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Showing posts with label Scotland in Europe. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Scotland in Europe. Show all posts

Monday, 19 December 2011

Who are You?–Who?Who? Who,who?

It’s not often I’ll quote a lyric from song from what I think of as the modern songbook, which I define as from about 1955 onwards. I know that covers almost 60 years, but we’re talking history here, the perspective of over a century of popular song. From about 1890-1955 can reasonably be seen as the classic period at least of Western popular song, and in that period, that meant mainly American popular song.

This was the time when the songwriter - the melody man (it usually was a man, with apologies to the great Dorothy Fields) and the lyricist – the wordsmith – were usually different people, with formidable exceptions like Cole Porter.

Anything Goes - Cole Porter

The singer/songwriter was a comparatively rare bird back then, and I have to say I would have been a happier man for the last fifty years or so had it remained a rare species. There was a kind of brief renaissance of quality popular song in the mid-sixties to the seventies, and since then the great musical desert, with the odd oasis and many mirages.

So unashamedly, my tastes lie with BCCA music (Before the Crap Came Along) and with melodies that span more than half a diatonic octave, with harmonies a little more ambitious than four simple chords.

Take time out now to dismiss me as an old man out of synch with popular culture, then we can move on. Get to the point, for ****’s, Peter! I hear you –I hear you …

The Who’s little anthem embedded itself in my mind with the CSI series, and despite my earlier rant, I admire the Who for their longevity and formidable achievements in modern popular music, and there can be no doubt that their music and lyrics, for many, reflect the culture and the times of the last half century.

Their question – Who are you – Who? Who? Who, who? – resonates in Britain and in Scotland at the moment over national identity, and polls on perceptions of that identity, or multiple identities, pop up all over the pace, prompted by the resurgence of Scottish national identity and its questioning of Britishness, a cobbled-together identity designed to support an uneasy union of vigorous and distinctive national identities subsumed within an Empire, one now in terminal decline.

The Guardian has an interesting piece today by David Marquand, principal of Mansfield College, Oxford, author of The End of the West, which is not about the last days of Wyatt Earp, but a a rather bigger topic. Entitled England’s identity crisis - England's visceral Europhobia may break up the UK – it is a short, but important piece, and it has two paragraphs that contain fundamental insights and truth that are rare from south of the border -

“… The Scots and Welsh know who they are. For centuries, they have had two identities – their own, and a wider British one. They are unfazed by the discovery of a third European identity as well. They are at home in Europe, where multiple identities are becoming the norm. To them, it seems only right that Europe's once monolithic sovereign states now have to share power, both with a supranational union and with rediscovered nations, principalities and provinces within their borders. Along with Catalans, Basques, Flemings, Walloons, Corsicans, Sardinians and even Bretons, the Scots and Welsh are emerging from a homogenising central state of the recent past.”

“… Above all, the English of the 21st century no longer know who they are. They used to think that "English" and "British" were synonymous. Now they know that they are not. But they don't know how Englishness and Britishness relate to each other, and they can't get used to the notion of multiple identities. Until they do, I don't see how the crisis in Britain's relationship with continental Europe can be resolved. If it isn't, the most likely prospect is of further European political union and the break-up of the UK, with England staying out and Scotland and Wales going in.”

Any Scot who still thinks that Scotland is not now set upon an inevitable path towards independencenot separation - in a new, interdependent relationship with its European – and Scandinavian - neighbours is engaged in nostalgic self-delusion, and is on the wrong side of of an inevitable historical process.

Who are we? Who? Who? Who, who? We are the sovereign Scottish people, ancient and proud Europeans and good neighbours. And that includes our English neighbours, slightly confused about who they are at the moment …


Monday, 12 December 2011

Alex Salmond back from China today with 6 questions for Cameron

CAMERON HAS BLUNDERED INTO ISOLATION IN EUROPE

On his return today from China after a week-long trade visit to promote Scottish interests and industries, First Minister Alex Salmond has made a key intervention on the European issue, writing to the Prime Minister David Cameron with six crucial questions about the UK's isolation within the European Union as a result of the Prime Minister's veto of a new European Treaty.

The First Minister said:

"It is extraordinary state of affairs that while the Scottish Government and our agencies were working hard to promote Scotland's interests and industries in China, David Cameron was blundering into apparently changing the UK's entire relationship with the European Union – without even discussing it with his own Lib Dem coalition colleagues, never mind the devolved administrations in Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast.

