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Independence vs independence
Balgove
tobyaw
I’d like to see an independent Scotland. I was happy to vote for independence from the UK in 2014, and for independence from the EU in 2016. My decision in 2014 was made easier by it seeming clear that Scotland leaving the UK would also mean it leaving the EU. Genuine independence.

Now we are faced with the prospect of another Scottish independence referendum, and I am finding it hard to contain my fury at the SNP conflating Scottish independence with, in some manner, remaining in the EU. It is clear that they see political expediency in focusing on a half-hearted pro-European independence for Scotland. Perhaps we should call it “soft” independence.

It may leave us with a choice between independence from the UK, and indepence from the EU. Which is a choice I don’t want this country to have to make. If I have to vote to stay in the UK in order to keep us out of the EU, I will blame the SNP.

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Your view seems to me the logical one - I'm surprised that I haven't seen more people express it. The view I struggle to understand is "Scotland should be free to make its own laws, free from Westminster, oh, except for those things that are subject to EU control, which obviously is lots of things and likely to be more things in future, but that's ok, because at least they aren't English".

(I'm also aware that down here at the other end of the UK, the assumption is that people who want Scottish independence want whatever Nicola Sturgeon, Alex Salmond and sundry other fishy SNP politicians want, and that may well be a gross over-simplification.)

The idea of independence makes plenty of sense to me too; I can at least see logic behind the opposing view, that the status quo of remaining in both the UK and EU - but the idea that Scotland should fight to stay in the EU (because the Scottish-EU trade is so huge) yet also leave the UK (with whom there is about four times as much) - or the assertion that Scotland would somehow have more influence over the EU (making up less than 2% of the population) than within the UK.

Hence, of course, the uncomfortable statistic for Sturgeon, that a lot of her own party members and voters actually voted "Leave" last year, and the polls showing the shift of 'no+Remain' voters switching because they lost being almost perfectly balanced out by 'yes+Leave' voters like us who see little or no appeal in Sturgeon's stated goal of "independence under Brussels".

Ironically, her chances of success could be determined largely by how little confidence we have in her ability to deliver the latter part: will we vote 'yes' in the hope she'll fail to navigate Article 49 in future, or 'no' to prevent the risk of her succeeding?

Re: My thoughts exactly

One other thing to add to my larger comment below. Most Scottish exports leave via England and aren't specifically recorded as being Scottish exports; so guesses about proportions of trade are exactly that - guesses. I'm sure the real numbers for trade with rUK will be big - but I'm equally sure they aren't as big as we're being told.

The two things aren't remotely comparable.

Being part of the UK means all of your country's cash disappearing to the central UK government without any accurate reporting as to how much was generated, and a proportion given back to you as pocket money once Westminster has made all the "grown up" decisions. Whether that proportion is above or below 100% can't actually be determined, because the reporting isn't in place to make that assessment. The reporting set up by the Tories in the early 1990s to make their case (GERS) says we don't do so well; but given that's what it was set up to do it's not much use.

It means large chunks of that cash can be spent on things like nuclear weapons and Crossrail because they're good for the UK and therefore good for us - although nuclear weapons parked close to our largest city are understandably unpopular in Scotland and it's difficult to see exactly how Crossrail is going to benefit us. It means that we pay our share of things that have "National" in the name in the rest of the UK, while if it has "National" in the name in Scotland we have to foot the whole bill.

It means always being outvoted by a population that's ten times as large and never having your views represented except when England as a whole happens to agree, despite the nations having different needs and desires. It's nothing to do with the English per se - it's all to do with the relative numbers and concentrations of population.

It means being told you can't have a referendum voted for by your parliament on the basis of an explicit mandate won in an election less than a year ago because "now is not the time".

If any of that applied to the relationship between Europe and the UK (or Scotland) you might have a point. On the contrary though, the EU is a club you can choose to join or to leave. The EU can't tell you that you're not having a referendum about it. Sure, there are membership costs (which are a tiny proportion of the UK budget) but we don't have to hand over all the UK's cash and get some handed back. If an independent Scotland does join, we'll be a small country among many and we'll lose some of the arguments, but there isn't a single massive block that'll outvote us every time. Sometimes we'll win. And most of the things the EU does actually seem pretty humane and reasonable to me - much more so than the UK government. (Not all. The treatment of Greece has been pretty appalling. But there's more good than bad.)

Scotland can't currently take any of the big decisions itself - the UK does that for us, whether we like it or not. An independent Scotland can take all the big decisions, including whether or not it joins or leaves a club with some fairly reasonable rules it'll have to abide by. I hope it joins.

I have to apologise in advance as I probably won't be able to respond further - things to do.

“most of the things the EU does actually seem pretty humane and reasonable to me - much more so than the UK government”

I think that is the key to why we will never agree on this! And it is not something which is based on facts and figures, but rather on one’s worldview, and one’s expectations of democracy.

I’m formulating some further thoughts on this, which I’ll put together into another post when I get a chance. But as a nation we spend a lot of time looking at, and critiquing, Westminster institutions, without putting European institutions under a similar spotlight. At least partially this is because our visibility and understanding of EU institutions is so poor. Lots to think about there.

You're probably right that we disagree on some fundamental things, but I think we likely agree on visibility and understanding of EU institutions. I think they're very poorly reported.

The SNP MEPs produced a booklet for last year's campaign that's actually pretty informative about how Europe works. Obviously it's written from a Europe-friendly point of view, but I think it's worth checking out for some of the functional things that we never see reported: The Wee Bleu Book.

It wasn't produced on paper because it would have exceeded the permitted costs of the campaign.

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