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Wings Over Scotland

The more things change

Posted on December 13, 2012 by

The anti-independence campaign and the Scottish media have been loudly affecting great triumph recently over a rather curious claim. Namely, they’ve been insisting the Scottish Government’s acknowledgement that it would be required to negotiate the terms of an independent Scotland’s membership of the European Union represents some manner of U-turn on an alleged previous assertion to the contrary.

(Ken MacIntosh, for example, tells the chamber at 21m that the SNP “has finally admitted that the terms of Scotland’s EU membership are a matter of negotiation”.)

Let’s examine the reality.

“Choosing Scotland’s Future” was the title of a Scottish Government document published in 2007 as part of what the SNP called the National Conversation. Clause 3.18 on page 22 reads as follows (our emphasis):

Negotiations would also be required concerning the terms of Scotland’s (and the rest of the United Kingdom’s) continuing membership of the European Union and other international bodies to which Scotland currently belongs as a component nation of the United Kingdom.”

Clause 3.21 on the next page continues (our emphasis again):

An independent Scotland would continue in the European Union and bear the burdens and fulfil the responsibilities of membership. Following negotiations on the detailed terms of membership, Scotland would be in a similar position to other European Union member states of a similar size.”

Well, that seems to wrap that up.

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52 to “The more things change”

  1. Cuphook

    See, you’re using facts, but the NO campaign is based on VOLUME; well, that and hysteria. Can they seriously keep this up for two years?

    The game that they’re playing is to discredit the Scottish Government and, by implication, YES Scotland. I’m not sure that they care if the truth comes out at a later date as they hope that by then the damage will be done, that independence will be discredited, that hope of an alternative will be crushed, and that the voters will cynically resign themselves to austerity UK.

    If Alex Salmond found a pot at the end of a rainbow the Unionists would piss in it.

  2. mogabee

    There are, I reckon, three scenarios:
         Shout loud enough and drown out the truth.
         present everything as”fact” coz the media are “helpful”.
         or they just canny read all the way through any SNP document because they (no’s) hate them so much!

  3. Sword

    Had been thinking the same thing of the last few days Stuart.  Nice article with your usual eloquence.

  4. The_Duke

    I hate the BBC. All last week the BBC gave the “EU story” front and continueous coverage. The SG response today is the 4th story down and will know doubt be gone from the website by this evening. Disgraceful!!

  5. Juteman

    The No campaign.
    Shout LOUD, tell lies, and ignore any good news about Scotland.
    Listening to Radio Scotland at work all day was a typical example. Call UKaye tried to blame the Devolved government for the poor health in parts of Scotland. The fact that Westminster controls the purse strings was ignored. The same tactic was used throughout the day on news bulletins and other programmes.
    Any time a contributor had any SNP links, this is pointed out. We never get told that Unionist contributors have Labour or Tory connections. Call UKaye never mentions that she was the Chair of the Young Tories at University. She tries to play the ‘woman next door’, never mentioning her mansion in England or her Porsche.
    I’ve just used Call UKaye as an example, as i think she is a nasty piece of work, despite trying to play the impartial commentator.

  6. peter

    I still tune into BBC Scotland as I drive to work, better to keep your enemy close and all that, this week has been a constant attack on all things Scottish government and Independence, even linking the rise in racism to the independence movement. I did text them to comment but alas it was not read out.
    I am truly sick of this constant bias and it looks like non payment of the licence fee is the only option.

  7. Juteman

    I stopped paying mine earlier this year Peter.
    After a few threatening letters, i phoned them up to tell them i don’t need a licence, so stop sending me letters.
    I was careful in my words, but basically told them i was sick of the bias, so wasn’t prepared to pay for it. As the calls are recorded, at no time did i say i would still be watching TV.
     The person i spoke to said that i would be visited to ensure i didn’t need a licence. I told him that any visitors could basically feck off, as i wouldn’t speak to them. I haven’t heard anything from them for about 7 months.
    I should add that i live in a block of flats with security entry, so i won’t get any surprise visitors.

