scotlandLast week, the Scottish independence campaign was officially launched in Edinburgh. Alex Salmond, First Minister of Scotland and leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP), hopes Scottish voters will back independence in a referendum scheduled for 2014. He has his work cut out for him, as recent polling suggests 57% of Scots want to remain in the UK whilst only 33% want independence. Still, a lot could change between now and 2014. Debating Europe spoke to Scottish National Party MEP Alyn Smith and put some of your comments on this issue to him.

First, we had a comment from Paul who argued that the famous English euroscepticism doesn’t extend to other parts of the UK: “If you visit [Scotland] you will find the majority of people have very similar views to those of Europe.”

We are more pro-European than the English, various surveys do confirm that. When the UK Independence Party (UKIP) stands in Scotland, they get nowhere. England has a uniquely hostile press when it comes to the EU. We in Scotland have different politics.

Alex, then, had a question that he originally wanted to put to Jim Murphy MP, but perhaps we can put it to you: “When you see yourself in the mirror in the morning, do you see yourself as [Scottish] or a European?


Can you be both?

Yeah, of course you can. The whole point of the European framework is that it’s not about identity, it’s about legal rights. It’s about tackling the common problems we’re facing, such as climate change, which are bigger than individual nations.

Don’t you need a common identity in a common political framework? As one of our commenters, Marcel, put it: “In order to have ‘democracy’ you need a ‘demos’, the very definition of democracy requires it. And like in the old Soviet Union, in the EU such a thing does not exist. The ‘demos’ are on the national level.

Yes, you do need a common identity in a political union. A ‘demos’, to use the philosophical term. There is not a single European demos, which is why I flatly reject the idea of a federal union. The European parliament is a confederal group.

We also had the following comment come in from Robert: “If the Scots leave, they will have to surrender control of their economy to the Germans, so having even less influence than they do at the moment within the UK.

That is just rubbish. An independent Scotland will be every bit as independent as Spain, Malta or the Czech Republic. Legal rights are completely distinct. Scotland’s choices are entirely a matter for the Scottish people.

Christos, one of our Greek commenters, has written that he feels the German government is “imposing” austerity on Greece because it continues to block moves towards a more expansionary policy in the eurozone.

If any nation signs up to a system of rules, there are consequences. The reasons Greece has a problem is because the Greek state lied and lied over their public debt. It’s entirely up to the people of Greece to elect whoever they chose to. If the people they elect are then not very good at the job, there are consequences.

What do YOU think? Should Scotland be independent? And do nationalist independence movements contradict the idea of a common European identity or complement it? How much influence would an independent Scotland have in Europe, and should it join the EU and the Euro? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below, and we’ll take them to policy-makers and experts for their reactions.

32 comments Post a commentcomment

  1. avatar
    Lee St Aloysius Lovelock-Jemmott

    Scotland would have as much influence as Monster Raving Looney Party has in the UK, which is zilch. The whole point of some of these nationalists movements are nothing more than Trojan Horses, used by the powers that be in the EU and external to it to ill off the last of the nations that actually provided a bulwark against the nutty utopian federalist wet dream of many Europhiles, and many individuals whom Samuel P. Huntington defined as DAVOS men.

  2. avatar
    Sunny Cvitkovic Anderson

    I do remember times when people were talking about happiness. and many many different elements that make people happy. Today it is all about money and influence. I am, with my whole heart, for national independent countries that keep their people as happy as possible. I am for the indigenous culture, that is not bombarded with influences from other part of the world, by force and political pressure. That doesn’t mean that I do not respect other cultures, but I like them in pure form. Today we have one world culture, made up in TV studios and undemocratic media. Politics is same everywhere, politicians have no faces and love or respect for their own, they are international elite of super rich and super powerful. When people vote for other guy, that one is the same in few days. Very boring and unproductive world we built for ourself.

