Category Archives: The EU Referendum

Oh Ma Heid…Unionism and Cognitive Dissonace

On Thursday night I went to bed comforted by the sight of Nigel Farage conceding defeat  in the European referendum. I awoke on Friday to find that Nigel had been a tad hasty and that the Leave campaign had indeed snatched victory. Within a few hours David Cameron had announced that he wouldn’t be staying to clear up the mess he had created. Shortly after that Nicola Sturgeon had announced that a second Scottish independence referendum was now very much on the table.

wp-1467087243838.jpg
Welcome to Britain. Still proud to be British?

Previously I had noted that the EU referendum had never really got off the ground in Scotland. I myself saw it as England’s referendum; England’s arguments about by and large England’s problems. Front and centre was the immigration debate. The polite argument about being able to control borders, about being able to plan for services and housing was a fig leaf for an undercurrent of racism, and that fig leaf dropped off on Friday when a Leave victory was announced. In the days that have followed the racism and hatred that was hidden spewed forth. Messages posted on doors and lamp posts that “Polish Vermin should go home”. T-shirts worn proudly calling to “SEND THEM BACK”. A gathering of right wing English patriots in Newcastle waved a banner calling for an end to immigration and for the start of repatriation. The message was clear. Migrants, immigrants, Muslims, foreigners, call them what you will, aren’t welcome.

The message given out in Scotland was, like the vote itself, completely different to the vote in England and Wales. Scotland is your home, and you are welcome. Personal experience and the experiences of other Scots in England shows that in many quarters the Scots are viewed in the same light as any other foreigner. We are as unwelcome and as hated as the Poles and the Romanians. More so if the Daily Mail comments section is anything to go by.

wp-1467087175156.jpg
Sunday Herald 260616

The links between the hard line unionists in Scotland and the right wing in England are strong. The sharing of Britain First imagery, the emphasis on the union flag, the poppy, “our boys”, and the monarchy, these are common links, strong common bonds. So it’s no surprise to see that some of the most vehement opposition to the EU in Scotland has come from this quarter. I’ve heard the arguments about how undemocratic it is to have another country ruling over us, about how undemocratic it is being ruled over by an unelected elite, and about how undemocratic it is to have an unelected EU President.

Yet these same individuals will see no wrong in being ruled over by an unelected monarch. They will see no wrong in our political system now comprising more unelected Lords than elected MP’s. They see no wrong in having a Parliament in another country set the laws in this country. In fact not only will they see no wrong in these things but they will actively argue for these principles, while failing to recognise that principles cannot be dropped when they don’t suit. In the words of Groucho Marx “Those are my principles. If you don’t like them, I have others”.

If democracy is your principle, defend it.

If unelected politicians are an affront to democracy, stand up against them.

If unelected heads of state are incompatible with democracy then campaign to have an elected head of state.

If you agree that the people best placed to make the laws in a country are the people who live there, then fight for their right to do so.

And if you think that all those things should apply across the globe except in Scotland then you are neither principled nor democratic. You are British, you are a hypocrite, and you aren’t a Scot.

The ITV Debate and Brexit: Deja-Vu All Over Again

Letter to The National

Dear Sir,

I watched the most recent ITV debate with a mixture of deja-vu and disgust. During the independence referendum we had all the scare stories thrown at us; that jobs would be at risk, investment would be at risk, that trade and immigration barriers would be erected, that freedom of movement would be lost or restricted, and that old favourite; the uncertainty. I heard all of those arguments aired again, and sadly Nicola Sturgeon stooped to the level where even she was using them. Were it not for the possibility that a Scottish Remain vote might trigger a new independence referendum then I am convinced that Scottish Remain support would be far less than it currently is.
Likewise I heard all the opposing views rehashed; No clear plan, that assertions and aspirations can’t be guaranteed. All that was missing was the currency and the oil. It galls me to see the likes of Boris Johnson speaking about the unfairness of seeing our money go out to receive crumbs back, about unelected politicians ruling over us and about controlling our own destiny. To him these AREN’T principles, for if they were they would have surely have championed them when Scotland sought them!

Two things about the ITV debate grated with me more than anything else. The first is the idea which was floated that by staying in the EU we can somehow reform it. That, I’m afraid is Vow grade nonsense. We are voting to either remain or leave an evolving project, where we can be constantly outvoted on any issue, much like Scottish MP’s at Westminster. Reforming the EU is simply not on the table.

