Open Letter

David Martin MEP and Catherine Stihler MEP (both Lab)

Dear David and Catherine

Season’s greetings to you both and to your families. I do miss my trips to Europe paid for by the taxpayer. They may come round again for me when I’m appointed Scotland’s Ambassador to the EU in a couple of year’s time. (I have been told I’m ahead of both Alyn and Ian in the queue so it may be worth keeping in with me).

I see you have both been busy over the holiday period in keeping with your reputation as among the hardest working MEPs.

In particular, your ringing public endorsement of Jose Manuel Barroso’s assertions about the position of our nation after a Yes vote have been striking and in tone at least leave you open to the charge of relishing the idea of your country being excluded from membership in its own right, an oddly masochistic reaction I put down to confusing two different things – your desire to remain part of the British state by winning the referendum on the one hand and your constituents’ national interests on the other. As we are about to vote this year on our independence and, since continued EU membership is very much the desired outcome for many of us, can you address a few questions for clarity. In this I’m following the well-worn precedent of European Unionists in demanding answers of the Scottish government before we vote, not to mention the greater precedent of access to truthful information for all citizens in advance of a democratic vote. Here are my questions.

Can you point to the section in the treaties which can be applied to Scotland voting for independence and then subsequently, against its wishes, being expelled?

If you are seeking legal clarity on Scotland’s position, will you formally ask the British government to request it from the Commission who have promised to clarify officially but only to the Member State (UK)?

Do you agree with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office that a “precise scenario” for clarification only applies after the referendum vote? (Letter to me from FCO 13/12/13. The ‘precise scenario’ referred to by the Commission can only be presented following negotiations on the terms of Scottish independence from the UK, which can themselves only follow a ‘yes’ vote in next year’s referendum as there is currently no democratic mandate for undertaking such negotiations.

Will you vote for Scotland’s membership of the EU irrespective of how it eventually comes about? 

I appreciate it is in your political interest to have your constituents frightened into believing they will become stateless people – the Palestinians of Europe – stripped of their existing rights against their wishes after exercising their democratic right of freedom of expression but surely we are entering uncharted territory now in which the destiny of the Scots is at stake, not just another five years in or out of office. Therefore the ritual dance of claim and counter claim from our politicians – on all sides – should stop.

So, again, where in the treaties governing the European Union does it allow for existing EU citizens to have their country removed from membership, their citizenship revoked, their right to free movement withheld, their financial contribution retained, their subsidies stopped (retrospectively?), their visiting students repatriated before qualifying, their border re-introduced and closed to the single market, hundreds of EU-funded developments halted, and you as MEPs ejected from your elected position?

It seems that Barroso and Van Rompuy – and yourselves – are relying on Article 49 of the TEU which relates to new member states. Scotland won’t be a new state until the negotiations are completed and she will then be endorsed by London so are you saying Brussels will have no involvement of any kind in 18 months minimum of talks between London and Edinburgh and will immediately turn its back on the deal although it’s ratified by the rUK as a Member State?

Even if we adopt that viewpoint, although Article 49  manifestly envisages third countries applying to accede rather than existing ones splitting, my question is: How does Scotland get there? By what process based on which section of the treaties does Scotland cease to be a member? Who decides? Who votes? Is it your argument that the Commission members simply assert that Scotland is outside from a given date and do you as democrats – and as Scots – accept that without challenge? If so, what happened to your commitment to the rule of law and rights of the citizen and all those demands over the years for the institutions to be made more democratic and subject to the parliament? Or do we end up in the Court of Justice possibly under an Action for Annulment, thus:

If any EU country, the Council, the Commission or (under certain conditions) Parliament believes that a particular EU law is illegal, it may ask the Court to annul it. ‘Actions for annulment’ can also be used by private individuals who want the Court to cancel a particular law because it directly and adversely affects them as individuals. If the Court finds the law in question was not correctly adopted or is not correctly based on the Treaties, it may declare the law null and void.

I assure you, I will be the first individual raising such an action, should it ever be needed.

And, if it comes to this apparently unlawful exclusion, will you support it, even if the Scots, whom you both represent, have expressed their desire for independence and will you declare that your obligation is then to fall in behind the people who elect you and take up the fight for Scotland’s right to retain membership?

I would have thought that was self-evident but, David, I remember your enthusiasm for Scotland’s exclusion is quite boundless and you wanted to enshrine it in decisions of the parliament by producing an official report…. “Martin planned to write a report arguing that any new state would be automatically outside the European Union and would be forced to reapply for membership…”

Why are you so keen to ensure your own country is made a pariah? The trouble I have with this is that it doesn’t sound like a patriotic Scot bringing to bear his vast experience by using the treaties and historic precedent to warn of the implications of a vote. Rather it has all the marks of a zealot hungry to find any means, lawful or otherwise, of creating difficulty for his own people…not to mention the democratic rights of our fellow European citizens in Catalonia. When did your fealty to the British state overtake your socialist instincts for peoples’ rights, subsidiarity and internationalism?

