How does an independent Scotland fit into the EU?

With clear divisions over David Cameron’s performance at last week’s Euro summit Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland, MARGARET CURRAN MP, asks what Alex Salmond really wants for an independent Scotland in Europe.

 

Sometimes it takes a crisis to expose the weak arguments used by politicians who try to hide their true colours. So it is with Alex Salmond and the Eurozone crisis.

After weeks of silence, his letter to the Prime Minister yesterday, shows that he has one eye on campaigning for separation and one eye on governing Scotland. I agree the Prime Minister should have consulted widely before wielding the veto – he didn’t even speak to the Deputy Prime Minister – and the UK Government should meet with the leaders of the UK’s devolved institutions now.

However, it’s not enough for the First Minister to demand answers on the big questions in Europe when he’s refused to answer so many himself.

For months, Scots have asked Alex Salmond to come clean on what ‘Independence in Europe’ actually means, but they have been met with a wall of silence from the SNP.

That is simply not good enough.

Across Scotland, families are worried about their future, their jobs, and the economy. They deserve serious answers to the most serious of questions.

Top of the list is what currency a separate Scotland would use, and whether Scots are prepared to accept the Euro? Independent evidence has made it clear that an independent Scotland will have to accept the Euro if it decides to join the EU. Even Alex Salmond’s own chief economic adviser believes that. However, the ongoing volatility of the Euro spells disaster for Scottish business.

Of course Alex Salmond knows his desire to join the Euro is out of kilter with most Scots, so he suggests without evidence or prior negotiation that a separate Scotland might just keep using the pound. Alex Salmond needs to come clean and tell the people of Scotland why he wants to be in a “currency union” within the UK, but wants to give up those parts of the union that would leave us with no influence over monetary policy or borrowing powers. Why on earth would using a currency over which we had no control be good for Scottish families and businesses?

Finally, with up to 26 other EU states now adopting new fiscal rules to manage budget deficits and public debt, would a separate Scotland outside the UK also adopt these measures? Would Salmond be willing to submit Scotland’s budget to European scrutiny and would he be willing to raise the necessary taxes to meet fiscal rules designed for Greece and Italy, rather than for Scotland? Alex Salmond needs to tell us clearly where he stands on that point.

While the First Minister dithers over how to respond to these questions, we know his own lawyers have already drafted answers, which he is keeping secret. I have repeatedly called for this advice to be published, and with growing uncertainty about the UK’s relationship with Europe, the First Minister needs to put the national interest ahead of his own self-interest and publish his legal advice on our membership of the EU.

The longer he dodges these questions the more suspect the First Minister’s position becomes.

Margaret Curran MP is Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland representing Glasgow East at Westminster.

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151 thoughts on “How does an independent Scotland fit into the EU?

  1. “Independent evidence has made it clear that an independent Scotland will have to accept the Euro if it decides to join the EU. Even Alex Salmond’s own chief economic adviser believes that.”

    Absolute drivel. See Stephen Noon’s blog for the full chapter and verse, but to join the Euro you have to be part of ERM II for two years, and participation in ERM II is not compulsory. So any EU member can delay adoption of the Euro indefinitely.

    1. So Scotland becomes “independent” but keeps the pound allowing the BoE to dictate our economic policy?

      what sort of “independence” is that?

        1. It’s bizzare. He wishes to leave a Union whose current trend is towards a diffusion of powers and with whom we have politically, linguistically and culturally stronger ties, to join one which is increasingly centralising power. Don’t get me wrong I like the EU (mostly), but his position with respect to “political unions” is irrational and opague.

          1. Indeed, the EU is all about “creating an ever closer union”. One can see that in the desire (perhaps only from some states, but clearly there nonetheless) to create a fiscal union alongside the monetary union.

            From a fiscal and monetary union, it is but a short step to a political union, turning the national parliaments into little more than than the equivalent of the Scottish Parliament today.

          2. Labour might well have “politically stronger ties” with Tory-supporting England, but Scotland doesn’t.

      1. Any sort they want, Alex.
        The B of E is a UK resource so Scotland will inherit part of it, plus
        the bank cannot screw around with interest rates as they apply to all of the UK.

      1. No you don’t have to, you could always look up the criteria for eurozone membership?

        I am a humble bod and not a professional politican with a support staff and yet I can easily find the criteria for Eurozone membership.

        It’s there and easily enough to read as Andy who was the first to post a reply has already written.

        Look up ERM2.

        As for what happens to Scotland / RUK we will both be the same, i.e. both successor states, or is labours arguement Scotland is not a equal partner in the UK?

        Hmm tough one huh!

        1. It’s not about being unequal in the partnership. How hard is it to understand?

          Scotland would LEAVE the union, it would not be dissolved for to dissolve the union would require a referendum across all the nations of the UK. That means the UK would be the successor state and Scotland would be a ‘new’ country.

          Simples.

          1. I am not the one with the foggy mind! The UK state would no longer exist, two new states would be created, Scotland and RUK.

            Both would be successor states, labour is indulging in more than wishful thinking on this and many things to do with Europe the other being the Euro.

            This is only part of the problem labour is having with independence.

      2. Surely we should take the word of absolutely anybody at all over that of a team of government lawyers?

  2. I notice that Margaret Curran omits Labours position on adopting the Euro, which I believe is similar to the SNPs. That is, joining when the time is right. The SNP also stipulate that a referendum would be required in Scotlands case. The truth is that until we know how this economic crisis will pan out no one can say what course of action would be best. This will take years as the worlds economies are in serious trouble and this includes the UK and the USA. China may be on the verge of a slowdown which would be bad news all round.
    As for the constitutional point, Two lawyers-three opinions. No doubt Labour in Government (UK and Scotland ) sought their own expert opinion, why does she not publish it? As far as monetary policy and borrowing powers , I do not see Scotland has any influence on these issues now so how could we be worse off in the Eurozone? Nor can we be forced into joining the Euro, that is a fact.

      1. This question applies to all administrations, not just the SNP Government. The Law Officers hold the authority to disclose legal opinion, not the ministers.

        It’s there in the Scottish Ministerial Code:

        2.23 The fact and content of opinions or advice given by the Law Officers, either individually or collectively, must not be disclosed publicly without their authority.

        1. These things are only contested when they apply to the SNP. The simple ancient fact of life is thus that governments of all shapes, must be able to consult and receive advice on issues that help to form policy. People who are thus consulted must be free to give that advice without fear that it will immediately be put in to the public domain and compromise them, or their organisations.

          That is a well know and accepted precedent in Governments through out the world. McRones report on Scottish independence and the discovery of oil was explosive which is why it was kept top secret as it would have led to the break up of the UK in the seventies, even with the Labour party scuppering the vote.

          During the passage of the Scotland Act 1978 through Parliament, an amendment introduced by George Cunningham (a Scot who represented an English seat) added a further requirement that the approval at the referendum be by 40% of Scotland’s total registered electorate, rather than by a simple majority.

          A total of 1,230,937 (51.6%) voted at the referendum in favour of an Assembly, a narrow majority of about 77,400 over those voting against. However, this total represented only 32.9% of the registered electorate as a whole. The Labour government accepted that the Act’s requirements had not been met, and that devolution would therefore not be introduced for Scotland.

          The locking down of information is a well used tactic by the UK to keep Scotland “catchet and tight.”

          However we all know that the internet has put a rather different complexion on things now, and the independence arguments are getting out despite the very best efforts of BBC Scotland and it’s censoring, and locking of it’s political blogs

          Margaret Curran is unable to rise above scaremongering which has been so damaging to the unionist cause. Her use of the pejorative “separation” is negative and untenable as it is physically impossible to separate Scotland from the British Isles, any more than it is impossible to separate us politically from the EU. Scotland wants to join the world not be kept as a backward deprived region of the EU whose voice is diluted by the additional burden of the UK. We do not want to be sat in the corridor any more when our industry is being sold from under us, it breeds resentment and animosity. So the scaremongering is negative and silly as it has put labour in the position it is now in. Mr Davidson and Mrs Curran need to moderate their tone a wee bit.

          1. As Indy says, the SNP demanded legal opinions when in opposition, so your “only the SNP gets picked on” point is demonstrably false.

          2. It’s only “demonstrable” when you actually demonstrate it. What you’ve done there is allege it, which isn’t the same thing.