"Given that David Cameron took it upon himself to isolate the UK in Europe - from non-euro and the euro members alike - and without a word of consultation, he now needs to answer six key questions about the implications for Scotland of what he has done.  As the price of playing to his own backbenchers, the Prime Minister now leads a riven administration - with zero credibility in EU negotiations across the range of policy areas where Scotland's interests are crucially affected.

"Last week's developments in Brussels demonstrate that Scotland urgently needs a voice at the top table when our vital national interests are being discussed, by becoming an independent member state, instead of being shut out of the room."

The First Minister's questions to the Prime Minister are:

1. What risk assessment, if any, did the UK government undertake of the likely impact of its veto decision on investment into Scotland and the UK, and on negotiations affecting key Scottish industries such as agriculture, fishing, and financial services - where qualified majority
voting already applies?

2. What assessment, if any, was made of how Scotland's interests will be affected in the EU by being represented by a UK government that is excluded from important decision-making meetings, which will impact directly on Scotland?

3. Given the serious impact of a UK treaty veto, why did you not consult with the Scottish Government and other devolved administrations on the use of an option which Mrs Thatcher and John Major in their negotiations both managed to avoid?

4.  Can you confirm the reports in the Italian and UK press that you told the new Italian Prime Minister that your negotiating stance was based on the 'big internal problems' you would face if you had agreed to the Treaty change?

5. With key negotiations ongoing concerning the EU Budget, agriculture and fisheries, how do you believe that the important Scottish interests involved will be affected by being represented by a UK member state which has isolated itself?

6. Will you agree to an urgent meeting of the Joint Ministerial Committee, involving all four of the UK administrations, so that the full implications of your decision can be considered?


from

The Senior Special Adviser
First Minister of Scotland
St Andrew's House
Edinburgh  EH1 3DG

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Cameron’s veto, Europe and Scotland

veto from the Latin I forbid – a constitutional right to reject a legislative amendment.



Cameron’s fiasco at the EU summit was a disastrous negotiating and diplomatic failure in my view, but it has positive aspects as far as Scottish independence is concerned. (I may analyse this from a negotiator’s perspective later.) Whether they offset the undoubted threats caused by the UK being marginalised in Europe remains to be seen, but let me proceed to what I know may be regarded as a dangerously rash statement, one which I will probably regret.

I think the Scottish Government may have to re-think its timescale for the independence referendum, and by that, I mean bring it forward. 2014 at the earliest is now beginning to look like too late.

To use the telling phrase of an SNP branch colleague, the present situation has the feeling of a phoney war, a term coined to describe the period from September 1939 to May 1940 – from the UK’s declaration of war against Germany to the Battle of France and Dunkirk.

I recognise all the commitments made to timing in the second half of the term, repeated many times by the First Minister and others, but circumstance alter cases. The global situation and now the European situation have experienced a quantum shift since April/May of 2011. The new, deeply unstable situation created by David Cameron will potentially seriously damage the UK economy, and soon.

His government has no mandate from the people of Scotland, and unless Scotland, as a pro-European country, wants to be shackled to an anti-European dinosaur and retreat into the insularity of an offshore island of Europe, the Scottish people must have the chance to speak as soon as possible.

If the Coalition falls, Scotland would have the same voice that it had in May 2010 at a general election. What song it would sing is another question …

If it sang the same song, it would still be powerless against the Westminster numbers. There is little doubt that had Labour been in Government, the outcome of the EU summit would not have been much different. A general election now would probably produce another hung Parliament and another Coalition, even if there was a polarisation of the vote in England to Labour and the Tories.

It might result in something much worse if the extreme parties of the right caught a popular mood of anti-Europeanism coupled with a distrust of the three failed major parties – Tories, Labour and LibDems.

No one calls a referendum they don’t expect to win, but no one can ever be certain of the outcome of a referendum, especially in rapidly changing times.

Polls are snapshots of popular opinion at a point in time, but they are like a snapshot of a sunny day in Edinburgh – a moment later the sky opens and the wind cuts to the bone. And if you are lucky, the clouds part, the winds abate and the sun shines again. If you are not, and you are are not clad for heavy weather, a bolt hole must be found, and anyone that promises shelter will do.

A great Englishman once said "There is a tide in the affairs of men, which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune."

