despite this being Brussels policy for new member states.
      “It’s not compulsory to join the euro,” he Mackay added, pointing to Sweden as an example of a state that had been in the EU for 25 years and stayed out of the Eurozone. He might have been more persuasive if he had been able to point to a country which had become an EU member state after the launch of the euro in 2000 without giving a solid commitment to ditch its own currency. He couldn’t because none exist.
      Yet Derek Mackay and Andrew Wilson will doubtless be cheered to the rafters, along with Nicola Sturgeon, in the Edinburgh International Conference Centre in a fortnight’s time.

      1. florian albert says:

        I think you are reading to much into Derek McKay’s comments. You and I would probably agree that his grasp of details leaves a lot to be desired. The SNP conference may include a form of words designed to keep the radicals happy but it will stop short of any real commitment to a new currency in the first term of an independent Scottish government.
        Ultimately, the SNP must decide between Andrew McKay’s ‘softly softly’ approach to independence and the radicals’ desire for the sort of clean break Rees Mogg and co have been supporting vis a vis the EU.
        I have little doubt that head will rule heart and Wilson’s view will prevail. The SNP is hard-headed enough to look at the numbers. The failure of RISE in the 2016 Holyrood election showed the very limited electoral appeal of the radicals.

        1. Wilson is the radical here.

          1. Rob Brown says:

            Yes, a right-wing radical like Mike Russell.

  4. MBC says:

    You’re a bit of an all-round misery guts aren’t you? It’s all doom. Or do you just enjoy winding us gentle peacenik types up?

    But to take a few of your points: Ireland. It was Ireland’s own fault it got itself into that banking crisis that the EU bailed out. Why do you assume Scotland would make the same mistakes? Scottish government has so far been characterised by fiscal prudence, even timidity. Jack McConnell even handed money back. And as for the EU imposing austerity on Ireland after the ECB bailed it out, why shouldn’t it? If you ask for a loan it is generally on the lender’s term. But despite this, or perhaps because of it, Ireland’s economy is recovering.

    Nuclear weapons. So far Trump doesn’t seem to be a warmonger and neither was Obama. Trident is outdated. The Chinese are trying AI and the Russians cybercrime to attempt world domination. It makes far more sense than nuclear armageddon. I mean, why bother destroying valuable real estate when you can control territory and populations by stealth?

    Not Negotiating separately with the Scottish government. Why on earth would the EU do that? We are not a sovereign state. To do so would undermine the sovereignty of another member and interfere in its affairs.

    1. Rob Brown says:

      Misery guts? I’m actually very positive and optimistic, which is why I am so committed to real nationalism without neoliberalism. I have no fears or doubts we can fly and flourish without being under the wing of the EU or the Anglo-American empire.
      If you think the Irish government – hence the people who democratically elected members of the Dail – were themselves responsible for the Dublin property bubble ballooning then bursting you really need to study how the Eurozone is run and who the ECB moves to protect in a crisis. I’ll seek to inform you – and other Bella subscribers – about that in a future column. It’ll take too long here.

      1. Josef Ó Luain says:

        Hopefully you’ll mention the bankers and their visitation to the hapless suckers Cowan and Lenihan in the dark-of-night, insisting, under pain-of-death, that above all, the bond-holders must be protected – and fuck the the cost to the people! The pronouncements of the mafiosi-like Troika representatives, minus machine guns and garish ties, broadcast on RTE, might also be worth a mention, if only as a warning to the starry-eyed why Scotland must consider another path post-independence.