          3. Andy,
            I think the example of Alex Salmond demanding the legal opinion from Tony Blair about the Iraq war – and castigating him to all and sundry when it was refused, is demonstration enough that it is “the SNP getting picked on”.

      2. You know when we were in opposition I remember a couple of times when the SNP demanded that the then Labour led administration publish legal advice. I hope if we are in opposition again we don’t do that because it is just a silly ploy. Amply illustrated by the fact that Stephen Noon wrote to the UK Government to ask for their legal advice on an independent Scotland’s position in the EU only to receive an answer which was virtually identical to the one issued by the Scottish Government to say no.

        I guess that is why the Tories/Lib Dems are no longer demanding that the SNP publish this legal advice. Labour, not being in power anywhere any more, can still play the game but really it’s a bit daft isn’t it. If Labour were the UK Government and they had legal advice on this they wouldn’t publish it any more than the current UK Government or the Scottish Government. It would be more grown up if we all just accepted that governments don’t generally publish their legal advice.

        1. In fact, I remember one Alex Salmond demanding (yes, demanding!) Tony Blair release the legal advice about the war in Iraq.

          However, what I do know is that if the legal advice for something (whether it is a foreign war, a decision on a Golf Course or a local income tax) were favourable to the course that the minister was going on, then it would find its way out into the open whatever the ministerial code says. Its the way of politics. A minister will always ensure thats something favourable to him or which supports his decisions gets leaked.

          So just as those drew their own (ultimately correct) conclusions from Tony Blair’s refusal to disclose the legal advice on Iraq, so I am sure we can drew our own, correct conclusions on the SNP’s refusal to release the legal advice on Scotland in the EU.

          1. In that case the legal advice that the UK Government has on an independent Scotland’s position in Europe must also not be favourable to their position because they have not put anything substantive out there.

            Is there a way that both those things can be true?

            Yes I think there is if the legal advice is basically We don’t know.

            Which is most likely the case, since it is a political matter really.

          2. Which could well be true! Or even if the different sets of legal opinion are different (which is also possible).

            Would be funny if the two sets are not only contradictory but also supports the opposibng argument!

  3. If an newly independent Scotland (from the RUK) was required to join the Euro, then so would a newly independent (from Scotland) RUK. Scotland joined with England+Wales to create ‘Great Britain’. If Scotland dissolves the Act of Union (it is a dissolution, not a seperation), then the UK of GB + NI is no more and two new states are created from one.

    This is why experts are in agreement that Scotland would retain its current EU status as would the RUK; of course with reallocation of MEP seats as appropriate. Either that or both need to rejoin, which is utterly implausible.

    Those who say Scotland would need to join the Euro but the RUK would not are effectively saying that Scotland is not an equal partner in the UK Union. This would add support to independence as it would mean Scotland is treated unfairly.

    1. Your argument is flawed Scottish Skier.

      To dissolve the union that created GB, ALL peoples of the nations of GB would have to vote in the referendum. The referendum proposed by Salmond would be for Scotland to detach itself from that union.

      This would leave UK of GB + NI and create a Scotland to go alongside it. GB would remain but would only contain England and Wales.

      This means that UK is still in existence while Scotland is a ‘new’ country that has no benefits from any opt-outs on EU treaties and, while the process to include Scotland in the EU would be fast tracked, Scotland would be required to sign to all EU treaties, the Euro, Schengen etc.

      The SNP are correct, of course the EU wouldn’t want Scotland outside it would want them to join. The problem with the SNP line on this topic is that they use this fact to cover up some of the nasty detail and create the impression that by asking these questions Labour are saying that Scotland would NOT be in the EU.

      Labour accept that Scotland would join the EU – our point is that Scotland would have to do just that: join. Also Labour are saying that hand in hand with that comes a need for an independent Scotland to sign up to all the other aspects of the EU that we are currently exempt from.

      The SNP can’t deflect this forever and will need to start coming up with some answers. Constantly saying that any questions against you (the SNP and not Scotland) are ‘talking Scotland down’ is absurd. Just as the SNP have a mandate to bring forward a referendum on independence (not devo-max etc); Labour has a mandate as the largest party of opposition to ask the tough questions. It is our duty to ask those questions and the SNP’s duty to answer them.

      1. Get youre facts right pal, the other countrys in the uk have no say.The union is between scotland and england only,try reading the articles of union sometime, it says if either country wishes to dissolve the union it can at any time without hinderance from the other.

    2. I think you are confused about the processes which take place in this sort of situation – it isnt unique.

      After the split, there will be one country defined as the successor state. This state will be exected to honour all previous treaty agreements, etc, and will maintain things such as the seat on the security council (as Russia did after the Soviet Union broke up) and place in the EU etc. The other state may choose to also honour those agreements, but it has no rights to those things enjoyed by the previous country.

      Scotland would no more be an automatic member of the EU than it would have an automatic right to a permanent seat on the Security Council of the UN (assuming that the rUK would be classed as the successor state, which I am sure it would be). Now the EU may decide to grant status automatically, but thats not a given, especially with the various independence movements a number of member states have in their own countries.

      1. Are you able to provide the evidence that backs up your assertions or are you just expressing and opinion? It is very impressive the amount of time that constitutional experts spend on this subject on Labour Hame and other forums.

        In two years time events may have put a completely different complexion on these matters. I cannot imagine what the motivation would be for the EU as it is presently formed would wish to expel a country that is already a member?

        1. My evidence is precedent. As I said, it happened with the break up of the Soviet Union, and this precident gives a good guide as to the likely future course of events.

          Of course, its so much easier to attack the person making a statement instead of engaging with the discussion. Its almost like opposing things for the sake of it.

  4. Its bloggs like this that make me embarressed by the Labour party.
    Mrs Curran is one of a group of Labour MPs whose views are so bitter to the SNP, that she cant keep her eye on the ball.

    I ve always been a Labour supporter, but I m getting sick of this rehtoric, so what if Scotland is Independent with a seat in the EU, does it mean you loose your high salary, you ll loose it anyway with the way you carry on!
    Are you also going to tell us, like miss Stihler did, that the EU wouldnt let us in? Maybe Turkey is a safer bet?

    1. MacRae

      Rather than just post a comment that means very little – why don’t you take something in the post by Margaret and challenge it?

      What has she said above that implies Scotland wouldn’t be accepted into the EU? Is she wrong to say the SNP are dodging questions? Is she right to ask Salmond if he would sign up like the EU26?

      I don’t know what Labour Party you’ve supported by I support a Labour Party that asks the questions that need to be answered. For some reason you want to support a Labour Party that sits on it’s hands and waits to be re-elected by an electorate that is fed up the other lot (SNP in Scotland, Tories in Westminster).

      1. Yes, you are right she has to ask Salmond the questions.
        The fact is that we can say what we want here about how Labour policy should go, how often do you see any replies from the bloggers?
        Labour in Scotland has become so obcessed with the union and hating the SNP, that it is not the Labour party I used to know.
        I have no objection to Independence, because we would be better off, I take it that I should not be voting Labour because of that?

        1. Macrae

          I believe your position is similar to that of Keir Hardie.

          Maybe an indication of how far Labour have shifted.

  5. Dear Margaret, while you are correct to raise this issue, the public are also entitled to know what Labour will propose in the event that Scots choose independence. I can’t believe that the Labour party will leave such matters entirely to chance. So what is Labour’s strategy on currency in the event of independence?
    Regards,
    farrochie

    1. Ed Miliband has already said that Labour is committed to joining the Euro when the economic conditions are right.

    2. Labour are not campaigning for independence so it is not up to us to say what we would do in that event.

      Why should Labour say what we would do before the party that is fighting for independence does so?

      Catch a hold of yourself.

      1. “Labour are not campaigning for independence so it is not up to us to say what we would do in that event.”

        Oh dear. That one’s always a pitiful sight to behold.

        The independence referendum has nothing to do with the Euro. It decides one thing and one thing only – who elects the next government of Scotland. Will it be the people of Scotland alone, or will it also be the people of England, Wales and Northern Ireland?

        AFTER the independence referendum, however, regardless of the result, there will be a general election. In THAT election, parties will stand on their policies regarding the EU, the Euro and other issues. If Labour’s stance is to be “We huvnae goat a policy, ‘cos we dinnae want independence”, they’ll be punished by the electorate even more than they were this May.

