Alastair Osborne points out the many ways in which Brexit does not spell the end of our European identity, and argues for active measures to reassert our internationalist outlook.

I promised myself that I would die in a ditch if I did not write this before 31st December: it’s time for us to take control of our European identity again. We may be about to leave the EU but we are not leaving Europe. Labour supporters are part of an internationalist, democratic socialist party committed to asserting our European identity.

The UK remains a member of the Council of Europe, the organisation of 47 countries founded in 1949, long before the EU. Labour Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin was in the vanguard of those who brought it about. We send a full cross-party delegation to its Parliamentary Assembly in Strasbourg and we have representation from local authorities and the Scottish Parliament on its Congress of Local and Regional Authorities.

The Council of Europe has a proud record of standing up for human rights, democracy and the rule of law. We remain signed up to the European Court of Human Rights. The Tory Government might huff and puff about replacing it with a Bill of Rights but they should remember that it was Churchill and the Tory Party that helped establish the ECHR.

Ode to Joy is still our European Anthem. Again it was first adopted by the Council of Europe in 1972 and is widely recognised as the appropriate anthem when Europe competes in sporting events or is represented anywhere as Europe. We do not abandon the anthem just because we are leaving the EU.

Finally, there is no need to haul down the European flag. It is the flag of Europe as a whole not just the EU. Since 1955 the blue flag with twelve yellow stars has flown proudly over Europe and should continue to do so here in the UK after Brexit. Why don’t we start a campaign to encourage its increased use by the Scottish Parliament, local authorities and other Scottish institutions? Now more than ever we should declare ourselves proud to be Scottish, proud to be British and proud to be European.

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16 thoughts on “We will always be European

  1. Alastair the Scottish Labour party which is not really a party is just a section of the UK Labour Party should be just up your street as a unionist so I am so happy for you to espouse your unionist credentials, furthermore I am also so happy that you can espouse your international credentials, unfortunately as Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to remain in the EU and the rest UK voted to leave and the position of the Scottish Labour party and the UK Labour Party was neutral ie neither for remain or leave in the general election then I am so sorry to say that your European credentials do not stand up to scrutiny and are therefore for all intensive purposes deemed null and void.

  2. Sorry, but your in a bit of a fantasy land here. “We are being taken out of the EU against our will”, this is the main part of being European, the rest is just fluff.

    If you are not part of the EU , you have no influence and no-one will listen us.

    Labour in Scotland needs to stop burying its collective head in the sand and start standing up for our country and its future.

    And that means “independence”.

  3. So if Brexit does not spell the end of our European identity, by the same logic, Scottish independence will not end British identity.

    Glad that’s cleared up.

  4. “Labour supporters are part of an internationalist, democratic socialist party committed to asserting our European identity.”

    Perhaps, then, it is time for them to conclude that Scotland should become a full fledged state of the EU in its own right rather than the alterative of leaving the EU with the rest of the UK. (Or is the Labour commitment to internationalism of secondary important its Unionist ideology?)

  5. Genuine question Alastair, where does the ‘proud to be British ‘fit into this mini essay? Is it not your and your likes devotion to the British State that is the reason we are denied our European Citizenship?

    1. Good point. What indeed was the purpose of the final sentence if not just an attempt to remind readers of his Unionist credentials?

      I agree that Scotland, as a country that voted clearly that it wanted to remain in the EU, should continue to fly the EU flag and make clear that we still see our future as an EU member state…and as an independent country if that’s what it takes for Scotland to get back in.

  6. In the general election of 2010 Labour won 41 seats in Scotland. In 2019 as we know Labour won 1. It is not the first time Labour in Scotland has returned 1 Scottish MP, it happened in the GE of 2015.
    These days politics is an odd profession to choose as a career. Its a bit like religion, in that, the individual is so motivated by their beliefs, casting a vote in an election is not enough of a contribution. They have to profess their beliefs to others.
    There was a time in Scotland when politics as a career made a lot of sense. The career path went something like this; join the Labour Party and go to Glasgow University, get active at branch and constituency level and bide your time. The other way if uni was not an option was to join a trade union and become a union rep and then get active at branch and constituency level and bide your time. Wait for your chance. Knowing someone that had already made it helped. A trade union boss. Excellent. These days are long since gone.
    Those that do take to politics as a profession soon realise that there are two faces to politics. There is the politics driven by ideology, and there is, as the Germans call it ‘realpolitik’ which is, as we know, politics based primarily on considerations of given circumstances and factors, rather than the explicit ideological stuff.
    Labour in Scotland seems to have forgotten about the latter. Why would that be? Labour ran Scotland only 15 years ago. Top to bottom, quangos, health boards, education, the lot. Now it is irrelvent at all levels.
    Is it that ideology is more important than realpolitik within Scottish Labour? If so that is a brave and selfless road Labour in the branch office chose to go down.
    To stand up for something, even when you know it is unpopular with your supporters, and to keep standing is the ultimate act of self sacrifce, or , there is another explanation, it is, (do you know the answer readers?) the most monumentally stupid thing a political party can do. .What is the point in forming a political party if the voters dont like your policies?
    That is the question Labour in Scotland has to ask itself. Ideology and the costs to the party of these ideologies. So far, I dont think Labour in Scotlandshire has faced up to the big question.
    2014 was a long time ago. I have yet to hear or read a Labour figure or activist say, ‘we saved the union’ , it was worth it. Alasair Osborne kind of implies it in his last sentence “Now more than ever we should declare ourselves proud to be Scottish, proud to be British and proud to be European”. But that is a cop out. Its not enough. (And its about to be wrong, we will be non Europeans at the end of the month. Fact. Remember ‘The Pledge’)
    Scottish Labour has to do the full mea culpa, the honest and public cost/benifit analysis of their constitutional stance on their party and on Scotland.. Until it does, the decline will continue, and as Ian Murray has warned The Party (Scottish branch) will die.

