Professor Vernon Bogdanor, noted professor of government at King’s College, London, has argued strongly that the SNP slogan Independence in Europe is a misnomer, saying being in the EU would leave Scots with less control over their affairs than they currently have in the UK.
While the crux of Bogdanor’s article is that Scotland should stay in the UK rather than going into the EU, he makes the argument that Restore Scotland has been making; why should Scotland become independent and then give that independence away?
The article, in the Scotsman on the 5th of April, gives a history of the SNP’s position with regards to the Common Market, then European Union.
The SNP, in the 1975 referendum on the Common Market, were in favour of withdrawing, the only UK based party, to take that position. Bogdanor says the Common Market was loosely organised Europe in the 1970s, whereas now the SNP want to re-join an ever more tightly integrated European Union.
The Professor suggests that the change over time indicates that nationalists had lost confidence in Scotland’s ability to run her own affairs and needed an outside crutch to lean on, contentious perhaps. What I can say, as an ordinary SNP member at the 1988 Annual Conference in Inverness, is that the Independence in Europe slogan appeared un-announced; no one had any idea what this meant. Over the years, I asked many senior figures in the SNP what the slogan meant; none could give an answer that I understood.
Bogdanor argues that independence in Europe would not allow Scots to take back control and indeed Scotland would probably have less control than now in Westminster.
One of his arguments is that currently, in the Houses of Parliament, Scotland has 59 MPs, one in 11 of the total, while in the European Parliament, Scotland would seem entitled to 14 MEPs, on a population of 5.4 million, but those 14 MEPs would disappear among the current 705 MEPs total. In any event, the value or worth of MEPs is highly questionable when it is the unelected European Commission that makes policy.
The Professor’s major argument about the EU is that, rather than the loosely organised Common Market of the 70s, there is no inherent limit to the powers which the European Union can acquire, for instance the European Union is contemplating new economic and fiscal powers to strengthen the euro. The powers being centralised in the European Union today could be further enhanced by the time a Scottish membership application might appear.
As the EU acquires more powers, is it not obvious that there will be less available for member countries?
An independent Scotland in the EU would not be getting advice from the EU, they would be getting instructions.
Scots Law, an important aspect of what makes Scotland what it is, would be subservient to EU law, and Scotland would have no alternative but to obey.
With all this coming together, what would be left for Scottish voters to vote on with the EU in charge of monetary policy, the budget, taxation and economic policy?
And then voters would have to suck up whatever the EU throws at them, they can vote in new governments but those governments can only do what they are told.
Many Scots believe that in the sovereignty of the Scottish people but that will be another casualty of returning to the EU.
The SNP, the Greens and Alba should be careful what they wish for. England is Scotland’s biggest market, do we really want an Irish border type situation at Carter Bar.
Picture of Strasbourg by Jonathan Marchal via Unsplash.