  6. Margaret, I see little point coming a week late to the party and making assertions that have already been discredited. There is NO plausible evidence that Scotland would be forced to join the Euro and even if we were, we can use the stalling tactics adopted by other countries and simply not implement ERM.

    Despite the personel involved, I had hopes that Ed’s Team Scotland would actually be good for Scotland. Perhaps that’s not its remit. On this showing, it’s going to be a long few years to the referendum and quite a few barrels are going to need new bottoms before then.

    1. Can you provide ‘plausible evidence’ that Scotland would not have to join the Euro? If you sought out legal advice and have an answer that fits with your beliefs then you had better get on the phone to wee Eck because he needs to speak to that expert of yours.

      1. I’ve already told you why we wouldn’t. It’s not a matter of opinion or legal advice, it’s a simple matter of reading the EU’s rules. To join the Euro you MUST participate in ERM2 for two years, and participation in ERM2 is NOT mandatory. Therefore, no EU member has to join the Euro if they don’t want to – all they have to do is decline to join ERM2.

  7. I seem to be getting this wrong
    Does Margaret say that when Scotland seperates this means that Scotland will be chucked out of the EU. If that’s case will the rest of the UK have to reapply

    Either all the parts are in or they are out, so what about the rest of the UK?

    1. No StewSpark, see my reply to Scottish Skier above.

      Scotland would leave the UK. The UK would remain and as a’new’ country, Scotland would have to re-apply to join the EU.

      Scotland would be accepted and the process would be fast-tracked, however, Scotland would not have the opt outs that the UK enjoys.

      1. Either all the constituent parts of the UK have the same opt outs and rights or they don’t

        Are you saying that when the UK becomes defunct the remainder is treated more favourably than Scotland?
        The rest of the UK will no longer be United, so will they have to reapply?

        1. The successor state will have all the current treaty obligations. The new state (presumably Scotland) will have the option to tak on those obligations if it wishes, but things like joining bodies etc will be dependent on that body.

          Or do you think that Scotland would have the right to a permanent seat on the security council, simply because the Uk does now? The same principle applies.

  8. Mrs Curran,
    if the union is disolved,Scotland will be in exactly the same position as England as far as EU membership is concerned.I dont think it does your cause much good to pretend that scotlands options are so limited.I think your campaign to KEEP LONDON RULE needs to do more than fearmonger.Recent surveys show Salmond is popular among Labour voters.You lose credibility by showing such a consistently negative attitude to him.

  9. The bigger question is how does the UK fit into the EU now? The answer is that nobody knows. The SNP doesn’t know and neither does Labour. I doubt that David Cameron has much of a clue either.

    In my opinion no-one really knows what the outcome of Cameron’s decision to use the veto will be. And no-one is yet sure of what the outcome of decisions taken by the eurozone members will be.

    So anybody taking a fixed position at the moment would be an idiot.

    But one thing has changed quite fundamentally and that is that the SNP can no longer be accused of wanting to isolate Scotland. The UK has decided to isolate itself and nothing in Margaret’s article suggests that she, or the Labour Party, thinks that is a mistake. Separatists!

  10. Iwish I knew what you do support Margaret, the vote today on Calman is crucial, and I believe there should be consensus between the Nats and Labour.

    If it is implemented and the Fiscal Powers result in a hit on Scotland’s finances it will be patently obvious that the whole thing was adamaging to Scotland.

    Whatever it takes Labour shoul highlight what changes are required and what safety net is in place.

  11. Dear Margaret Curran.

    I don’t know if you read Labour Hame. If not, may I point out that for the last few weeks, there has been an enlightening and enthusiastic debate here that has attempted to identify the reasons for Labour’s problems in Scotland and perhaps identify some solutions to them.

    My impression of the debate is that many people who would formerly have voted Labour feel that Labour no longer represent their views, but that the SNP does. There is a general feeling that Labour’s campaigns of negativity have been entirely counter-productive and have driven more and more people away.

    And now you come with this.

    As I say, I don’t know if you read Labour Hame, but if you do, you clearly haven’t understood the message that many of us have tried to send you.

    IMHO, if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.

  12. That’s right Jim Chalmers. This site is a place for people to come on a gripe about what Labour are doing wrong.

    Oh wait no it isn’t.

    This is a space for Labour people to chart a way forward for our party and to debate hot topics of the day – such as the EU26 and the atrocious ‘Bigot’ Bill. It is right that on a site such as this people like Margaret Curran come on and let people know that they are asking the questions people want answered.

    If you want to visit a site that talks about the mistakes of Labour and doesn’t talk about the mistakes of the SNP then please go to one of the many cybernat blogs. If we only ever talk about ourselves then the SNP would have free reign to do what they want with no scrutiny whatsoever and we would appear to be introspective as a party which would not be very appealling to the electorate.

    What will strengthen the Labour Party in Scotland is an ability to show humility and to change while also showing that we can agree with the government of the day and if not, we can put forward alternative proposals.

    1. GmcD

      Funny, I thought that the general idea of this site was to find out what a broad sway of the Scottish people were thinking and where as a country they wanted to go.

      If everyone at Labour Hame only wanted to talk among themselves I am sure that you could all convince yourselves that everything in the Labour garden was wonderful and you only had to bid your time till the faithful flocked back with their votes. Thats not the case and that is not going to happen.

      The reality is the latest opinion poll, SNP 52% Labour 26% for Holyrood, which is some mountain to climb.

      Maybe some open and honest debate, coupled with some bold and innovative thinking, may just may, encourage some of the people who deserted Labour to come back to the fold.

      Do you really think that such a dismissive attitude to what are plainly puzzled ex Labour voters will encourage them to return to the fold?

      As I said on an earlier post, when I was canvassing an old mining area in Fife for the SNP prior to May, the main comment I got round the doors was “I have not left Labour son, they left me”

      If anyone who contributes to Labour Hame has any idea of how to reconnect these voters with the Labour party again I yet to see it. Maybe Labour setting out a vision of how they would never again have to suffer under a tory government they did not want and would never vote for might be a start.

      1. The purpose of the site is set out in large letters at the top of the page. “Where Scottish Labour can discuss the way forward without falling out. Mostly.” Don’t know why you would come to the conclusion it was something else.

        1. “Where Scottish Labour can discuss the way forward without falling out. Mostly.”

          You will never ever find the way forward if you all agree everything is rosy. If you only talk to each other you will all get the answers you want. It may not be the answers the country wants but who cares we can have a great discussion eh.

          As an example of what should trouble Labour Hame discusser’s can be found in the election expenses report. The bit that I would find interesting and ask how do we find a solution to this is, if I was in the Labour party, was that fact that in the run up to May the Labour party spent £300.000 on postage. The SNP did not spend a penny, why? because the SNP had cybernats like me who were pounding the pavements so we did not waste money on postage. So the big question is will we be that far ahead of the game again in the council elections in May?

          It looks to me like there are a lot of ex Labour voters on here who are looking for a reason to reconnect with Labour again, they are not getting much encouragement.

          1. Conversations on here are robust, but the purpose is clear and doesn’t require lectures from you or anyone else. Your interpretation of expenses is hugely partial (many Labour constituencies spent nothing on postage and had armies of volunteers out for the long and short campaigns; many SNP constituencies merely delivered leaflets rather than engaging on the doors).

        2. Surely, if this forum is intended for Labour folk only, it would be better run as a closed membership group, such as those provided by Yahoo. However, as it is a generally available web site, its hard to see how your dog in the manger attitude is justified.

          1. This is a public site, open to all by design. It’s purpose is clearly stated. My pointing this out was in response to someone who had apparently decided unilaterally that its purpose was something else. There’s not “dog in the manger” attitude here, but the site has a clearly expressed purpose, and it isn’t for you or anyone else to redefine it.

        3. “Your interpretation of expenses is hugely partial (many Labour constituencies spent nothing on postage and had armies of volunteers out for the long and short campaigns; many SNP constituencies merely delivered leaflets rather than engaging on the doors).”

          My interpretation is the electoral commissions interpretation. That is in the May election Labour spent £300.000 three hundred thousand pounds on postage, the SNP spent nil.

