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The Schengen deception

Posted on December 07, 2013 by

Whenever the hoary old story about passport checks along the border with England is dug up for another run-around (roughly once a month, as far as we can tell), the Schengen agreement usually features as the justification. Here’s a typical example:

“If an independent Scottish state were required to join the Schengen area as part of its EU membership, it would therefore have to implement the border and immigration policies required by the EU. As the UK has no intention of joining the Schengen area, this would involve border controls between Scotland and the continuing UK in order to meet EU rules protecting the security of the Schengen area.” (III 3.46)

And from there it’s only a small step for Project Fear to get to this:

“Joining Europe’s borderless Schengen area could open Scotland’s border up to mass immigration.”

This, as Theresa May knows full well, is utter rubbish. It relies, as so many of the No camp’s arguments do, on normal people’s lack of knowledge of obscure and complex laws (see also: the currency issue). So let’s cut through all the mumbo-jumbo and jargon and lay the plain and simple facts out for the record.

hollandbelgium

What is Schengen?

The Schengen convention is an ‘open borders’ agreement, meaning that anyone within the Schengen area can travel to another country within the Schengen area without passport checks.

Who belongs to the Schengen Area?

There are currently 22 EU countries in the Schengen area and four non-EU countries (Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein). There are also four candidate countries: Cyprus, Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia. The UK and the Republic of Ireland are not part of Schengen. Instead the two countries employ an arrangement known as the Common Travel Area (CTA) allowing passport-free movement between the two.

Why is the UK not part of Schengen?

The UK opted out of the part of the 1999 Treaty of Amsterdam which adopted the Schengen agreement into the EU’s acquis communautaire’. Its justification was that as an island nation it wished to control its borders, particularly since it was a favoured destination for illegal immigrants and asylum seekers. The UK government also disliked the fact that further decisions on expanding Schengen would be decided by qualified majority voting, with no veto.

How does Schengen work?

Schengen countries have a list of third countries from which no visa is required. And for travellers from other countries, consulates from Schengen countries issue 90-day visas for business travel/tourism anywhere within Schengen. Effectively, for visa purposes the entire Schengen area is a single country.

Work permits and residence permits remain firmly in the hands of individual states. (Although there’s a rudimentary ‘blue card’ scheme allowing skilled migrants to work in more than one EU country.)

How is it policed?

Countries in the Schengen area are responsible for enforcing Schengen security. They’re backed by the FRONTEX agency which aims to help strengthen border security, and by a massive database (SISII) which can track criminals and people who have been refused or abused visas.

It’s worth noting that:

-Schengen has absolutely nothing to do with the right of EU citizens to freedom of movement within the EU.

– Schengen has absolutely nothing to do with the right of states to issue residence permits or work permits.

– Schengen at present has absolutely nothing to do with states’ immigration policy. Although there are moves to better coordinate the problem of asylum seekers, attempts to evolve an EU-wide immigration policy are, at best, tentative.

Now, Schengen is not without its problems. Migrants from North Africa and refugees from Syria put huge pressure on Malta and Italy. For years the Greek/Turkish border was seen as ‘porous’. And despite being given the all-clear by the European Commission, France, Germany and Holland consider that Bulgarian and Romanian security is not good enough for those countries to be allowed to join, lest non-EU immigrants use them as an easy “back door” into central Europe.

There are some demands for tougher controls, chiefly from right-wing political parties, but for obvious economic reasons nobody really wants the days of free passage across European borders to come to an end.

Where does an independent Scotland fit in?

The Scottish Government’s current position, expressed in the White Paper, is this:

“There are no circumstances in which the Scottish Government would countenance any measure being taken that jeopardized the ability of citizens across the rest of the UK and Ireland to move freely across our borders as they are presently able to do. It is for this reason that following independence Scotland will remain part of the Common Travel Area (CTA), which dates back to the 1920s.

There are absolutely no grounds to believe that the EU would challenge Scotland remaining part of the CTA rather than joining the Schengen area. The EU has spent all of its 50 or so years of existence seeking to remove borders across the EU. The EU Treaties recognise that membership of the Common Travel Area is not compatible with membership of the Schengen area.”

That’s the obvious and sensible solution. Even if the Scottish Government fails in its argument that Scotland is a continuing member of the EU, and has to renegotiate entry, we could expect the support of the UK and Irish governments in asking for the UK opt-out from Schengen to be extended, and we could expect the EU to recognise the realities on the ground. If sanity and pragmatism prevails – and it usually does in the end – nothing will change.

But let’s take the very worst-case example, where the European Commission digs in its heels and demands we accept Schengen as part of the acquis. Do we then have to build those border posts immediately? This is the case that “Better Together” would have you believe. You have to sign, therefore there will be border posts between Schengen Scotland and the opted-out rUK; therefore your auntie from Newcastle will have to bring her passport.

It’s twaddle for two main reasons. Firstly, consider Cyprus. Cyprus joined the EU in 2004 and signed up to Schengen under the acquis. But, almost 10 years later, it has yet to implement the conditions necessary to become fully part of the scheme. Or consider Bulgaria and Romania, which joined the EU in 2007. For entirely different reasons to Cyprus, these countries are not yet part of Schengen. Yet Cyprus, Bulgaria and Romania are still members of the EU.

The EU has its faults, but lack of flexibility isn’t one of them (one need only look at how it handled the reunification of Germany). Even if it insisted that Scotland accept Schengen in principle, it would recognise that it had good reason for not rushing to implement it, and if it wasn’t implemented the rUK would have no reason for border controls. Much like membership of the Euro, which is obligatory in theory but not in practice (only 17 of 28 member states use the single currency), honour would have been satisfied by accepting the acquis.

