What you can do for Labour

mark mclaughlinMark McLaughlin, a PhD student in International Law and a supporter of Scottish independence, says in the event of a second independence referendum the Yes campaign needs the Scottish Labour Party.


Some of my Yes colleagues trolling prominent No campaigners risk committing the second nation-defining act of self harm this week. Preferring to launch bricks from inside the tent rather build a bigger one, they are the Yes campaign’s equivalent of the ‘Tom Watson is a Blairite’ and ‘Margaret Hodge is a Tory’ wing of the Labour Party.

If Scotland had voted to leave the UK in 2014, it would have voted to leave the EU, too. The House of Lords Advisory Committee, indeed anyone who had ever opened a book on EU law, could have told you that. On the balance of probabilities, it was reasonable to argue that Scotland’s EU membership was safer in the UK.

Gleefully or furiously repudiating Labour supporters with whom we share genuine grief at the loss of our European identity is vacuous and vindictive. Such repellent arrogance does as much to buttress support for the union as Scottish Labour has ever done. For some, a big, tall glass of shut-up-juice is in order.

At the outset, I must confess to a tinge of zealotry in support for Scottish Independence. The economic claims of the vapid White Paper were carefully dismantled by the Financial Times, the IFS, Kevin Hague and others, and I voted Yes anyway. Scotland would have had a significant deficit. It would have had to reapply for EU membership. A currency union was not certain. In my view, it would have been rough in the beginning, but worth it.

Ironically, I might have characterised my support for independence not by addressing the issues raised by skeptics, but by appealing to arguments of democracy, a distinctive culture, or ‘taking back control’. Hoist by one’s own petard, there. In that context, perhaps Chris Deerin was right when he said that it is the poorest in society that pay the price of middle-class Utopianism. Indeed, I wonder if we had voted Yes, how many of us would have looked rather like Michael Gove did on Friday morning, who, having spent 3 months squeezing the toothpaste out of the tube, looked gaunt and terrified when it wouldn’t go back in.

But here we sit, toothpaste everywhere. The United Kingdom to which Scotland voted to remain enjoined no longer exists. A Polish cultural centre has been daubed with racist graffiti in Hammersmith. Ciaran Jenkins of Channel 4 reports three separate people shouting ‘send them home’ in the space of five minutes on a Barnsley high street. In Newcastle city centre, the EDL has held a rally calling for the repatriation of immigrants following Brexit.

And it’s not just here, either. The far-right has been emboldened across the continent. French National Front leader Marine Le Pen has changed her twitter profile pic to the Union Jack. The Netherland’s own Nigel Farage, Geert Wilders, has praised a ‘fantastic result’. As the New Statesman’s Stephen Bush said, all of the wrong people are clapping.

A friend of mine in Vienna sent a picture of a typed-up sign in a shop window that read: “We kindly ask all British citizens to pay an additional 10% surcharge. This as solidarity to help cover the loss and the damage to the European economy”. But the Leave vote doesn’t make us any less European. Right Boris? Right?

The most terrifying part of it all, though, is what happens when there is no reduction in immigration. Because there won’t be. In the renegotiation, business will demand we have access to the single market. In return, we will agree to the free movement of labour. Before the ink is dry on that agreement, Nigel Farage will be in front of a camera, telling the white working class of England that they have been betrayed. When UKIP purple cascades through Labour red in the North of England at the next election, riding a wave of anti-immigrant sentiment, I don’t want to be around to witness it. Call it a lack of solidarity, defeatism, abandoning my fellow citizens, whatever you like. That’s not my country, and I want no part of it.

In 2014, Tom Devine argued that it is the Scots who have succeeded most in preserving the British idea of fairness and compassion in terms of state support and intervention, and England has embarked on a separate journey. Generalisations aside, that has never felt more true than it does now. Whatever Scotland’s major parties think of each other, every leader is vociferously pro-
immigration, and as we have seen in the past few days, rhetoric matters. That journey looks like it may take Scotland out of the European Union against the expressed will of a majority of its citizens.

European citizenship was a part of my identity, in the same way that, for many, Britishness is part of theirs. The collision of these two identities will be even more emotionally fraught than before, and I can’t say I’m hugely looking forward to the ferocious arguing between people who have already made up their minds. But if those in the Scottish Labour party, self-avowed and historic internationalists, can look south of Berwick and claim that Scotland and England have the same vision for the future, then they are made of sterner stuff than I am.

Having said that, the general aversion to flag-waving lunatics is healthy. A mere glance at the Trumpian disaster across the pond should give pause to those who attach their causes to the Saltire and claim there is no adverse effect on rational, evidence-led policy making. At the same, symbols do matter. Flags matter. Identity matters. Labour’s failure to grasp this has contributed to a Conservative majority in the UK, and an SNP government in Holyrood.