          Your armies of volunteers could not have been very effective, you lost badly, and your position now is even worse according to MORI.

          Maybe its time to stop trying to defend the indefensible and to try to find a way forward. After all many people think that Scotland deserves a decent opposition.

          1. No, the electoral commission didn’t interpret the figures, you did. And now you’re trying to rewrite history, and I’m not going to let you.

            I don’t know what “indefensible” you think I am defending, but all I’m trying to do is inject a bit of truth into your revisionism. Yes, we lost the Scottish election, but on the evidence of many SNP folk, your victory may be your undoing. Absolutely no idea how to cope with majority government. What use opposition in the face of an elected dictatorship?

          2. Are you saying the electoral commission lied when they reported that in the run up to the May election part of the Labour party submission was that they had spent £300.000 on postage.

            Given that they only verify and report what the partys tell them why would they include it in their report if it was not true.

          3. No. Really, how hard is this to understand? You said the electoral commission interpreted the figures. The electoral commission didn’t interpret the figures. They reported them. That’s what I said, that’s what I meant. You interpreted the figures to suit your angle, the electoral commission did not interpret them; they reported them.

          4. “but on the evidence of many SNP folk, your victory may be your undoing.”

            What evidence, and how will it be the SNPs undoing?

            “Absolutely no idea how to cope with majority government.”

            Do you mean that the SNP will not know how to get their legislation passed. Things that were in their manifesto that people voted for?

            This is the strangest of all.

            “What use opposition in the face of an elected dictatorship?”

            How can a party that was elected be a dictatorship? Were the Blair governments dictatorships? How did the Blair election victories differ from the SNP one?

            Or do you mean that Labour should just give up since they were beaten in the election?

            Should all opposition just give up once they are beaten. How about Westminster should Ed Milliband say at PMQs “I will not ask any questions this week as there is no use of opposition as the other side have won?

          5. Every party in the parliament except the SNP pointed out major flaws in the sectarianism bill, but barely a murmur of internal opposition was heard from the docile sheep of the SNP back benches. As a result, a poor bill has become a dreadful law. On top of that, the SNP sheep voted on purely partisan lines to elect an SNP presiding officer despite the clear democratic interests of the chamber being served by having the PO from a non-majority party.

            That is what I mean by the SNP having no idea how to cope with being in a majority, and that is what I mean by an elected dictatorship.

          6. So from your post at 8.28am you agree that Labour did indeed spend £300.000 on postage. Given that Labour are not suddenly going to find lots more activists before May the SNP has the real prospect of being £300.000 better off before the contest even starts.

            Maybe trying to find out why the two partys while not so far apart in terms of reported membership would appear on the basis of these figures to be miles apart on the people who are actually prepared to work for there respective parties.

          7. I notice that you did not answer my question about what was different between Tony Blairs election victories and overall majority and the SNP one?

            What was different when Labour voted for M Martin as speaker compared to the election of Tricia Marwick? Did the Labour sheep vote on purely partisan lines despite the clear democratic interests of the chamber being served by having a speaker from a none majority party?

            Were all the Labour MPs who voted for the war in Iraq sheep?

            You said, “That is what I mean by the SNP having no idea how to cope with being in a majority, and that is what I mean by an elected dictatorship.”

            So I will ask again, what is the difference between the Blair three governments and the Salmond one?

    1. Yes she is, and she is quite right. It is to Scotland’s advantage that we are represented in Brussels by qualified diplomats who will work their socks off for us in a European context. We are already reaping the benefits.

      1. There is a marine scrapyard in Denmark that will tell a different story, the one where the redundant boats of the Scottish fishing fleet go to die.

        The UKs priorities are formulated on the needs and wants of London and The City, Cameron’s latest petulant foot stamping has proved that beyond any shadow of doubt.

        All done to try and save The City and sod the rest of us. We all know that “unemployment in the north is a price worth paying.” Scotland can bear witness to that. Which is why independence is now inevitable. If we are to endure hardship then it is much better we have only our selves to blame, we can then deal with it in a way that is specific to Scotland, using out own resources, not Westminster pocket money.

      2. I am glad that the admin agrees with me that this must be one of the stupidest posts ever here.

        Cannot have anyone asking why Scotland is unique in being unable to produce qualified diplomats, where as England can.

        Is this the official Labour view?

  13. Margaret curran,If scotland becomes independent what will you do?.Will you retire, or will you have a brass neck and try to get elected to the independent scottish parliament.Also do you agree with most of the scottish people that trident should be removed from scotland?

  14. Alex Salmond may want an independent Scotland to share a currency with England. It remains to be seen whether an independent England will want to share a currency with Scotland!

    1. The Scots and Ulster pound sterling, while having different currency notes/issuing banks, currently have the same value as the English pound sterling. If Scotland became independent it would be up to Scotland alone to decide whether or not to keep its own currency (or e.g. join the Euro), and whether or not to continue to tie this (the Scots pound) to the English pound in terms of value. The RUK would have no say in the matter obviously.

    2. Or maybe Scotland doesnt want to share a currency with England, the future will doubtless show safer bets than Englands pound.

      The fact is we can only predict, none of really know! Or does Labour hold the crystal ball?

  15. If margaret curran and the rest of scottish labour realy wanted to protect scotland from the torys,why are they against independence?? i now realise they dont realy care for us scots for if they did, they would want an independent socialist scotland.Not just be rid of them for a wee while,but forever.Very disgusted ex labour voter.

    1. Voting for independence to avoid the Tories is really the worst possible argument. It is selfish, short-sighted, short-termist and based on a false premise. If we’re faced with a constitutional decision we should base it on constitutional considerations, not simplistic politics.

      1. Independence will correct a democratic deficit that has been with us since voting rights were extended to all (leaving aside the undemocratic way the union was foisted on Scotland and the cultural damage that followed). Scotland always has to live with what England decides, from the destruction of Heath and Thatcher, to the dubious decisions of Blair, Brown and others, and collaboration between right and left on WMD and deregulation of financial institutions. Now, why would anyone object to Scotland making its own decisions? Labour’s current position (who know where on the home rule issue now?) is worse than short-sighted, it is head in the sand.

        1. What makes Scotland different to any other part of the UK in that respect? Voting patterns differ across any given area. If you look at the 2010 general election result you could easily draw lines through the UK dividing areas of different political outlooks and claim that that justified a separation. Except that not one of those lines would coincide with the Scottish border! On what possible basis can you argue that *politics* changes at Gretna?

          1. The basis is that Scotland is a sovereign country. It’s not a “separation” that is proposed, it is the dissolution of a treaty made under international law.

            (There are a lot of other things that change at “Gretna” as you are surely aware).

          2. But politics doesn’t change at Gretna, does it. So don’t use a political argument for a constitutional change.

          3. On exactly the same basis as politics changes at every border.

            By your logic the politics of Ireland should be similar both north and south.

            Different countrys have different needs, and Scotland has never needed the politics that suit the city of London. Remember Eddie George when governor of the BOE, that unemployment in the North was a price worth paying.

          4. But the politics being discussed – in simple terms the “north-south divide” of British politics – does NOT change at the border. It changes far south of the border. That’s my point. Independence isn’t a solution to that problem, it’s merely a way of avoiding it – in incredibly selfish and ineffectual way.

          5. You are aware that the UK of GB + NI is not a nation/country per se, but a political state comprising of 4 distinct home nation/countries joined under treaty? That’s why Scotland has different law, education systems etc, and more recently, it’s own parliament (again). You really can’t ignore this in a political analyses of the UK.

            In terms of political divides:
            % of MPs elected in England which are Conservative = 56%
            % of MPs elected in Scotland which are Conservative = 2%

            If someone doesn’t think this is a major source of consternation in Scotland (and to an extent too in England), and at least part of the reason behing the current constitutional question, then they are failing to understand UK politics at all.

          6. My point, which I’m beginning to think people are wilfully ignoring, is that you could draw the line further south and get a much cleaner split. The north of England is politically opposed to the south of England. Either you’re arguing for independence for the whole “progressive” area of the UK, or you can’t use the political argument. I say again, this is a constitutional issue, not a political one.

          7. Spot on Duncan.

            The SNP want it all ways – economic arguments, political arguments, constitutional arguments.