        1. Rob Brown says:

          Too true, Josef

  5. MBC says:

    I don’t see why it would hurt an independent Scotland with its own currency to have relationship with the EU similar to Norway. We would have the benefits of membership with fewer of the disbenefits. We could retain our own currency and have access to the single market and EU trade deals. We would have to accept EU regulations, but we are already compliant and that hasn’t hurt us. We would have to accept freedom of movement, but we’ve decided that’s a positive for us, as we need immigration so long as our own population continues to age. We would be able, like Norway, to stay out of CAP and the CFP. We would be subject to future EU regulation without having any representation in the EU parliament and Commission. But as a small nation we wouldn’t have huge influence there anyway even if we were to be full members, unlike the UK, for which it makes no sense at all to leave the EU. As a large nation the UK could (and has) wielded considerable influence at the Commission, playing off France against Germany and vice versa. Having a Norway type deal makes more sense for an independent Scotland as long as large numbers (38%) appear to be sceptical about full membership.

    1. Rob Brown says:

      I agree wholeheartedly with you about the Norway option but Norway isn’t a member of the EU – the status the SNP aspires to negotiate for Scotland.

    2. Rob Brown says:

      Just one thing worth remembering – market access to the EU requires cooperation between Oslo and Brussels over fish stocks. While Norway is not in the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), it has a separate bilateral fishing agreement with the EU. The main condition of that agreement is that EU trawlers are allowed to fish in Norwegian waters, so the Norwegians avoid paying tariffs on the majority of its fish exports to the EU.
      Since this country exports three-quarters of its fish to the continent there would be heavy pressure on iScotland doing the same.
      Personally, I’m more in favour of co-operation for ecological rather than economic reasons. Again, something I hope to expand upon in a future column.

      1. MBC says:

        I’m in agreement with you about a Norway option being best for an indy Scotland. And our own currency. We could always join as full members later if it seemed more sensible at a future point. In electoral terms it would command the largest majority – why on earth risk alienating 32% of the indy vote? Plus, the EU might be more inclined to that than full membership, especially if Spain kicks up. The only down side is it would mean some kind of border with England, similar to Norway and Sweden. They seem to manage it OK, but there would be some problems to be overcome.

        As I’ve said – a Norway option makes little sense for the UK as that’s a large nation – but it makes better sense for an independent Scotland as a small nation.

  6. tartanfever says:

    ‘Rob Brown makes the case for nationalism without neoliberalism.’

    I haven’t heard him make a case for anything, just highlight what he regards as pitfalls – which is fair enough.

    As for the vision, there’s absolutely nothing.

    1. Rob Brown says:

      Come on, gimme a break. I can only say so much in 1,200 words! What I hope I did get across is that USUK and the EU are equally committed to neoliberalism and we need a form of nationalism which will liberate us from both quasi empires. But I’ll make a real effort to give you in future what the first George Bush famously called “the vision thing”.

      1. tartanfever says:

        I understand the length limitations and word count restrictions don’t allow you to present a full point of view and offer alternatives, however, the sub headline does say,

        ‘Rob Brown makes the case for nationalism without neoliberalism.’

        And you haven’t made the case, that’s clear.

        Maybe if this was presented as the first of a number of articles there may be some understanding, but all we know is this is a one off piece and your being hounded like some kind of ERG type, it’s not really surprising. Hopefully you’ll get a chance to present your vision.

        1. Rob Brown says:

          I’m personally responsible for that sub-heading. I thought that by showing the folly of British and Scottish nationalism with neoliberalism I was making the case for a form of nationalism opposed to neoliberalism but obviously not. So I’ll take your helpful advice and try to present a positive, and hopefully persuasive, case for that in the near future. Watch this space!

  7. Brewsed says:

    A sad, fact-free rant. I got as far the frequently debunked ‘we must join the Euro’ myth. A bit of time spent researching before committing pen to paper, or word to word-processor, might have justified the ink, or pixels.

    1. Rob Brown says:

      BBC Reality Check (which has squads of researchers) states quite clearly:
      “Since 1999, all new EU members are obliged to commit in principle to joining the euro once they meet certain criteria.”
      While there is also no mechanism that actually forces a new EU member to adopt it, the ECB and the European Commission would doubtless push the point at the start of the application process with an iScotland, since our finance secretary has made a public statement about staying out of the eurozone.
      Even before we ever got to such a negotiation stage, deep uncertainty about this crucial issue hardly going to sway the doubters in any IndyRef2. Don’t forget future currency was the Yes campaign’s biggest Achilles heel in 2014.
      You also totally sidestep the two other certain obstacles to potential EU membership I spotlighted – the CFP and the CAP. Do you really think we’d be granted access to the single market and the customs union if we wanted to duck out of those as well?
      In short, do you seriously think the EU is going to let us have our cake and eat it?
      Or do you prefer, like so many SNP voters, to live in fantasy land until after a second referendum defeat?