I appreciate that it is a difficult truth for policy wonks, or those who fear the ugly underbelly of arbitrary support for abstract ideals, but we are who we are. That is why Andy Burnham’s “Love Scotland, just don’t get nationalism… People matter more than borders” is perhaps the worst misreading of the vote from a Labour politician post-Brexit. The European Union stood in direct opposition to the imposition of arbitrary borders, and Scotland voted by a 24 point margin in favour of remaining. It is because I care about the welfare of people over borders that I believe in the EU, not in spite of it.

Mr Burnham, while justified in his concern for blood and soil expressions of isolationism, would be advised to be look more closely at the increasingly anti-immigrant sentiment in England, and reassess how many nations of the UK he doesn’t understand. I make that two so far, but I’m yet to hear his views on Wales and Northern Ireland, so a clean sweep may yet be possible.

If Labour truly is an internationalist party, and Labour supporters are truly not driven by unionism, then it may be the case that their vision for Scotland is not best realised from inside the United Kingdom. That is, of course, dependent on where the pieces fall in the next few weeks. I suspect this is the axis on which opinion will turn for those whose driving motivation is for their country to be an outward-looking one.

On the economic argument, the position is more nuanced. Scotland has more trade with the UK than the EU, while many Scottish businesses do depend on access to the single market. A border between England and Scotland would not be desirable, but being outside the single market isn’t desirable either. The currency question still hasn’t been answered, and to be perfectly honest, looks more difficult to solve now than before. Oil is not a reliable source of income. We may have a deficit of around 9%.

But the notion of making Edinburgh the new financial capital of Europe must be somewhat of an incentive. An English-speaking, low-tax city in the European Union could put rocket boosters under the Scottish economy, as it has done for London.

What is crucial for the Yes side this time, is that all claims must be reasoned, credible and above all, examinable. Arguments in favour of economic strength would be a powerful weapon in the arsenal of the Yes campaign, but there is, let’s face it, a healthy skepticism of outlandish claims by the SNP, and I would like to see a proper economic analysis of a Scotland-in-EU vs Scotland-in-UK. This may well be on the ballot paper by 2020.

For those who feel their unionism runs deeper than their Europeanism, I suspect there is little I can say to cause you to waver. For those who seek economic refuge in the safety of pound Sterling and a UK in which business has prospered, it is a justifiable decision. To you, I say good luck, and I’ll see you out there. And let’s be friends after.

But to those who based their support for the union on a sense of internationalism or economic stability, it may be the case that you are reconsidering your vote. And it is in relation to this group that I offer the following advice to my friends who support independence.

The Yes campaign needs the Scottish Labour Party for whom the United Kingdom is not an end, but a means. The Yes campaign needs unionists for whom this new isolationism leaves the British values for which they fought and won in a mangled, vitiated heap. The Yes campaign needs experts in law and economics who looked askance at speculative claims on increased childcare and a currency union. The Yes campaign needs business and trade unions who must be assured of unhindered trade and worker’s rights. This is the coalition that will need to be assembled, and platitudinous appeals to abstract ‘Scottishness’ and furious screeches about ‘Scotland’s voice being heard’ (38% of whom voted Leave, by the way) will not be enough.

When the smoke has cleared, it is possible that a social democratic and internationalist consensus on a new vision for an independent Scotland may emerge from the rubble of Brexit. But for Yes campaigners, the question must not be what the Labour party can do for you, but what you can do for the Labour Party.

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60 thoughts on “What you can do for Labour

  1. You have it the wrong way round Mark: the independence movement doesn’t need “Scottish” Labour, but the dwindling force that is Labour’s Scottish branch needs independence. No party has a right to exist in perpetuity, and I’m old enough to remember when the SNP were regarded (with considerable justice) as a fringe movement. Given recent events in Westminster, and the attempted Blairite putsch against Corbyn, it seems the UK Labour party has learnt nothing from its precipitate decline in Scotland. Even now we have Kezia Dugdale doing her Canute act proposing a federal solution to out current problems, rather than embracing independence. Talk about a day late and a dollar short!

    I find your lack of self awareness staggering; it’s still all about “you” (in this context “you” being the Labour party) isn’t it? The Yes movement doesn’t HAVE to do anything for those in Labour’s Scottish branch whose eyes have suddenly become clear. Anyone (particularly someone studying International Law) who can airily assert with absolute certainty that the Project Fear line on Scotland joining the EU post a possible Yes vote in 2014 was copper bottomed, whilst STILL uncritically accepting the Cassandra like predictions of Better Together, loses any modicum of credibility they might have had, particularly if you think the pronouncements of world renowned economist…no wait, well known pet supplies salesman, Kevin Hague helps your case.