  8. dadsarmy

    Juteman. The law is that you don’t have to admit any licence snoopers. They can call at the door, you tell them no thanks, go away. BUT – if you let them into your house it seems they have the right to snoop around and check everything out. I checked this out a few months back. I seem to remember they can even crawl in through an open window or unlocked door – which seems diabolical.

    If you send them away, the only option they have is to get a court order, and I believe and am almost certain they then have to have police officers in attendance.

    But definitely do not let them in the front door, without that court order and police in attendance.

  9. Arbroath1320

    One more thing Juteman NEVER, NEVER EVER sign ANY document they ask you to sign. THEY claim it is some sort of proof that they visited you in reality it is an admission that you own a TV.
    Like your good self I too seem to have “forgotten” to pay the British Brainwashing Corporation TAX and I too have had some letters from these nice people at TV licencing and others. Unfortunately I can never reply to them because, they all seem to end up in my round filing system. Funny that. 😀

  10. Tris

    They finally admitted it 5 years ago, is what Ken meant to say.

  11. Boorach

    I wonder if there’s not sufficient evidence of BBC bias to make a case for ‘media lens’ to have a look at the way all programmes are skewed in favour of the No  campaign?

    Anyone got a list of examples which could be put to them to spark an interest? 

  12. Juteman

    Don’t worry, i’ll never let them in or sign anything.
    But,…… sometimes i think it might be good to go to court/jail for the publicity. Maybe take one for the cause.

  13. dadsarmy

    “Our officers may ask to inspect your licence and television equipment at any time, but you do not have to let them into your home without a search warrant.”

    You also do not have to answer any letter, and if they phone you can tell them to get lost – legally of course!

  14. Aplinal

    I recall one particular episode quite some time ago when the BBC edited a piece from Holyrood which was a cut and paste job to make it look as though AS was laughing at John Swinney’s response to a question.  In fact the clip of him laughing was to a Labour question.
    I even think the Rev had it on WoS?  Or maybe on NNS? There are lots of ‘indications’ of bias, but I think that was a deliberate attempt at lying to the viewers.

  15. dadsarmy

    That’a a great page I posted:

    “The BBC’s own research in 2004 showed that the number who would rather the BBC went out of business than pay the licence fee had doubled to 19% of the population.
    In a Guardian/ICM opinion poll in 2009, 57 per cent of respondents were opposed to the licence fee.

    I wonder what the figure would be now? I’d happily do without BBC1, but BBC2 does have some good stuff.

  16. Arbroath1320

    Funnily enough that thought does slide though my solitary brain cell from time to time Juteman. 😀
    They also can NOT step over the threshold of your home without your permission. If they try something even as simple as trying to block you closing your door by putting their foot in the way then that effectively can be construed as unlawful entry.

  17. Boorach


    Well…. who wouldn’t laugh at a labour question!

    I’m certainly not the sharpest knife in the drawer but the few ‘media lens’reports I’ve read seem to be pretty forensic in their examination of the subject and there’s no pulling punches in the language they use.

    There must be someone among us who could build a case to justify their looking at the BBC, both TV and wireless

  18. Boorach


    NNS reporting UK on credit ratingwatchman!! 

  19. James Morton

    I’m not in any way an expert in constitutional law, but the main problems with the Unionist argument and Barroso’s statement is possibly this.
    1. Scotland would need to apply – but Scotland is already a member of EU and there is no framework present that allows for a member state to be removed. So there would be a debate within the EU as to how to proceed. The worst case scenario is they faff about as is their want, insist on us “leaving” technically so we can renegoiate our “return” technically. At best, I think that the EU, rather than spend time on this, would simply enter negoiations with Scotland with an eye to a speedy transition without the need to re-apply. It would be a fresh start with a nation that has long ties of friendship with Europe and doesn’t get all batsh*t crazy at the idea of being in Europe.
    2. England could object but then why would Cameron do that. He would see this as another nail in the coffin of Labour. So I don’t think Cameron is going to be playing the Villian for Labour on this one.
    I think this is simply another bogie man they’ve dreamt up for themselves, now that the issue of the number of questions was put to rest. They’ll keep up this line of attack rather than actually defend or promote the Union.

