Spin, hypocrisy and the SNP’s desperate last throw of the EU dice


Scottish deputy first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, used the weekend to embark on what can only be described as an exercise in full frontal-spin at best and rank hypocrisy at worst.

Nicola-Sturgeon-clappingUsing an essay in the Scotland on Sunday newspaper in which she made a direct appeal to those favouring devo-max to vote yes for independence, she wrote of the “damaging uncertainty about our place in the European Union created by David Cameron’s speech last week”.

Indeed, such is the audacity and desperation by the SNP to get its plans for an independent Scotland to join the EU sorted, Sturgeon has taken the unusual step of making an appeal directly to the foreign ministers of each member state.

Just days after the President of the European Commission made clear he would not be meeting the Scottish government to sort the SNP mess out, Sturgeon sought to distance Holyrood from David Cameron, making clear her party’s commitment to the EU.

Concluding Scotland benefits “greatly from the peace and security provided by membership”, she expanded in her letter to foreign ministers:

“I therefore want to assure all member states that following a positive result in the [independence] referendum we would work with the United Kingdom and the rest of the EU in partnership to ensure we continued to play an active part in that community of interest.”

Whilst arguing the SNP felt “certain aspects of the EU” were in need of reform, such as around fishing and carbon emissions, she continued:

“However, we understand those reform ambitions can only be achieved through dialogue with member states from within the EU.

“That is why we do not support the holding of an in/out referendum on the United Kingdom’s membership. We have no intention of leaving the European Union. On the contrary, we will seek to be a constructive member of the union working with other member states to maximise the benefits we have enjoyed as members for over 40 years.”

However warm the words might sound towards the EU, one questions just how committed the SNP really are to a strong Europe when it is prepared to bypass the inconvenient truths coming out of the Commission that an independent Scotland would simply need to join the back of the queue and await its turn to go through the convoluted process of re-applying for membership.

And more questionable still, one wonders just what a letter from Holyrood will actually achieve.

In October, the Spanish foreign minister, José Manuel García-Margallo, made crystal clear:

“In the hypothetical case of independence, Scotland would have to join the queue and ask to be admitted, needing the unanimous approval of all member states to obtain the status of a candidate country… and to sign the final treaty [of accession].”

Just last week, as Sturgeon herself was visiting Ireland, the Irish Europe minister – whose government holds the six-monthly rotating presidency of the EU – also backed the suggestions an independent Scotland would need to reapply for membership of Europe’s top club.

Whilst explaining Scotland would be welcome in the EU as a separate nation, speaking to BBC Scotland, Lucinda Creighton explained:

“If Scotland were to become independent, Scotland would have to apply for membership and that can be a lengthy process, as we see even with the very advanced and well-integrated countries like Iceland, where I’ve just come from.

“Iceland is obviously a member of Efta (European Free Trade Association) and had been deeply involved in the single market for many years, but still has a task in terms of transforming its legislation and fitting into the European requirements for membership.

“And that would be the case, I think, for Scotland as well. It may not take as long, but there would be an application and a negotiation process, as there is for any candidate country.”

In the Czech Republic, meanwhile, foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg has warned an independent Scotland would get a worse deal in the EU if it was on its own. Speaking during a recent interview with the BBC, he said Scotland would fare far worse from being a much smaller, less significant member state.

Citing his country’s own experiences Schwarzenberg continued:

“In our own history, as you know, 20 years ago we separated and out of Czechoslovakia there were two independent countries.

“Being a foreign minister I can tell you it has some advantages, but the international weight of both republics together is lesser than the former Czechoslovakia.”

All this on top of the warnings from one former senior diplomat that re-entering the EU after voting for independence would prove “complex and costly” for Scotland.

Writing for Prospect Magazine last week, Lord Kerr, previously head of the British Diplomatic Service and Secretary General of the European Convention, explained:

“So an independent Scotland would need to go through the same accession process as have all but the original six member states, a process which the Croats have just successfully completed, but in which the Turks are bogged down. Readmission would be possible for Scots only when every existing member state had agreed to every detail of the terms.

