Scotland’s First Minister and SNP leader Alex Salmond adresses independence rally, Edinburgh, Scotland, 2012 (Photo: Wings Over Scotland)
There is a frankly bizarre article in today’s HuffPost UK by John Wight claiming that the independence campaign in Scotland is foundering.
“It would be fair to say that Alex Salmond, the SNP, and the YES campaign for Scottish independence have had better weeks than the one just past since launching the White Paper setting out their vision for an independent Scotland in November 2013.
Two of their major policies – a sterling currency union with the rest of the UK and EU membership – have hit the buffers, calling into question both the vision embraced by the SNP for independence and their ability to deliver on it should the Scottish people vote Yes in the referendum on September 18.
Regardless, when you separate out the issue of a currency union from the political posturing involved in the back and forth between both camps, it is undeniable that Salmond and the SNP have got themselves into one almighty pickle.
As if the debacle over the currency wasn’t bad enough, up pops the president of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, in a BBC television interview at the weekend, during which he casts serious doubt over the ability of a newly independent Scotland to enter the EU.
As it is, Alex Salmond and the SNP – adherents of neoliberal nostrums when it comes to monetary, economic, and fiscal policy – have come up against a neoliberal private members club that has just declared it is not currently accepting new members. This may leave them increasingly reliant on the emotional argument in favour of independence, based on empty symbols of Scottish nationalism such as the Saltire and the depiction of England as the auld enemy trampling over the rights of the Scottish people.
It is a dangerous path to tread.”
Just to clarify.
The pro-independence Yes side has recorded a jump in the latest poll, a survey of voter intentions which came after most of the events referred to in the HuffPo article. Furthermore that result is in line with other polls which have recorded a narrowing of the percentage gap between the Yes and No camps.
The Spanish authorities have explicitly stated that the decision by the British government to acknowledge the right of the Scots to national self-determination is a matter for the UK and that they would make no objection to an independent Scotland continuing its EU membership or reapplying for it. Madrid has also stated with force that the legal matters around Scotland and Catalonia are unrelated. They see no comparison between the two regions since the Spanish do not accept the right of the Catalans to national self-determination or accept that Spain’s “regions” have any constitutional rights to sovereignty should they choose to exercise them (in contrast this is something that the British have accepted in relation to Scotland).
Scotland is a defined and recognised member region of the European Union, its people are citizens of the EU with elected representatives in the European Parliament. Scotland cannot be ejected from its membership of the EU or its population stripped of their EU citizenship and parliamentary representation by a Yes vote on independence. The referendum is about membership of the UK not the EU. Nor does Scotland need to use the euro to be a member of the Union. It can share the sterling with the UK or issue its own currency (does anyone really believe that all of these positions are not up for negotiation between Edinburgh, London and Brussels?)
The ignorance of some British commentators on Scottish and European matters is quite extraordinary. Do they even share the same island or continent? Even more extraordinary is the determination of those on the Left of British politics to oppose the right of the Scottish people to nationhood. The censorious attitudes are summed up best by this piece of anti-pluralist double-think:
“I will be voting No in this year’s referendum on Scottish independence. I will do so as a statement of solidarity with working people throughout Britain.
Nationalism, unless rooted in national oppression, is a regressive ideology. It obscures the real dividing line in society – namely class – offering instead an abstracted analysis of the world through a national prism that takes zero account of social and economic factors, thus offering nothing but more of the same under a different flag.
Our nationality is an accident of birth. It means nothing. You can’t eat a flag. A flag doesn’t heat a home or put food on the table. Nationalism offers a largely mythologized history in the process of inviting us to embrace a national interest, one that can only relate to the world behind false divisions of national, ethnic, or racial differences. Even when it comes to culture, the term ‘national culture’ obscures more than it illuminates. The traditional culture of the Highlands in Scotland, for example, means little to me as a Lowland Scot. I can appreciate it, of course, but not anymore or with more feeling than I do any other culture.
A patchwork of smaller states plays into the hands of global capital, as it means more competition for inward investment, which means global corporations are able to negotiate more favourable terms in return for that investment. The inevitable result is a race to the bottom as workers in one state compete for jobs with workers in neighbouring states. In this regard it is surely no accident that Rupert Murdoch is a vocal supporter of Scottish independence.
As a consequence, my No vote in September will be both a rejection of nationalism as a progressive alternative to the status quo and a statement of solidarity with all who are suffering under this Tory government – not only in Scotland but throughout the United Kingdom.”
All of which sentiments are typical of some on the Far Left of European politics who worship at the metropolitan altar of centrism, uniformity and homogeneity. Let us all think the same, speak the same, act the same. Preferably while wearing those bland Mao suits once favoured by apparatchiks in the Chinese Communist Party and their Western acolytes. How very 1970s.
An Chatalóin (Catalonia)
Meanwhile in another part of Europe another people find their democratic wishes stifled (and rightly so as some authoritarians on both the Right and Left might think). From the Irish Independent:
“The Spanish Parliament has overwhelmingly rejected plans by the powerful north-eastern Catalonia region to hold a referendum on whether it should become independent or remain part of Spain.
A motion rejecting the referendum was approved today by 272 MPs from the country’s mainstream parties against 43 votes from Catalonian nationalist groups and some leftist politicians.
It calls on the government to ensure compliance with the law and the constitution, under which only the central government can call a referendum.
The Barcelona-based regional government of Catalonia plans to hold the referendum on November 9 but the Spanish government has made it clear it won’t be allowed.”
So much for a Europe of the peoples…