  20. Aplinal

    Just watched Nicola on Brian’s blog (here)  A Top, TOP performance putting all the opposition pigmies into their place.  Could she be the first Female First Minister of an Independent Scotland!  I would sleep easy if she was.
    Compare the SNP front bench with the opposition.  It’s adults compared to children.

  21. ianbrotherhood

    Dear peter, Juteman, dadsarmy & Arbroath1320 –
    Fascinating stuff. Is there any definitive ‘guide’ which gathers all of the info you’ve provided here? I must be one of many who just can’t stomach paying for this tripe any more, but do feel intimidated by the letters and calls – they seem to revel in projecting themselves as ‘Big Brother’, and do it very well. 
    Please set me straight here – I have a telly, radio, computer etc in my house. Can I simply refuse to pay their license fee?

  22. Jeannie

    Agree with you.  She’s a class act!

  23. AndrewFraeGovan

    There’s lots of advice on the internet – just google.
    If you want to stay within the law just don’t watch or record programmes as they are broadcast. Watching catch-up i.e. iplayer 4od, etc is fine.

  24. velofello

    Jeannie and Aplinal: Nicola Sturgeon is a young woman from a working class background. So too is Alex Salmon.There are loads of equal ability in Scotland, girls and boys. A view expressed I believe by Jimmy Reid, himself a person of not inconsiderable talent. 
    Scotland has oil and gas etc., yet my working life experience over several continents  convinces me that the resource yet to be tapped is the talent of our people once free from the via London route to investment and employment.


  25. AndrewFraeGovan

    I’ve heard Alex called a lot of things, but that’s the first time I’ve seen him described as “a young woman from a working class background”!

  26. Richie

    @ Aplinal
    It was a lib dem question. It came from Nicol Scott or Tavish Steven, I can’t remember which, they’re such a bunch of bland arseholes they just merge into each other.
    Anyway, I think Moridura has it on his youtube channel.
    It was on newsnet too quite a while back. 

  27. Aplinal

    Thanks, I could remember the video, but not all the details.

  28. scottish_skier

    O/T, but was reading this and couldn’t help but feel a little sick. Union jacks and a new focus on tackling immigrants….
    Among his [Eds] proposals will be banning those without high proficiency in English from some public sector jobs that involve working closely with people, such as home helps.
    Sounds a bit like British jobs for British workers.
    Funnily enough, the whole one nation thing is not actually new. It began with the arrival of Tony.
    Tony Blair yesterday laid claim to the Tory mantle of being the party of “One Nation” politics with a claim on the centre ground. 
    Zero points for originality there Ed. Same for the whole anti-immigrants stuff and union jack waving; pilfered from the BNP I presume?

  29. maxstafford

    One nation. One realm. One leader.

  30. Morag

    One Godwin?

  31. Training Day


    ‘Connected, not segregated’.  ‘Forward, not back’.  ‘Up, not down.’ ‘In, not out’.

    A bold and radical manifesto.  Why seek independence?

  32. Iain

    Had this letter that was sent to Barroso passed on to me, written by a Scottish employee of the EU. It seems to me to cover the nitty gritty in a relentlessy rational and non hysterical way. It particularly highlights Westminster’s strange reluctance to avoid any clarification on the issue(sorry about the length and shoogly formatting).

    Mr José Manuel Barroso
    President of the European Commission
    1049 Brussels, Belgium

    Subject:  Media reporting of your opinion on EU membership of an independent Scotland – EU citizenship rights – related questions
    Dear Mr Barroso,
    As you are undoubtedly aware, there has been considerable media coverage in the United Kingdom of your recent statements regarding the hypothetical scenario of one part of a Member State that has agreed and ratified the EU Treaties separating from that Member State and the subsequent implications for EU membership of both the newly independent State and the residual Member State.

    Your position has been outlined, inter alia, in your letter of 10 December 2012 to the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee in response to a specific question from its Acting Chairman, Lord Tugendhat, your answer of 3 December 2012 to European Parliament Written Question P-009756/2012 from David Martin MEP, and your recent interview on the BBC’s Hardtalk programme.