“And even then an adverse parliamentary or referendum vote on ratification, in any EU capital, could still sink the ship. No wonder the SNP is in denial.”

In declaring David Cameron to be the biggest threat to Scotland’s influence and position within the EU, Nicola Sturgeon has attempted not so successfully to divert attention from the twin threat to Scotland’s position within Europe posed by both Holyrood and Whitehall. Little wonder the Better Together campaign has accused the deputy first minister of not being prepared to take no for an answer.

See also:

More EU woe for slippery Salmond as Barroso shuns SturgeonJanuary 25th, 2013

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  • Daniel Key

    We should support Scotland’s democratic wishes for a referendum. I’m saddened to see Left Foot Forward resorting to being a labour mouthpiece / attack dog. Can’t the author see that Scotland is a much more left wing, progressive place to live than England at the moment?

    I can only conclude that you’re being tribal and are fearful of the Labour seats that would be lost if Scotland became independent. The argument above doesn’t stack up and is just trying to slander the SNP instead of putting forward a Labour vision for Scotland (which there clearly isn’t). Don’t know why the editors bothered to cross post it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/alister.rutherford Alister Rutherford

    Could someone explain just why LeftFootForward, or at least Ed Jacobs is so hostile to Scottish independence? All we ever seem to get here are rehashed assertions and a consistent attempt to belittle supporters of independence. Just for the record the European Commission’s Vice President has confirmed yet again that “The European Commission has not commented on any specific situation in relation to any Member State and will continue to refrain from doing so.” The Vice President went on to write that ” The European Commission would only be able to express its opinion on the legal consequences under EU law of a specific situation upon request from a Member State detailing a precise scenario.” Which of course the UK government refuses to do. I wonder why? Perhaps they are less than confident of their case? As regards the position of the Republic of Ireland, their European Affairs Minister has already issued a correction and clarification to the way the BBC reported her interview. In it she states that “The EU would adopt a simplified procedure for the negotiations, not the traditional procedure followed for the accession of non-member countries.” Scare stories from what purports to be a left magazine just lessens your credibility on other issues.

  • http://garve.scott-lodge.com Garve Scott-Lodge

    “Scottish deputy first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, used the weekend to embark on what can only be described as an exercise in full frontal-spin at best and rank hypocrisy at worst.”

    Can only be described? I can imagine other ways to describe it. Lets see if I can help you out.

    “Scottish deputy first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, used the weekend to embark on an attempt to reassure European leaders that Scotland and the Scottish Government support the EU and following independence would cooperate with them as an enthusiastic partner.”

    Why is that spin? Why is it hypocrisy? As the EU won’t speak to the Scottish Government, since it’s not a member state, and the UK Government won’t speak to the EU about this, because it doesn’t want to help the Yes campaign, the SNP is left with no option but to make contact with member states individually. I fully support Nicola Sturgeon in doing this, and in fact hope that she does much more. We should issue individual invitations for all EU member states foriegn ministers to visit Holyrood to discuss the future, both in the event of a Yes vote in 2014, and in the event of a subsequent Out vote by the rest of the UK in 2017.

  • http://cyberunions.org Walton Pantland

    The continual knee jerk anti-independence propaganda on this site is really depressing and makes me far less likely to trust anything else here.

    I am by no means an SNP supporter, but as other comments note, the SNP offer a credible social democratic alternative while Labour promise “an end to something for nothing culture”.

    You’re supposed to be a progressive voice, not a mouthpiece for the Bitter Together campaign.

    Unfollowed.

  • http://www.facebook.com/erin.vandermaas Erin Van Der Maas

    I agree with Daniel Key…. this is scaremongering – did the DDR have to apply for membership – there might well be some formalities to tie up but I really can’t see the EU asking the Scots to leave and re-apply because if that were the case then the same would apply to what was left of the UK – that would no longer be the UK but something else – and in a similar way would be a new country – so that means England, Wales and NI (whatever it would be called post Scotland independence) would also face the same formalities

  • Aitch-Aitch

    I cannot believe that Left Foot Forward has fallen for Tory British Nationalist Bulls***.
    Ed…you seriously need to stop reading the Daily Telegraph trash, if thats what you are obviously believing without challenge.
    Honestly…this beggars belief

  • http://www.facebook.com/thomas.coles Thomas Coles

    “Little wonder the Better Together campaign has accused the deputy first minister of not being prepared to take no for an answer.”

