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Letters / ‘Spectacular SNP humbugfest’

Thank you for your splendid coverage of SNP Shetland’s “Put it to the People” event in Lerwick (Support shown for second Brexit vote at public meeting; SN, 24/3/19), organised by local convener Iain Malcolmson and 2017 election candidate Miriam Brett’s self-styled, expert adviser Jonathan Wills.

I was surprised to see the LibDems and Shetland Labour there, the latter being instructed not to participate. The Tories didn’t show up and Alistair Carmichael, a signatory of the Scottish Fishermen’s Federation Pledge, wisely gave it the last-minute ‘body-swerve’.

In fact, the whole thing was a sham, a spectacular SNP “Humbugfest”.

SNP policy is self-contradictory. On one hand, they insist they want to remain in/rejoin the EU. They have fought, tooth and nail, to wreck the negotiations and ably assisted by other, witless politicians, have managed to make Westminster look appalling. Only the SNP can benefit from this.

And on the other hand, their defining policy, independence, will guarantee that Scotland leaves the EU – with “No Deal” – on the same day that we leave the UK.

Lest there be doubt, the official EU view was stated by then EU Commission President, Jose Manuel Barroso, to the House of Lords:

“The EU is founded on the Treaties which apply only to the Member States who have agreed and ratified them. If part of the territory of a Member State would cease to be part of that state because it were to become a new independent state, the Treaties would no longer apply to that territory. In other words, a new independent state would, by the fact of its independence, become a third country with respect to the EU and the Treaties would no longer apply on its territory.”

Have the EU treaties changed since 10 December 2012? I don’t believe so.

However, EU joining rules have changed. It seems we now need our own central bank and currency in order to demonstrate that we are capable of aligning our economy with the EU.

Accordingly, the SNP leadership will propose the post-independence creation of a new Scottish currency and central bank to their spring conference.

However, the nationalist Common Weal think tank predicts a nine-year lag from referendum to currency launch, after which we must align our economy with the EU, whose Stability and Growth Pact is designed “to prevent fiscal policies from heading in potentially problematic directions … (and) … correct excessive budget deficits or excessive public debt burdens.”

This means we shall be obliged to cut our £9.5 billion per annum budget deficit (six per cent GDP) to less than three percent and our national debt (c.85 per cent GDP, if we accept our share of UK debt) to less than 60 per cent GDP.

Excessive national debt must be reduced by five per cent per year, which, with accompanying budget deficit reduction, implies spending cuts/tax hikes of several billions (£5-10 billion?) per year i.e. swingeing austerity!

So it will take, at least, ten years to rejoin and we will have to accept the euro, the Common Fisheries Policy and austerity-invoking budget restrictions, as well as everything else enshrined in EU law if/when we finally join.

Scottish voters are unlikely to accept such a prospectus, rendering the policy unsustainable.

A convenient and attractive alternative to the EU would be a Norway-style arrangement, readily available via the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and the European Economic Area (EEA), providing access to the EU single market while retaining full control of currency, fisheries, agriculture, economy and trade.

The most likely outcome of independence then is that we shall join EFTA/EEA and will probably never rejoin the EU, whose stated intention of centralising power into a United States of Europe flies in the face of the creed of nationalism.

So why is the SNP stamping about, “greetin dir een oot”, about Scots “being dragged out of the EU against their will”, when their defining policy, independence, guarantees exactly that? We may well ask.

Those local parties who naively augmented this political stunt were conned. For it was no more than a “spectacular SNP Humbugfest.”

John Tulloch