The second issue which I took extreme issue with was the view made by Angela Eagle MP: that we need to immigrants to do the jobs we won’t. Previously the argument for immigration was that we needed to bring in skilled workers to fill the “skills gap”. Clearly this gap has been filled now that Ms Eagle’s argument is the most oft used nowadays. How utterly crushing must it be for unemployed people who would desperately take a job, any job, to be told by some MP on a fat salary plus expenses that they don’t want to work? I’ve recently met a French woman stacking shelves in a supermarket, a Spaniard serving coffee and a Polish man working in a bar serving beer. Are we to seriously believe that unemployed Scots don’t want these jobs? Of course they do! But when employers switch from employing a local workforce to an immigrant workforce you can be damn sure it isn’t because the locals no longer want to work. Businesses do so because they have found a new pool of people they view as easily exploited; less knowledgeable of their rights, less likely to become trade unionised and more easily coerced to accept poorer terms and conditions.
Immigration isn’t a bad thing, and within the EU it works both ways, but often it is simply exploited by big business. That’s to be expected. Few business people make money by being nice or fair or generous. But for politicians to paint our need for immigration as a result of our unwillingness to work, that just isn’t on.

Yours Sincerely,

James Cassidy

 

Jim Sillars and the EU

image

Letter to The National, 31/05/16
 
Dear Sir, 

 
Jim Sillars has been received much coverage in recent days for his anti-EU views, most recently where he stated that the SNP’s position doesn’t add up. In my view it is some of Jim Sillars claims on the EU which simply don’t add up, and I suspect that he is being given column inches and airtime on the basis of the position in Scottish politics that he once had in order to attack the SNP and by extension the independence movement.

Mr Sillars claims that if an independent Scotland were to apply to join the EU they would be rebuffed, and I quote “as they were in 2014”. Call me Mr Pedantic but while various bigwigs within the EU said that that would be the case (Mr Barroso springs to mind) the EU as an organisation was never asked the question directly, because that privilege is retained by the UK government. They refused to ask it out of fear of what the answer would be, so Scotland was never rebuffed at any time, and the question remains unanswered.

Mr Sillars also claimed that a BREXIT vote was not a trigger to a second independence referendum as this was not specifically stated in the 2016 manifesto. I’m pretty certain that the term “significant and material change in circumstances” kind of covers that, unless Mr Sillars believes Scotland being taken out of the EU if it votes to remain is insignificant and immaterial. 

As someone who has voted for the No2EU party in the past I am more than receptive to arguments about why the EU is failing and about why it may be virtually impossible to reform it from within. However I would like those arguments to be honest arguments, and not inaccurate ones which are voiced for short term gain which will no doubt be used both now and in future by those forces opposed to Scottish independence. 

Yours Sincerely, 

James Cassidy

BREXIT and Indyref 2

Letter to The National: 24th April 2016

Dear National,

We are not even two years down the line from Indyref and in that time while the SNP have managed to attract a large and vocal contingent of the Yes vote, as well as many people who have come over to support the SNP possibly out of a sense of shame at their No vote, especially after seeing what it delivered; EVEL and the pig in a poke of the Scotland Bill. But the main concerns which failed to convince the floating No voter remain. Competent and effective government is simply not enough to convince them.
The SNP have spent the time since September 2014 focussing on consolidating their position in government, some would say to the detriment of the independence campaign as a whole. This is set to continue until after the council elections in 2017, and I see no major move towards a referendum before that date, regardless of the EU referendum result. The SNP manifesto which launched last week cited the UK voting to leave the EU as a possible trigger to a new referendum on Scottish independence. It seems to me that many, many Scots are pinning their hopes on this happening, however should this happen I believe however that it is no guarantee that a referendum could be won. Imagine if Scots overwhelmingly vote Remain, while RUK votes Leave and this is used as reason to trigger a referendum. Should Scots subsequently vote No we would be in the most bizarre limbo, where the only possible interpretation of that result would be that we wish to be in the EU with the UK, or out with the UK, but not independent within the EU! We cannot be bounced from one extreme to the other, and I believe that a Scottish Remain vote should not be viewed as a possible referendum trigger, but as a de facto referendum vote, and that the Scottish Government should view this as such. If we vote Remain and the UK votes Leave then declare our independence. No Indyref 2 please, just independence.

Yours Sincerely,

James Cassidy

The EuroVow

*Terms and Conditions may apply...
*Terms and Conditions may apply…

“Fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.”

George W Bush

 

So David Cameron is looking to make it two wins out of two with his latest wheeze: The Vow Mk11 or EuroVow.

A cobbled together series of allowances, clarifications and distractions that will do for now, long enough to help him over the finishing line with an In vote. All of which can be removed at some point in the future.

The Scottish Independence referendum in 2014 saw us asked to vote on whether Scotland should or should not remain part of the political union that is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. For the best part of two years the debate was on the merits or otherwise of independence; the principles of either self determination of having decisions made on your behalf. It was only at the 11th hour that the third option was introduced, the infamous Daily Record insipid inspired Vow offering a new, shiny arrangement. As we’ve seen, it’s yet to be delivered, and isn’t binding on future arrangements.

