Sunday, 11 March 2012

Scotland will never be independent under Salmond

Whether you like or agree with Alex Salmond, you can't deny that the man is a political genius.

It took the SNP 73 years to come to power in Scotland, having been formed in 1934 and finally winning a majority in the Scottish Parliament they were instrumental in bringing into being in 2007.  The SNP under Alex Salmond has gone from strength to strength and their success shows no signs of abating.

Salmond has managed to convince a sizeable proportion of the Scottish population that Scotland would be better off out of the UK.  He's convinced them that the Bank of England will continue to use English taxes to bail them out when they get into trouble and he's convinced them that Scotland will be financially secure for all time living off the proceeds of windmills and what's left of north sea oil and gas (conveniently ignoring the fact that a lot of it is under expropriated English waters).

He's convinced them of a lot of things, including the idea that leaving a union in which they have a disproportionate amount of power and influence and joining another union in which they will be a political and economic insignificance is a better future for their nation - the EU.

Personally, I don't care if Scotland declares independence if that's what the Scots decide to do - it's their country and their decision.  I'm English, not British, and my country would be infinitely better off without the burden of financially supporting the rest of the union and having to pander to increasingly demanding celts.  However, the Scots should be going into this with their eyes open and not under the mistaken impression that their bills will continue to be paid for them, that they can pick and choose the terms of our divorce and that independence within the EU is anything but.

Salmond is still making a big assumption that Scotland will automatically qualify for EU membership and that they will be able to dictate the terms of their relationship the EU just as they have with England.  He has previously said that an independent Scotland will keep the pound with the Bank of England staying on as the central bank and lender of last resort (England, Wales and NI apparently don't have a say in this in Salmond's private little universe) but of course any nation joining the EU now has to adopt the failing single currency.

He says "Of the 10 countries that joined the European Union in 2004, a majority have become independent since 1990, and Scotland is bigger than six of them.  Each and every one of these nations now has a seat at Europe’s top table: a right they cherish – a right Scotland too should embrace".  But here's the thing: the EU has already said that there is no automatic right of membership for Scotland if it leaves the UK but the SNP continues to base Scotland's future on membership of the EU which it has no automatic right to and which it will have to negotiate from the weakest possible position, having told the world that it has no plans for the future that don't involve joining.

If Scotland wants automatic membership of the EU then they need to hold out for a complete dissolution of the British union where the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties would apply and Scotland could choose to take on the UK's membership as successor state.  That would certainly suit the majority of English people who want out of the EU and the majority of Scots who want to stay in it.  The only people who would be disappointed would be the europhile minority in England, the eurosceptic minority in Scotland and British nationalist minority on both sides of the border.

All of this is a little academic because Scotland won't vote for independence but the more rope Alex Salmond is given, the more his europhillia hangs him.