  3. avatar
    Stephen Challen

    I have mixed opinions on this one. One one hand I think Scotland should get independance and release England from the burden of funding the free prescriptions and education they have (although Scots reject this concept, so will allow them to prove their arguement), and I expect the BBC will no longer adorn their TVs either. On the other it will be sad to see the Union Jack die and have to be replaced by a new flag, indeed it will be a sad day to see a part of what made Britian Great go. The next reforendum will be for Berwick Upon Tweed to decide if they join Scotland or remain part of England (having been the key port of Scotland). The reality will be that Wales and Northern Ireland will also get reforendum’s if Scotland votes for independance. Which in turn will mean we’ll not be able to afford what we pay the EU and will hand over the appropriate contribution proportions to those independant countries, all of whom will get new currencies (which I assume they will have to pay for rather than England?).

  4. avatar
    MandyandPj Leneghan

    “one world culture, made up in TV studios and undemocratic media. Politics is same everywhere” a very accurate observation in my humble opinion….pj

  5. avatar
    Albert Saxén

    dunno. ’bout the fmr but the latter..
    This is diff. From..ya, th UK wld seem diminished, it’s power so (Reuters reported on this) but, this is diff from, say, the Basque movt.
    Scotland IS a country, a nation (the blue in the Union jack what is it? And, GB is ..made up of that, England (St. George’s Cross) Wales..and N Ireland
    As for Scotland alone, it was a poor country historically. But seen it’s heritage, wld garner more respect than Kosovo, Montenegro, etc.

  6. avatar
    Albert Saxén

    Stephen thanks your input provided for more.
    I borrow an excerpt from my bk. Take Ireland. the people of the south had
    ratified the treaty with a clause that should the people in the northern
    enclave wish to remain part of the United Kingdom they could do so,
    a right they duly exercised.
    Applicable to what you said. As for the port ..well, if it dsnt have a port it’s as gd as useless..then again, heck, look at the coastline..they can’t make another?

  7. avatar
    Urban Schrott

    The question makes no sense. You can’t ask anyone but the Scots really, whether Scotland should be independent. That’s entirely up to them to decide. For the rest of us, in Europe and globally, we could only have an opinion whether they should have the right to decide or not (and if we’re democratic we must agree they should) and whether it’s beneficial for them and for us or not (which is where most comments above fit). But in all other respects, independent Scotland is nobody’s business but the Scots’.

    And as far as your own questions go, they contradict each other. On one hand you use the pejorative term “nationalist independence movement” (as in, how are they more nationalist than, say Germans when they wanted to unify or Norwegians when they didn’t want to be part of Denmark or Sweden anymore? How about “self determination of nations”, eh?), then combine that with talk of common European identity and then switch to discussing level of influence. That’s chaos right there. :)

    Isn’t (in theory at least) EU a brotherhood of equal nations? A platform of equal opportunities for all member states? And thus an average Scot (if Scotland is directly accepted into the EU) should have EXACTLY the same amount of rights as a UK citizen or as a citizen of Scotland within EU. Surely “influence” and “weight” of nations, if they’re bigger, goes against the very essence of EU equality.

    A European identity should not mean a generic trans-european citizen with no specific national identity, in fact the positive side of EU was meant to be in overcoming the unitaristic approaches of it’s historic monocultural unifiers of the likes of Napoleon, Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin, by giving each of its constituents their due recognition, respect of their national identity and protection of their language and culture.

    But here we’re meant to discuss “advantages” and “influence” of a smaller vs. a larger country, thus admitting we’re not all equal really and basically with the second question undermining the very essense of a European identity mentioned in the first? Ouch…

  8. avatar
    Karel Van Isacker

    We are a Europe of the Regions, so nationalism is just a way of protecting a fragile identity. Nothing despicable about that.

  9. avatar
    catherine benning

    Scotland must have the absolute right to be free of Westminster and English rule, if that is what the people of that country want.