    Is that not the value of the Holyrood administration?

  • Guest

    Ed Jacobs certainly has a talent for regurgitating British nationalist spin and propaganda. Unfortunately, he’s not so hot when it comes to critical analysis of the claims made by the anti-independence camp. Rather, he opts for the facile assumption that everyone who says something that can be made to look like it is in agreement with those claims is anointed as an !expert”; while all those who question the claims are dismissed as being partisan and just plain wrong.

    Jacob’s seems to believe – or would have the rest of us accept – that the utterances of a few selected individuals are definitive and unchallengeable. That the matter of Scotland’s post-independence status vis-à-vis the European Union is settled beyond question. That all the puerile scaremongering of the British nationalists is actually irrefutable evidence.

    It’s all very sad.

    The reality of the situation regarding Scotland and the EU has been rehearsed so often that there should be no need to go over it all again here. And what would be the point anyway? People like Ed Jacobs are not operating on the level of rational analysis and reasoned argument. They operate on the level of blind faith in the unassailable primacy and indisputable righteousness of the British state. They start from the assumption that Scotland’s challenge to the British state is inherently wrong. And they see no need for much in the way of thinking after that.

    The imperative that pervades their attitude to the independence movement is that Scotland must be punished for its impertinence and effrontery. They are the very essence of reactionary ultra-conservatism. They are British Labour.

  • http://peterabell.blogspot.co.uk/ Peter A Bell

    Ed Jacobs certainly has a talent for regurgitating British nationalist spin and propaganda. Unfortunately, he’s not so hot when it comes to critical analysis of the claims made by the anti-independence camp. Rather, he opts for the facile assumption that everyone who says something that can be made to look like it is in agreement with those claims is anointed as an “expert”; while all those who question the claims are dismissed as being merely partisan and just plain wrong.

    Jacobs seems to believe – or would have the rest of us accept – that the utterances of a few selected individuals are definitive and unchallengeable. That the matter of Scotland’s post-independence status vis-à-vis the European Union is settled beyond question. That all the puerile scaremongering of the British nationalists is actually irrefutable evidence.

    It’s all very sad.

    The reality of the situation regarding Scotland and the EU has been rehearsed so often that there should be no need to go over it all again here. And what would be the point anyway? People like Ed Jacobs are not operating on the level of rational analysis and reasoned argument. They operate on the level of blind faith in the unassailable primacy and indisputable righteousness of the British state. They start from the assumption that Scotland’s challenge to the British state is inherently wrong. And they see no need for much in the way of thinking after that.

    The imperative that pervades their attitude to the independence movement is that Scotland must be punished for its impertinence and effrontery. They are the very essence of reactionary ultra-conservatism. They are British Labour.

  • John Ruddy

    The SNP are not social democratic in any shape or form. They have some policies which are designed to attract social democratic voters – just as they have some policies which make the current Uk Government look left-wing.
    They will do anything to gain votes, and promotoe their only agenda – independence.

  • John Ruddy

    Nicola Sturgeon said at the weekend that 10,000 Scottish jobs depended on Scotland being in the EU. Scotland remaining in the Uk has put them at risk, and the only way to secure those jobs is to vote for independence.
    Exactly the same argument could be used for the 150,000 jobs in Scotland that depend on Scotland being in the UK. Scotland becoming independent puts them at risk, and the only way to secure those jobs is to vote against indepedence.
    So whose jobs do we support – the 10,000 dependent on the EU, or the 150,000 dependent on the UK?

  • http://peterabell.blogspot.co.uk/ Peter A Bell

    What is being talked about here is employment that relies on access to the European single market. Those 150,000 jobs that you refer to can only be at risk if the rest of the UK (rUK) ceases to be part of the single market. Not even Cameron is idiot enough to suggest such a thing. Although he is obviously prepared to risk it for some perceived party political advantage.

