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A Tale of Two Countries

Thankfully things seem to be resolving themselves in Ukraine and I hope that matters progress to a good outcome for the people.
In Scotland meanwhile there were some pretty strong arguments at the weekend in places like Auchterarder amongst old ladies who each insisted on paying for the scones and tea.

From the official EU website  European Union External Action

“The EU is seeking an increasingly close relationship with Ukraine that goes beyond mere bilateral cooperation, encompassing gradual progress towards political association and economic integration.

Ukraine is a priority partner country within the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) and the Eastern Partnership (EaP). The Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) which entered into force in 1998 provides a comprehensive framework for cooperation between the EU and Ukraine in all key areas of reform.”

It goes on

“The EU takes note of the unprecedented public support in Ukraine for political association and economic integration with the EU and remains ready to sign the Association Agreement on the basis of determined action and tangible progress on the EU’s benchmarks. To this end, important progress has already been achieved.”

By way of comparison, the official EU line regarding cooperation and membership with an independent Scotland, a country which would meet all membership criteria and which geographical area has been a member of the EU for 40 years, after the referendum can be summed up by the following statement (apologies for paraphrasing slightly):

“How about naw?”

Quote of the Day

“Any vote to separate an area from a member state then has the consequence of that area leaving the EU”

Herman Van Rompuy yesterday in a joint press conference with the Spanish Prime Minister who declared the proposed Catalonian Referendum unconstitutional

And so it begins…

Yesterday’s intervention in the Independence debate by the Spanish Prime Minister was trailed in the media as ‘spontaneous’. If you believe that you’ll believe anything. His comments were akin to the first violin of the orchestra tuning up. If there is one institution more opposed to Scottish independence than the UK it is the EU and within that Spain and Belgium.

Expect well co-ordinated, arranged and choreographed spontaneity from the various sections of the orchestra, particularly the ‘brass’ section, to build up gradually to a crescendo in the coming weeks and months.

Also I see that Sir John Major, the man who presided over the Tory wipe out in Scotland has been pitching in his tuppence worth.

There’s more than ten months of this stuff to come.

Crisis? What Crisis?

I notice that this report from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation has mis-spelled millstone.

FireShot Screen Capture #101 - 'Celebrations as Croatia becomes the 28th country to join the EU - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)' - www_abc_net_au_news_2013-07-01_celebrations-as-croa

Bear Doesn’t Shit In the Woods!


“After crisis?”

after crisis after crisis after crisis……….(repeat and fade)

Referendum latest

No, not the Scottish independence one, I’m talking about the UK/EU/In out shake it all about one.

I see more than 100 idiots who are terrified of losing their seat to UKIP Tory backbenchers defied the government on the vote last night.

I notice that they weren’t alone though because eleven Labour members, a Liberal and George Galloway voted with the rebels too.

Cameron says he wants to renegotiate the UK’s membership i.e. ‘We’ll have the good bits but not the bad ones’. Good luck with that Dave – it won’t work.

Anyway, at the moment a referendum on the issue in 2017, for several reasons, looks about as likely as Tarby staging a comeback.

Lawson’s Dice

Nigel Lawson I’m talking about. He’s looking to throw a ‘one’ and vote for the UK to come out of the EU.

Over the years this blog has had some pretty critical things to say about the EU, perhaps exceeded in lack of compliment only by its critique on UKIP and other right wing politicians.

My locus has never been a political one but rather a matter of pragmatism. I see the EU as clumsy, unworkable and interminably bureaucratic. On a basic level, quite how societies and cultures as diverse as Sweden and Greece, or Denmark and Portugal were supposed to live under the same laws and regulations as one another, remains an affront to common sense. Add the UK and France into that mix if you like. Chalk and cheese could have been coined for the two nations.

And don’t start me again on the Euro…..

So uneasy as I am about quoting Nigel Lawson, I’m going to anyway.

“Over the past decade, UK exports to the EU have risen in cash terms by some 40%. Over the same period, exports to the EU from those outside it have risen by 75%.

He calls the EU a ‘bureaucratic monstrosity’

“Not only do our interests increasingly differ from those of the eurozone members but, while never “at the heart of Europe” (as our political leaders have from time to time foolishly claimed), we are now becoming increasingly marginalised as we are doomed to being consistently outvoted by the eurozone bloc.”

Of course Lawson is making his pitch because of recent gains by UKIP in the English council elections and much of the right wing rhetoric is down to the welter of regulation being placed on the City of London by Europe. He is also acutely aware of the Tories’ promise to hold a referendum on EU membership should they gain a majority next time round.

However, the groundswell of anti European sentiment currently abroad (sic) in England but also in other parts of the UK doesn’t look like abating any time soon.

I’m wondering what effect this will have on the referendum that definitely is taking place here next September? The EU, its institutions and leading lights have been very frigid indeed to the idea of Scottish Independence.

Scotland’s trade with the rest of the UK is over £40 billion. Its trade with EU countries outwith the UK is less than £10 billion (Scottish government figures).

Alex Salmond has nailed his colours firmly to Sterling as a post independence currency – despite the current unwillingness of the coalition government of the UK to entertain that notion.

I wonder though if Salmond is playing the long game here? A yes vote to the UK or the remaining UK leaving the EU would look more likely at this stage than a yes vote for Scottish independence.

It is inconceivable that a post independence Scotland using Sterling could remain as part of the EU (even if it were able to negotiate its way in in the first place)

That’s why I think that Eck and co will be studying the pronouncements and rhetoric from London on the EU very closely in the coming months.

And I won’t be surprised if it shapes their thinking more than a little.