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Showing posts with label Spain. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Spain. Show all posts

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Scotland, the EU – and Barroso …

Scotland's independence will create a situation for which there is no real precedent, and no clarity or certainty in European law or EU history. We have the farcical situation that a Tory Party that shows a distinct wish to leave Europe are arguing against Scotland's independence on the basis that the rUK would be in and Scotland out. There is also the fact that a significant number of Scots, including many nationalists, would be delighted to be out of Europe too ...

I have never doubted that one of the many complex questions raised by Scotland's independence would be the terms of its EU membership, and that it would have to be negotiated. Since a YES vote in 2014 does not confer independence, but only fires the starting gun for negotiations to achieve it, the very earliest date for conclusion of the core negotiating issues would be 2016, with the formal independence date well beyond that, during which time both the UK and Scotland/UK membership would still be in force.

Since the incompetent UK parties can't forecast what will happen to the economy and the currency in the next three months, I lose no sleep over Scotland's ultimate membership of the EU in say, 2017, if indeed the EU still exists by then! But if it does, Scotland will be in - the idea of them being out, or being blackballed is risible historically.

First we had the leaked – but never sent – letter, and now we have Barroso's latest public statement

Here's my view, informed and assisted by  invaluable help from my Danish friend Troels who is expert in EU law, and keenly interested in an independent Scotland.

Barroso talks of "a part of a country that wants to become an independent state", i.e. analogous to Catalonia (something he's deeply worried about) not a "union state" being dissolved and two successor states emerging. His use of the phrase "a part of a country" indicates that Barroso is rather confused on the history and structure of the United Kingdom.

He seems to perceive "Britain" as a country (like Spain or Portugal) and not as a unitary union state, which it what it is. This is evident from the end the television clip, where he clearly believes that the UK will still exist after Scottish independence like, say, Spain after Catalan independence, or Denmark after Greenlandic independence, where the old state continues to exist, but a part of its territory becomes independent.

In fact, in the case of the UK, it would be the union state dissolving, and at least two successor states emerging, very much akin to Czechoslovakia.

Barroso's view is poles apart from the kind of opinion that the European Court of Justice would give. It is worthy of note that Barroso, speaking for the EU Commission only, offers no legal arguments or references that can be debated or be refuted.

In other words, his statement is self-serving and purely political - a piece of realpolitik gamesmanship. There's a lot of that about - and there will be a lot more of it before 2014. The old order is breaking down, and like all ancien regimes, it doesn't like it.

Monday, 23 July 2012

A voice from a Scot in Spain …

This is an extended comment from an Edinburgh Scot who has been a long-time resident in Spain but has a deep and committed interest in Scotland and its future, Paco el escocés. He has been a regular contributor to blog comments in the past, but, as he says, he didn’t want to rock the boat – and one or two things have been happening in Spain to occupy his full attention recently!

MORIDURA reply to recent blog comment:There are times when it is wrong to remain silent, Sean. This is one of them.”

Right then. I’ve been silent for some time now, at least as regards this blog, that is. I certainly hope you haven’t taken it personally, Peter.

When I was about 6 or 7 I had a kind of epiphany; my first “cultural” experience, so to speak. I’m referring to being able to appreciate a statement, an affirmation, and understand that it can be extrapolated and applied to other situations.

My big sister had taken me to see Bambi, and when Thumper said, “If you can't say something nice... don't say nothing at all”, I thought to my wee self, “Fair enough. I can relate to that”.

Several decades on (actually, quite a few!), it still seems to make sense. However, as you point out in your answer to a correspondent, there have to be times when it doesn’t apply.

I’ve been growing disenchanted with both the style and substance of the leadership of the SNP for some time now, but if I haven’t written to Moridura to make this public, it has been from a sense of “not wanting to rock the boat”. The return to sovereignty for our country is, as you know, a subject very near to my heart. It has appeared that the SNP, with Salmond at the helm, were going to be the best chance for this to happen in my lifetime.

Now, I’m beginning to ask, “but, at what price?”.

Or, even worse, “but, what for?”.

To keep up with the anthropomorphic metaphors, there is a Spanish expression for when one is obliged to do something, if not against one’s will, at least against one’s better judgement; tragar sapos. To swallow toads (and thole it!).

Hereby followeth the story of the three toads:

Toad #1 - The monarchy

I’ve been a republican for as long as I can remember. Not through any kind of sectarian-tinged inheritance, simply because ever since I started to think about such things objectively (as far as this is possible), the idea of certain persons being born superior to others has seemed to me to be an aberration. Worse still, not only are they superior by definition, they are born obscenely wealthy, owning whole shires, rivers, mountains, coasts and unbelievably: FOLK!

I had always assumed that the citizens of a newly independent Scotland would not be subjects to anyone, or anything, other than the democratically-expressed political will of the people.

I know there is an important republican undercurrent within the SNP, but they were all uncharacteristically silent when “oor Leader” proclaimed that Herself would automatically be the Head of State of a born-again Scotland.

I was not aware of any debate within the Party to this regard, neither a priori nor subsequent to this pronouncement.

Bitterly disappointed, I bit my tongue telling myself that the issue was potentially divisive and that it was better left for discussion in an independent Scotland.

Toad #2- Max. headroom

Or “independence lite” or “devo supreme”, or whatever the effing invention has finally been denominated.