    Despite your assertion that you are only talking in general hypothetical terms, it must cause you considerable dismay to read that your comments are being interpreted in the UK media as referring explicitly to Scotland. Examples include:

    ‘An independent Scotland would be outside the EU and face joining the euro if it wants membership, the president of the European Commission said yesterday.’ (The Scottish Daily Express)

    ‘Barroso: it’s ‘obvious’ independent Scotland must re-apply for EU membership’ (The Herald)

    ‘José Manuel Barroso: Independent Scotland not EU member’ (The Telegraph)

    ‘Scotland will be made to reapply for EU membership after independence, says EU chief’ (The Scotsman)

    ‘Barroso: no automatic entry to EU for Scotland’ (The Times)

    ‘Barroso warns Scotland on EU status’ (Financial Times).

    Part of the reason for these suppositions may be the following excerpt from the transcript of your interview on Hardtalk:

     Interviewer: “So if, and I am using the example of Scotland, and I appreciate you are not talking about specifics, but say a country like Scotland, it, say, chooses independence, it is then like a new state applying to the EU?”
    You: “For European Union purposes, from a legal point of view, it is certainly a new state. If a country becomes independent it is a new state and has to negotiate with the EU.
    Interviewer: “What about the rest of the UK that is effectively left behind by Scotland’s independence….”
    You: “That is the principle of the continuity of the state, in that case if a….
    Interviewer: “Would it have to renegotiate its terms?”
    You: “No, no in principle no.”
    This would seem to conflict with your assertion, as President of the European Commission, that the Commission prefers to refrain from comment on possible future scenarios, but I fully understand that you cannot control how your words are interpreted. What you can do is issue an official Press Release re-stating that you, and the Commission as a collegiate body, have never, and will never, comment on the specific scenario of Scotland leaving the UK unless you receive an official request to do so from the UK detailing a precise scenario. 

    I look forward to reading a statement to this effect soon on the Commission website.
    One of the problems with this specific scenario, of course, is that the UK Government, for reasons unbeknown to me, seems unwilling to submit this official request for the Commission’s opinion on the legal consequences of this specific scenario. 
    As a UK citizen, I find it rather strange that despite the distinct possibility of such a scenario being realised in less than 2 years’ time, the UK Government does not seek clarification on the matter. I have, however, every faith in the fact that the European Commission has prepared itself for such a scenario and drawn up a detailed legal position in anticipation of such a request eventually being made. 

    As an EU citizen, however, living under the threat of my EU citizenship being withdrawn by the mere fact of my country of nationality (specifically Scotland) democratically choosing to end its Union with the rest of the United Kingdom, I find this situation extremely disturbing and unsettling. I have long appreciated your principled stance on the rights of the EU citizen, your commitment to the European ideal, and your emphasis on the importance of open, responsible and transparent government; it is on this basis that I would appeal to you to inform me about the legal position regarding my EU citizenship in the event of Scotland becoming independent.
    I therefore seek specific answers to some very specific questions relating to my future status as an EU citizen in accordance with Article 9 of the Treaty on European Union: ‘In all its activities, the Union shall observe the principle of the equality of its citizens, who shall receive equal attention from its institutions, bodies, offices and agencies. Every national of a Member State shall be a citizen of the Union. Citizenship of the Union shall be additional to and not replace national citizenship’.
    In replying to my numbered questions set out below, I would also urge you not to make reference to any previous statements you have made as these deal in generalities and not my specific case, and historic situations relating to Algeria or Greenland, and current sui generis situations in Flanders or Catalonia, are of no relevance.
    1.         During the period between a ‘Yes’ vote to independence in the 2014 referendum in Scotland and the final dissolution of the UK, will I as a Scottish citizen remain an EU citizen?