            That is possible if those arguments marry together – in Scotland they clearly don’t.

            Dubbieside,

            Please don’t use Ireland as an example of any logic if you don’t know anything about it. The situations in Ireland and in Scotland are different. Completely different. To try and draw comparisons between the two countries shows a great deal of ignorance.

            Also, why do the SNP when they are given a question about Scotland start talking about all these other countries? We ask about unemployment in Scotland and (until yesterday’s figures) we got the response: ‘at least we’re doing better than England’.

            It shouldn’t be a case of comparing constipation with diarrhoea – they’re both shitty problems to have.

            I want all parts of the UK to do well, and just because we’re doing slightly better than other countries in the union doesn’t mean we should settle for that. That appears to be the yardstick for the SNP. Not to be all we can be but to be better than our neighbour. Only one of these shows a desire to meet aspirations.

          8. “It shouldn’t be a case of comparing constipation with diarrhoea – they’re both shitty problems to have.” Quite beautifully put! 🙂

          9. No-one living south of “Gretna” (as you style it) has a vote for the Scottish Parliament, which was recalled in 1999 after 300 years. If you look at the 2011 election result you will see the relevent line. You are confounding the issue by suggesting the Westminster (the lines you draw) are more relevant to Scotland than Holyrood.

          10. That wooshing sound is the point flying over your head. Justifying the idea that politics is different north of the border by pointing to Scottish election results is laughably foolish, precisely because only Scots vote in Scottish elections. My point was the political similarity between Scotland and much of northern England, which can only be judged in UK election results.

          11. Read the title of the article that Margaret Curran is presenting: “How does an independent Scotland fit into the EU?”

            An independent Scotland won’t need Westminster to debate its decisions. So how exactly does the south of “Gretna” argument figure?

          12. “On what possible basis can you argue that *politics* changes at Gretna?”

            The basis that there’s a devolved Parliament north of Gretna which determines policy on a considerable number of issues, based solely on the votes of people north of Gretna, and in which people vote markedly differently to how they do in UK general elections.

            Regardless of how Northumbria or Lancashire or wherever might vote, they have to put up with whoever the numerically superior South-East votes for, in all aspect of government. Those north of Gretna do not.

            It isn’t that hard to spot, really.

          13. Yet again totally missing the point. I’ll charitably assume you are deliberately doing so, though judging by some of your other posts that’s perhaps optimistic.

            The point originally made was that we should vote for independence to get away from Tory rule – i.e. an argument predicated directly on Westminster elections. Now, many people in the the north of England also tend to vote against the Tories. So if you are going to use that political argument (which I think is the worst possible lever for constitutional change) you need to draw the line where the politics changes, not just where you want it to be.

            Is isn’t that hard to understand, really.

          14. The political lines that you mention in the north of England are subject to change at each general election; we don’t use them to define our borders. Scotland is a sovereign country with a land border with England that is well established in international law (see: The Border Line by James Logan Mack, 1924). Scotland can decide to become independent; the North of England has no means of doing this. But you know this, I’m sure; we all learned about Scotland’s sovereignty at primary school. It’s what makes us Scottish.

          15. Exactly my point. So let’s stop using the idea that there’s a political line at Scotland’s border, ergo “independence to get rid of the Tories”, as an argument for constitutional change. It’s a terrible, tissue-thin argument as you make clear.

          16. So why does “Scottish Labour” or “The Scottish Labour Party” exist if not to serve the political interests of those in Scotland.

          17. “Now, many people in the the north of England also tend to vote against the Tories. So if you are going to use that political argument (which I think is the worst possible lever for constitutional change) you need to draw the line where the politics changes, not just where you want it to be.”

            No, you don’t. You need to draw it where it ACTUALLY IS. The people of Newcastle aren’t our problem, and there’s no reason we should be dragged down with them. Scotland’s responsibility to them ends at setting a good example by showing there’s a way to run a modern social democracy that isn’t evil, callous Tory/New Labour neoliberalism.

            Your argument is akin to seeing a man drowning in a canal but not being able to swim, and so rather than go and look for someone who can, you jump in so you can drown with him. It’s the worst sort of sentimental, childish crap that most people grow out of in the sixth-year debating society. You should be embarrassed.

          18. Ignoring the point and throwing insults in too. Nice.

            My argument is that constitutional change should not be justified with politics. It’s that simple. The ludicrous result of drawing a constitutional line where the political line falls is *precisely* the point I’m making. So stop justifying independence with anti-Toryism.

          19. “So let’s stop using the idea that there’s a political line at Scotland’s border, ergo “independence to get rid of the Tories”, as an argument for constitutional change.”

            Do you have any idea what position you’re arguing any more? I don’t think you do.

            1. Scotland hasn’t voted Tory in any of our lifetimes, and isn’t likely to until after we’re all dead. England regularly does, is very very likely to continue to, ad its voters outnumber us ten to one.

            2. Therefore an independent Scotland WILL free us from Tory governments, in a way that staying in the Union won’t, no matter how many other powers we might get. Stay in the Union and we’ll regularly be governed by Tories, with all the horrors that entails.

            That’s it. Never mind all your cobblers about fantasy lines you’ve drawn in your head on God knows what basis, never mind all your twisting and wriggling trying to escape the point – what part of the above is untrue?

          20. You’re not listening, again. The whole point of my argument is that the line resulting from a political divide is an unworkable fantasy. But “England” has not voted Tory – only parts of England have. There is a dangerous dishonesty in using that political divide to justify a constitutional one. It’s simply a dreadful argument. There are far better, more honest arguments for independence. Stop using the “we hate the Tories” one because it is dishonest.

          21. We ARE listening, it’s just that we’re listening to you fail to make any sense. Where does “dishonesty” come into anything? Do we want independence? Yes we do. Do we want to be free of Tory governments for the rest of our lives? Yes we do. Is (A) a viable means of achieving (B)? Yes it is.

            Being rid of Tories is by no conceivable stretch of the imagination the ONLY reason we want independence. There are countless others – for myself, I believe Scotland will be economically better off, morally stronger (no interventionist aggressive wars, no nuclear weapons), and I simply want it to have the status of a proper nation, because in my heart Scotland, not Britain, is my country.

            But while it’s not the ONLY reason, getting rid of the Tories (and their New Labour tribute act) is a damn good one, and there isn’t a scintilla of “dishonesty” about that. It’s far more dishonest to be a supposed Labour supporter, supposedly ideologically opposed to everything the Tories stand for, actively agitating for a state of affairs that regularly causes your country to have Tory governments that it doesn’t have to have and that it doesn’t want.

            Except, of course, that when it comes down to it, Scotland isn’t your country, is it? It’s just a region of your country.

      2. To quote Stephen Maxwell in the Scottish Left Review.

        “For 27 of the first 65 post-war years (1945 to 2010) Scotland was governed from Westminster by Governments which it had rejected at the polls. In the 2010 General Election the two parties that formed the coalition Government gained only 36 per cent of the Scottish vote against a combined SNP and Labour vote of 63 per cent. If the coalition survives to the end of its five year term Scotland will have been governed from Westminster by parties it rejected for thirty two of seventy post War years. That will mean that for almost half the post War period the tax, welfare, industrial, energy and labour market policies applied in Scotland will have been decided by Governments Scottish voters did not vote for. How can a country expect to flourish if it is ruled for long periods by Governments it does not want?”

        Do you seriously think that is just a selfish, short-sighted, short-termist view? Do you really see nothing wrong with that situation?

        1. Hilarious use of stats there. The Tories and Lib Dems’ 36% compares to 20% gained by the SNP. 🙂

          A truth worth remembering is that in almost every election result in the period in question, those who took power only had the support of a minority. Even Labour, who took 41 seats in Scotland in May 2010 did so on the back of only 42% of the votes. And the SNP’s absolute majority at Holyrood was achieved with a 45% minority of the votes. Why are you not railing against that situation?

          1. Duncan,

            Could you please confirm that you see no problem and you are happy with the fact that in the last 65 years –

            1. England has ALWAYS got the government it has voted for

            2. Scotland has got the government it voted for a little over 50% of those 65 years

            A simple Yes or No will suffice

            Thanks

          2. Your premise is false. People in England have frequently been governed by a party for which only a minority voted, as have people in Scotland. My answer to that is proportional representation. Yours, apparently, is subdivision of the electorate to a level of political homogeneity – an exercise which would need to be repeated quite often for it to remain effective.

