SURPRISINGLY I actually agree with the thrust of Colin Hamilton’s latest contribution to the debate on Scotland’s membership of the European Union (Letters, 15 May) that Scotland will be able to join the EU.
Those of us who favour independence are aware that detailed negotiation will be required, but believe that ultimately an independent Scotland will be able to join at terms acceptable to us without an extended accession process. However, “seamless” is not how I would describe the process and consequently I have no need to clutch at straws.
Seamless is, however, a word used also by Donald Lewis in his letter (15 May). Mr Lewis resists the urge to cite other experts in European law, which is a relief or these letters would consist of long lists of lots of eminent folk with lots of letters after their name. But can he name one who says definitively that Scotland will not be allowed to join the EU apart from European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso, whose intervention has largely been discredited as being beyond his remit?
If I may be permitted to quote one expert on this topic, Professor Michael Keating, speaking of the BBC’s Sunday Politics show, said: “I just don’t see on what treaty basis Barroso has to making these comments. If Scotland were to apply to join the European Union, the job of the European Commission president would simply be to ascertain whether Scotland meets the membership criteria. If Scotland does meet the criteria, Barroso or his successor would be obliged to recommend to the European Council that Scotland be admitted.”
Those of us who recall Scotland’s build-up to the 1978 football World Cup finals know it’s all too easy to sell this nation a dream.
The manager of the national side, Ally MacLeod, was able to generate an almost palpable sense of optimism (some would say wave of delusional madness) in convincing the population that Scotland could win the trophy.
The quixotic dream soon foundered on the rocks of reality, and along with disillusionment the nation experienced anger and a sense of betrayal.
MacLeod went from messiah to pariah overnight.
The same fate just might await First Minister Alex Salmond in the aftermath of a Yes vote. For then it will no longer be possible to pretend that the greater world is pliant to his will, or to ignore the fact that other parties involved in negotiations have ideas of their own (just as Iran and Peru did in that 1978 tournament).
Scotland’s 1978 World Cup campaign, mitigated by an outstanding performance against the Dutch side, has come to be regarded as a glorious failure. That’s alright in football, but it cannot be an option for independence.