    They have been subjugated by the British Crown long enough. The where, how and why of funding and the rest, will be sorted out as it should, and if they find they have a shortfall, then, they will have to deal with that as and when it arises. As all adults do in the real world.

    If I was a Scot, I would vote for separation. England is no longer able to feed its people and the scots will definitely come off worst of all in the shake out, which they always have.

    Good luck to them.

  10. avatar
    Mattijs Van Miert

    Miss. Anderson, you talk about pure culture, but what is a pure culture? I live in Antwerpen (Belgium) and speak Dutch. In the same province, there are eg Mechelen, Turnhout and Mol. Most of the people in those places also speak Dutch, but slightly other dialects, with other words. They also have some other customs and views, than those who live in Antwerpen. And that is still in the same province: Limburg, Brabant and the Flanders also have different dialects. Really, often I understand french, german or english more easily than the West-flemish dialect, wich is a dialect of Dutch, my mother language! Then we also have the (mainly) French-speaking Belgian provinces, The Germanspeaking communities and our northern neighbours, the Netherlands, who (mostly) speak the same language as I, but, again, other dialects. Then, Antwerpen is a big city (in Belgian perspective). It has several districts and neighbourhoods, where different kinds of people live with different ideas. So when do we talk about culture? The Belgian culture? There is a lot of protest from dutch and french-speaking belgians who’d rather be respectively flemish or walloon. A flemish culture then? But never call a Limburgian an Antwerpian! A provincial, Antwerpian culture? But the people of the Kempen often don’t like to be called Antwerpian. Then, an Antwerpen-city culture? Wh, someone from the district Borgerhout is not someone of the district Deurne. Then, a deurnish district culture must work? Nope! There’s Deurne-North and Deurne-South. There is no politically distinction, they are only seperated by a large park and prejudices. Alright, a Southern Deurnish culture! Again not. Two streets away of my house, there is a neighbourhood that’s not at all similar to my street. Different levels of wealth, other lives, so other cultures. The true is, there are no pure cultures. Everone is different and when two people live togheter in there two-personal culture, they have an other culture than when a thirth persone comes to live with them. A nation with only one, pure culture is impossible, unless every individual has his own independant country with only one inhabitant, and isn’t that the most stupid of all ideas?

  11. avatar
    Mattijs Van Miert

    Then, another problem: immigrants (not that I think immigrants are a problem, in contrary! But they are a problem if you assume a culture in a specific area). In Antwerpen, there are Limburgian, Brabantish, Turnhoutish, Polish, Arabic etc. immigrants (eg my parent are from the Kempen). They bring there culture with them, so even when you assume a “Limburgian culture” for example, you have a problem: not all Limburgians live in the Limburg. What if Antwerpen would become a part of the Limburgian nation? Problem: Antwerpen is also inhabited by Flemish, Brabantish, Ligois etc. Not to forget the Antwerpians theirself! So every place is a mix of cultures. So, why not take the Flemish, Antwerpians, Limburgians, etc. in one nation? If that was the cas, Belgium should be one country together with Poland, Bulgaria, China, Marokko, Isral and a lot of other countries. That, in fact, would mean one Mondial Nation. Really, bringing one culture in one nation is an idea of individual persons or small groups, but the problem is, differenet groups have different views on wath the nation should be. Should it be independent Limburg? An then should Belgian Limburg and Dutch Limburg become one country or not? Or is it better to stay in the Netherlands and in Belgium. Or some Belgian Limburgians maybe rather want to inhabit an independant flanders (the region, not the provinces)? And there are people who want that flanders to be one country together with the Netherlands, while others dislike the “Hollanders”. Then there is an idea of the Greay Netherlands, including the french-speaking Belgians. Or even an Benelux-nation, including the Grand Duchy Luxemburg. Even maybe an European Federation. But then, should it be a federation or a confederation? Or even an unitary state? But the reactions above illustrate that there are anti-Europeans. So, there are different opinions from people who are considerated as one nation. All of them have different views on the political structures that ought to be. It is a faulty idea that every culture (insofar there are cultures tout court) should have its own territorium. It’s like those youtube movies which let eg Hungary have Transylvania or Austria Sd-Tirol because of the Hungarians/Austrians who live there? Have they forgotten about the Roumanians and Italians who, respectively, live in Transsylvania and Sd-Tirol?

