Even when presented with such a wonderful opportunity to further the cause of Scottish independence that David Cameron’s speech on the EU offered, the SNP could not take advantage of it.
Nicola Sturgeon (your report, 26 January) completely failed to appreciate how her claim – that the EU offered so many job prospects for Scotland – simply mirrored the same claims on behalf of the UK, made ad nauseum by the unionists.
Alyn Smith MEP, in his customary patronising and condescending style, would have done well to reflect on just how his own party’s EU policy has unravelled over the past few years.
Mr Smith really has nothing to be condescending about, as the SNP has absolutely no credibility as far as the EU is concerned, having backed an independent Scotland’s use of the euro long past that currency’s sell-by date. While Mr Smith provides a long list of supposed benefits that Scotland receives from the EU, he blithely ignores the fact we are net contributors to that organisation, therefore those “benefits” are bought and paid for, and handsomely so.
The SNP has for years consistently tried to present a picture where Scots are far more pro-Europe than the English, while Scottish opposition to the EU has been ignored, with Westminster being blamed for whatever deals have been struck which were seen as detrimental to Scottish interests.
While that may be true to some extent, there is little evidence to show that Scotland would have received any better treatment had we been represented as an independent member state, particularly in the areas of steel and fishing.
Nicola Sturgeon claimed the EU had “created and safeguarded some 64,000 jobs in the past ten years”, but an estimated 100,000 jobs have been lost in the fishing industry alone, and Scotland’s steel industry was partly sacrificed as part of the price Edward Heath was prepared to pay to gain membership of the then Common Market.
“Independence in Europe” was always nothing more than an oxymoron, but the crisis in the eurozone has ensured that fiscal, as well as monetary, policy will now be controlled from the centre, ensuring that members of the euro will have little or no control over their economies. The euro fanatics such as Alyn Smith now have a duty to explain how that can possibly mean independence, even by the SNP’s definition.
The latest polls (October, 2012) show that only 8 per cent in the UK favoured more integration in the EU, while the Scottish figure was 13 per cent; 14 per cent of the UK favoured the status quo while the Scottish figure was 18 per cent; 37 per cent of the UK favoured less integration as did 36 per cent of Scots, and 23 per cent of the UK favoured leaving completely as did 19 per cent of Scots. Therefore, it seems, the attitude of Scots to the EU is not that far from that of the rest of the UK.
Perhaps the most important figure, however, as far as it may impact on the prospects of the SNP and, more importantly, the Yes campaign, is the 62 per cent of Scots who say they favour a referendum, something which the SNP intends to deny the Scottish electorate.
The SNP has now abandoned any pretence that it stands for the restoration of sovereignty to the Scottish people as it commits to the EU, which moves ever closer to being every bit as much of an incorporating union as the UK, with every new agreement.
Mr Cameron may have done us more of a favour than he ever intended.
I note in your report, “European unions alerted on Cameron” (28 January), that the present UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, is as ignorant of the process of getting rid of the European Social Chapter as his former colleague and prime minister, Margaret Thatcher, was ignorant of accepting it.
Accepting the European Social Chapter is an integral part of being a member of the European Union – you cannot pick and mix, as Mrs Thatcher found out to her cost. To be in the EU means accepting the Social Chapter; rejecting the European Social Chapter means leaving the EU. David Cameron seems hell-bent on reducing workers’ rights. He has already made it easier for employers to sack people they do not like, and more difficult for workers to get justice before the courts.
He would now like to abolish wage protection for farm workers, and stop injured workers getting their rightful compensation, but he is going to find that more difficult. What he will find impossible is to get rid of paid holidays; reduce health and safety, equal treatment for part-time workers and women, and protection for workers when a business is sold off. All these measures are protected and guaranteed under EU social law.
It was the introduction of the European Social Agenda that won over a lot of public opinion in the UK to EU membership, and it is membership of the EU that will stop the Tories taking away our social rights – for that we must thank Ms Thatcher!
David Martin MEP
Midlothian Innovation Centre