How is it that you can champion over many years the rights of Palestinians to their own homeland run by themselves even when it brings you into direct opposition with the Israelis, yet you campaign from other side when your own people aspire to the ultimate expression of nationhood – independence? In principle, I don’t think the two are so very different and at the very least, Scots and Palestinians are entitled to hear the truth about their position from those who represent them rather than find those same representatives are in effect running a campaign against them. (How else do explain your position of insisting – and working to demonstrate – that Scotland will be outside the EU? And why have the Labour MEPs done nothing to seek an alternative view, a more creative approach which is already being preached by voices in other member states and briefed by the EU’s own lawyers?)

I notice too that in working to get the institutions to oppose Scotland’s membership, it is your custom to refer to the nation of Scotland as a “region of the EU”. I suppose that is the reality of our place in the UK but I know of no Scot, Unionist or Nationalist, who talks on an international stage of his or her country as a region. Does this provide us with a clear insight into your own personal view of the Scottish nation as less than other countries and unworthy of statehood?

I fear the politicking in this debate is obscuring the reality which is the inclusive impulse of the EU since inception, a principle I know you subscribe to which makes your insistence that the Scots must be denied an odd one.

The risks for those of you promulgating this stance is two-fold. One, the anger at the embarrassment this obstructionism to Scotland – and Catalonia – is causing to the reputation of the EU as a democratic alliance spills over and other countries openly challenge the institutional orthodoxy or, even more likely, an insider leaks the outline legal viewpoint which contradicts it. Second, the Yes campaign wins and the truth is revealed in real time as negotiations begin. In neither case do the Barroso adherents win, or deserve, anything but the contempt of the international community and, more pertinently, the scorn of the Scots. Not much of a legacy, is it?

Happy New Year



90 thoughts on “Open Letter

  1. I never said Scotland wouldn’t pay it’s share of debt, John. Of course we’ll also have our share of the assets.
    The rest of your points are too childish to waste time on.

    • Yes you did. To say that making reference to a respected legal opinion or suggesting that you should research previous secessions of regions is childish shows your true nature. You are not interested in the facts only nationalist propaganda matters to you and no one is allowed to question it. You are a good advert for voting no.

  2. Methinks Derek that your communication with those MEPs seems to have realised an answer!

    Just not personally!!
    Hope you had a peaceful New Year.

  3. Legal opinion on secession seems pretty clear to me John. If the rUK wants to be the secesser state and keep all the assets, then it is liable for all the debt.
    The option favoured by the SNP, offering to share the debts and the assets, seems like the fair way of doing things.
    Personally, I favour just walking away and starting with a clean slate. 🙂

  4. @scottogoto

    London’s metropolitan area economy is 3 times the size of Scotland’s which makes it roughly the same as the entire economies of Saudi Arabia or Argentina with a value of around $670 billion in 2005. That is a fact. Not only that but other regions (such as Scotland) financial industries benefit from being in the UK with London as it is the largest financial centre in Europe and with New York and Tokyo it is one of the largest financial centres in the world. It is the only region that provides a subsidy to the rest of the UK every year. Scotland even with its oil is essentially neutral.

    Regarding the A9 or any of you other whinges about the roads. You should know that roads and transport are devolved. It is up to the Scottish government to sort the A9 out and so far the SNP have done nowt but blame everyone else for not sorting it out. I had always thought it was one of swanneys “shovel ready” projects, obviously not.

    You are obviously easily impressed… funny that… for example Colin fox the communist… So forward looking… and if you seriously think that it is acceptable for a supposed member of parliament to go on tv and carry on like a moron whinging about scots being slaves to their English masters and to refer to Scotland as a colony then you really need to change your points of reference. The man is a fool and an embarrassment to this country.

    • Edit: London metropolitan economy was $751 billion in 2010.