    Since the brexit vote, we’ve already seen a surge in SNP membership and support, an increase in support for holding #indyref2 and a Yes vote when it happens, and a flood of people who were formerly staunch unionists abandoning that cause. All are to be welcomed; the more the merrier; but we don’t need Labour as a party unless and until it opts to be fully independent and supports independence. Given recent history and those in charge in Scotland, we won’t be holding our collective breath!

    1. Hi Andy, thanks for the comment. To be clear, I am certainly not the Labour party. I voted SNP, in 2007, 2011 and 2015. And Yes in 2014.

      Also, I believe an independent Scotland had a good chance of gaining EU membership. In fact, I’m really quite sure of it. But to say it was certain isn’t true. On balance, given prevailing opinion at the time, staying in the EU was the safer bet, if that’s all you cared about. It wasn’t for me, though. Like I said, I voted Yes anyway.

      Your comment about Kevin Hague illustrates the problem. I understand the animosity between Yes and No campaigners, and particularly those who go about their arguments as bullishly as he does. I know it can be dismissive and condescending, but it is exactly those people we need to convince.

      Finally, it is my view that if at least some of the Labour party doesn’t move to Yes, we’ll lose again. We need a swing of 6% remember. If you don’t want the independence question to genuinely be settled for a generation, in favour of the Union, then you have to reach out to those who voted No.

      1. I didn’t say it was certain, and I doubt many ever did say so or think it; it’s all about the balance of probabilities. No greater example of the kind of debating style that puts people off can be found on this very site with Duncan Hothersall calling another contributor on here a “compulsive liar” for having the audacity to disagree with his views.

        Of course we have to convince former No voters to switch; the evidence they are already doing so is all over twitter and facebook since brexit, and is supported in the recent polls. The issue is whether Labour’s Scottish branch has a role in doing that, and the evidence of it’s “know nothing” response is that it doesn’t. Labour as an organisation is increasingly an irrelevance in the debate, its individual voters aren’t.

    2. Yeh this is pretty much why I won’t support it… Too many people like you. I would say you lot are more similar to Farage and Boris than anyone. It’s people like you why I won’t support it, maybe if the SNP didn’t push nationalism I’d be ok but FS.

      There is no economic argument but even I was wavering past few days, essentially it comes back to that for me but duh nationalism is one of the biggest reasons I couldn’t support an Indy Scot. I feel like English nationalism is what won it in England, neither is good imo.

      1. It’s winning over people like Liam that this post was aimed at.

        never say never 😉

      2. You need to learn the difference between civic nationalism and blood and soil Nationalism.

        Take Germany for example.

        Between 1933 and 1945 they were blood and soil nationalists today they are civic nationalists.

        The EU vote was won in the name of blood and soil nationalism the Scottish Independence referendum will be won in the name of civic Nationalism.
        We will join all the other civic Nationalist nations in the world.


        1. These are all tired old arguments, Mike and Mark. If Liam still seriously believes that the drive towards Scottish independence and away from the right-wing economic policies of Westminster is akin to Nazism then we are wasting our time trying dissuade him.

          You will note that he throws in the word “nationalism” without definition or qualification, a sign he knows he’s on shaky ideological ground.

          As for Kevin Hague, this is a guy who uses lots of diagrams to show that Scotland’s economy is now worse than Greece’s while independent Norway’s is amongst the strongest in the world.

          He then tells us that this is proof that Scotland should never be independent and that we should remain under the control of those who wasted the resource in the first place.

          Instead of charting 40 years of economic mismanagement in graphs and pie charts and calling it “analysis”, Kevin Hague should just explain to us why independent Norway is so rich and similarly sized, populated and resourced Westminster-run Scotland is so poor.

    3. Andy Ellis – That type of post isn’t helpful. There are plenty in Labour who would be open to independence as a means of seeing socialist values enacted in Scotland, but are turned off by constant SNP v Labour division and tribalism.

      The SNP isn’t going to get independence on its own. They have to take the majority of the country with them. I would vote for indy now, because I see Scotland and England drifting apart and little prospect of a Labour UK government anytime soon. But I accept it might not be easy at first, and the economic situation needs to be clearer.

      Maybe we could have some sort of federal solution where Scotland can join Europe as a federal nation in the UK. Or have some sort of special relationship with the UK where we share a currency zone.
      We just don’t know yet, and the options need to become clearer.

      One things for sure. Many are absolutely disgusted at the thought of losing our European citizenship and Sturgeon has a lot of support right now for trying to explore ways to keep Scotland’s membership.