What that means in reality is that by the time Scotland was independent in spring 2016, the UK general election of 2015 would be over, and potential immigration across the Scottish-English border would no longer be a hot political issue. Whoever’s in power at Westminster will have no interest in making things difficult between businesses in the rUK and their second-biggest trading partner.

(And if you think politics would win out over the economy, consider the practicalities for a moment. The UK government can’t adequately control its borders now, even with the aid of a 26-mile-wide moat between us and mainland Europe. Do you think it REALLY wants to have to build, and then try to police, a fence from Gretna to Berwick? Can you REALLY picture the Borders as the new West Berlin?)

nlsborder

But secondly, let’s stand things on their head for a moment and look at another angle.

The UK is already losing out badly through not being in the Schengen area. Chinese tourists can get a Schengen visa allowing access to 26 countries for £56, but to visit the UK they need a separate visa costing an additional £80. Not surprisingly, Chinese tourists are not visiting or spending in the UK in the numbers we might expect.

A hasty recent announcement by George Osborne  revealed that cash is more important than principle when it comes to China, but his remedy only goes a little way to solve the problem. It doesn’t address Brazil, India, South Africa or other rapidly-developing countries, and if you start making more exceptions pretty soon you don’t have a rule any more. (There are other areas where the UK is losing out too.)

So pragmatists inside Westminster may already be thinking that it wouldn’t be a bad thing for the UK to join Schengen, especially since the UK’s control of its own borders hasn’t exactly been spectacularly good anyway. And the Irish government would likely be more than happy to join in too. But so long as UKIP remains a threat, it’s politically impossible for any Westminster government to be seen countenancing the idea.

But if an independent Scotland were to join Schengen at some point, the pressure on rUK to do likewise would be hugely increased, and even more so if it pulled out of the European Union in 2017. Joining Schengen might then be the only practical way to keep internal British borders free of passport controls, which – as we’ve already noted above – is what all sides want.

It’s small wonder, then, that Westminster wants to keep Scotland within the Union, so that it can avoid having to confront the issue – and in particular, having to confront it at the 2015 general election. So it frantically ramps up the fear.

But as with so much else in the independence debate, the fear has nothing behind it. In the event of a Yes vote, the rUK would have no interest whatsoever in cutting its own throat to spite its belly. The threat of border posts is an empty one. It is, at the end of the day, just one more scaremongering lie from a campaign that has no other strategies to fall back on.

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    97 to “The Schengen deception”

    1. gordoz says:

      Brilliant Andrew – very easy to follow
      will be using this if you dont mind

    2. NorthBrit says:

      I used to travel a lot for work in the Schengen area.  The contrast was striking between getting straight off the plane and through a turnstile within Schengen and spending half an hour in a Warsaw Pact style queue to present your papers to a surly official on returning to the UK.
       
      That’s not taking account of the unique charm of all those notices threatening you with imprisonment should you offend the apparently mentally fragile staff of the UK Border Agency, which no other country seems to require.

    3. Another scare story filleted.

    4. Bubbles says:

      Great article Andrew. Would it not also be the case that if Scotland were to join Schengen and the rUK didn’t then it would be the responsibility of the rUK to erect any border posts required and not the Scottish government? In effect, it would be Westminster that would be “dividing families” and not the Scots. Have I got that right?

    5. pmcrek says:

      Personally I’m all for joining Schengen.

    6. pmcrek says:

      North Brit,
      Heh, just flying from Glasgow to Heathrow you get two passport checks, two eyeball camera’s and two baggage searches. You’d think you were travelling to a different country 😉
       
       

    7. BeamMeUpScotty says:

      The fear from Westminster is fear of what might happen to their union and as usual nothing to do with Scots welfare.

    8. Bugger (the Panda) says:

      Good article Andrew, but I am not sure whether this sis still in practice but a South African national of my business acquaintance had a US Green Card and lived in Chicago.
      As I lived and worked in France and whenever we needed to meet it was either in Chicago or London. She needed a visa for Schengen but not the UK and I doubt that she had a UK passport as it would have allowed into Schengen countries.
      I often drive to Spain, Barcelona is 4 1/2 hours away and San Sebastian only 2 1/2 hours on the Atlantic side. The Spanish sometimes have random checks, as have the French on the opposite direction but mainly on the Basque side.
      It should be noted that individual countries can suspend their Schengen commitments at the drop of a hat and do so if there are criminals are on away day expeditions. This is the situation now in Geneva when Lyon gangs, often Balkans, creating havoc in Geneva jewellers. Yes Switzerland is a member of Schengen but the current agreement runs out next year and there will be a referendum as to whether to renew the treaty. My contacts there say it probably will not be as Geneva has become less secure, remember we are talking Switzerland here, than it was when  you needed to show your bank account book to get across.
      You still need a passport of an identity card when traveling by plane or sometimes by train to cross Schengen borders.
      The Benelux countries in particular have often no visible border crossing and the only way you know you have crossed a frontier is because of the change of mobile network (very efficient it is too) or quality of the road surface.

    9. tartanfever says:

      Another great article Andrew – easy to understand and sets out the realities of Scotland’s position.

    10. sionnach says:

      Excellent article, Andrew: lucid and informative, laying bare another BT misconception. Why do they continue to believe that a winning argument can be based on the kind of uninformed statements you might overhear in a pub conversation? Are they really saying “You’re an idiot – vote for me”?
       