            Except that it’s a dishonest argument as well, because you’re not really interested in the political similarities of people – otherwise you would be arguing for Scotland to band together with the north of England and the bulk of Wales in its independence. Really, you’re interested in the cause of Scottish independence, and you are prepared to adopt any argument which might help to progress that aim, even to the extent of living in denial of the political reality of the UK.

          3. You may wish to note that the SNP are polling ~46% in Scots Westminster intention (based on multiple UK poll subset data), up from 42% in September http://tinyurl.com/3phj8fs); i.e. the May Scottish election result has transferred to Westminster intention it appears. This has never occured before in the history of the Scottish parliament.

            I’m afraid 2010 was a long time ago; too much has changed since then.

          4. I think you are missing the point. It is usual – even with the UK’s first past the post system – that the party of government is the party that wins the election.

            Yet Scotland can be governed – and has been governed for long periods of time – by a party which lost the election in Scotland.

            I honestly don’t know how you can think that is OK.

            I don’t know what the relevance is that the SNP only got 20 per cent of the vote at the Wesminster election. I know that. We didn’t win the election in 2010. You did. And you won it on an anti-Tory ticket. But having got people out to vote for you to stop the Tories you then turn round and say it’s short termist thinking to object to Scotland being governed by the Tories.

            Is that not short term thinking? As if people aren’t going to notice that voting Labour to keep the Tories out doesn’t actually keep the Tories out.

            You know when independence comes you can give yourself a pat on the back because that kind of thinking will have gone a long way to creating a majority for self-rule.

          5. “People in England have frequently been governed by a party for which only a minority voted, as have people in Scotland. My answer to that is proportional representation.”

            What does that have to do with anything? Had the last UK election been run under PR, we’d still have a Tory-Lib Dem coalition in Westminster (commanding 59.1% of the vote) which Scotland had rejected. It was abundantly clear in 2010 that neither Labour nor the Lib Dems had any real interest in working with each other, as Labour ran away and abandoned Britain to the Tories rather than face being civil to the SNP.

            Labour were simply tired of government and wanted a nice easy time in opposition, while the Lib Dem leadership had swung to the right and preferred working with the Tories. Clegg was absolutely unequivocal both before and after the election that the party with the most votes had the proper right to form the government.

          6. (And of course, Labour are bitterly opposed to PR anyway. You’re in the wrong party if you think it’s the answer to anything.)

      3. Why it is selfish for the people of Scotland to elect the government they choose? I’d describe that as a fundamental human right. If England wants the Tories, or the Januses of the LibDems, let them have them. Please tell us more about your perceived ‘false premise’. It seems to me that wishing to be governed by the government we choose is a pretty powerful constitutional consideration. I’m not sure how you can rationally deny this.

        1. He can’t rationally deny it. Tory governments are Labour’s Achilles heel in Scotland, because staying in the Union will ALWAYS mean regular Tory governments, whereas independence will mean none in our lifetimes. Duncan’s only answer to that is “You don’t know what will happen in the future!”, but then we also don’t *know* that Barcelona would beat Partick Thistle reserves if they played them tomorrow. But we can all have a pretty damn confident guess.

          1. Interesting to note that the tory party is to be made an illegal institution in independent Scotland, to “prevent a Tory Government”.

            Great to see democracy in action.

          2. Ah, bless. How endearing it always is to see Labour supporters cling desperately to the hope that Scotland might elect a Tory government one day. Really makes it clear where your loyalties lie.

          3. Oh dear John, do you really believe that the torys would be an illegal institution in an independent Scotland? Do you really think that anyone else believes that?

            As I have said before, there appear to be many people visiting this site who were at one time Labour voters. Many of them appear to be coming here looking for reasons to reconnect with Labour. Remember the “I did not leave Labour, they left me” Do you think comments such as that have any chance of convincing anyone to return to the fold?

  16. “I agree the Prime Minister should have consulted widely before wielding the veto – he didn’t even speak to the Deputy Prime Minister – and the UK Government should meet with the leaders of the UK’s devolved institutions now.”

    Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, already have a large degree of independent control over their domestic affairs in a way that England does not. Foreign affairs are reserved to the UK Parliament. Now, apparently, you think that the aggregate 15% minority of the UK population which these three nations represent are due some exceptional and special consideration in foreign affairs beyond that voice of their representatives at Westminster. A very rude word to that. If you want your own foreign policy vote for independence. If not, accept that your voiced on UK foreign affairs should be in proportion to your population as it already is, no more, no less. Devolved assemblies and governments should not be consulted on foreign policy.

    1. “If not, accept that your voiced on UK foreign affairs should be in proportion to your population”

      The Union is supposed to be a union of equal partner nations, not superior and inferior ones based on population.

  17. Labour currency plans for Scotland in UK = Use £ until such time as Euro may be considered favourable.

    SNP currency plans for independent Scotland = Use £ until such time as Euro may be considered favourable.

    Labour currency plans for independent Scotland = unknown

    The main difference I see that Labour want Scots to vote for London Tory rule while the SNP want Scots to vote for an end to this, allowing Scots to make their own decisions on currency, EU status etc, rather than that being decided by a generally more eurosceptic England. I can see why the SNP stance is currently more appealing to the Scots electorate.

    Margaret, 2 questions:
    1. What is your position on Full Fiscal Autonomy given that 68% of Scots support it, including ~60% of Scots Labour voters (latest IPSOS-MORI poll, with 19% of Labour voters supporting full independence even if FFA is on the ballot)?
    2. What currency would Labour advocate for an independent Scotland; the £ then possibly the Euro, as per the SNP stance?

  18. GMcM

    As has already been explained in legal terms if Scotland and the remaining UK split both parts inherit the treaty obligations of the original state.
    Greenland, which was part of the Denmark EU entity, had to negotiate its way OUT of the EU
    Are you suggesting that the EU is going to throw out the country with much of oil and gas reserves, the biggest area of its fishing grounds and a commanding position on the North Atlantic? Don’t be silly.
    It’s arguments like this which are sinking Scottish Labour. It doesn’t matter what the sensible position is – if that’s the SNP position Labour must oppose it.
    Actually I don’t care much whether Scotland is on or out of the EU and I suspect most people in the street have little concern either. And I don’t care what currency we have as long as I have enough of it – a position I think you’ll find is echoed by most people as well.

    1. So you don’t care about our biggest export market and you don’t care about monetary policy. I wonder how many SNP folk share your view. Astonishing.

    2. Did you read my comment or just respond to what you think I said?

      I said Scotland would be accepted back into the EU. So why you question me on that I have no idea. Don’t be so silly.

      The UK would not split – Scotland would leave the UK. There is a huge difference.

      1. Scottish independence would dissolve the current act of union which dates from the early 1920’s; i.e. when it was renewed/updated post Irish independence. The RUK would then need to prepare a new Act of Union treaty which did not include Scotland. The obvious name for this new state would be ‘The United Kingdom of Britain and Northern Ireland’; the removed ‘Great’ part relating to the 1707 union of Scotland with England+Wales to make the larger (‘great’er) island of the British isles one state. The union jack would probably need revision too as continued inclusion of the saltire would not make sense.

  19. Duncan Hothersall

    “On what possible basis can you argue that *politics* changes at Gretna?”

    Try May’s election for a start.
    Are you an SNP agent putting up easy targets for SNP posters?

    1. May’s election was only held in Scotland so could not possibly give you evidence for that. I can only assume you didn’t understand my point.

    2. “Scottish Labour” or “The Scottish Labour Party” makes its policy for Scotland, not for other parts of the UK.

  20. James matthews

    “Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, already have a large degree of independent control over their domestic affairs in a way that England does not.
    Eh?
    Explain please.

    1. That’ll be the West Lothian Question.

      Very unfair on the English electorate that Scots Lab, Lib and Tory MPs (SNP always abstain) can vote on English domestic matters, while the same domestic policies in Scotland are voted on by Scots MSPs alone.

      A product of the devolution sticking plaster approach and one which should be stopped, i.e. Scots MPs prevented from voting on English domestic matters.