      1. I’m sorry if you don’t feel it’s helpful, but it’s my assessment of the actual situation. Why would a Labour member (or any reasonable person) who supports socialist values, and thinks they could be achieved via independence, oppose them in a fit of pique at SNP/Labour division an tribalism? Have you actually seen some of the comments on this site, including Duncan’s casual labelling of Mike below a compulsive liar?

        It’s that sort of behaviour that has left Scottish Labour a hollow shell. Even as a (relatively new) SNP member I’ve never said the SNP could achieve independence alone, but it’s hard to deny it won’t happen (and wouldn’t be anywhere near as likely as it now is) if the SNP didn’t exist, and we’d left it to Labour of the LibDems to bring about federalism or devolution.

        The prospect of federalism or Home Rule as promised in the Vow is a red herring. Perhaps if it had been tried 10 years ago it might have been enough, but even then it wouldn’t stop England and Wales dragging Scotland out of the EU. Of course there are options to explore and details to work out, but only independence can now guarantee that Scotland remains in the EU. The English & Welsh have made their choice, and we’ve made ours. Labour, the LDs and the Tories in Scotland face a pretty stark choice; which is more important to them; Scotland as part of the UK outside the EU, or Scotland as an independent nation inside the EU. That’s the new dividing line for #indyref2

        1. It wasn’t casual, Andy, it was considered and accurate. Mike lies on this site all the time. I keep him around as a sort of pet. He’s an example of the very worst sort of nationalist, and rather than patting him on the back you should be taking him to task.

          1. I’m happy to take any proven liar to task Duncan. However dismissing somebody’s comment because you consider them a compulsive liar just looks lame, particularly on the basis of trying to argue which indyref campaign was the worst offender, Yes or No.

            It’s like watching 2 bald men fight over a comb.

          2. If you blocked all your pets who rip you apart in terms of debate and point scoring you’d have no contributors left other than your own inhouse trolls. Then you’d have to get a real job.

  2. Please don’t be like so many others and attempt to rewrite history with comments like “if Scotland had voted to leave the UK in 2014, it would have voted to leave the EU, too”. The Yes campaign was strongly fought to give Scotland a mandate to stay in the EU. We’ll never know what the outcome of negotiations may have been if the result had been Yes. But anyone that’s read a history book on the EU could tell you that it can be very flexible to meet the best needs of its members, and so I’m sure at least a fast track re-entry option could have been negotiated.

    It’s not clear that IndyRef2 voters need Scottish Labour – their position on everything has been so unclear and changing that they’ve made themselves irrelevant. I’d like that to change, it’s not great for Scotland to have a minority government with Tories as the main opposition as minority governments need to work with their opposition rather than against them.

    What is clear is that IndyRef2 voters need to reach out to those that voted No. Those that have seen many (not all) of the promises of Better Together thrown away, some almost immediately. We’ve seen the Oil price collapse and the damage to jobs in the North East and we’ve seen a UK government that has done sod all to help. We’ve seen the UK government slash investment in renewables an industry that should be Scotland’s next Oil boom.

    Scottish Independence was never a vote for a narrow vision and isolationism. It was a bold cry for internationalism and multiculturalism in reaction to England’s growing xenophobia. I’m sick of “punching above our weight”. We can scrap Trident and work with others with a healthier more co-operative position in the EU as an independent Scotland.

    All that being said – I’d pass up a short term opportunity for a referendum on independence if a way can be found for Scotland (if not the whole UK) to remain within the EU.

    1. You’re in denial about the reality of an independence vote and the EU Keith, and you’re failing to acknowledge the sheer dishonesty of the Yes campaign across a whole range of issues. Unless you can do that we can’t move on.

      1. You’re failing to acknowledge that every single claim made through project fear by the No campaign has been debunked and proven false.

        Every single claim without exception. And yet we still hear them repeated.

        And you wonder why you’re in crises while the SNP grows exponentially.

        Get a grip of reality Duncan your version of what you want the Labour party to be is nobody elses.

        1. As ever you just say things that aren’t true Mike. You’re just a compulsive liar.

          The arguments made about Scotland’s deficit in the event of a Yes, about the currency, about oil volatility, all have been proved completely correct.

          You’re exactly the sort of person who rejects the views of experts to suit an ideological outcome. You and people like you threaten our country’s future.

          1. Do you really think it helps your cause calling people who left perfectly reasonable comments a “compulsive liar” Duncan?

            You may disagree with Mike’s points, but they are no more compulsive lies than your “truthy” assertions that the Yes campaign was dishonest.

            Neither you, nor anybody else knows what an independent Scotland’s deficit would have been, or will be. Similarly they can’t predict oil prices, or what solution would have been reached on currency.

            Do try and have the grace to admit at least that after the event, people like Mervyn King (ex governor of the Bank of England and hardly a devotee of independence) admitted that there would have been no real issue with Scotland sharing the £.