    11. david says:

      Are they really saying “You’re an idiot – vote for me”?
       
      yes they are, thats the respect being shown to you and me.

    12. sionnach says:

      @david
      That kind of respect I can do without! 🙂
       

    13. ronnie anderson says:

      Andrew,great article but our problem remains the same, getting that information out to the wider population

    14. Ian Brotherhood says:

      @Ronnie-
       
      Saltcoats was a washout. Never mind.
       
      Local gave us a heads-up about a BT meeting later this week – anyone who wants to volunteer to help them? Here’s the griff, but if you do go, make sure and be there early – we all know how jam-packed their gigs are. (May be an idea to bring a good book…)
       
      http://www.bettertogether.net/page/event/detail/localcampaignday/4jvvq

    15. gavin lessells says:

      Myself and one other handed out 1000 Aye Right leaflets in Buchanan St Glasgow this morning. We were joined by young guy and his girl friend half way through.
      Point being that we were inundated by army style patrol of thirty uniformed BT group with newspapers. Well organised and gathered as a group at foot of Concert Hall stairs to be addressed by their leader and a photo call. Military precision although they only stayed about half an hour. They DO have a foot soldiers organised. I think they hailed from Perthshire and  probably arrived by coach
       
       

    16. A2 says:

      They need to bus in to Glasgow from Perthshire? That’s mindboggling!

    17. Barontorc says:

      So these BT foot-soldiers came to Glasgow to do their Christmas shopping did they? I hope they got their expenses courtesy of the blood-money donated by Ian Taylor’s Vitol and illegally kept by BT.
       
      What a hoot – turn up for the bus, get to Glasgow – head for Buchanan St where the shops are – stand about for half an hour and get your photie taken to prove you were there – listen to, or more likely throw a deafie to some chancer talking mince – then head for the boozer – Saturday sorted!
       
      Oh, aye we’re trembling at the sight of them!

    18. Paula Rose says:

      30 – that must have been the entire platoon!

    19. gedboy says:

      gavin lessells
      are you sure it wasnt the salvation army

    20. Andy-B says:

      Very good piece indeed Andrew.
       
       
      Debunking the armed guards and razor wire at the borders myth, which the BT camp would have us believe.
       
       
      If memory serves me, I’m pretty sure Theresa May and her border agency let many people into the UK in 2011/12, due to complete incompitence, May even tried portray herself as innocent in the whole sordid affair.
       
       

    21. Colin Dunn says:

      I think I’m being a bit dense. Can someone clarify, please?

      “The Schengen convention is an ‘open borders’ agreement, meaning that anyone within the Schengen area can travel to another country within the Schengen area without passport checks.”

      Then it says . .

      “It’s worth noting that Schengen has absolutely nothing to do with the right of EU citizens to freedom of movement within the EU.”

      Aren’t these contradictions?

    22. Marcia says:

      When travelling in mainland Europe by car or coach you don’t know you have crossed a border unless the roadside sign is visible. I have often gone from France into Belgium down the minor roads and couldn’t tell where the border is. Sometimes the road surface changes, France has tarmac and so does Wallonia  part of Belgium but the Flanders  part of Belgium like concrete slabs down their minor roads.
      Same when going from Belgium into Germany and then on to Austria not a single Border post.

    23. Bugger (the Panda) says:

      Coliin Dunn
      Not just EU citizens, all citizens, once they are inside a Schengen country.

    24. Colin Dunn says:

      “Not just EU citizens, all citizens, once they are inside a Schengen country.”
      Thanks. Told you I was being dense 😉
        

    25. lumilumi says:

      Thank you, Andrew, for this good piece.
       
      Personally, I’m intensely relaxed about passports and borders. My first trip abroad was to Sweden and Norway when I was 6 years old (mid 1970s). I didn’t need a passport, was quite dissapointed about that – it wasn’t like going properly abroad. (We had the Nordic common travel area back then) 😀
       
      Since then, I’ve travelled here and there and showing my Finnish and then Finnish/EU passport is no problem. The problem I have is that the border guys in Europe (including GB) usually never give you a stamp in your passport to have a souvenir and something to show off to your friends.
       
      I’m very proud of my entry and exit stamps from New Zealand in my old passport, but my pride and joy is an entry stamp to the USSR and exit stamp from Eesti Vabariik two days later! (I happened to be in Tallinn, Estonia, on the very day the Soviet Union recognised Estonian independence!)
       
      Common sense dictates that indy Scotland would not join Schengen immediately but woud remain in the CTA. Things could get messy if the rUK leaves the EU, Scotland and Ireland would then have to be more vigilant at their borders. But that wouldn’t be Scotland’s fault, and rUK cannot expect to dictate what happens at iScotland’s borders.

    26. ronnie anderson says:

      IanBrotherhood, thanks Ian a we bit out of my area, onny way Im fur a Lumbar puncture on the 10/12 Im not a 100% as yet , sos to hear things didnt pan out for yous today but plenty times tae come, cheers

    27. Holebender says:

      Colin Dunn, EU citizens can travel freely throughout the EU. There are some border formalities to cross from the UK to Schengen, but no visa requirement or impediment for EU citizens.

    28. DougtheDug says:

      Colin Dunn:
       
      The right to free movement doesn’t mean that countries are obliged to stop checking your passport at the border however Schengen means that there are no border checks between countries in the Schengen agreement.
       
      As an EU citizen you have the right to live and work in any EU country. Schengen is just about the strictness of border controls.