  21. Alex Gallagher

    I have no objection to the publication of any legal advice, be from Hollyrood, Westminster or Brussels. I will have paid a contribution to all three jurisdictions. However constitutional considerations will affect the vision of the EU when it comes to look at this matter since this will be a case of legal interpretation and we have already many differing views as to where the law stands( and this is why no one wants to publish, its like poker, you never show your cards!).
    I would guess that in the event of a positive referendum vote, the negotiated outcome would end the Treaty of Union of 1707 and the result will be two legal successor states both in or both out of the EU.If it was a disputed Independence, the RUK might be the sole successor state, though I dont know if that would work in International Law.
    I would also hazard a guess that on the precedent of Greenland ( I know, it was a slightly different body), that both states would be in. Whether the EU would want them both in and whether both would want to stay in is a facinating prospect. Thats for the future.

  22. Duncan

    “So you don’t care about our biggest export market and you don’t care about monetary policy.”

    No. I am perfectly confident of the abilities of the people of Scotland to manage fine no matter what constitutional position they are in after independence.
    Many of us find a connection with our Nordic neighbours could have some attraction and I am perfectly happy to be in the EU and there is multitude of options to be considered in an interdependent world.
    This is a forced debate which has little traction at the moment with the man and woman in the street who know we are not there at the moment
    Europe indeed is our biggest market and will remain so in any circumstance.
    Do not confuse monetary policy with concerns about currency. They are not the same thing

  23. This turns into a good discussion and I appreciate people like Dubbieside and many others having the ability to discuss and keep it civilised.

    Since when did Labour become the Labour and unionist party?

    Scotland will not have problems entering the EU, or deciding who we peg the Scottish (Pound/Merk or Kroon, Whatever), thats not the issue.
    The issue is that Labour are / have turned into the fearmonger party of negativity.
    The reason I come on here is to decide whether I change a 25 year habbit of voting Labour to switching to the SNP, so far I ve seen plenty good contibutors to this site, but very little sense from the bloggers and MPs who still advocate the hatred to Independence and the SNP. I dont hate Salmond or the SNP, and I dont support Labour to do this.

    1. Macrae

      Thank you for your kind words. I may often disagree with people but I always try to keep it civilised.

      I may disagree with some of the things on Labour Hame but I respect the open platform that they are prepared to give, that can only help on going debate.

  24. Duncan Hothersall says:
    “Either you’re arguing for independence for the whole “progressive” area of the UK, or you can’t use the political argument. I say again, this is a constitutional issue, not a political one.”

    I think it’s a bit of both; the two are too difficult to separate.
    Go back to the post war days of Clement Attlee and you find a real UK-wide social democratic consensus. At the same time, the British Empire was still alive and well. The latter was the primary driver behind the original union (British Isles united, so ‘home base’ secure ahead of overseas expansion) and what helped maintain it (shared enterprise). Put these two together and you have strong support for the union.

    Of course, over the past 60 years the Empire has declined, finally coming to an end really when Hong Kong returned to China in 1997. Over the same period, support in Scotland for then Union has steadily declined, with home rule referenda in 1979 and 1997, the first yielding a small majority (overruled by the then Labour government on an undemocratic technicality not subsequently applied in 1997), the second an overwhelming one. That’s the ‘nationality’ part that can’t be changed; Scotland is Scotland as Ireland is Ireland as France is France. Scottish independence seems a natural product of the end of the Empire; Ireland joined 80 years after Scotland, Scotland may leave 80 years after Ireland did; the tail end of the Gaussian empirical rise and fall curve. Trying to tell Scots not to leave the union because “We’re all the same” is equivalent to telling Irish people they should join the union again because “We’re all the same”, or telling Australians (finally fully independent only in 1986) to come back into the fold for the same reason. We are all the same in most ways, apart from some people are Scots, some English, some N. Irish, some Welsh, and of course some who feel ‘British’ inevitably (often due to the social union which is not going anywhere)! Ask people in the Street in Scotland what nationality they are and 8/10 will say ‘Scottish’, just like most people living in France would reply with ‘French’ to the same question. This is impossible to get around; you can’t force people adopt a national identity/affinity (e.g. British), such things occur naturally due to circumstance.

    The other part is the political; over the past 60 years the combined SNP + Liberal (traditionally federalists) + Green vote has risen steadily (look at GE 1950s to 1997, then SE from 1999 onwards – GE since 1997 vote has too much tactical too it), with this crossing (tipping point) the combined Labour + conservative vote in 2007. The former is now ~55% (as of May) and this is showing up strongly now too in Scots Westminster intention polls. While this is quite arguably in part due to the generally accepted view that Scots wish a more left of centre / liberal society, it also of course relates to the national constitutional question; the SNP, Greens and Libs traditionally being independence/federalists, with Labour and the Tories unionists. Of course this is something of a generalisation (independence/federalism being cross-party in nature), but is a major signature of what has been happening in the last 60 years.

    The political and national identity aspects can’t be separated as they are too intertwined. This applies to the collapse of the Tory vote in Scotland too; while Scots are apparently much less keen on Tory social and economic policy than English people, the fact that the Tories have historically been against Scottish independence/home rule is also a major factor in their demise north of the Border.

    You can’t change history and neither can you stop it happening either. The union needs a serious overhaul if it is to survive the coming referendum; Full Fiscal Autonomy under federalism is probably the only thing that could prevent a ‘Yes’ to independence vote but it is not even anywhere near being put on the table. The Scottish constitutional question has been building to a head for 60 years; it’s not out of the blue by any means, and it’s certainly not going to go away.

  25. To fully understand what the constitutional issue in Scotland is about you have to be Scottish in sentiment (whether born or adopted).
    Many well meaning and decent people outside Scotland don’t understand and assume that a desire for Scottish self determination is born somehow of some dislike of England. They get this guff from their media but usually they can quite easily be put right and led to understand that we wish to be nothing other than good friends to our next door neighbours.
    But we still get from some quarters arguments on this issue based on lots of similar false premises. It is when Scots policians deploy some of these nonsenses that the bad feeling starts to arise – particularly as most of those self same politicians know they are quite deliberately distorting facts and sentiment on this issue. Let’s have an honest debate – and I am very grateful grateful that Labour Hame is putting up with me on this.

    1. Being Scottish and wanting self-determination is only in a small part “political” (in terms of party politics). So behind a simple point that we might express on a political blogg there is so much more that derives from our being “Scottish in sentiment”, but gets lost in the confrontational approach that politics demands.

  26. If Ms. Curran, or anyone else, *seriously* thinks that the EU would kick Scotland, with half of Europe’s known oil reserves and 25% of Europe’s potential wind energy – to say nothing of the massive potential for tidal and wave power generation, out of Europe on achieving independence then they aren’t dealing with reality.

    The question really is “will we want to remain in the EU?” or “under what terms would we wish to remain?” And that will be a matter for the people of Scotland to decide…

  27. Wow!! A wide ranging debate on here,straying from the thread of Mrs Currans article,but very interesting all the same.
    The reason I didnt vote Labour in May is that Labour party policies dont appeal to me.Nuclear,Iraq etc.However,theyre quite popular in Britain as a whole,and thats what really counts I suppose.The big picture etc

  28. “Independent evidence has made it clear that an independent Scotland will have to accept the Euro if it decides to join the EU.”

    Surely that’s just not the case. The re-application stushie I can understand. I honestly don’t have a great deal of definitive knowledge on that matter. Scotland may well have to re-apply or it may well be an automatic member. There’s scope for debate there. Who knows how the EU will perceive our very unique family of nations in todays world? I know from personal experience that most europeans do not have a wholesome idea of how Scotland operates. They have a hazy feeling we’re a country but they think we’re part of England! (I genuinely believe this haziness of thought has negative impact on Scotland in so many ways. There has to be a stronger brand out there for us).

    What I find more disconcerting is the idea that Scotland would be frog-marched into using the Euro currency. You have to join the ERM2 first, show that the country is keeping to the aggregate for a number of years and then adopt the euro. However, the initial request to join the ERM2 is non-compulsory. Yes, we may have to declare our intention to join the Euro at some stage but the initial step is optional. In other words, its impossible to force the currency onto an unwilling country.