    2. Rob Brown says:

      I realise you and other subscribers to this site will be sceptical of any information served up by BBC, so let me also quote from the EU’s own official website:
      “Becoming a member of the EU is a complex procedure which does not happen overnight. Once an applicant country meets the conditions for membership, it must implement EU rules and regulations in all areas.
      Any country that satisfies the conditions for membership can apply. These conditions are known as the ‘Copenhagen criteria’ and include a free-market economy, a stable democracy and the rule of law, and the acceptance of all EU legislation, including of the euro.
      A country wishing to join the EU submits a membership application to the Council, which asks the Commission to assess the applicant’s ability to meet the Copenhagen criteria.”
      That seems crystal clear to me though not, apparently, to Derek Mackay.

  8. w.b. robertson says:

    This is the best Bella piece for a long time. the SNP dreamers, it would seem,, don`t like it when holes are picked in their world. I welcome Rob`s detailed arguments. This provides the bones for a real debate on Indy. btw, as most Bella readers know, I want independence…but I don`t want to be in that capitalist conglomerate called the EU, a bureaucratic monster set up for the benefit of German industrialists and French farmers, Jim Sillars was right.

  9. Jeff says:

    Well done, Rob Brown; doing the BBC’s job for them. ‘Scotland would have to adopt the Euro’ – total bollocks. ‘Scotland would have to open up our fishing waters’ – big deal they are opened up now. The EU, however, will not steal Scotland’s oil/gas revenues and our income, export and other taxes to waste on nuclear weapons, illegal wars and vanity infrastructure projects in the south east of England.

    1. Rob Brown says:

      Jeff, the news bosses and PR flunkeys at Pacific Quay will be pissing themselves at your suggestion I’m doing the BBC’s job for them, as will many Bella subscribers.
      You’ve obviously skipped my reply above where I quote from what the EU itself has posted online about its policy on applications for membership or cannot absorb any facts which conflict with your Weltanschauung*. So let me again draw your attention to the Copenhagen criteria, particularly that nasty bit about all new member states needing to accept all EU legislation, including on the euro.
      As for blithely surrendering our fishing grounds again, I’ll leave you to explain that to all those folk who have been foolishly reeled in by the SNP’s line on the CFP, which it astonishingly claims is compatible with its EUrophilia. (Just don’t be near any water’s edge).
      *German for worldview

      1. Clive Scott says:

        I spend several months each year sailing in Swedish, Danish and Norwegian waters. Sweden – in EU, does not adopt the euro. Denmark – in EU, does not adopt the euro. Norway – not in EU but has very close relationship, does not adopt the euro. This is the answer to Scotland would be forced to adopt the euro if it became independent and wanted to join. It is simply bollocks.
        Many of the fishing boats in Sweden, Denmark and Norway have stickers on them showing the EU flag with the single digit hand signal superimposed on it. This is exactly the same sticker that can be seen on many Scottish fishing boats. This shows that fishermen wherever they fish feel hard done to by authority. All over the world fishermen fish and fish until there are none left. The EU does its best to manage fish stocks. The millionaire fishermen in Scotland were caught out selling illegally caught over-quota “black” fish so don’t like the EU. Likely to be the same in Sweden, Denmark and Norway. In Scotland the fishing communities in the NE stupidly voted Tory – they will be sold out by the Tories as surely as night follows day.