    Alternatively, what might put those 150,000 jobs at risk the pursuit some kind of illegal trade war against Scotland by rUK. Is that what you envisage?

  • Brian

    Yet more from the cesspit of anti-SNP propaganda of ‘Ed Jacobs’ and Left (New Labour) Foot Forward.

    You will notice that there are never any positive arguments on this pestilential site for Scotland being part of the UK. Oh dear – could it be that there aren’t any?

  • http://cyberunions.org Walton Pantland

    I am not politically naive and I find your comment patronising. I don’t need to be lectured on the true nature of the SNP – this is clear enough from Salmond’s response to Trump, for example.

    However the SNP have offered social democratic policies to Scottish voters and they have been rewarded for it. Scots are astute enough to know that the real question is not “should Scotland be independent”, it’s “what would an independent Scotland look like?”

    So far, all the pro-independence parties demonstrate that an independent Scotland would be significantly to the left of the political settlement available south of the border.

    Labour offer nothing to the people of Scotland. This is not an exaggeration – they don’t have a single positive contribution to make. All we get is negative campaigning.

    I would expect a progressive blog to have a far more nuanced take on independence, and not bang the drum for right wing nationalism.

  • Sunshine on Crieff

    Since when did those wanting to put a “left foot forward” become interested in promoting reactionary British nationalism?

    Also, to clarify what Ireland’s Foreign Minister, Lucinda Creighton, said about Scotland’s EU membership:

    “I certainly did not at any stage suggest that Scotland could, should or would be thrown out of the EU”.

    An independent Scotland would be negotiating terms from withing the EU.

  • uglyfatbloke

    Where do we start on this one…
    I
    t’s not up to Mr. Barrosso to make decisions about EU membership or admission, nor is it up to the Commission.

    Scotland already fulfils the various EU criteria and has been a member for 40 years.,Scots are EU citizens, there is no mechanism for removing the rights of existing EU citizens or excluding any territory from the EU..

    In the (unlikely) event of the 1707 Treaty of Union being dissolved, both parts of the former UK will be in the same position vis-vis Europe; I doubt very much that Ms. Creighton or the Spanish Foreign Minister have any real knowledge of the constitutional construction of the UK – there again very few people do apart form a very modest number of specialist historians. It is abundantly clear that none of our politicians (from either side) really have much grasp and nor, it would seem, do any journalists.

    In the (more likely) event of Belgium being dissolved, if Scotland was ‘out’ then the same would apply to the Francophone part of Belgium so Brussels would then be outside the EU..

    It might be an idea to include the rest of Ms.Creighton’s comments….the opinion of Lord Kerr is directly contrary to the opinion of other people with similar or wider experience and certainly with greater knowledge of the legal niceties.

    There would have to be negotiations? Of course there would; and there would be negotiations for the remainder of the UK as well…On top of all that, Scotland has more to offer the EU than the EU has to offer Scotland.

    The EU is expansionist by nature; it will do everything it can to avoid losing any territory and in fact can only allow a departure on the basis of a referendum.

  • kewlscot

    Well Ed, As Billy Connolly would say, you’re as popular as a fart in a space suit :) you seem to have a good grip of reality there in the DPRUK, (Democratic Peoples Regency of United Kingdom ), You really need to have more of this original thinking, It suits you sir!!! What you should worry about is what will happen to the rest of the UK if Scotland gets Independence, so just let the Scots decide what they want to do. At least the SNP are more honest and up front than the rest of the scoundrel parties that are thieving from the common man and making him pay for their mistakes!!!!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001102865655 John Ruddy

    Since even the “Leave the EU” campaigners are suggesting we stay in the single market, they’re not really at risk, but the correlation IS accurate. Its the big gap in the independence argument – one union good, the other union bad…. yet theres no difference between them!!!

  • http://peterabell.blogspot.co.uk/ Peter A Bell

    It would be more accurate to say that there is no equivalence between them. But suppose we go some way towards accepting your facile premise. If one is redundant then it is unarguably better to get rid of archaic, corrupt, incompetent Westminster and keep our access to the single market. Access which rUK would have to forfeit in order to achieve the “relationship” that Cameron speaks of.