    29. lumilumi says:

      @ Colin Dunn, 4.21pm
       
      Schengen and EU are not the same thing.
       
      True, most EU countries are in Schengen but not all EU countries are in Schengen (UK, Ireland, Croatia, Romania, Bulgaria, Cyprus) and Schengen also includes non-EU countries such as Switzerland, Iceland and Norway.
       
      I suppose Norway signed up for Schengen because the Nordic countries (Finland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Iceland) had had a common travel area (no pasports) for decades by then. It would’ve been counter-intuitive to separate the Nordic countries and impose border controls.

    30. kininvie says:

      @BTP: 
       
      South Africans need a visa for Schengen, and also for UK, so far as I am aware:
       
      http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/view/visa.form
       
      Schengen countries are allowed to carry out occasional identity checks (there are several websites with comments about how certain police forces are using these as quasi border controls) and, as you say, they are allowed to reimpose border controls on a temporary basis – typically for some large sporting event or similar occasion. There was a recent notorious incident where the Italians gave several thousand North Africans residence permits and then stuck them on trains to France. The French turned them back. (It’s all been smoothed over now).
       
      The other thing to note about Schengen is that internal identity checks are quite common (e.g. a lot of hotels still ask for passports/ID), so even if Scotland were part of Schengen, you would still be wise to carry ID.
       
      At the Treaty of Amsterdam negotiations, the UK made something of a song and dance about how they had no internal ID requirement, so needed to be able to carry out all checks at the border.  This was rather shot when Blunkett introduced the infamous Identity card (something I was prepared to go to the barriers against) – but I wouldn’t feel so bad about carrying a Scottish ID card, provided we had rigorous supervision of the uses to which the data was put.
       
      The Swiss case is interesting. I was mildly astonished that Switzerland joined Schengen in the first place, and I’m not entirely surprised they are having second thoughts. Schengen is far from being a perfect system, but it is improving year by year.
       
      @ Bubbles
       
      This is where it gets complicated!  If Scotland were fully part of Schengen, but rUK wasn’t, it would be Scotland’s responsibility to police the Schengen border. If Scotland were fully within Schengen and rUK withdrew from EU, then that responsibilty would remain, but additionally rUK citizens would presumably have to join the non-EU passport queue. If Scotland was not part of Schengen, but part of the EU (with a CTA) and then rUK withdrew from EU, you could certainly argue that setting up border posts would be the fault of Westminster for withdrawing. But in all these cases diplomacy could well create acceptable solutions.
       
      However, the only absolutely certain way to keep the British Isles free of border controls under any forseeable circumstances is for rUK to join Schengen (whether as part of EU or not).
       
      If rUK withdraws from EU, you would think there would be quite enough nightmares for its citizens who regularly travel, work,  live or have second homes in the EU without having to add the pleasure of internal border controls in the British Isles. But who knows? Maybe rUK will relish being about the only country west of Ukraine to cower behind its own borders? Personally, I think anyone south of the border entitled to Scottish citizenship or to dual nationality would be well advised to take up the offer.  It might just save a world of pain when it comes to European travel

    31. DougtheDug says:

       kininvie:
       
      If the rUK pulls out of the EU I suspect that what they will do is join the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and the European Economic Area (EEA) agreement.
       
      The EEA agreement gives the signatory countries the right to the free movement of goods, services, persons and capital throughout the EEA States. In other words Scotland, Ireland and the rUK could continue the common travel area outside Schengen quite happily.
       
      The border problems will occur if rUK pulls out of the EU and the EEA and goes it alone. I don’t think even UKIP would be that stupid.

    32. Albert Herring says:

      EFTA won’t want rUK. It’s far too big.

    33. handclapping says:

      The way the pound is going there will be border controls around the Sterling Area run by HMRC on behalf of the Bank of England. I remember as a wee lad after the war (the second, BtP, the second!) we were sent on holiday to the South of France to get sunshine and not rickets and we were grilled on the way out as to did we have more than £50 on us, £50 was the deposit on a good house for heavens sake, what would a wee Scots laddie be doing with £50, and then on the way back in did we have any foreign notes and if so they had to be changed to sterling before we could go home. I had a Vichy franc coin as a memento but its probably got lost in the flittings since then.

    34. DougtheDug says:

      Albert Herring:
       
      EFTA won’t want rUK. It’s far too big.
       
      Since the EEA agreement is between the EU and EFTA and the EFTA countries are already trading in the EU I’m not sure why the rUK administratively shifting from the EU to EFTA would cause any problems.

    35. Albert Herring says:

      Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, Liechtenstein & rUK would be a tad unbalanced don’t you think? Can’t see them taking on such a dominant partner.

    36. DougtheDug says:

      Albert Herring:
       
      I don’t think you understand. There is already free movement of goods, services, persons and capital between the EFTA members Iceland, Norway, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and the UK under the EEA.
       
      The rUK or the UK switching from the EU to EFTA changes nothing for these countries’ economies.

    37. scottish_skier says:

      OT, but…
       
      Cannae believe Magnus Gardham has written this. Maybe he’s woken up to the fact that it doesn’t matter that he’s a strong unionist and was planning to vote No. You can be as British as you like; you’ll still get shafted too if Scotland votes no. It’s not like they’ll sift through the ballot box and reward all the No voters with something while punishing the Yes. 
       
      Relates to the Westminster all party Taxation group report .
       
      The £4bn ‘cut threat’ plays into SNP hands
       
      http://archive.is/TFvsC
       
      An obscure report, however, published by the All-Party Parliamentary Taxation Group which Mr Liddell-Grainger chairs, has furnished Mr Salmond with his latest weapon in the independence battle.
       
