Surely the Barroso story isn’t…a story? He hasn’t said anything new and to anybody who has been following this for the last two years, this is status quo. The main point seems to be that he appears on a London television programme, one watched by London political hacks desperate for Monday morning copy and he says something easily spun into an anti-Salmond, anti-Scottish top line so who cares if it isn’t new? To be fair, to most of the knee-jerk hacks writing this stuff it will be new because they have no idea what has been said in Scotland’s far-off, indecipherable referendum catfight. And for the BBC the imperative is to publicise their own output rather than quibble about veracity. Interestingly, what is missing from the versions I’ve read so far is the question: Why? Why would Scotland find it difficult, perhaps impossible to have full EU membership?
This question isn’t asked because to a metropolitan observer, the very idea of independence is daft anyway so anything that backs up that prejudice goes unchallenged. If there is a variation in his latest deliberate attempt to influence the outcome of a vote in a member state it is that he puts the problem down, not to process, but to politics. Somebody, Spain he implies, will veto Scotland so therefore it is probably impossible for Scotland to get membership. But that country’s foreign minister has said they have no locus and no interest in blocking Scotland so long as independence is secured through a legal process. Presumably the Commission President doesn’t believe statements from his member states’ foreign ministries. (Does Andrew Marr receive any pre-interview briefings, or is he too important like Mr Naughtie?).
What was somewhat galling to those of us who are Europhiles and look to Brussels to provide some leadership on international matters, is the linking of Scotland with Kosovo, where a million ethnic Albanians fled or were forcefully driven out, more than 11,000 deaths have been reported to the UN prosecutor, nine Serbian and Yugoslavian commanders have been indicted for crimes against humanity and in one the accused were charged with murder of 919 identified Kosovo Albanian civilians aged from one to 93, both male and female. Kosovo declared UDI, it did not got through a legal process and is in such a relatively poor state that the EU is nursing it towards normalization. Does that sound like Scotland? The most outspoken country opposed to Kosovo’s recognition is Spain which objects to any EU or NATO initiative on which refers to it as a state.
Just where the comparison is found between Kosovo, created from the fire of war, and exemplary, modern Scotland, meeting every acquis and with a 40-year record of membership is hard to say if you are applying logic, rather than Barroso weasel words. Isn’t it also a little presumptious of Spain, a member since only 1986, to imply blocking us?
I’m still amazed that Barroso’s constant campaigning on behalf of the UK and thereby breaking the rules by interfering in a member state, goes unremarked. He always adds, after pointedly suggesting the Scots can forget it, that he doesn’t have a role and it is up to the voters. The way to do this according to the rules is to ask the legal services people to give a legal judgement and inform the Scots before they vote. Instead he gives us his oily smile and pretends he is acting independently. No complaints are made about this incessant political interference even though the British government objects to EU involvement in every aspect of life.
We should be ready for another EU intervention as the European Parliament is about to reveal its legal advice. This is interesting as we have Barroso for the Commission making his view known, now the Parliament and yet nobody has asked for legal advice from the Council which is the body responsible for membership. MEPs are pushing for this which sounds like a good idea and indeed, who knows, it may be. But be aware it is the direct result of campaigning but our stalwart Scottish Labour MEPs David Martin and Catherine Stihler who, along with their Tory chum Struan Stevenson, are furiously working the corridors to ensure their own country will be a pariah in Europe – such patriotism. Their joint letter got this under way and it was originally blocked because the legal people din’t want to get involved before any formal approach from the UK. But then it was forced through committee by Tories and Lib Dems and Socialists so there are grounds to be suspicious that they think they will get a negative ruling to suit their argument against their own country. We know from experience that the Unionist MEPs have no love of their own country being a force in Europe – our number of MEPs would actually increase – and they have studiously avoided anything that could be construed as constructive, democratic engagement with our national referendum, preferring to play the supplicant role to Cameron’s British state interests.
The forces of authority are lining up against Scotland as once they did against devolution so courage and nerve is required. But I’ll tell you one thing that is now clear – the only way to earn respect in the world is to be a sovereign state in your own right because without that status you count for nothing, as Osborne and Barroso make abundantly clear. The only status they respect is independence otherwise they treat you like trash.