  12. avatar
    Mattijs Van Miert

    Mr. Schrott, you really can’t compare 19th-century nationalism with present nationalism. There happened too much, eg fascism and national-socialism, wich changed the interpretation of the term nationalism. Today, in my opinion, it is narrowed down to seperatism. Then you talk about self determination of nations, but do they have that right? Let us take a democracy, for example Germany. What is the self determination of Germany? What the German gouvernement wants, or what, democratically, the German people want? Say it is the gouvernement’s right. Then it are the CDU, CSU and the FDP who decide. But all the people who voted for eg SPD don’t have a share in Germany’s self determination. Majority, you say? Yes, and when it is the right of the people, is their right not defended by the Reichstag? Yes but also no. The same people who vote for the Bundestag, also vote for the European Parliament. So who has the right to represent the Germans’ self determination right. The Reichstag or the Union’s Parliament? And most importantly, why?

  13. avatar
    Mattijs Van Miert

    You ask if the Union shouldn’t be a brotherhood of equal nations? My answer: no, it shouldn’t! Because, what is a nation? It is a political stucture to organize a complex society of a lot of people to prevent things like murder and theft, isn’t it? Then, the nation, (= the politics) should be there in function of the people and not the people in function of the politics. Don’t we want the Union to be more an Europe of the people? So, no, the Union shouldn’t be a brotherhood of equal nations, it should be a brotherhood of equal persons!

  14. avatar
    Mattijs Van Miert

    So yes, indeed every citizen should have exactly the same amount of rigths, but does a Scot have less rights in the UK than in an Independant Scotland? Then there’s something very interesting whereat you point the finger: “if Scotland is directly accepted into the EU”. Is the membership of the Union claimable? If a region declares itself indepandant of an Union’s member, doesn’t it declare itself independant from the Union at the same time? It shows it can’t even coperate with other regions in its own country, so is it ably to coperate with almost thirty other countries? I think the Union should have a treaty that states that a region who declares itself independant, doesn’t inherit the Union’s membership. They should first prove they re able to work closly together with other nations, with “other cultures” and should be banned off candidate-membership for at least 15 years or so.

  15. avatar
    Mattijs Van Miert

    And mr. Van Isacker, since when are we an Europe of the regions? Since Bart De Wever wants it? And what fragile identity? flemish nationalist put me in the category of being “flemish”, but I don’t want them to do that! I have no flemish identity whatsoever. Yes, I’am Dutch-speaking, but the people of the Netherlands are too and I understand them better than many West-flemish. Yes, I am Belgian, that’s because I’m born in Belgium. So I am a Dutch-speaking Belgian and some think that makes me a flemish, but no, I am not! While flemish was originally the name of the people in the county Flanders, now nationalists made it the name of every Dutch-speaking Belgian. Did they have that right? I am also European, because I am, by coincidence, born in this part of the world. But most important of all, I am human, like all the Africans, the Asians, the Americans and the Oceanians. Why should I make a distinction because they are, by coincidence, born elsewhere? Aren’t we just all people?

  16. avatar

    Being a true European citizen is not something geographical or even something ethnic, it is ethical. Europe stands and falls trough ethics and moral values.

  17. avatar
    Maija Dravnieks

    If to split the Queens account in half and then into 1/3s,without paying taxes to her anymore,they would have enough funding to be independant as Ireland and England.

  18. avatar
    Karel Van Isacker

    @ Mattijs Van Miert: maybe time you do realise a discussion is a dialogue, not a monologue. Europe of the regions indeed. Maybe ever heard of Committee of the Regions?