  • Newsbot9

    They haven’t challenged it. They’re looking at facts on the matter of possible independence. So sorry to see you oppose a rational discussion on the matter. If the reality doesn’t match your party line..

  • Newsbot9

    No, the “assertions” are the SNP’s breezy ones made in defiance of what the EU member countries are saying. Even a simplified process (assuming every member state agreed, and why are you assuming Cameron would?) could easily take a few years.

    You’re just proving you’re not left wing, on the other hand.

  • Newsbot9

    And you’re a voice for the Run Like a Scared Mouse campaign. Done with the propaganda now?

    The SNP are a very broad church, including most of the Scottish right!

  • Newsbot9

    Right wing nationalism? No, that’s the policy of many separatists.

    The SNP have demanded a blank cheque, they have NOT offered social democratic policies! Regardless what parties state, it will be down to the voters, and you’re making assumptions.

    Keep on lashing out against the centre, let along the left!

  • Newsbot9

    Yes, keep claiming to be what you hate. You’re the one trying to punish Britain.

    And since you keep pushing propaganda on the EU, it seems it DOES need to be gone over again. Again, the blind faith is yours. You *are* being partisan.

  • Newsbot9

    Incorrect. Scotland has a large number of waivers based on British terms. It is highly unlikely these will be allowed to stand. And of course there is a mechanism – it was introduced in Lisbon! Moreover, even without a formal mechanism, Greenland left the EU.

    You keep claiming that a Scottish vote could affect the UK’s EU membership (it can’t), and keep arguing “Scottish Superiority” – not unlike American Exceptionalism, of course, as an argument.

    Moreover, keep assuming that Cameron will be nice and that Spain won’t take the chance to give it’s regions a warning shot. and…

    (And you’re HAVING a referendum, silly)

  • Newsbot9

    Illegal trade war? I’m sure you want one. But back in reality, Scotland would need to negotiate a new membership, and in the meantime there would be a border. In fact, Schengen is NOT an option for new members, so there will be a border anyway as the UK is not part of that.

  • uglyfatbloke

    Greenland’s situation has no real parallels with that of Scotland, and it is easy to say that the Scottish vote cannot affect UK membership, however that has yet to be tested in court. The kingdom of Great Britain was formed from two distinct entities, so of course there is a diplomatic dimension for both parties in the event of dissolving the Treaty of 1707. What real difference that would make is a different question, however it a Treaty and not an Act so the provisions cannot simply be amended by Parliament any more than the Treaty of Versailles or the Treaty of Rome…and yes, Scotland is having a referendum, but not on the EU….silly.
    I’m not aware of having argued for a ‘Scottish superiority’ at any time in any forum, though I have pointed out that we have two separate bodies of constitutional practice (and of course criminal and civil practice as well) and that neither has precedence over the other.

  • Newsbot9

    Court? Oh, right, you plan to sue the UK to attack it’s existence now? It’s not being suggested that the Act of Union be undone, but new legislation passed.

    And that’s very arguable. A referendum for a region to leave an EU member state…

    (And civil law has also converged pretty sharply for several reasons – unlike criminal law)

  • uglyfatbloke

    Can the Acts of Union be undone? Presumably, though one imagines it would mean convening the Parliaments of England and Scotland. Can the Treaty of Union be undone? Yes, but it’s not simply a matter of passing an Act of Parliament…..though I rather doubt if gnats really understand that. Remember, Parliament has unlimited sovereignty in England and Wales, but not in Scotland..I don’t know what the situation is re Northern Ireland and I’m not sure that anyone has really given any though to that.

  • Robert Blake

    A rational discussion takes place under accusations from the headline in of “Spin and Hypocrisy”

    I think an objective view of rationality would disagree with your assessment.

    I am saddened to see Left Foot Forward allying with the Tories, BNP, LibDems, Labour and the Orange Order in this.

    Shame

  • Robert Blake

    What are EU member countries saying?