      The report recommends that, if Scots vote to remain in the UK next year, the decades-old Barnett Formula used to calculate funding for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland should be scrapped and replaced by new system that better reflects the different nations’ needs. For Mr Salmond, that means a £4 billion cut to Scotland’s block grant, a stark warning of the danger of voting No next September.

    38. Bubbles says:

      Thanks for the explanation Kininvie but I still don’t get it. Surely if Scotland is in Schengen and Schengen effectively means open borders, but England doesn’t join Schengen then isn’t the onus on them to police a border? What am I missing?

    39. Bugger (the Panda) says:

      bubbles
      It means passports at Gretna and loads of potential tailbacks at Carlisle.
      If the bastards wanted to play silly buggers they could block the border for hours, if not days on end. Remember we are talking swivel eyed UKIPers
      Think Gibraltar and Spain. Think Andorra into Spain or France.

    40. john king says:

      Why are the news channels reporting that the first year of independence would see a drop in income to the tune of 4 billion due to the loss of the Barnett payments this equates exactly to the proposed reduction in the formula should we remain in the UK,   do these people think we button up the back?  

    41. DougtheDug says:

      john king:
       
      Yes

    42. Holebender says:

      Bubbles, Schengen means no internal borders. There are still border controls at the points of entry into Schengen, so Scotland would need to police the crossing points from non-Schengen rUK to Schengen Scotland.
       
      Doug the Dug, there’s a world of difference between EFTA trading with rUK and EFTA having rUK within its membership. Think of England’s domination of the smaller UK members and translate that to EFTA.

    43. Papadocx says:

      John king 7:01 pm
      As I have tried to point out previously, the only oil ever mentioned is North Sea oil. This is an old political/diplomatic trick to minimise a problem area Which doesn’t suite your argument. Scotland will have access to all Scotland’s hydrocarbon reserves, which the BT & HMG don’t want on the radar for very obvious reasons. Even to the point where oil discovered in the Atlantic basin is constantly referred to as North Sea fields. (Untrue)
       
      There are very strong reports that the West coast of Scotland has VAST oil potential much larger than the North Sea. So it is only after a NO vote will this information leak out, lucky for HMG & BT, or maybe just another sucessful con job, Westminster & London will just have to spend it for us on HS2, Trident, nuclear power stations and pouring more infra structure into SE & London. 
       
      Scotland and the daft jocks can just lick their wounds again! The NO mob can sit back and admire HMG and be proud of London for its effort and wealth and not like Scotlands stupid people who can’t do the things London and the ruling classes can achieve off the backs of Scotland. 
       
      Once you you have signed the NO pledge you will be well and truly f*****

    44. Jingly Jangly says:

      John King
      Funny enough our “share” of the UK National Debt comes to 4.5bn therefore as most of it should be traded for Assets outwith Scotland which we don’t need or want, then we will save most of the 4bn so our books will be more than balanced as we will no longer be paying for the scores of things which we get charged for as part of the UK. English Courts and prison running costs for example. Off course the oil revenues will be based on the OBR’s rate which seems to have confused the difference between pounds and dollars!!!! Off course it is saying that we will still have Barnet post independence when all the signs are that that will not be the case
      And even if we did have a 4bn deficit its still about half of the UK’s predicted deficit!!!!
       

    45. Papadocx says:

      Should anyone think this iis a figment of my imagination due to the fact that no oil companies report the results of a lot of surveying that these oil companies carried out many years ago. These oil companies are some of the most secretive organisations in the world. You are talking of billions of £ and they don’t let that information go for free. 20 years ago they had North Sea projects to keep them busy. The recovery systems for tapping the deeper fields in the Atlantic basin were still evolving. Then of course there are reports of large field in the clyde between Arran and Ardrossan which the MOD block for operational reasons.

    46. DougtheDug says:

      Holebender:
       
      Think of England’s domination of the smaller UK members and translate that to EFTA.

      As I’ve pointed out already the EFTA states are already in a single market with the UK under the EEA.

      Your comparison with the UK and EFTA is completely invalid as the UK is a unitary state where Scotland, Wales and NI are regions within it while EFTA is a trade agreement where each country gets exactly one vote.

      CONVENTION ESTABLISHING THE EUROPEAN FREE TRADE ASSOCIATION
      CHAPTER XVI : INSTITUTIONAL PROVISIONS, ARTICLE 43, Para. 2.
      Each Member State shall be represented in the Council and shall have one vote.

    47. Papadocx says:

      This would completely change the dynamics of the referendum debate. It would Stand it on its head, It would be all over.  For goodness sake waken up Scotland!

    48. JLT says:

      Border controls inside the nations of the UK was always perceived as utter nonsense. What is angering, is that the BT mob have hinted or suggested, that an independent Scotland would suffer from mass uncontrolled immigration.
       
      The question is …from where????
       
      The only land border that Scotland has is with England …the very country that has allowed mass immigration to run out of control! To be haughtily told, by the very nation that has allowed rampant uncontrolled immigration to take place, is a bit like Charlie Sheen educating you on how to use drink and drugs properly!
       
      The only nation that mass immigration is going to come from …is England!

