Sunday, 12 June 2016

Europe: More control when you're in the room than knocking on the window

We are now in the middle of the month when we are talking about little else but Europe, whether that's the football or something more important, a certain referendum that is less than a fortnight away. As someone on the left and a supporter of Scottish independence, the European Union ought to be the sort of thing I despised as a bureaucratic corporate centralising force with its  unelected headquarters in Brussels. Yet the main advocacy of Britain's exit from this club, a 'Brexit', is coming from the right and perhaps feels too jingoistic for comfort.

Twenty months on from the independence referendum it's easy to see the parallels emerging. The Brexit side saying "we are strong enough not to need dictating to by a foreign power" while accusing the other side of "Project Fear". But for me this is quite a different referendum needing quite a different debate. I personally favour remaining in the European Union and so it feels weird to find myself on the same side of the debate as David Cameron and George Osborne. Nonetheless we will be singing from completely different hymn sheets. The British Unionists are still having a dig at Alex Salmond even when they both agree on continued EU membership because we are contemplating another referendum especially if Britain as a whole votes to leave the European Union. We even have the cheek of Willie Rennie suggesting Alex Salmond should leave the Remain campaign because "he's an embarrassment". Talk for yourself mate! Not only that he thinks we "nationalists" will be voting to leave to ensure Britain gets taken out of the European Union so it would create the grounds for that second referendum. Well anybody with half a brain would realise how stupid that would be when the whole point with arguing for a second referendum in the event of a Brexit is because there is a strong Scottish vote for remaining in. So on that basis what we in Scotland should be campaigning for is a very strong vote north of the border (and in the short time we have before the referendum it is best for most politicians and campaigners to focus on one part of the UK when campaigning, whether Scotland, Wales, Wessex or Yorkshire) and let the rest of Britain decide for itself. The simple truth is that polls suggest there's going to be a strong vote to leave south of the border while in Scotland it will be quite the reverse. But Nicola Sturgeon is expressing strong support for a vote to remain in the EU not just within Scotland but across the UK. I certainly don't want the future for a Great Britain of three independent countries to include an England that is detached from the European Union while all its Celtic neighbours are committed members. But if it comes to the rump of the UK choosing to stay out of the EU then I would want an independent Scotland as soon as possible in order to bring the European Union back to at least part of our island.