  7. Spotted this in the paper
    Santa robbed a New York bank went outside shouted yo ho ho threw all the money on the pavement and said help yourselves went to a coffee shop ordered a coffee waited for the cops .
    Most of the money was recovered people thought it was a scam and some took money from the pavement into the bank .
    Also in America woman dialled 911 told operator they were in bed and could hear an intruder said their 2 year old was asleep they could see him so not him .
    She also said husband had his gun aimed at the bedroom door was told under no circumstances were they to leave the bedroom with a gun when cops arrived .
    Cops arrived they put gun away went out hands up .
    To be met by laughing cops the intruder was a robo hoover they had bought 2 days earlier which had come to life and was hoovering

  8. Labour is on the way to irrelevance in Scotland

    Aberdeen South: Held the seat with 36.5% in 2010 – now 8.4% and in 4th place!!
    Dumfries and Galloway: Held the seat with 45.9 in 2010 – now at 9.2%
    East Renfrewshire: Held the seat with 51.5% in 2010 – now at 12.4%
    Falkirk: Held the seat with 45.7% in 2010 – now at 11.1%
    North Ayrshire and Arran – Held the seat with 47.4% in 2010 – now on 13.9%
    Ochil and South Perthshire – Held the seat with 37.9% in 2010 – now on 8.6%
    Stirling – Held the seat with 41.8% in 2010 – now on 8.1%

  9. Papers show the Scottish Executive wanted the UK Government to cover the 72 million cost of policing the 2005 G8 summit they only paid 20 million papers show Jack McConnell warned his administration was being placed in an intolerable position
    Our civil servants made plans on what to do if Boris Yeltsin who liked the booze were to die suddenly right down to the private messages of condolence to be sent to his family
    UK officials drew up plans to invite Russia to join Nato during the Yeltsin period Sir Malcolm Rifkind backed it but the cabinet did not
    Ted Heath tried to get the Pope to condemn IRA violence
    The Pope in a meeting with Ted at a Vatican meeting in 1971 criticised Britains internment policy and Britains liberal attitude to homosexuality and Abortion .
    The Pope made clear his opposition to internment etc
    John Major did not attend a visit to Northern Ireland by President Clinton he wanted to go but his officials said no
    they could not see anyway out of meeting and shaking hands with Gerry Adams apart from having to hide behind the potted plants
    There was a full scale civil service turf war in 1995 over a visit to Israel by John Major
    Douglas Hogg was to visit Foreign Office minister visiting Orient house the PLO HQ in East Jerusalem Israel said no
    The Foreign Office not wanting to offend the Palestinians wanted to do it to solve the problem Douglas Hogg did not go on the trip a civil servant went to see the PLO everyone happy
    Parents of the Dunblane high school massacre were concerned the Government were about to renege on a pledge to help .
    They had heard that Michael Forsyth had decided to use public donations rather than state funds to rebuild the gym where 16 children and their teacher were murdered .
    They sent John Major a letter Michael Forsyth wrote back no truth in the rumour
    Downing street refused to let John Major take part in a charity event it involved the PM drawing signed 5 pound notes from a hat the prize tickets to New York defacing currency is an offence.
    John Major considered renaming Heathrow Airport as Winston Churchill airport he asked Sir George Young Transport secretary if it was worth pursuing nothing more was heard of it.
    Lord Mountgarret in 1994 came up with the idea of a separate time zone for Scotland PM said no

  10. More stuff just released in 2004 the Scottish Cabinet were told if an attack on Torness nuclear power station on what we would now call 911 proportions took place .
    If the fuel rods were damaged if there was a radioactive release a strategic coordination group would meet to make decisions on to take decisions on evacuations and the administering of potassium iodate tablets .
    Ministers discussed this in May 2004 a week after an explosion at the Stockline Plastics factory in Glasgow killed nine people .This incident led to the use of mutual support arrangements and equipment introduced after 911

  11. Hello Alistair – I found this an interesting article highlighting the (often forgotten) Council of Europe. It is good to see someone pointing out that even the flag of Europe belongs to this institution as much as it does the EU. The Council of Europe is an under used and under-stated institution that includes Russia as a member state. Its has its problems but it also has potential to be more than what it is at present particularly in the field of improving relations with Russia amongst other member nations and associates.

    The problem is though the UK government. The UK government has no interest in working with Europe, this is about taking back control – UK exceptionalism to coin a phrase. During the run up to the Brexit referendum we were told that we would no longer have to be ‘controlled’ by Europe but few of those voting Leave realised the difference between the European Court of Human Rights and the European Court of Justice, the Council of Europe, the European Council and the Council of the European Union – and to be honest no-one really told them. Our media as well as our politicians let us down on that one just as they have over the years regarding the real relationship between the EU and the UK preferring the ‘straight bananas’, ‘British sausage’ version. It seems, at present, the UK government is more interested in demoting the European Flag and flying the Union Flag and at the same time considering replacing the Saltire on some products with the Union Flag. I am afraid that under this UK government there is not much sympathy with the notion of the UK as being European. Sad, but true.

    I no longer understand the notion of being proud to be British.

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