    49. Jingly Jangly says:

      Papadox
      No Field between Ardrossan and Arran the area that was surveyed, but not drilled is south of arran, if you go due south from Kildonan and stop opposite Sanda then you are in the general area, now why that area is thought to contain oil and gas reserves and no other is beyond me, perhaps they have not carried out a proper survey due to the MOD not being happy. If you look at the North Sea fields they are generally north of the highland fault line and the one south of Arran is south of the highland fault line which runs through the middle of Arran. So you would presume that there is the possibility of oil North of the Highland fault line and there are indeed rumours of oil and gas reserves in whats called the Rockall basin off Barra. This is why there is currently a dispute between the Irish Govt and the UK Govt regarding the maritime boundary and presumably why you get ex special forces spending a night or two on Rockall and flying the butchers apron.

    50. Alex Cox says:

      Here’s a statistic that is rarely mentioned, but one which should be highlighted by Yes Campaigners, if only to give a little context to the currency debate, and given you’ve mentioned above just how Cameron and Osborne are bending every which way to accommodate China in visa issues, here it is:

      Value of English exports to China: approx: £11 billion.
      Value of English exports to Scotland: approx £50 billion. 
      Though I’ve also seen figures of £80 billion quoted.

    51. kalmar says:

      NorthBrit says:
      I used to travel a lot for work in the Schengen area.  The contrast was striking between getting straight off the plane and through a turnstile within Schengen and spending half an hour in a Warsaw Pact style queue to present your papers to a surly official on returning to the UK.
       
      That’s not taking account of the unique charm of all those notices threatening you with imprisonment should you offend the apparently mentally fragile staff of the UK Border Agency, which no other country seems to require.”

      Hear Hear!  Returning through Edinburgh airport is always a particularly unwelcoming experience, I find.  Another upside to independence if we can do without the scowling cops with machineguns at the border, thanks.
       

    52. caz-m says:

      @John king

      The link below will show you how close the IFS, the OBR and the Tory party are.

      They are nothing more than a plaything for George Osbourne

      @http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1310493/Think-tank-boss-Robert-Chote-unveiled-head-spending-watchdog-OBR.html

    53. caz-m says:

      I see also that BBC Scotland are running with the latest scare story from Glasgow University think tank the CPPR.

      It’s mouthpiece is Ex Labour Party advisor Prof. John McLaren. Him of Newsnight Scotland fame, loved by Gordon Brewer. Other members of the CPPR are also ex Labour members and staunch Naysayers.

      Any positive input from any outsider will be totally ignored.

      Prof. McLaren has got to be the most doom laden economist that you will ever hear in your life. According to him, we would be just as well rolling up into a ball and die.

      He must be the life and soul of all the office parties.

      Here is a picture of him so you can put a face to the name.

      http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_NCdX-k-on2c/Sivx164td2I/AAAAAAAACG0/Mlus-JWXB3k/s400/droopy_dog_happy.jpg

    54. southernscot says:

      O/T just seen the Visit Scotland ad.
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E8eDB3IRx4A
      Made me chuckle.

    55. Jon D says:

      @southernscot says
      Well, While we’re at it:- the Lonely Planet ad
       
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=We5VcWynJh0

    56. Ian Brotherhood says:

      The traffic is thin tonight…this is worth a watch. Some great snaps, and a good tune too from Citizen Smart –
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=06F6BGksaeE

    57. call me dave says:

      Ian Brotherhood
      Thanks enjoyed that. Brought back memories of the day.
      Still to actually see my physiognomy  on any stuff though.

    58. Jock McDonnell says:

      Gavin Lessels: I think we will see more of the BT flash mob, that is their tactic to give a presence because they are short of bodies. Yes must do likewise, we have the troops.

    59. Caroline Corfield says:

      @jingly jangly  most oil and gas is to be found in the Scottish continental shelf within graben structures. The geology onshore does not continue offshore as the land has fallen in prehistoric times, flooding and thereby protecting the oil and gas bearing rocks from the erosion that happened to them onshore. West of Shetland for example is a large graben structure, and there is plenty to suggest that a graben exists within the Firth of Clyde, which was also an area which saw a failed rupture during the creation of the Atlantic Ocean, so while onshore there are numerous igneous dyke and sill swarms, offshore there is a good chance that sedimentary rocks, bearing oil and possibly gas exist. The BGS produced a series of books on the coastal geology of the British Isles, and included evidence from test wells as much as they could access. Oil companies are at the stage where they will look absolutely everywhere possible, and the UK continental shelf is very probable. ( unfortunately for the Welsh the wells drilled in the St.George’s channel were dry) 

    60. Ian Brotherhood says:

      @Peter –
       
      re ‘Whisky Kiss’.
       
      That is just superb. I was in tears by the end of it – fantastic.

    61. Bugger (the Panda) says:

      I B
      You on the very best cider you can lift at Tesco?

    62. Marcia says:

      Another video, this time from Common Weal;
       
      http://allofusfirst.com/videos/all-of-us-first/

    63. Ian Brotherhood says:

      @BTP –
       
      Nae such luck. Morrison’s own stuff. Not bad, but I’m not sure how closely acquainted it has ever been with actual apples.
       
      Seriously though, stuff like that Whisky Kiss video just gets to me – seeing talented people like that, and so happy with it. Makes you feel there’s no way we can lose this thing – then you come back to earth with a crash when you hear the latest shite from the naysayers.

    64. Ian Brotherhood says:

      @Marcia –
       
      FFS!
       
      Just got me eyes dried after Whisky Kiss! Now I can hardly see the screen, blinded, snotters streaming!
       
      Cheers!