    The only ones to make definitive statements, apart from Westminster, are saying that they do not see a problem. The Spanish in particular are definite in this. The Irish Foreign Minister was misrepresented by the BBC, but she came back to clarify that she supports what Nicola Sturgeon is saying.

    Only Empire Loyalists like yourself seem to see any problem with this

  • Robert Blake

    Punish Britain?

    We are continually told Scotland is a drain on UK resources, surely Scotland leaving would be to the rUK’s benefit.

    Would you have used this argument elsewhere?

    “Sorry Palestine, but insisting on trying to be separate you are punishing Israel”

    “Oops, India, would love to see you have self-determination, but we can’t having you punishing the King-Emperor now can we?”

  • Robert Blake

    And as we know, since your name was in theScottish Labour forum thread, Scottish Labour (HQ London) have no policies. Nothing save hanging onto the right to flip homes, fiddle expenses and park your bum on the seat in the Lords

    Labour, who not onloy started the hateful demonising of the sick and poor but still support it, along with privatisation of the NHS, ending free, universal Healthcare and basically doing anything that might get the South East to vote for them might as well amalgamate with the Tories, there is precious little difference

    This is why I did not renew membership and stopped voting for your corrupt lot.

  • Robert Blake

    Not all the UK has your hateful attitude to foreginers and immigrants.

  • Newsbot9

    You’re confusing me and you again I see. I’m a left winger.

  • Newsbot9

    Really, do find where I said that.

    You’re tilting at windmills again.

  • Newsbot9

    “Empire Loyalist”. Nope, you’re lashing out at windmills *again*. I’m simply British. The Spanish have said they won’t VETO, that’s entirely different…

    And Cameron would need not to object too. You’re counting on his good will. (sigh)

  • Newsbot9

    There’s no suggestion of the acts and treaty being undone. They’d pass new legislation.

    Moreover, Westminster absolute has sovereignty – they could technically say abolish Scots law in a bill tomorrow. They won’t, but that’s not the same thing as can’t. Your legal theory does not exactly have a majority following.

  • Newsbot9

    Funny, seems the NHS in Scotland is devolved, so you’re tilting at windmills.

  • Newsbot9

    How dare people be British. You immediately link them to the far right.

    Want me to link you with every act of violence committed by Scottish people, period, since the Act of Union? They’re acts of violence against the British. That’s your logic!

    And again, you are seeming to lash out at everything anyone says contrary to your separatism, so…

  • uglyfatbloke

    Newsbot..re; sovereignty….it’s not my theory and nobody contradicts it. Westminster can overturn Scottish legislation under the terms of the devolution acts, but sovereignty still rests with the people. That is not the case in English constitutional practice, but it is in Scotland. Of course it is possible that you are professional research historian and have unearthed a rare and arcane document that indicates otherwise…..

  • @keithrsteele

    The irony coming the man who epitomises SNP blind faith

  • http://peterabell.blogspot.co.uk/ Peter A Bell

    My “faith” is in the cause of my nation’s independence from a corrupt and anachronistic union. If you don’t understand that, you understand nothing.

  • uglyfatbloke

    Newsbot; parliament cannot simply legislate to unilaterally adjust the Treaty of Union,

  • Chris Rivers

    Of course your anti-independence rhetoric might be expected to highlight SNP ‘bias’. But you failed to mention, when stating – “The recommended new question is: ‘Should Scotland be an independent country? Yes/No’, slightly fairer than the initial ‘Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country? Yes/No’ – that the SNP immediately accepted the Electoral Commission proposal. No bias there from you in your reporting, naturally.

  • Chris Rivers

    “I’m a left winger” you claim. But you then belie that by a hegemonist approach, stating “I personally live in Britain, where one of the regions is Scotland, please read up on the facts.”

    It may have escaped your notice but it is a fact that Scotland is a country. Northern England, where I live, is a region. Great Britain is part of the state of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The island of Britain itself comprises three countries – England, Wales and Scotland. They are not ‘regions.’

  • Newsbot9

    No, Scotland is a region of Britain. You are denying the Treaty of Union.

    “be United into One Kingdom”

    I am simply not in denial.