        1. Rob Brown says:

          You can sail around the coasts of Scandinavia till the CAP-subsidised cows come home, Clive, but you can’t sail around the fact that Sweden and Denmark were in the EU long before the euro was launched. Scotland would be in an entirely different negotiating position as a NMS (new member state). To join the EU it would need to conform to the Copenhagen Criteria.
          Like you, I would never romanticise the Scottish fishing industry. It certainly has become dominated by a handful of capitalist conglomerates – under the EU’s oversight and regulations (which are frequently flouted by trawlers from a number of member states). It is not by accident but design that fishing, like so many other sectors of the European economy, is now dominated by such leviathans.
          The CFP and the CAP will both continue in much their present forms and iScotland would need to submit to them both – something the SNP will never come clean about to its own supporters or the wider electorate.

          1. Alasdair Galloway says:

            When you write “To join the EU it would need to conform to the Copenhagen Criteria.” you are correct, but you oversimplify.
            On the one hand, I share Kirsty Hughes’ view that if we had no currency of our own then joining the EU could be problematic since we would be expected to commit to joining the Euro at some future point, and if you dont have your own currency and could not even possibly go into ERM2 as required to join the Euro (you can just imagine rUK going along with this 🙂 ). So, if we cannot commit to the Euro how can we join the EU? I get it.
            BUT, two possibilities at this point. First the EU has an outbreak of pragmatism, and, following the sort of plan laid out by Andrew Wilson and the making of commitments by whoever is running the post indy Scotland show that we would introduce our own currency no later than the end of the second Parliament (assuming they go to their full five year term), who knows how the EU would react. I cannot say that they would go along with this. But nor can you say they would not.
            If they did go along with this, then there is still no reason why Scotland would inevitably join the Euro. The EU have been clear there is no timetable. You were scornful about Sweden – who have been commited for the last 30+ years – but you forget that while they made this commitment before the Euro was implemented, the fact remains that many of the regulations that underpin it were already in place. And a commitment is a commitment whether made before or after introduction. My own view is that the EU is unlikely to force any state to join the Euro – it is in no one’s interest for there to be another Greece.
            But let’s say they don’t. Should we be worried? Is there not a straightforward alternative which Jim Sillars has been punting for some time – join EFTA and commit to the EEA pillar, which would secure Single Market access for us without any currency problem – we could do it on day one. We might even think about Currency Union (though Norway seems to get along fine without this). We would also not be subject to either CAP or CFP. The latter has become something of a political icon, even though the industry is dominate by a very small number of owners (not necessarily Scottish?). In any event, coastal states are expected to negotiate with other neighbouring coastal states about fishing, since fish are so stupid that they move from one jurisdiction to another, making agreements between states arguable pretty inevitable and certainly wise. The former, I think would require a Scottish Government to commit to making good the loss of subsidy to marginal hill farms – unless of course we really want to depopulate rural Scotland a bit more.
            I take your point about neo liberalism in the EU. Twenty or so years ago I might have voted to stay in the EU with both hands if they had let me. By June 2016 I had to hold my right hand with my left to prevent it wandering down and putting my cross next to Leave. But how and why has this happened? It has happened because of the politicians who have been elected all over Europe. We elected Blair, while the Germans keep electing Merkel and the French have now elected Macron (though we could talk about how much worse he is than some of his predecessors). George Kerevan has written this morning about the need for the liberal left to fight back against a right wing drifting into fascism. In this regard we have two choices – leave the EU to the neo liberals and fascists, or stay in, continue to make the liberal left argument and hope to transform it back to how it might have been if it had not gone wrong in the last twenty years. It is saddening that you seem so attracted to the former.

          2. Alasdair Galloway says:

            sorry, “currency union” is a major typo – should be “customs union”. SORRY

  10. Rob Brown says:

    Thank you Alasdair for your very thoughtful response. Sounds to me that you’re in favour of seeking EFTA rather than EU membership, as Sillars and I are.
    As for your last point about me abandoning my responsibility to resist the rise of right-wing extremists across the continent, that’s rather like those Labour unionists who say Scotland should not separate from England because that’ll entrench the Tory hegemony south of the Border.
    The fact we have a very small population which cannot determine the political fate of either the UK or the EU. All we can do is try to look after each other and strive to become a beacon
    of hope to other stateless nations around the world.

