Sunday, 17 July 2016

Who Will Speak For The 1,018,322 Scots Who Voted "Leave"?

Few would disagree that the EU Referendum debate was a disgrace, littered with exaggeration, scare-mongering, distortion and lies but despite countless pleas from those who, in the main, were mere bystanders, that participants from both sides should treat the electorate with more respect, the distortions continue. Enraged that the majority of the UK electorate who voted, voted to leave the EU, leading players on the Remain side still blame Brexit for every fall in share prices, figures for consumer consumption and predictions of economic mayhem 20 years from now. George Osborne, before his removal as Chancellor, had concluded in light of Brexit, he could no longer stick to his promise that he would have wiped out UK's deficit by 2020. His statement had nothing, of course, to do with the fact that he was unlikely to hit that target in any case. Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, stated he would reduce interest rates, in anticipation of the economic slump he predicted would happen if the UK voted to leave the EU. Having set up the markets to expect a cut of 0.25% in interest rates on Thursday 14th July, the MPC voted by 8 to 1 to leave the rate at 0.5%.  Sterling has already fallen by approximately 10% against the $ and a cut in interest rates would drop it further, so it has been postponed meantime. Next month is being flagged up as the next opportunity to effect the cut, unless Carney changes his mind again. Someone who was confidently predicting the economic consequences of Brexit for years ahead, has failed to read the markets twice in four weeks.

The blame game will continue, the scare-mongering will continue and the demonstrations to have the decision to leave overturned, will continue, accompanied by surveys showing an increasing number of people who voted Leave, who, it is alleged, have now changed their minds. It is the customary reaction of the europhiles and euro-fanatics when a referendum goes against them, as happened in Eire and Denmark, and we can be sure there will be plenty of EU funds made available to keep the campaign going. Allied to that, will be the constant repetition of the charge that those who voted Leave were "misled", "lied to" or "didn't know what they were voting for". It seems the Remainers, particularly those in Scotland, have learned nothing, absolutely nothing, about the reasons many people in Scotland voted Leave. If they did learn anything of the reasons people voted to Leave, they have chosen to ignore them while continuing to paint a completely false and quite insulting picture of the kind of campaign which the Leave side conducted in Scotland.

The National (Sat: July 2) carried a letter from a Spaniard, currently living in Dundee, while expressing her deep despair at the UK result opined, "the result was a victory for ignorance and xenophobia".."the result was misled by populism and misinformation"...the referendum..."rather than an exercise in popular sovereignty" has been.."a symptom of the British people's endemic ignorance...and in many cases of a deep underlying hate for the foreign". Obviously not a fan of irony, she continued,..."I have been insulted countless times these past few months by a considerable proportion of the population of Great Britain".  Alyn Smith, SNP MEP, in his heart-rending, lachrymose appeal to the EU Parliament, to allow Scotland to remain as a member, implored it "not to let Scotland down, as Scotland did not let the EU down". He wanted to tell the EU that, "UKIP does not speak for us". By his own estimation he gave the "speech of his life" pointing out he wanted "his country to be internationalist, cooperative, ecological, fair, European", as if being outside the EU prevented us from being any of those. Of course there was no mention of the more than one million of us who voted to Leave, nor that there might, just might, be reasons other than racism - like sovereignty for instance - that accounted for that sizeable vote. That would probably have been too much to expect, given the SNP sees no need for substantial change to the structure of the EU, believing that other than the odd unspecified tweak here and there, the structure is just fine.

The "little England", "isolationist", "xenophobic" sneers still run like a thread through the complaints of the Remainers, at the result of the vote but I have to admit, some of the hysteria actually makes me laugh. On one televised Remain march in opposition to the referendum result, there were some placards which proclaimed, "Internationalism-I am a Scots European" (like African American). There is a Common External Tariff around the 28 member states of the EU, which discriminates against the countries of the rest of the world and members are denied the freedom to negotiate trade deals on their own behalf, with countries outwith the EU. The Common Agricultural Policy has long been condemned for discriminating against countries of the developing world, denying them access to the EU and despite recent reforms many of the criticisms persist. Terminology like "Scots European" implies a EU state, which is supra-nationalism not internationalism. The Sunday Herald (Sun: July 3) had a Leader which was truly cringe-worthy in its attempt to proclaim Scotland's historical European credentials. "Scots are citizens of the European Union" it thundered (is there any other trading union bestows "citizenship" on its members?) is a "democratic abomination "..."Scots forced out of Europe" (not the EU). "Scots..been outward-looking European nation since 16th century" - the Auld Alliance actually dates from 1295. And, if any other proof was needed, "braw" comes from Swedish, "kirk" from Dutch and "ken" from German. Help ma boab, wha wid ae thocht? This surely ranks with George Bush's, "The problem with the French is they don't have a word for entrepreneur" No mention of the English language, much of which has its roots in Latin and which has borrowed extensively from French, but that might have suggested that "Little England" was also a "European nation" - God forbid.