This is to say; that Scotland will regain control of all economic and fiscal affairs, but remain under the tutelage of Westminster in matters of Foreign Policy and “Defence”.

This is complete madness. Imagine the scenario whereby the government of a maximally-devolved Scotland applies Keynsian, social-democratic, left-wing (choose the adjective which appeals most) policies and manages to weather the economic storm without sending the lower echelons of society to the poorhouse. A decent education, healthcare and access to a dignified dwelling-place are guaranteed for all. Not by waving some Celtic Twilight wand, but simply by a fair distribution of the country’s resources and assets, and by insisting that that those individuals and companies who can pay more, do so.

Then the “Mother of Parliaments” is led by the nose (as Blair did in the case of the invasion and occupation of Iraq) or bullied by their transatlantic puppet-masters into yet another imperial adventure. Scottish troops are sent off to subjugate recalcitrant Johnny Foreigner, reluctant, as ever, to surrender his own resources and give free access to his markets. Furthermore, the Scottish government will be obliged to stump up a large percentage of the cost of the raping and pillaging.

What will happen then to the carefully budgeted social progress?

Independence, nothing less. It’s not original, but it’s the only way which makes sense.

Toad #3 - NATO

Or the last straw?

I am totally opposed to Scottish membership of NATO. Not only because this would call into question the dismantling of the nuclear base at Faslane but, following on from the last point, I would have no interest in independence for Scotland if it were to mean being subservient to the foreign policy interests of the USA. Which is to say; safeguarding the interests of Corporate Fascism.

Many seem to look to Norway for some kind of example of finding a way of one’s own. I would look closer to home. Ireland has been a neutral country since regaining statehood last century. They are non-nuclear and do not belong to NATO. They have an army and have contributed often, over the years, to peace-keeping missions as Blue Berets of the UN. By so doing they have earned international respect. Indeed, in many places where a British passport is viewed with suspicion, an Irish one evokes a more positive response.

To sum up, I don’t like what Salmond has been saying latterly, and I don’t like the way he has been saying it. Rather than opinions he appears to issue edicts.

Lastly, if this rant has come out as a long-winded negatively-charged sermon, … it’s because I’ve been saving it up!

I still have faith in the collective will of the people to want to make Scotland a better place.

Saor Alba.

Paco el escocés

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Extremadura, localism and nationalism.

Given all the things I have said about the Labour Party and Labour politicians, it is unsurprising that I have few amicable dialogues with the party. I am also a Labour apostate, which compounds the problem. But I have always tried to make a sharp distinction between the Labour Party and its politicians and the people they have so comprehensively betrayed. This distinction is especially vital in the case of Labour supporters in England, who, unlike the Scots, the Welsh and the Northern Irish, are faced with limited choices if they wish to shift their allegiance

It has been especially welcome for me therefore to have Twitter exchanges with a Labour supporter that I have unqualified respect for, including for the generous way he has responded to my regrettable tendency to shoot from the hip occasionally on Twitter – a kind of Ready, Fire, Aim approach.

Miljenko Williams tweets @eiohel and his online site is

He recently was prompted to reflect on the nature of localism and nationalism, asking the question On sliding between localism and nationalism - when does one become the other?

After misunderstanding his initial tweet, and without following the link, I fired off in typical fashion, but then was politely directed back to source by Miljenko. I have his permission to repeat my comments on his fascinating article, but you really should read the original and what prompted it.



Getting over my shock at the real Extremadura intruding on my consciousness, (I wrote a book set in Extremadura - 'The Ancient Order of Moridura' - without ever having visited the region) let me offer a few thoughts - 

   The concept of a nation clearly is a much more complex one than that of a region, one bound up with geography, language, culture and identity built over centuries. It is not just a grouping of localities, and cannot be seen as just a series of economic and technological initiatives. Interdependence is the key factor that leads to communities, then localities, then nations, but national independence does not exclude localism nor does it deny cooperation across national boundaries.
     But in organising itself to survive and achieve those eternal freedoms to to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, mankind has fallen repeatedly into the seductive trap of 'big is better', and the idea of economies of scale.
     This has undoubtedly delivered benefits for some, but usually at the expense of others, and significantly at the expense of our common humanity. It has led to brutal oppressive empires, world religions, global banking, global companies, and most sinisterly of all, to the military/industrial complex – Eisenhower’s nightmare scenario, now a fact.

    What we need now is democratic nationalism on a human scale, with maximum decentralisation of power to regions and localities, and free cooperation with other nations on economic, technological and scientific matters - and yes, on defence - but with the emphasis always being on serving the needs of the people, not the people serving the needs of a privileged and amoral minority.

    If our 21st century society has only given us the iPad, the iPhone and mp3 players, it has failed. In fact, it is failing, right now, globally. Sophisticated communications systems alone will not deliver happiness, or even economic and social benefit. There is prima facie evidence that they can be inimical to it, dependent on who controls the systems and the information flow.
    Spain is a nation, and short of trying to establish Iberia as a nation, it will always be a nation. Extremadura is a fascinating region, with a wonderful history and identity, one that must be preserved and celebrated, but it is not, and cannot be a nation.

   But I know that this raises other issues of regional identity in Spain, ones beyond my knowledge and competence to comment on.