    65. Bill C says:

      Re oil off the West Coast: I think I mentioned this a few days ago.  I was talking to a fellow who drilled for oil off Barr in the seventies, he said they hit oil and were producing 10,000 barrels a day for a fortnight, then all of a sudden, they were told to shut up shop, no explanation given. I really think that this issue must be investigated at a very high level within the YES movement. If we could prove without a doubt that there were substantial reserves of oil and gas off our West Coast a YES vote would be a shoo in. I would be more than happy to join a working party to share information etc. if anyone was interested.
      Interesting link here:www.thescotsview.com/2013/08/atlantic-exploration-heralds-new-oil.html

    66. Edward says:

      Something to ponder – In tomorrows Observer a revelation that Blairites will be heavily involved in Labour’s 2015 election campaign
      All through Douglas Alexander
      http://archive.is/cnUsJ

    67. Jingly Jangly says:

      Caroline Corfield
      Cheers, that explains things better, Off course we in Arran were drifting about the area now know as Dubai  a wee while back, still have lizards footprints from that time on rock at Blackwaterfoot, maybe we picked up some oil as well!!!! wst
       

    68. Marcia says:

      Sunday Herald front page;
      http://twitpic.com/dnxk53
      also
       
      Our columnist Ian Bell goes toe-to-toe with Gideon as he lays into George Osborne and the autumn statement in tmrw’s paper.
      Workers should sit on company boards to avoid another Grangemouth says the Reid Foundation… plus Common Weal gets a make-over.
      Scots UKIP boss heaps praise on Geert Wilders, the Dutch Islam-baiting politician who called the Koran fascist … in tomorrow’s paper.
      Special report – A tale of two prisons: investigating what the closure of Peterhead and Aberdeen prisons means for Scotland.
      New York goes nuts for Scottish fabrics …
       
       

    69. caz-m says:

      @Jock McDonnell

      Brilliant idea Jock. I was out leafleting today with another six, but would be up for hitting a different area every weekend if the YES Campaign would organize it.

      If we could get round about 100 or so hitting problem areas, it would get the message home to a lot of undecided voters.

      Best idea of the day so far jock. I will put the idea forward to “YES” and see what they think of it.

      Would be great if others contact “YES SCOTLAND”.

    70. call me dave says:

      Wee Dougie Alexander has been quiet for a while.  He’s been thinking of a reason to keep the union.  Here is his cunning plan.
       
      http://archive.is/SVfIf
       

    71. The Man in the Jar says:

      @Peter
      @Ian Brotherhood
      Aye that Whisky Kiss hit the spot! 
       
      Reminded me a wee bit of Martyn Bennett but a bit easier to digest. I`m away to play it again. 🙂

    72. Peter says:

      the whisky kiss video is so positive and uplifting and should be shared as much as possible,

    73. The Man in the Jar says:

      @Peter
      Spot on. Thats the kind of Scotland that I want to live in.
       
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U6UabZV94is

    74. caz-m says:

      @call me dave

      Never trust a word that wee rodent Alexander says.

      Just ask his sister how loyal he is.

      Labour are all over the place at the moment. They don’t know if they are New Labour, Old Labour, Scottish Labour or just Red Tories.

      It doesn’t matter who is running Westminster, It’s a race to the bottom.

    75. Peter says:

      the man in the jar, exactly the type of Scotland the unionists hate it would seem.

    76. The Man in the Jar says:

      @call me dave.
      That should come with some kind of warning. I think that I got about a quarter of the way through wee Dougies “plan” before giving up. What a load of hypocritical guff. I could almost hear “Land of Hope and Glory” playing in the background.

    77. Ian Brotherhood says:

      @call me dave –
       
      Just read wee Dougie’s article.
       
      The man is a fine rhetorician. Some of his spiel is Obamaesque.
       
      But here’s where he shows his underpants:
       
      ‘When the Nationalists suggest their sole motivation is fairness they ignore whole parts of their record and whole parts of the UK. Wales, Northern Ireland and great cities like Liverpool, Newcastle and Manchester find no place amidst a cultural conceit that holds that everyone south of the Tweed is an austerity-loving Tory.’
       
      It’s as cheap a shot as anyone could muster, and undermines all his fine words about ‘Solidarity’.  Lest we forget – this is the guy who dissed his own sister when push came to shove. He is eloquent, for sure, and superficially credible, but it don’t take much digging to find the real measure of the man.
       
      He is a baw-‘Bahg’ – he has no genuine input to offer, and should be ignored.

    78. The Man in the Jar says:

      @Peter
      Aye the nawsayers have no sense of fun whatsoever. Remember according to Lord Robertson Scots “don`t have any culture or anything like that”
       
      I am looking forward to Celtic Connections. I think that there will be lots of Yes positivity around the venues.

    79. Ian Brotherhood says:

      @caz-m & jock –
       
      Aye. A flash ‘Yes’ squad.
       
      I’m still dreaming that we could get our hands on the penguin suits that Irn Bru used when they were promoting the brand in Russia. If you haven’t see the vid, it’s brilliant:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QAFSDcugrXM

    80. TJenny says:

      That picture of wee Duggy with bridge in the background, halo-esque around his head – delusions of something going on there, but not sure what.  Certainly not sainthood.

    81. Ian Brotherhood says:

      @T Jenny –
       
      Aye, and in the video version you can see wee cars driving in one ear and coming out the other, none the wiser.

    82. caz-m says:

      Quote from Douglas Alexander,

      “Struggle, solidarity and social justice – three things that mean for me, we as Scots do better together as part of the family of nations within the UK than we do alone”.

      Where was the solidarity and social justice during the debate to abolish the Bedroom Tax. 10 of you never bothered turning up for it.