    I would be inclined to take seriously the idea that Scotland may not be an automatic member of the EU (and I have some doubt about this) if the proponents weren’t coupling this with telling porkies about Scotland being obliged to join the Eurozone. Curran’s crediblity on the initial membership issue (which I believe may have some traction despite her doing her best to nullify it) is dashed with the unfounded scaremongering on the latter issue.

    1. Automatic? No, but only because there’s not a precedent for it. However…

      Given that Scotland is currently a member of the EU (under the UK banner) with Scottish MEPs sitting in Brussels (they know all about Scotland – ‘Madame Ecosse’ made sure of that!), there are large numbers of Europeans living and working in Scotland (inc the missus) under freedom of movement agreements with various EU member consulates in Scotland etc, that Scots taxes have been feeding into the EU system with grants coming back etc etc… the suggestion that Scotland would find itself cast adrift the moment it became ‘independent’ is frankly laughable. If the current EU rubbish is representative of the ‘pro-union’ case, then a yes vote for independence is all but guaranteed.

  29. Just some facts on Scotland’s influence in UK general elections.

    1966: Labour majority of 96. Excluding Scotland, Lab majority of 4
    1970: Conservative majority of 15. Excluding Scotland, Con majority of 40.
    1974a: Labour largest party, no overall majority. Excluding Scotland, Labour largest party, no overall majority.
    1974b: Labour majority of 4. Excluding Scotland, Lab largest party with no overall majority.
    1979: Conservative majority of 44. Excluding Scotland, Con majority of 71.
    1987: Conservative majority of 101. Excluding Scotland, Con majority of 153.
    1992: Conservative majority of 21. Excluding Scotland, Con majority of 71.
    1997: Labour majority of 177. Excluding Scotland, Lab majority of 137.
    2001: Labour majority of 166. Excluding Scotland, Lab majority of 127.
    2005: Labour majority of 65. Excluding Scotland, Lab majority of 43.
    2010: Conservatives largest party with no overall majority. Excluding Scotland, Con majority of 20.

    Make of it what you want. I take from it that Scottish voters have had historically almost no influence on who forms the Government in Westminster. And also that an Independent Scotland would not condemn England to perpetual Tory rule.

    1. I’m a northern Englishman, Yorkshire born and bred, and I don’t need Mr Hothersall’s patronizing attitude. His view that oppressed hordes of Tykes, Geordies and Mancunians depend on Scottish election results to deliver the occasional Labour UK Gov’t is a. false, and b. downright insulting. The rural North of England rather wrecks Mr Hothersall’s argument by not voting Labour, and many southern English urban areas traditionally vote Labour. As a group. English people just get pissed off when they think that Scots have affected the outcome of a General Election – I’ve spent many an hour explaining to indignant English people that England elected Blair 3 times without any help from the Scots beyond the size of the majority..

      The bottom line is that England gets what it votes for in General Elections, Scotland does not. Mr Hothersall’s stereotyped view of cloth-capped Northerners as wannabe Scots versus Southern toffs is in no way valid. Many Yorkshire folk are just as disgruntled by the distant dismissiveness of Westminster as any Scot, but they will work out their own solutions, thank you very much, Mr H. It’s London-centricity Northerners could do without – no London Government of whatever flavour takes proper account of the North of England. The last Labour Gov’t, heavily metropolitan in outlook, did nothing to stop the flow of power, influence and money to London as Northern cities crumbled.

      1. Another person utterly failing to understand my point. It is the very impracticality of lumping the north of England with Scotland that is the basis of my argument. Those arguing for independence on political (anti-Tory) lines are being fundamentally dishonest about where those lines are. For you to interpret my point as being patronising to the north of England is for you to betray that you have not understood a word I’ve said.

        1. I think you will find that most SNP supporters are more pro-Independence than anti-Tory, We just want Scots to have the right to elect a Government that they choose, Tory, Labour, even LibDem – a right commonplace in other Western European countries. However, it is the oddity of professed socialists advocating the perpetuation of a system that can only lead to continual Tory domination that leads to Nat head-shaking.

          I wonder if people are failing to comprehend your argument because it is incomprehensible?

          You say ‘you’re(SNP) not really interested in the political similarities of people – otherwise you would be arguing for Scotland to band together with the north of England and the bulk of Wales in its independence. Really, you’re interested in the cause of Scottish independence, and you are prepared to adopt any argument which might help to progress that aim, even to the extent of living in denial of the political reality of the UK.’

          Shock – SNP supporters support Scottish independence!

          In any case, your point about political realities in UK is plain wrong – the divide in English politics can be best described as urban/rural, not North/South, as a look at:

          http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/2432632/UK-General-Election-2010-political-map.html

          shows. Furthermore, plainly English political sensibilities derive from English experiences, Scottish ones from Scottish experiences. Your ‘political similarities exist in broad terms , but not in the chimera. The commonality of purpose you invoke is a chimera in post-Imperial Britain.

          1. In reply to your point, I quote from Mr Hothersall’s reply to me.

            ‘Really, you’re interested in the cause of Scottish independence, and you are prepared to adopt any argument which might help to progress that aim, even to the extent of living in denial of the political reality of the UK.’

            Now, if we add one word, we arrive the Labour position:

            Really, you’re interested in defeating the cause of Scottish independence, and you are prepared to adopt any argument which might help to progress that aim, even to the extent of living in denial of the political reality of the UK.’

        2. “It is the very impracticality of lumping the north of England with Scotland that is the basis of my argument.”

          THAT’S the basis of your argument? In that case, I can set your mind at rest very easily – the SNP has no plans to annex the north of England. We are concerned solely with events north of the existing border. Nobody has EVER argued for Scottish independence based on the political leaning of anyone but Scots. Goodness me, however did you come up with such a bizarre notion?

          But as ever, it’s actually everyone else misunderstanding you, isn’t it, Dunc? Maybe you should try explaining your actual point better, because it’s incomprehensible to everyone but you.

          Is your argument “Scotland shouldn’t be independent because there are parts of England which oppose the Tories too”? That’s pretty much all I can extract from your tangled, tortured logic.

  30. It’s seems that Margaret Curran is not the only labour politican infected with the fog.

    I read in my local paper the Dunfermline Press, Thomas Docherty and MEP Catherine Sthiler repeating the same garbage over the euro.

    So are ANY labour bods on here going to address the wee problem of the actual mechanics on eurozone membership compared to their narrative. Or are labour politicans hoping folk are ignorant as they seem to be?

    1. Unfortunately you are correct.
      Unfortunately, I dont think the bloggers here even read the comments?
      I m really surprised at ms Stihlers comments and wonder if the Scottish public think we (Labour) have lost the plot.

  31. I would advocate independence on the grounds that it will be good for England.
    I stress not political lines (Duncan take note, please).
    It is my belief that independence is not the end of a process, it is a door opened for fundamental changes to all the nations of the British Isles.
    An independent Scotland, results in an independent England ( I leave Wales and N Ireland out to save typing). Independence for England will be a game changer for the people of England and to their benefit.
    England’s economy will have to remodel itself. There will have to be a redistribution of the economic framework, with wealth devolved (let’s reuse a useful phrase) from the wealthy South East. This is bound to happen to ensure the social cohesion required in any nation state.
    Why this has not happened in the past within England is actually a disgraceful fact of history. Basically the people of England have been let down by successive UK Governments. Labour included.
    It must surely be apparent that the aspirations touted and probably held genuinely dear by Labour supporters i.e. social justice et al are simply unachievable within the framework of the Westminster lead UK.
    Surely 50 years of experience tells it’s own story.
    It’s time for a radical rethink. A big idea, and Independence is the answer.
    Think of Independence as a reworking and reinvention of the relationships between the constituent parts of the current nations of the UK. It’s a very positive thing.
    You create new internal markets, you create healthy competition, in England, as I have mentioned above, you create a new playing field, where new ideas and aspirations will flourish.
    It’s a vast Spring Clean, long overdue.

  32. Ooops – editing fail – should read

    Your ‘political similarities’ exist in broad terms , but not in the detail. The commonality of purpose you invoke is a chimera in post-Imperial Britain.

  33. Dear Margaret Curran MP,
    I hope you will return to this posting and read the comments, which are mostly balanced and well-intended. Ignore the few personal comments.
    Your views on many of the issues raised would be appreciated.
    Regards,
    farrochie
    (James Parker)

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