    2.         During that same period, does the Commission anticipate that negotiations will be held with the democratically elected Scottish Government on Scotland’s continued EU membership?
    3.         During that same period, does the Commission anticipate that negotiations will be held with the democratically elected former United Kingdom Government on the terms of the continued EU membership of England, Wales and Northern Ireland? 
    4.         On a related issue, the United Kingdom was initially formed by the two Kingdoms of Scotland and England being united into one Kingdom by the name of Great Britain. With the dissolution of that Kingdom, the Member State that agreed and ratified the EU Treaties will no longer exist. On what basis, therefore, do you say that, in principle, the rest of the UK effectively left behind by Scotland’s independence would not have to renegotiate its terms of membership?

    5.         Does the Commission have any reason to believe that there would be problems in negotiating the terms of the continued EU membership of my country of nationality (Scotland) in the event of the dissolution of the United Kingdom?
    6.         In the event of an independent Scotland refusing, or being refused, membership of the EU, do I have any acquired rights from being an EU citizen since 1973, or will I be immediately considered a third-country national?

    To conclude on a personal note, Mr Barroso, I have served as an official of the European Union for the bulk of my working life (19 years at the Commission, 5 at the Parliament), and find it deeply regrettable that this situation should have arisen. As an unflagging advocate of European integration and vocal defender of the European Union’s achievements, it pains me to see the image of the European Union tarnished in my home country by the uncertainties and ambiguities sparked by your position. I sincerely hope you will redress this situation and look forward to receiving your comprehensive reply to my questions in the very near future.

    Yours etc


  33. scottish_skier

    It is the Labour party that still only just holds Scotland in the union by the skin of its teeth.
    One Nation Labour (1995, 2012) followed by Yes 2 years later (1997, 2014).
    History has a habit of repeating itself.

    New Labour were never popular in Scotland. One Nation Labour will end the union conclusively. Expect a possible reactionary rise in support then sudden complete collapse as per 2010-2011 ahead of 2014.

  34. Doug Daniel

    Hey folks, check out this picture of Nick Griffin!

  35. Doug Daniel

    Doh! Silly me, I got it confused – HERE’S the picture of Nick Griffin.

    How did I get the two confused?!? 

  36. Aplinal

    Excellent letter.  It would seem to be from a reasonably senior official as he/she has spent 24 years plus in the EU/EC.  I wonder whether Barroso has a full mail bag?  I sent an email, but nothing like the quality of your correspondent.
    “Watch this space” as they say!

  37. Rev. Stuart Campbell

    Doug: Wasn’t this the image you were after?

    British jobs for British workers!

  38. MajorBloodnok

    @Iain & Aplinal

    Yes, a very good letter.  I had thought to send a request to Barroso for clarification myself but this letter covers all the bases and more.  I look forward to seeing the reply, which I trust will be equally well informed.

  39. scottish_skier

    Very Mosley-esq. Dark suits / dark backgrounds contrasting red and white (e.g. of a flag) is traditionally the scheme favoured by / associated with extreme authoritarianism. Nazis, National Front, BNP etc. Seems Labour increasingly too. Do not underestimate the power of such symbolism/what it means. The adoption of the union jack by Labour over the red rose of socialism is very, very worrying. Labour are currently the most authoritarian mainstream party in the UK and Ed’s recent moves suggest they’re upping the ante. After all, the BNP typically draws in ex-labour voters.

    Referring to my earlier post:

    Among his [Eds] proposals will be banning those without high proficiency in English from some public sector jobs that involve working closely with people, such as home helps.

    One might say “But that makes some sense doesn’t it”. Well yes at first glance, but then why legislate? If the person does not speak English well enough this would be rather obvious at interview – just don’t give them the job. No need to write it into law; what’s next, immigrants need to give up their seat to ‘real British’ on buses? The above could form the start of a very dark slippery slope. 

  40. Doug Daniel

    Scott – I think the difference is Cameron’s flag doesn’t eliminate Northern Ireland from his picture of One Nation Britain.

    Do I win a prize?

    Rev – I was looking for a picture of someone standing in front of a union jack doing a finger-jab movement. Your picture seems to be the poster for some sort of horror film…?