            The threats to our country’s future (whether the UK or Scotland) aren’t helped by you “othering” your opponents perfectly reasonable input as compulsive lying.

          2. It’s not a perfectly reasonable comment, Andy, it’s a lie, and I will continue to call out liars when I see them. How’s Sussex?

          3. “It’s not a perfectly reasonable comment, Andy, it’s a lie, and I will continue to call out liars when I see them. How’s Sussex?”

            Ah, I see, so if an opponent says it, it’s a lie, but if you say it, it’s the gospel truth? right, uh huh…

            Sussex if fine Duncan, although not sure why my geographical location is relevant? How’s living in denial?

          4. In what way have they been proven true when Scotland isn’t Independent? HTF did you manage to prove your assertions over an Indy Scotland when Scotland hasn’t become Independent?

            On the other hand we now know factually what the price of a No vote entailed and it was everything the No campaign said would happen if we voted Yes.

            You’re the compulsive bare faced liar Duncan and its well known across the online blogging fraternity.

            You’re the man with zero credibility and the reputation for utter dishonesty stupidity and blind bare faced duplicity.

      2. In what way is Keith in denial? Given recent events Duncan, it’s a bit rich for a leading proponent of Project Fear to try and call out the Yes campaign for “sheer dishonesty”; it’s surely beyond parody!

        There is no consensus about what “might” have happened post a Yes vote in 2014 with respect to Scotland’s place in the EU, because (as Keith rightly points out) the EU has proven to be pragmatic in the past. Given the airy assurances of Better Together that the only way to ensure Scotland stayed in the EU was to vote No in 2014, perhaps you’d like to reconsider your assertion?

        Similarly, there is no roadmap for what happens now but when even avowed unionists like Alex Massie start writing articles (see his latest Spectator piece) that tacitly agree the EU would be likely to look favourably on Scottish membership, perhaps it’s worth some reflection on the part of those who insist (with little or no evidence) that Scotland would be at the back of the queue etc., etc.

        We’re in a different situation now; I think it’s obvious that you’re the one who hasn’t moved on.

      3. You’re right Duncan.

        YES should never have told Senior Citizens they would loss their pension,

        YES should never have told EU nationals they would need to return home.

        I could go on like this for a while but I’m sure you get the picture. TeamBrit had their own share of lies and liars, the fact you ignore this does you no favours.

      4. You never cease to make me smile Duncan. You seem to be stuck in a some sort of circular and pointless computer game called Scotland 2014, where the only rule is – there will never be a winner.
        When I read your comments I think of Duncan’s World. An empty house with the only noise coming from an upstairs bedroom. The curtains drawn, a pointless sign on the door announces ‘do not disturb under any circumstances’, the only light comes from a computer screen, the only noise is the demented tapping of a key board. Duncan types out ‘we cant move on’ ‘the sheer dishonesty of the Yes campaign’ he sits back to contemplate his killer prose and says quietly to himself ‘checkmate’.
        Please Duncan I am begging you, give yourself a break, stop banging away on the key board for a minute. Switch on a radio or tv. Listen to what’s happening now in June 2016. Its much more fun. You will be amazed. One word of warning, make sure you are sitting down if the newscaster mentions The Labour Party or someone called Jeremy Corbyn .

      5. It may be true that a vote to leave the UK would have resulted in Scotland outside the EU. But readmission negotiations would have taken place alongside separation negotiations, with Scotland easing into the EU as it officially left the UK.

        It certainly is not true that a No vote has kept Scotland in the EU, though. At best, that tired old line is a zero-sum argument now, because even if Scotland is welcomed into the EU with open arms, we are still going to be negotiating a readmission.

        It is true, however, that a No vote may have ultimately and indirectly led to the strengthening of Scotland’s negotiating position with the EU. That may well be Indyref 1’s lasting legacy. Thank you.

    2. Hi Keith, your point about the flexibility of the EU is right. It was possible for the EU to agree to accept Scotland immediately as a new member state. What I’m saying is, there was no provision in EU law for it. I would have been a purely political decision. More likely, in my opinion, was that Scotland would have had to reapply. I think we would have been accepted. But it still means a No vote would have lost us membership, at least initially.

      With respect, I think we do need Labour. Or at least, we should try to get their support, I suspect that few Yes campaigners will be dismissing them as ‘irrelevant’ if they back Scottish independence.

      On oil, I don’t really know too much about the industry, so can’t speak with any authority on it. But the reality is, the price is halved since the last indyref. If it is a bonus to the scottish economy, it is less of a bonus than it once was.

      I agree 100% that Yes was never narrow isolationism, that’s why I voted Yes. But those who voted No didn’t believe us.