I’m as yet neither for In or Out in the Euro Referendum. I see merits and weaknesses to both arguments. But I’ll say one thing; Cameron’s EuroVow is a sideshow, a distraction, a political squirrel designed to distract from the real question: In the long term are we better off in or out of the EU? That’s what we should be debating. The contents of Mr Cameron’s deal are a diversion, valid on one day only and not binding on a European Union which is constantly evolving. Don’t be distracted.

 

#EuroVow

Caledonian MacBrayne and The Politics of Hypocrisy

Letter to RMT News, 15th November 2015

From RMT News, November 2015
From RMT News, November 2015

Dear RMT News, 

I was disappointed to see that Coatbridge MSP Elaine (Not C) Smith given considerable space in Novembers RMT news and I was more disappointed to see that Mrs Smith remains convenor of the RMT group of MSPs. Mrs Smith, a vocal cheerleader for the pro UK Better Together campaign, is strangely silent as the 2000 jobs which would have been secure running Scotlands tax system are lost to Croydon. She is silent now that Scotland is about to say ta-ta to the last of its steel industry. She is silent on the subject of her party siding with the Tories to deny Scotland the chance to operate it’s own tax credit system, and instead implementing a system where we can use our Westminster pocket money to top up the benefits they are about to cut.

In the Scottish Parliament she has however not been silent on the alleged privatisation of the Clyde and Hebrides Ferry contract. As people across the country who are not afforded the same airtime as Mrs Smith have repeatedly pointed out, this is not privatisation. In fact it’s the same tendering process that the Labour/Lib-Dem Scottish Executive followed when the contract was awarded to Caledonian MacBrayne in 2007. Back then the SNP claimed this was privatisation by the back door, a charge denied by Labour then, yet employed by Labour now they are in opposition. So if we can take that hypocrisy away we are left with the argument as to whether Calmac or Serco should be awarded the contract. From a moral point of view you could say that Serco should be discounted, having as they do a horrendous record across the world in workplace relations. They are involved in almost every sphere of life, from office cleaners to atomic weapons, and at the end of it all the money they generate goes to private shareholders. They have the global financial clout to outbid anyone, anywhere, should they wish to do so. Calmac know that they must put a bid in which is sufficiently within the same ballpark that the Scottish Government can point to aspects of the bid which will compensate for what will undoubtedly be a poorer bid in strictly monetary terms in order to give them the contract, and I hope they are successful in doing so because I feel that at present we are seeing the asset stripping of everything that a future independent Scotland will need and in my view it would be far easier to renationalise a Calmac owned ferry service than a Serco owned one.

But I for one will not be standing alongside Mrs Smith and parroting her reasons for campaigning, which in the main are that anything the SNP does is bad, nor shall I share anything with a logo created by the treacherous Daily Record. The RMT, in aligning with Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party and the Daily Record appear to have chosen to ally itself with two organisations which are entirely out of step with the mood of, if not outright destested by a huge proportion of the Scottish electorate. I understand that the RMT has for the last few years campaigned on an anti EU stance, but I am sure it would not share a platform nor give a column to the odious UKIP politician Nigel Farage, even though his stated aim of a UK outside the EU is in line with this unions. Its apparent endorsement of the Labour Party’s Scottish branch is therefore viewed with equal distaste by this member. 

Yours Sincerely, 

James Cassidy

 

 

Scotland and the EU

Letter to The National, 14/10/15

Dear Sir,  

George Kerevan (National, Monday 12th October) greatly emphasised that Scotland remaining part of the EU was right and correct when he put forward the case for the UK (and if possible an independent Scotland) remaining in the EU. He then highlighted what he felt was wrong with the EU, and how to fix those faults. The EU is no more a self critical reformer than Westminster is, and the many faults it has are unlikely to be solved from within, especially when you examine its track record, and its conduct during the independence referendum where it was no friend to the Scottish interest cannot be overlooked either. Over recent weeks and months we have heard that Scotland’s railways cannot be publicly owned, that Caledonian MacBrayne must be run by the private sector and that part of Scottish Water must be handed to a company who are run for the benefit of shareholders and not the nation. In each and every case EU legislation has been cited as the reason these actions have been taken. One might think that the only way to defeat such legislation and start with a clean slate would be to leave the EU, and this is a tempting prospect, for while membership opens the door to trade it closes the door on public ownership of national assets for the national interest.

The idea that Scotland will vote differently from the rest of the UK to trigger another independence referendum is an interesting one, but one that will ask many Scots perhaps to deny their instincts and vote to stay in the EU when they feel Scotland would be better off outside it. It would be doubly sickening if having done so the other countries in the UK also voted to stay in the EU. This would mean that within three years Scots would have voted to remain both in the UK and the EU. Where then for independence? 

Yours Sincerely, 

James Cassidy