    • you ‘seem’ to be very well informed…. and yet the money raised in Scotland through tax excludes the present tax levels that OUR OIL generates for those companies that have their H.Q.’s in …. London…. and therefore are included within your London figures… so…. once we are independent the income which these companies generate from Scotland will no longer be a part of London’s tax take….. so… if the ex post office wanted to purchase vehicles for its fleet…. all these purchases were negotiated within the M25 corridor…. again part of London’s budget… then the vehicles were dispatched throughout the various parts of the UK…. and this expenditure…. which shows up as being part of a ‘vibrant” London economy is in fact raised from all of the UK…. as does all the monies spent on our behalf by the M of D…. the F.O…. bbc…etc etc… so… as V Cable states London does not actually produce very much but spends the NATION’s wealth… therefore it is a parasite living off others income..
      and like most unionists you conveniently forget the years when both labour and your friends the tories were in power and seriously neglected all of Scotland’s road infrastructure…. can you explain why it was acceptable to do nothing … did your fellow unionist politicians not have the funds?…. did any of them raise this within their own parties or did they not dare?… did they actually travel anywhere that illustrated to them that Scotland’s main road network was unfit for purpose…. and yet you now blame the SNP for this inherited disaster… probably you will feel completely justified in putting all the present woes of Scotland on the SNP…. as it is clear from the answers you have given…. and those you have avoided giving… that everything was hunky dory old boy… should have been grateful that maggie closed down all those heavy industries that other parts of Europe have managed to keep… should be grateful that we still have the odd fishing boat … unlike the Maltese who successfully negotiated on their fishermen’s behalf an exclusive fishing zone…. plus have the same number of M.E.P’s as Scotland yet have less than a tenth the population…. so… is it still the SNP’s fault….

      and why shouldn’t any SNP member state what ever he wants…. he is free to do this…..whether people listen or act on his views is another matter…. unlike your westminster friends who are petrified they will not be part of the never ending gravy train…. the stench of corruption and nepotism is not built into the SNP…. unlike those socialists who have been expelled or jailed and can not accept that Keir Hardie ever existed as he strongly advocated Scotland’s separation… and … nationalising everything…. including the land…. does that seem familiar to you?….. probably not as this is against present party policy ….which is ironic given that its actually tory lite….

      • You do realise how relatively irrelevant scottish oil production is in the global picture? Scottish profits would be small part of the total profits of a large oil multinational like shell or bp.

        I will not waste my time dissecting the rest of what you say as it wouldn’t make the slightest bit of difference to you. After all you dismiss an economy of $750 billion dollars, an economy larger than Saudi Arabia as somewhere that sponges off the rest of us (remember what Alex Salmond Said; “scotland would be the Saudi Arabia of renewable energy”).

        What i would suggest is get on google and spend time on serious news websites like Reuters etc and teach yourself about the world, economics, international relations etc. Try to stay off nationalist websites. It will do you the world of good and be rewarding at the same time. When you come back you will realise you have been conned.

      • First of All . I can gather from your posts that you are not Scots but some other nationality… some 70 years ago in Norway you would have probably been described suitably… secondly… you are so far up the unionist posterior that I can understand why your statements etc are so negative… as you continually deride Scotland and the Scots no matter what … why you have given your non de plum as McMad is no doubt a guide to your sympathises … if one were needed

        I of course recognise the value of Scottish Oil… especially when you look at Norway and the decent nest egg they have built up for the future of their citizens…. I wonder if you could enlighten me on the value of the UK nest egg?… whilst researching this you might look up a ‘gent’ called Algy Cluff you may find a clue as to why Scotland has never really prospered from the black gold in the same vein as southern speculators and the London property market…. BUT… of course none of this matters… what matters is that you can only see one future and that is keeping all those wonderful institutions that have successfully drained this country of its wealth… as they have with all their other colonies…. almost a cultural genocide really…

        As for trawling the web to find some form of reference for my posts…. then I am afraid you are well short of the point….. at the age of 11 I was sent to Australia… and noticed the distinct lack of tenements… or council housing estates… instead…. mile upon mile of various properties… no two the same… all well appointed… some with swimming pools etc…and before I escaped Oz I had travelled widely through its various states…. next came New Zealand… but it was so backward at that time… I moved on…. I eventually returned to the UK…. took on an apprenticeship in a shipyard where they took on 400 boys every year giving them training in almost every trade you could imagine…. BUT once I had finished my time.. I joined one of the services… where for 6 years they entertained me with travel ALL over the globe apart from S. America…. and this only whetted my appetite as… when I left… due to the socialist idiot in charge of defense… bushy eyebrows covering a very limited intelligence and his idea that ammunition sourced from a third world country would suffice…. so…it was back to working for a living…. unlike your own probable set of golden handcuffs… I travelled wherever the notion and my money took me… working wherever on whatever…. each time returning to Scotland … as those hills were my hills…. BUT… it was apparent that other countries that could govern themselves were so so much better off financially and socially…. no H of L… no monarchy…. no class ridden structure…. no old boy network…. etc etc…. so… I have seen and compared many and by conclusion we are going to be so much better of once we rid ourselves of the white heather club and their friends who’s only genuine reference is the fortnight per year in Torremillinos…

  5. John/Grahamski/Hutherswill.
    Are you mad?

  6. sam mcneil

    so im not scottish… once i read that i didn’t bother reading the rest.

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