  3. Oh good a Phd in International law. Perhaps he can tell us which piece of legislative statute would have been used to kick an Independent Scotland out of the EU and where the will to implement it would have come from?

    My PhD is in recognising absolute bollocks when I read it.

    1. HI Mike, I don’t actually have my PhD yet, so fair enough. But membership of the EU is a UK one. So if Scotland had voted Yes, it would have left the UK, and thus UK’s membership. We might have been able to reapply and be accepted. I think we would have. But it would have taken time.

      If you actually an expert legal opinion, Adam Tomkins (Glasgow) wrote some good pieces at the time. James Crawford (Cambridge) and Alan Boyle (Edinburgh) also gave evidence to parliamentary committees.

      Having said that, the political decision to allow Scotland to remain was possible. What I’m saying is there was no provision for it in EU law, at the time.

      1. The problem with your original post Mark, and the response above, is that the “solution” to the issue of Scotland’s accession to the EU (in either scenario post a Yes 2014 or indeed now post brexit) is political, not legal. It avails us nothing to refer to the technicalities when they don’t deal with the scenarios concerned. Tomkins (as we have seen since) is hardly an unbiased analyst. On this issue, as so many others, there is a range of opinion, and little in the way of precedent to guide us; for one side to claim their view is authoritative just looks lame.

        Incidentally, much the same argument was had with respect to the “legality” of holding the independence referendum in the first place. Unionists were (and still are) inclined to parrot uncritically that Westminster has a veto, when in point of fact there is no legal or constitutional consensus on the matter, still less political agreement.

        1. Hi Andy, your criticism might be fair. The decision may well have been more political than legal. Perhaps I put it a little too strongly. But still, there was no legal provision for Scotland to inherit membership. Given Spain’s problems with Catalonia, that would have been far from certain. I suppose the question would involve weighing the chances of EU accession immediately, against the chances of the UK voting to leave the EU.

          On Adam Tomkins, I must confess to a slight bias. He was my professor at law school and a brilliant one too. He obviously favours the union, and I suspect always will do, but it doesn’t mean you outright dismiss one of the most authoritative constitutional lawyers in the country out of hand. As we have seen, sometimes the ‘experts’ aren’t talking nonsense after all.

          Those questioning the legality of the independence referendum are outright wrong. The Edinburgh agreement gave temporary authorisation. There is no reasonable discussion.

          1. You can dismiss any so called expert or so called authoritative opinion if you know for certain it is tainted with bias prejudice and as such prone to dishonest interpretation.

            Something you will learn as an adult once you finish your education.

      2. Which brings us to what exactly is the UK?
        See constitutionally the UK is nothing but a Parliamentary union between the Nation States of Scotland England and Wales with a separate unrelated treaty of union between the Parliament of the UK and NI.

        So it can justifiably and legitimately be argued convincingly that the actual nation states within the EU are Scotland England and Wales not the UK which is not actually constitutionally a Nation State at all.

        Now I know the pro union cabal deeply want and need to believe the UK of GB is actually a Nation State but it really isn’t anymore than the EU is. The UK is nothing but a smaller version of the EU but with far more restrictions and lot more loss in Sovereignty. Yet there is not complete loss of sovereignty between the Nation States and the UK Parliament which clearly shows that the UK Parliament is anything but a Sovereign nation state in its own right but purely a representation of 3 separate Nation states.

        Something you may want to include within your dissertation.

        1. Hi Mike, to answer your question, I’m afraid it can’t justifiably be argued that the actual signatory nation states are the separate nations of the UK. The EU is a treaty-based organisation. The treaty is between the EU and the UK.

          I understand entirely how unfair you think that might be, but it is the absolute and unarguable legal reality.

          If I included it in my dissertation, I would fail.

          That’s separate as to whether, in the future, Scotland may get separate EU membership. I understand that’s is what the FM is trying to secure at the moment.

          If we are to get anywhere with No voters, it must be with demonstrable and provable facts. Sad that it needs to be said, but there we are.

          1. You’d only fail if Tomkins is marking it. The UK is not a treaty of annexation its a treaty of Parliamentary union. Parliamentary union not NATIONAL union. We no more became a single Nation state over the Parliamentary union anymore than we did when we came together in a union of crowns.
            The fact that the people of Scotland and only the people of Scotland can vote by referendum to end that union proves it like nothing else can. The people of England and Wales can do the exact same thing relative to their own Independence.

            If the UK was a single Nation state there would be no legal nor legitimate path for any constituent part to end that overall status as a Nation State.

            It would take a full UK wide vote.

            This is the problem with the UK wide EU vote. Neither Scotland nor NI has accepted the result with regards to Scotland and the NI and there is now legitimate moves to explore all options for reversing the result with respect to Scotland and NI which can very easily end up with the end of the UK.