  41. scottish_skier

    The problem with right-wing economics is it invariably leads to authoritarianism long term. As wealth travels upwards, so inequality and poverty grows. This creates social instability, to which those in charge – i.e. those that are doing well, the wealthy – respond by reducing civil liberties (increased police state) in an attempt to maintain the status quo. This becomes a viscous circle; the more society destabilises, the more heavy handed the state must be in its attempts to keep it functioning. The more heavy handed, the increased likelihood of rebellion. At some point, breaking point is reached and a revolution occurs with the state collapsing, normally reverting in a large jump to the left. Think the socialist revolutions which spread across the globe post WWI which marked the peak of the last phase of rampant global capitalism and inequality.
    A similar case can apply with the extreme left, i.e. in the direction of communism. If this is forced on people against their will then the same need for a police state arises; those who are more equal than others wish to preserve the status quo. The vicious circle in this case results in a revolution with a jump to the right. Think the collapse of the USSR and Russia as we see it today.
    To avoid cycles of revolution, it is better to hover around the centre; the right correcting if society goes towards the left against the majority will, the left correcting in the opposite case. Old Labour pushed things too far to the left, opening the door for Maggie to do what she did. If old Labour had remained true to values, they could have corrected the balance when back in power. They did not; they became their own enemy and the balance was not restored.
    Scotland is correcting the imbalance right now, restoring equilibrium by moving from the Tory-New Labour right to the centre/modest left. It will prosper long term for doing so. The rUK will follow in time, but it is likely to get worse before it gets better, for without a party of the true left or centre, the vicious circle can only continue. 

  42. Aplinal

    I have this voice in my head saying, “So, Mr. Bond …”

  43. pmcrek


    I initially found the logistics of legislating such a language policy illogical in North Wales and the Western Isles, however considering the implications further, there are plenty of Punjabi, Urdu, Cantonese etc.. speakers to consider across varying locales as well.

    I certainly agree this is more evidence of an increasingly worrying trend towards the far right by Labour.

  44. velofello

    Andrewfraegovan: I know I know, sometimes I simply just impatient.

  45. scottish_skier


    Of course it is essential for the post of ‘Gaelic expert’ the person should be able to converse and write in Gaelic to a very high standard. If a company seeks a person with specific language skills for a reason they have every right to do so and ‘discriminate’ based on this during selection.

    However, the idea that a government would write such a broadbrush discrimination into law – i.e. that to work in a specific role in a country a person should be able to speak the language to X standard – is concerning. My wife is French, her English excellent, but would she pass the test or be discriminated against?

    It is knee jerk reactionary stuff from Labour. When parties start creating all their policy this way, it means things are not looking good. 

    Personally, I don’t think a council should spend large volumes of cash on e.g. translating its website into tens of different languages. If you move to a country you should try to learn sufficient of the language to get by. If cash is to be spent, then use it to offer language courses to those wishing to learn. It is the concept of forcing people to learn and actively (rather than passively) discriminating that I am uncomfortable with.

    I maybe sounded a little doomsday re my post about Labour, but it is still very worrying to live in a country with no parties of the left liberal with any influence. That is scary; the extreme right and authoritarian have no challengers to keep them at bay. We are very lucky that in Scotland this is not the case; over half our chamber being genuinely centrist to left liberal.

  46. dadsarmy

    Yes, both postings speak for me too. Balance. That’s what’s needed, and we have none.

  47. McBill

    It is rather dishonest to suggest the independence movement has not been dealt a blow this week. Salmond and the SNP have been trying to soft soap the voters and have been found out. We can trot out all the documents we want to show that negotiations had been mentioned before, but, if we are to be truthful, we must admit that an attempt was made to paint a different picture.

  48. Juteman

     What blow? All i see is a concerted mis-information attempt by the Unionists and their media allies.

  49. Pax-RFS

    McBill i think perhaps you have been reading and believing the hype in the unionist press.. strange since the bulk of the facts and evidence…. the trail of which goes back YEARS show the SNP have been FAR from dishonest in their presentation of their case and the unionists have ALWAYS been highly disingenuous in presenting theirs.

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