A great Scotsman, Robert the Bruce, was faced by a stark choice on of the 23rd and 24th of June 1314 - to be prepared to give battle against superior forces or retreat. Emboldened by his victory over an English knight, Henry de Bohun, in single combat, and by the unexpected route of a force of 300 hundred English knights under Clifford, he still was faced with the decision to either give battle or retreat. He chose to give battle, and to risk all for Scotland’s freedom.

Alex Salmond is not a 14th century knight, and he is not playing 14th century politics. But he will not be oblivious to the parallels. Bruce had not intended to give battle, but he reacted to rapidly changing circumstances, especially to the knowledge of the impact of his two unexpected successes on the already low morale of the superior force.

The First Minister has already killed his Henry de Bohun and his force have routed their Clifford. How will he assess the dynamics of a rapidly changing situation on his return from China?

I was puzzled and disappointed that no Scottish Government minister chose to appear of The Politics Show Scotland today to discuss the Eurozone/UK crisis. I dismiss out of hand the explanation that prior commitments or diaries had anything to do with this decision.

I also dismiss the inevitable unionist opposition conclusions – that the SNP has no coherent policy on Europe or that the party is a one-man band, waiting for Godot.

I think we can be reasonably certain that Scottish Government ministers have been in close contact with Alex Salmond, and that there is a bigger – perhaps a much bigger – game afoot.

Are we preparing to emerge from the Tor Wood?



Thursday, 20 October 2011

Moridura’s contribution to the Ipsos Mori debate


YOUR QUOTE: "Other polls have shown higher levels of support for ‘independence’; crucially however, respondents in these polls are not presented with a definition of what independence means, possibly because such a definition has yet to be fully articulated."

I would suggest that Scottish voters have a very clear and straightforward idea of what independence means, in a definition that has repeatedly and clearly been articulated by the First Minister and others, e.g. Stewart Hosie MP.

Independence is the full autonomy of Scotland as a nation, with control of foreign policy, defence, taxation, resources, all revenue and expenditure, membership of the EU and membership of the UN. In other words, what every independent nation in Europe defines as independence. Scotland will be a sovereign state, but it will retain the Queen - and her rightful heirs - as constitutional monarch.



Simple!

What flows naturally from that, as any school child can understand, never mind adult voters, is that Scotland, as an independent state in the modern world will also be interdependent with other nations, and will enter freely into treaties and agreements, and will freely incur obligations and responsibilities and other arrangements that are in Scotland's interests and yield corresponding benefits.

Such agreement will naturally focus on mutual cooperation with our near neighbours and long-time friends in these Islands - England, Wales, Northern, Ireland and the Republic of Ireland - and with the European Union. They will also include the obligations of membership of the United Nations.

Such treaties and agreements will be freely entered into, and crucially, freely terminated under the terms of the agreement when they no longer meet Scotland's interests. They will include matters relating to defence and the armed forces, and any other matter where cooperation and sharing of resources is in  Scotland's interests.

There will be one over-riding proviso in any defence agreements - that Scotland will not be a party to the use of nuclear weapons, and will reject absolutely any basing of nuclear weapons or nuclear delivery weapons systems within the boundaries of Scotland. That resolutely non-nuclear position will be a deal-breaker in any defence-related agreements or treaties.

Any other options such as the so-called devo-max option, i.e. full fiscal autonomy, are not independence options - and they do not represent the core objective of The Scottish National Party. While the UK exists, and is the sovereign state, the Scottish government will continue to press for the maximum autonomy within the devolved settlement, and progressive extension of its fiscal powers and control of resources.

However, what the SNP and supporters of independence want is not necessarily what all of the Scottish people want - determining that is the intent and purpose of the referendum. What questions will be posed and what options offered in the referendum ballot remain to be determined, and will be determined - by the Scottish Government and the Scottish Parliament alone - before the ballot.

What the opponents of the independence of Scotland appear to be doing is making the patently ridiculous demand that the Scottish government should present to the people the full complex detail of the negotiations that will follow the independence referendum, not precede it. Leaving aside the fact that doing this would prejudice the Scottish governments negotiating position, it would be totally and utterly impracticable. No other nation seeking its independence has ever proceeded in such a fashion, Nor will Scotland.

If I may mix a Scottish saying with an American one - the Scottish voter didnae come up the Clyde/Forth/Tay on a bike, and he or she can tell **** from Shinola when it comes to evaluating the case for their country's independence.

Saor Alba!