Saturday, 17 May 2014

An important question

Here is a question. I would like to think I have an informed political readership so I ask each of you, how many European Prime Ministers can you name?

Personally, I would confess to three. David Cameron (obviously), Angela Merkel and Matteo Renzi (even then only because I have a particular interest in Italian politics).  And that's it. I know the Prime Minister of Denmark is Neil Kinnock's daughter in law but I can't recall her actual name so that hardly counts. And I also know Francois Hollande is the most important politician in France and am sufficiently smug to also know that he is not actually the French Prime Minister.

But as for other, substantial, important, countries: Spain; Poland, The Netherlands. I haven't got a clue. I'm not even sure that I would nod in recognition if you told me.

Now, why do I admit my own ignorance? Because I suspect it is typical of even the most politically engaged across Europe. They will know their own Prime Minister; the German Prime Minister; the British Prime Minister (who I readily concede they might regard as the "English" Prime Minister) and for various random reasons a couple of others.

And were Scotland to be independent that would be our fate. For our Prime Minister to be a pretty obscure figure beyond our own boundaries. Indeed, on one view, that's the whole point of independence. A desire to be unimportant. A seat on the UN Security Council? Pah! A place at the G20? Pah! A leading role in NATO? Pah!

For, undoubtedly, important Country status has its arguable downside. Not only an opportunity to influence world affairs but sometimes an implied obligation to (at least try to) do so. And that often throws up significant dilemmas. The possession of a nuclear deterrent both in terms of cost and ethics; the sometimes narrow dividing line between liberal interventionism and neo-colonialism; the uneasy feeling when we "could" do something about some outrage elsewhere in the world but for reasons of expense or real-politik or simply lack of sufficient "botheredness" choose not to do so.

There was no better example of that over the past few weeks in the Boko Haram abduction of these schoolgirls. The British Government was faced with a considerable decision over how much pressure they should bring to bear on Nigeria and how much intelligence and military assistance they could force upon them in that process. And then about how to respond if that assistance was spurned.

Humza Yousaf, the Scottish Government's "Minister for External Affairs" had no such dilemma. He "wrote a letter to the Nigerian government" and then no doubt retired for the night full of self-satisfaction. That was all he could do. It was all he could have done were Scotland independent. Moral dilemma solved. Indeed, as the Nationalists actively aspire in relation to the future conduct of our affairs. If we just leave the World alone, they think, then hopefully we'll be left alone in our turn.

But there is one big exception to this aspired for unimportance in Nationalist mythology and that's in what happens if we vote Yes on 18th September. For then apparently the World will for the next eighteen months be at our beck and call. Not only will we be admitted to the EU but we will be admitted on a timescale and indeed terms of our choosing. Not only will the British Government allow us to join a currency union they will do so without  even asking their electorate. Indeed, Angus Robertson has even suggested they would cancel their General Election for our convenience. Not only would we be welcomed in to the NATO (expressly) Nuclear Alliance, we would be so welcome while closing that alliance's most important Eastern Atlantic Naval Base and indeed while possibly promulgating a constitution that forbade the stationing of nuclear weapons within our territorial jurisdiction!

This is of course all nonsense. But the biggest nonsense is when it comes to timescales.

All the other Parties to these negotiations will have many other, more important, things to occupy their time than accommodating Scotland.

So what if, just if, our negotiations with the EU over membership are not concluded by "Independence Day", specified in the White Paper to be 24th March 2016? What if, by then, the rest of the UK has not in fact agreed a currency union? What if the USA has insisted that the price of NATO membership is the retention of the "non-negotiable" Trident Submarine Base?

What happens then? Is Independence postponed?

Well here is where matters take a more sinister turn. There is a reason that Independence Day is scheduled for 24th March 2016, rather than, say, 24th June 2016 or indeed perhaps the entirely logical 18th September 2016.

There is a Scottish General Election scheduled for 5th May 2016.

Let's just speculate as to the fate of a Party who, by then, might have been exposed as misleading the Scottish people on the ease with which Independence: EU membership; currency union ; NATO membership would be accomplished. Who were faced with mass unemployment at the Clyde shipyards and the (formerly) Edinburgh Banks. Whose "optimism" over oil receipts had proved unfounded leading to them having to set a budget for the year ahead involving deep cuts to pensions and benefits and steep increases in personal taxation. Whose unilateral promise of an open border but a different immigration policy were belied by the customs barriers now erected by the British Government (the bastards)? What would be the electoral fortunes of such a Party?

But if that Party had as its sole raison d'etre the accomplishment of Scottish independence and were faced with a Unionist landslide before their promised land was reached?

Would they not inevitably say that on 18th September 2014 past people had voted for independence. And for that Independence to take place on 24th March 2016. The unfulfilled premises to that vote were "not their fault." Independence, without the EU; without the Pound; without NATO; without an open border would just have to go ahead. The people could vote for who they liked on 5th May 2016. The incoming Government, of whatever stripe, would be faced with a fait accompli.

This is a question to which Scotland deserves an answer. It might not be that important to the rest of the world but it is certainly important to us.


  1. Ian, agree with all you say. SNP constantly manipulating and conflating facts and figures to back-up their spurious arguments.

    The majority of what they is totally unsubstantiated and yet the media give equal weight to their assertions, as they do to facts and figures and stated policy positions of our NO side - probably on the basis of even-handedness.

    Finally, the SNP will accept any conditions on the currency if it meant getting the Independence badge - that's all they want.

    They would then have carte-blanche to continue to blame all the ills that separation would bring on Westminster and the BOE, with their usual "if only we had the full levers of power in our hands" tripe.

    I am a volunteer with Better Together and I have noticed a real appetite among folk for us to be much more forceful and confident about our message, whilst of course ruling out "complacency"

    I can see a very large turnout, probably over 80% - which I am sure will be a massive boost to us.

  2. Pah! I don't want a Scottish Prime Minister strutting the world stage - we can see where that has got Britain. A corrupt state in its death throes only kept together by glue thinly disguised as bull....! Pah!

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