            Something which would be illegitimate illegal and undemocratic within a single Nation State.

    2. Mike,
      It seems that a professional qualification is a prerequisite to the publication an article on Labour Hame these days. Yesterday it was Dr Scott today we have Mark McLaughlin PhD student in International Law. I’m starting to feel to feel a bit inadequate with my o level in geography and technical drawing.
      Its an interesting shift in Labour Party support that has occurred over the last few years. I remember a time when the LP drew its core support from working class voters. Now it seems it is from academia that Labour reach out to get their vote when elections come around.
      Although as I say my understanding of pure mathematics is limited I can see a problem for Labour in this demographic shift in their core support.

      1. Hi Richard. A couple of things here. Duncan agreed to publish the article before he knew anything about me. He didn’t know my background, and he didn’t ask.

        Secondly, I don’t support the Labour Party.

  4. I think that all this idea that Scotland’s membership of the EU more important than being part of the UK is not true, when the dust settles and Scotland gets over the post Brexit blues they will be happy to be freed from the shackles of the EU and be able to export goods and services to all over the world. If it comes to a an IndyRef2 on the pretext of EU membership the Scottish people will vote to remain part of this Great Britain and United Kingdom. Brexit has returned sovereignty and parliament is back in control of the UK and able to self govern and make our own laws.

    1. Scotland can export its goods all over the world now in what way will it be different out of the EU?

    2. In what universe can the Westminster Parliament be more trusted to make laws which benefits Scotland relative to Brussels?

      Westminster has been far more harmful to Scotland and its population than Brussels could ever hope to be if that was their sole intention.

    3. ‘they will be happy to be freed from the shackles of the EU’ – yeah, Highlands set to lose £150 million in EU Redevelopment funding, I’m sure they will be over the moon.

      1. I just seen a SNP MEP Robot make wee speech see the link below to the EU Parliament begging the EU what a diabolical disgrace well I say not in my name getting down on your bended knees begging and bowing down with cap in hand begging for the EU to throw some lose change is pathetic well let me tell you this SNP Robot does not speak on my behalf and I have no doubt on behalf of the majority of the people of Scotland and of the Scottish Labour Party. Brexit is here to stay so Scotland just accept the democratic will of the majority of the people of Great Britain and the United Kingdom.


        1. Ah TED,
          You of course mean the SNP MEP who just received a standing ovation from all the EU MEP’s including “labours”, apart from the ukip ones.

          mmm something you want to tell us.

          1. The humiliation of begging for some spare change at the feet of the EU has came to nothing Donald Tusk won’t even meet with Nicola Sturgeon and the EU has said that Scotland could only apply to join the EU when it is an independent country even if that ever happens Scotland will more than likely reject the EU and stay part of Great Britian and the United Kingdom.

  5. Ok Mark, since your into international law their was something that came up during the 2014 referendum that was rarely commented on, some professor I believe from Oxford said that it was illegal through EU law to throw a member country i.e. (Scotland) out of the EU if they did not want to go. And the reason this effected Scotland was that all its citizens were already EU members and once Scotland became independent and though then separate from the rUK, its citizens were still EU citizens and if Scotland said it did not want to revoke its membership it could not be forced to do so.

    Yes their would be a negotiation of its membership fee’s, but it could not be forced out against its will.

    YES or NO

    1. Hi Davy, the problem with this was that Scotland is not a member state. The United Kingdom is the member state. The nations of the UK don’t have independent memberships, and aren’t recognised as member states of the United Nations, either.

      The argument about EU citizenship is the most interesting one I’ve come across, and hasn’t been widely commented on. I heard it first by Iain MacWhirter recently, arguing that EU citizenship rights already applied to Scottish citizens, and thus a human rights argument could be made against removing citizenship.

      Again, the problem is how to get round the ‘member state’ issue. If that rule could apply to Scotland, why couldn’t it apply to other citizens of the United Kingdom who voted to remain? I suppose you could advance the argument that we were sufficiently distinct to have individual representation in Brussels (there is a Scottish representative there). But as before, we are in unchartered waters here, and that seems pretty tenuous.

      This is purely off the top of my head, but given we would be out of the European Union, it may be impossible to apply to the European Court of Justice for redress, as it is only available to citizens of member states. And by the time a citizen could appeal to the European Court of Human Rights, we would have likely lost citizenship already, so may have no basis for action.

      Take all of that with a pinch of salt, though. There is no precedent for a country leaving the EU, and certainly not for the absolute omnishambles we’re in now.

      1. So if it is a member state issue, does not the union consist of two equal nations regarding Scotland and England and if Scotland has left the UK does that not render the UK status null and void for both countries.