      Where is the struggle. MP’s are giving themselves an 11% (ELEVEN) pay increase on Thursday.

      What he is really saying is that if you vote YES then him and all his parasite mates will be made redundant.

      Ask yourself, what do they actually do for SCOTLAND.

      Getting rid of Alexander, Davidson, Sarwar and Co is as good a reason as any for voting Yes.

    83. TJenny says:

      Ian Brotherhood – chortling with glee – that was so very funny. 🙂  Thanx

    84. Morag says:

      For those who were asking about the photo of Mandela with Megrahi, on the other thread, John Ashton has posted a colour version and more on his blog.
       
      http://www.megrahiyouaremyjury.net/?p=927

    85. twenty14 says:

      Re: Whisky Kiss video. watched it about 5 times now. This is the sort of music set to a Independent Scotland perspective that would catch on here and abroad. Some techy guys get to it

    86. Training Day says:

      BT’s flash mob..

      Didn’t see them, but..based on the only BT footsoldiers I’ve met so far we’re going to have to address the real elephant in the room sooner rather than later..and it ain’t going to be easy or palatable..

    87. call me dave says:

      Passport anyone?  Not a new idea apparently.
      http://archive.is/DR5AQ

    88. Alba4Eva says:

      Thank you Andrew. I will also be sending this to anyone who comes out with these fears in conversation.

    89. deewal says:

      @Training Day BT’s flash mob is nothing. Next year Glasgow and Stirling are going to be Occupied by the British Armed Forces.
      Hope y’all ready for that one.
      283 days to turn it around.
      I’ll get me’ passport.

    90. jdman says:

      call me dave says
      “Still to actually see my physiognomy  on any stuff though.”
       
      I didn’t see you in those pictures, 🙁
       but then I don’t know what you look like 🙂
      but didn’t see myself either 🙁
      and I know what I look like 🙂
      the wife says that’s not a thing to brag about 🙁

    91. john king says:

      Peter says
      “unrelated but positive ”
      If your not tapping your feet listening to that your either in a full body stookie or yer deid
      Imaging a white Heather Club at new new year with that lot?
      Andy Stewart would be birlin in his grave (break dancin that is)

      Those guys deserve a break!
      a’ll get ma plaid 🙁

    92. john king says:

      The Man in the Jar says
      “I think that I got about a quarter of the way through wee Dougies “plan” before giving up. ”
      I didn’t even get that far my eyes glazed over in the third sentence.

    93. Ken500 says:

      The UK gov is operating separate Borders illegal surveillance along with the US. Border agencies are operating in Scotland on behalf of the UK gov. Harassing Indian cooks, salsa instructors, and young children. Why? As easy targets to keep the numbers up. How much is it costing Scottish taxpayers and the Scottish economy. Scotland needs migrant workers to support the Scottish economy NHS, care sector, fishing, farming sector and the Oil sector etc. Scottish workers work all over the world.

      Westminster has depopulated Scotland because of the London centric economic policies. Thatcher and the Gov of BoE believed ‘unemployment in the North is a price worth paying for jobs and prosperity in the south’. Thatcher misappropriated Scottish Oil revenues and funded projects in London S/E. Thatcher spent equivalent of £Billions on Canary Wharf, Tilbury Docks etc, taking jobs away from areas around the rest of Britain, closing manufacturing facilities and the mines. Coal is now cheaper than gas. Thatcher cancelled a Oil Pipe wasting the equivalent of £Billions of Gas. The Clearances and migration because of unemployment/lack of jobs. Scotland has a 40 million diaspora all over the world. Australia, US, Canada NZ etc. In 1707 Scotland had 25% of the UK population . (would be 15million now) Now it has 9%. Scotland’s population has only risen since Devolution reason migrants go to London S/E is because of lower unemployment (4%), that is where they are more likely to get a job. Westminster protects and funds disproportionately the Banking sector and the London S/E economy, through tax evasion etc. Westminster foreign policy destablises countries and areas in the rest of the world increasing migration by Illegal wars etc,

      The Middle East has been destabilised by the Balfour Agreement, leading to the apartheid State
      of Israel. Poland was handed to Russian dominance at Yalta Agreement after 11WW. Britain
      should trade and give Aid, but not invade. The $6Trillion cost of the Iraq/Afgan invasion would
      have paid for an education system in Afganistan, Pakistan, Britain and the US. The US is now
      $18trn in debt. The world economy could still go over the cliff, taken down by the US economy.
      The US/UK governments are illegally surveilling their own citizens and other countries. Yet they could not find Bin Laden for ten years. A total waste of time, resouces and funding that could be better spent elsewhere, or reducing the colossal debt.

    94. Ken500 says:

      Even if Scotland was in the Schengen area within the EU, there could still be a common travel area with the rest of the UK.

      Migrants go to London S/E because of the lower umemployment (4%) that is more likely to get a job. London S/E economy is protected by Westminster centralist policies. 70% of people in Scotland want fiscal autonomy and more powers.

      The argument could be used by Scottish gov that, ‘it is UK foreign/economic policies which have led to increased migration in the UK’. All countries in the world have migration. It is the History of the world. Countries becoming Independent is the history of the world.

    95. Ken500 says:

      People in the UK have EU passports. There are separate lines for people coming from the rest of the world. The US has separate entrance lines for it’s citizens. India has retaliated against Britain for tighting regulations for Indian citizens visiting Britain. People now need Visas for travelling in Indian watersc affecting trade and travel. The Iraqi/Afgan wars make world travel and trade more difficult and expensive. No flights are allowed over these areas.



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