    1. Alasdair Galloway says:

      Couple of things in reply Rob.
      First you have me banged to rights – ALMOST. Not that long ago I would have regarded being out of the EU as a tragedy to be avoided at all costs. But of course there is now the alternative of EFTA/EEA (for Single Market) and perhaps a Customs Agreement as an alternative. But I am not quite there yet. Eighteen months ago, Jim Sillars had a letter published in the Herald arguing that Jens Stoltenberg’s view of the EEA as “fax democracy” was wrong, that sections 99 and 100 of the EEA agreement do require the involvement of the three EFTA members, who are part of the European Economic Area, in the development of drafting new EU legislation, and thus that they had real influence. Moreover that the EEA agreement creates “institutional safeguards and rights for the EFTA states on the development and implementation of EU policies”. But what Jim missed out, in my humble opinion, is that these safeguards are limited to information and consultation as legislation makes its way through EU processes. EEA states have no vote. So while the EEA states can voice their opinion, if these are ignored or undervalued at that point either a state must just go along with it, or, as the UK proposes to do, exit. So not quite there yet. Agnostic?
      The other thing is, you might have seen David Leask’s most recent anti indy piece in the Herald this morning https://www.heraldscotland.com/news/17575752.spanish-unionist-again-raises-prospect-of-scots-veto/. I wont go into its detail, because the interesting thing for me is that I put a fairly long post in reply pointing out, basically, “so what?” – if the Spanish act as Leask says they might, then we turn to EFTA/EEA as an alternative – no possibility of interference by the Spanish, no problems with currency (whatever we do), and no longer in the CFP (so, particularly in the context of Leask’s story) so the Spanish can be told to go sail their boats somewhere else. Guess what? Its been deleted. Given Mr Leask’s “thin skin”, I wonder why? Dont know if you want to comment (will understand if not).

      1. Rob Brown says:

        You’re obviously more than agnostic towards EFTA/EEA, Alasdair. You’re becoming a believer. I look forward to welcoming you soon to our growing congregation!

          1. Rob Brown says:

            Excellent letter, Alasdair. You’re becoming an evangelist for EFTA/EEA!

  11. mincentatties says:

    If ever the old maxim applied of ‘act in haste, repent at leisure,’ joining the Euro is right up there with a tattoo. A relatively easy decision with very painful consequences should you decide it’s not right for you.
    Italy is case in point. The Euro has been catastrophic for the economy. It needed an easing of monetary policy and instead the ECB who were looking at the wider Eurozone picture raised interest rates. Recession after recession has followed making it a shrinking post-growth economy.
    It should leave the Eurozone, trouble is interest rates on the restored Lira would go immediately sky high until confidence was gained and all business and personal savings in Euros would head for the hills. Capital flight. Weimar Republic stuff. The ECB would call in its massive Bond Loans. Most of those in the know say the indebted Banking system would collapse.
    So they and others are caught between a rock and a hard place.
    How would Scotland fare in the EU regardless of the Euro? I don’t know but l hope we don’t ‘repent at leisure’. The EU will look a very different place after the UK leaves with German economic prominence unavoidable as is the fact we will become a substantial EU budget contributor from day one membership.

  12. florian albert says:

    Rob Brown

    You refer to Mike Russell as a right wing radical. This is an accurate description of him before he became a minister at Holyrood. When he was in charge of Scotland’s schools, he went along with the Labour/EIS policy; Curriculum for Excellence; i e he endorsed the status quo.
    Several years down the line, Nicola Sturgeon had to move John Swinney – one of the few SNP ministers with a positive reputation – to the education portfolio to try and undo the damage that had followed the introduction of CfE. (Not that everything had been going well before it came along.)
    So far, John Swinney’s reputation has plummeted and the problems in Scotland’s school remain intractable.

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