The title of this piece is a serious question and when I tweeted, "If the 2IndyRef includes the SNP devotion to the EU, it will split the Nationalist movement"- I meant it. It received the usual replies from the usual suspects, most of whom completely missed the point. Of the 1,018,322 who voted Leave or 38% of the total vote, an estimated 440,000 were regular SNP supporters. It is not only grossly insulting to suggest that number of Scots electors voted to leave the EU on the grounds of "ignorance and xenophobia", it is sheer bloody stupidity, a level of stupidity we see unfortunately on social media daily. Immigration was not an issue in Scotland, nor in much of the rest of the UK I suspect, unless people want to claim the bulk of the UK population is racist. I wrote my first piece against Scotland seeking membership of the Common Market for the Scots Independent in 1968. Why? - because I had read the Treaty of Rome which laid out the aims very clearly - "ever closer political union". I actually understood what that meant and in the intervening years, during which I have corresponded with academics who shared my views on the Common Market/EEC/EU/Euro, from Eire, Austria, Norway, Greece, France and several other countries, I have seen nothing in the development of the EU to lessen my opposition. I left the SNP, after 35 years membership, in December 1990 because I disagreed fundamentally with its uncritical commitment to the EU, and I could no longer give the party the loyalty it required from a senior member. The EU has developed in exactly the way I predicted it would. There is nothing very special about that, hundreds of other SNP members made the same predictions, as did tens of thousands of people throughout the member states. The only people I know, who believe a country can be a member of the EU and retain its independence, are members of the SNP.

Several commentators, myself included, have suggested the size of the Remain vote in Scotland had much to do with Yes supporters' loyalty to the SNP, notwithstanding the 440,000 who voted Leave. There has never been the level of devotion to the EU in Scotland, as has been suggested by the SNP leadership and, if the SNP continues to trumpet its devotion to a political union, which will shortly be just as incorporating as the UK, it will lose the 2IndyRef so many Yes supporters so desperately want. It has consistently ignored making any kind of political argument for Scots joining the EU (If Sovereignty is in the DNA of the SNP, Why surrender it to the eg. what are the political advantages for Scotland in allowing EU law to supersede Scots law, given the defence of the separate Scottish legal system that has been mounted since 1707? The arguments in favour of Remain, as presented by the SNP, have been mainly economic (Economics of The and the economic case just does not stack up eg. Scots' exports to rUK are worth four times the value of Scots' exports to the EU. The UK has serious economic problems and an imbalance in the economy, with London domination of the rest of the country now at an unhealthy and totally unsustainable level. That said however, unemployment in the UK at 5%, is half of the average level of 10.2% in the EU, where just over 22 million people are unemployed. The average figure however hides the most serious levels of Spain 21% and Greece - 24%, while 60% of Italy's 11.3% unemployed have been without work for over one year, a fate shared by 70% of Greek unemployed.

Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel Prize winning economist, has said, "the euro is at the root of many of Europe's problems" and "the currency was flawed at birth". He has also said the EU is in danger of falling apart. Now that the UK has decided to leave, the EU has to make one of two choices, it can INTEGRATE further or, it can DISINTEGRATE. Having travelled so far down the road of political integration, the dominant EU elite will do all it can to complete the integration, thus achieving the original aim of a country called Europe. The arguments about introducing fiscal integration in the eurozone have raged for years and many see that integration as the only way to deal with the damage already caused to the economies of Southern Europe. Until the European Central Bank can control the spending and budgets of the weaker members of the eurozone, those members will be a continuous source of difficulty. The determination of the ECB and Germany to prevent the Italian government from releasing the pressure on Italian banks, which would involve breaking EU rules on government subsidy, suggest the pressure to integrate is already underway. Only days ago, the German defence minister said that now that the UK had gone, Germany and France could move ahead with plans for greater military cooperation. With the political and economic integration that has already taken place, together with the recent evidence of pressure to further integrate, the SNP argument that Scotland in the EU would be there as an equal, sovereign and independent state, is just so much nonsense.

Whenever a 2IndyRef is held Scots will be faced with a choice of two political unions, in neither of which will Scotland be independent. The SNP will continue with its campaign for continued membership of the EU, on the false premise that Scotland will be independent and an equal partner. Unfortunately, a great many life-long, traditional Scottish Nationalists, myself included, will be forced to choose the present Union with the rUK, for the following reasons.
1) Opposition to the EU has always been based on the loss of sovereignty. The current situation, the austerity and mass unemployment forced on the countries of Southern Europe, confirms that loss more than at any previous period.
2) To choose the EU will divide the National Movement, with those Yes supporters whose devotion to the EU is unlikely to change, ranged against Traditional nationalists who see the EU as another incorporating political union.
3) No Westminster government could play the Project Fear card a second time, and hope to have the same effect. With the majority of the people of England and Wales having voted to leave the EU, any argument in opposition to Scotland leaving the UK must be weakened.
4) The National Movement will be completely united. I don't know a single Nationalist who would choose to stay in the UK on a permanent basis, whereas many Yes supporters and the leadership of the SNP have already chosen the EU.
5) For the reasons listed above I believe it will be easier to break away from the rUK, at a later date.

In the title of this piece I asked, "  Who Will Speak For The 1,018,322 Scots Who Voted Leave"? To date the answer has been "No one". Hopefully that will change.

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