        And does not the time between a yes vote for independence and the actual independence itself, allow adequate time for the EU to recognise Scotland as an EU country because its citizen’s are current EU citizens or for said citizens to lay claim to membership due to the 40 years of already being members.

        Regardless of Scotland not being a full member of the EU in its own right as a country, its citizens have been full EU citizens for 40 plus years and they surely must have a process for protecting their status as EU citizens.

        1. If this analysis was right, it would mean that Scottish citizens (who resided in Scotland at the time of brexit) would retain EU citizenship, without Scotland being a member state. It would also mean that anyone born after that time, or moved to Scotland after that time, couldn’t inherit citizenship, as citizenship would flow from membership of the EU, which Scotland would no longer have.

          Given that absolute mess, I would guess this argument would get nowhere. It’s inventive, but I would doubt it’s potency up against a democratic result (UK-wide). It all comes down to the member state issue. At least at the moment, pending miracles from Nicola Sturgeon.

          But y’know, we have no prime minister or opposition at the moment, the EU is unstable, the union is broken, racism has erupted, the pound is tumbling and billions of pounds are leaving the country. So, to be honest, who knows.

      2. This raises, or re-raises, a question I asked on numerous forums in the run up to indy red – what mechanism would the EU have available to it to disenfranchise it’s citizens who didn’t wish to be disenfranchised?
        At the very least the EU would have had to make clear that would have been the consequence of a Yes vote *in advance * of the vote, not imposed it retrospectively.

      3. You’re being presumptuous based on a mistaken belief in the constitutional structure of what is the UK.

        The UK is not a member state it is a Parliamentary union representation between member states.

        1. Honestly Mike, I’ve tried to explain to you how wrong you are on the law here, but you won’t accept it. Not much more to say, really.

          1. No actually you haven’t all you’ve done is maintain an assertion. I asked you at the beginning for the legislative statute that would be used to end Scotlands EU membership and I’m still waiting.
            What law am I wrong about? Name and identify the actual statute or admit you cant.

          2. Where and when did you successfully refute the undeniable facts I put to you?
            Scotland is a nation state England is a nation state Wales is a nation state all have their own indisputable internationally recognised national borders between them and surrounding them.
            As you cannot have nation states within the borders of nation states it stands to reason the UK of GB cant be a nation state.
            I also pointed out that Scotland England or Wales can end the Parliamentary union without having to resort to a UK wide vote.

            You have failed to even answer these facts let alone provide any kind of viable argument against them.

            Maybe you should go back to your first year of your PhD? And get a better teacher than Tomkins.

          3. *sigh* Not sure this is worth it, but here we go.

            The UK’s relationship with the European Union is based on the Treaty of the European Union, and the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. Amongst other pieces of legislation giving domestic effect to EU law are the European Communities Act 1972, the Single European Act 1986, the European Communities (Amendment) Acts of 1986, 1993, 1998 and 2002, and the European Union Act of 2011.

            If Scotland had voted for independence it would not, let me be very clear, would absolutely not, be entitled to EU membership. It would not have been a member state. It had voted to leave a member state.

            Before official independence, it is possible that Scotland could have tried to negotiate with the EU to keep the terms of UK membership *as a new member state*. This was the plan of the Scottish government. But it was not entitled to it. Now really, feel free to read through all that.

  6. Duncan

    “You think this is my job?”

    In the same way as I think its Boris Johnsons job to look after the best interests of Scotland.

  7. Ok Mark Clearly you cannot find any actual legislation statute that would allow the EU to evict Scotland from the EU so you post a list of irrelevance to the subject under discussion.

    Lets for argument sake remove the UKs constitutional doubts from the equation and start at the position where Scotland within the UK begins its EU membership clarification after it has won its constitutional fight with Westminster to become Independent.

    As Scotland is negotiating from WITHIN the EU and not WITHOUT would it not be a point of law that Scotland would not have to begin any kind of negotiations with regards to joining as a New member but would be clarifying its position from within the EU with regards to shifting the authority to its EU treaty obligation from Westminster to Hollyrood?

    1. Further to my point Scotland would not be leaving a member state as that so called member state from your point of view would cease to exist as the structure you believe it to be.

      The member State from your point of view will divide into its constituent member state parts.

      An end to the Act of Union 1707 is an end of the joint UK Parliament and the reformation of the full Parliaments of Scotland and the separate Parliament of England and Wales.

      NIs position would be in turmoil as it has a separate arrangement with the overall Parliament of the UK which would no longer exist which means that the RoI would have a more legitimate claim to NI than the Parliament of England and Wales would because there is no treaty of Union between the Parliament of England and Wales and the NI Assembly.

      How can you tell me that’s legally wrong?

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