By Derek Bateman
I realised how opaque the EU was the day I stepped out of a lift at the Parliament in Strasbourg, saw I was on the wrong floor and returned to the lift to find there was no call button – it was a lift that let you out but didn’t let you back in. Maybe that will be Scotland’s destiny in the Alice in Wonderland underworld of European affairs.
I was thinking this after reading the latest replies from our national representatives at the EP regarding our status as members of the European Union only to be informed that “we are not members”.
That’s right, despite 40 years when you thought Scotland was part of the EEC, the EC and now the EU, after all those hundreds of millions of pounds in contributions, troughs of MEP expenses and non-contributory pensions, of bypasses and quaysides adorned with the blue flag, of farming subsidies, official visits from Commissioners, meetings of the Committee of the Regions, a permanent Scottish office in Brussels and direct elections in five months time, it turns out we never were members at all and therefore can’t be thrown out.
No, wait. I’ve got that wrong. We can still be thrown out although we’re not actually members. Such is the glorious insanity of our elected members turning themselves inside out to avoid the truth – that Scotland’s place in Europe is safe for as long as we want it.
In response to the questions I was posing a few posts ago, David Martin, the estimable and senior Labour MEP who has spent a professional lifetime in the Parliament and gained the distinction of being a vice president, replied to my correspondent Ian McTurk and here he guides us Through the Looking Glass of Unionism with the following observations.
I should remind you first that the Barroso position – that part of a state which secedes from a Member State and becomes independent becomes a third country and the treaties do not apply to it – is adopted by all the Unionist parties as their policy. They have applied it to Scotland to argue that this means a vote for independence takes us outside the remit of the EU and therefore outside membership.
We then become a new applicant required to meet all the obligations and at the end of the queue, subject to Article 49 (designed to apply to new applicant states). I’ve been following that logic up to a point while disagreeing with it. However, I now quote from David Lewis Carroll Martin MEP: “There is, of course no section in the Treaties which can be applied specifically to Scotland as Scotland is not a Member State of the European Union EU.”
You may think that begs the question: So how do we get thrown out if we’re not a member? He means, of course that we are not a Member State but part of a Member State so there is nothing in the treaties to deal with Scotland. We may not be the named Member State but we are an equal partner in the state that is the member and isn’t it the role of a Scottish MEP to speak up for his country and argue for our status as important contributors inside the EU? In other words, don’t you expect your MEP to stand up for you and your country and state that Scotland has equal status with the rest of the UK and can’t be treated as less than the rUK?
As I wrote recently David is keen to head off the independence movements in Europe and wanted to produce a report warning Scots and Catalans that they would lose membership by voting for independence. Such was the doubt cast on the strength of this theory that he was blocked by his own socialist group from doing so in case it caused trouble for other institutional conservatives.
The European Parliament has vetoed a report on “the consequences of secession of the territory of a member state for its membership of the European Union”. The Scottish Labour MEP, David Martin, hoped to prepare a report about the impact of secession for Scotland and Catalonia, but authorisation to do so was delayed and blocked by his own socialist group, as shown by the minutes of the meetings of the Conference of Presidents of the European Parliament.
It does look as if he is running around Brussels corridors desperate seeking ways of blocking his own country’s democratic rights by getting approval for the line that we will be thrown out and rejected if we exercise our entitlement to vote for independence. He follows this up with confirmation of the now-you-see-it, now-you-don’t defence.
Asked how Scotland would be thrown out, as in Who decides and How legally are our rights withdrawn and freedom of movement restricted etc, he repeats: “Scotland cannot ‘…cease to be a member?’ as Scotland has never been a Member State” and goes on: “I would assume that if Scotland becomes a new state and the people are in favour of membership of the EU the new Scottish Government would apply to join. The rules for membership are well established and set out for a new application and acceptance which would require unanimity from the current Member States.”
So we can’t cease to be a member because were not a member but if we vote Yes we will still be thrown out of membership until they want us to have membership. Got it?
At no point is there even a smidgeon of hope that David will object to any move against Scotland, won’t – even in terms of his reading of the rules – attempt to interpret them in our favour, no hint that our 40 years in the EU counts for anything worth mentioning, produces no belief in the establishing principles of the Community and finds no hope that through the combined efforts of Great Britain, Scotland can be assured of the best support available or even that he is working on our behalf with MEPs from other countries to aid our succession if we vote Yes.
But there are other shocks in here for those of us who have previously held belief in the probity of our national politicians. When the EU made clear to London that it would provide legal clarification on Scotland’s position if the UK, as Member State, but not Scotland, were to ask for it, it seemed there was no way out for the Union. They would have to ask and that’s where the EU lawyers would correct the Barroso politicking. That was until the Foreign Office set the British Civil Service on the case. Sir Humphry: Of course, we can’t shirk our responsibility to ask the relevant question to enlighten the voters in Scotland, Minister.
Minister: But, Humphry. That will give the game away and they’ll find out we’re lyi…I mean, that we’re incorrect.
Sir Humphry: We will ask Brussels for clarification – after the Scots have voted. When it’s – how can I put it – too late.
And that’s what they’ve done. They now say there is no scenario to put to Brussels for clarification until after the vote and after the independence talks, up to two years later. And now a socialist MEP falls into line with the British state conniving to deny the Scots the information they need to make an informed decision. Asked if he agreed with the Foreign Office, David Martin replied with one word: Yes.
Ever feel cheated by the system? Ever ask yourself what you do when democracy fails you? I do. Because this is a royal stich-up in which Labour conspires with Tory and winks at the mandarins beavering away to deceive to the Scots.
I leave with you another mystifying quote. Q:Will you vote for Scotland’s membership of the EU irrespective of how it eventually comes about?
A: That would not be possible because unless Scotland became independent and applied for membership there will be no vote.
Even when given the opportunity to say that if the Scots Yes and there is a vote on our membership, he is unable to commit to support us. It reads like a willful misreading of the question which states the line…irrespective of how it comes about, meaning either staying in and renegotiating or outside re-applying from outside.
Is it really so difficult to get an elected member from our country to stand up for straightforward democratic values and promise to do his duty on our behalf? Or do we conclude that it’s possible he might even vote against his own country? Even the possibility of independence has the capacity to frighten our Unionist friends witless, it seems.
So we have the admission that nothing in the treaties covers Scotland’s case which means the EU will have to make it up, as it has done on previous occasions including one of the biggest enlargements when 20 million East Germans joined by the simple device of merging into the combined Member State of Germany.
From that position we are asked to believe we will be rejected, the Court of Justice will stay silent as will all 28 other members, the UK will not back us, and we will go to the end of the queue and after years of waiting, will be forced to join the euro although no one else is.
There is a lengthening list of enlightened Europeans questioning this authoritarian bunkum I said the EU was opaque but what we really face is a Berlin Wall of Resistance to the truth about the EU yet our Unionist parliamentarians appear stuck on the wrong side. Can we expect them to rush through when it is inevitably pulled down?
Courtesy of Derek Bateman