  19. avatar
    catherine benning

    This troll of utter nonsense about language and dialect being the basis of European culture is way off beam in my opinion.

    Anyone in any part of the world can learn to speak a language and if they are determined, to speak that language fluently. It does not make them able to understand the culture surrounding that language, or the ethos or aspirations of the people and country whose language they mastered.

    When people come to Europe from various parts of the planet they bring with them their culture, way of life, belief systems and all that goes with it. And when they settle, where do they head for? Why, the area that has the most immigrant population from their original country. That is so they can ‘feel at home’ in a foreign environment. Did anyone expect them to do differently?

    This creates enormous problems. As very often those cultures and lifestyles are abhorant to the host peoples. They cannot understand and do not want to understand the primitive belief systems they remain fixated by. In the UK we see more and more daily horrors brought into a society which long ago shook off the abuse of women by subjugation, or, of what we would call child abuse and find that not only do many immigrants practice these rituals as their way of life, but have actively began to defend them as their ‘right’ to do so under the European act they claim affords them this privilage.

    So, we have girls being murdered on a regular basis, by their parents in the most horrific way, which is carries out in front of the siblings under the auspices of ‘honour.’ The most recent teenager who befell this horror was suffocated with the help of her mother, father and brother, who felt she deserved to be suffocated in the presence of her sister, because she wore a tight Tshirt and deserved it. She was letting them down as a family. And these criminals in every other way, looked respectable. Yet they defend their act as being their way of life and that way of life must be upheld because they live in a community which is entirely made up of their own clan with these same beliefs and expectations. This is spreading through our country like a cancer. And the law tries to hide from it as it is felt ‘racist’ claims may be made against them if they highlight the truth.

    This is not getting away from your country of origin to live a better life, this is getting away from your country of origin to feed off a richer nation, not to absorb a European belief system and live as a citizen within the law of the country they put themselves in. It is simply opportunism and they despise the culture they chose to come into and are willing to murder their own children if they show the slightest sign of embracing the ways of that country they live in. This is outrageous and it creates havoc within the host community and spread fear and resentment to the point of rebellion.

    The killing and dismembering of children by those who believe in Obiah is again spreading within our community which we can only understand when we find parts of childrens bodies floating in our rivers. When these people are caught and charges they claim it is their way of life and they have a right to it under the law. Likewise femaile circumcision. If they can’t get it done in Europe they return to their country of origin and have it performed their.

    Have we gone completely out of our minds to accept such a horrendous circumstance whilst exposing our own children in schools to such beliefs and horrors.

    The problem with mass uncontrolled immigration is so numerous it would take a week to address even part of it, but, the irritating factor is, European government has embraced this lunacy with both hands, and compelled the indiginous people to stay mouth shut tightly or face criminal charges if they dare to voice their discontent.

    The answer, in part, is to force all those who run our European government in Europe to live in the area or enclaves of these people and see that they have to send their children to the same schools and live in the same fear as they watch them grow less and less able to absorb the culture of the parents as they are no longer a majority but have become, in many areas, a minority within their own shores. We, as the people who pay the taxes for all this ‘globalisation’ should impose a criminal offence on those same leaders should they complain about being forced to lresde in such a barbarous environment. They create it, they should put their own families in the position they are putting others in.

    The alternative is to give one entire European country, the size of Germany, over to those Europeans who want free of this lunacy and allow those who want to remove themselves from the foreign way of life they decided was not right for themselves, just as the Zionists were given a homeland they could find solace and connection to.

    And as this European government claims there is only a small minority of people against this colonization of their homeland, then it shouldn’t be too difficult to arrange such a separate State for them to remain within their European culture and lifestyle without being exposed to that which to them is not only unlawful, but unacceptable. Thereby making everyone happy.

  20. avatar
    christos mouzeviris

    The problem Mr Smith is that the people of Greece were lied upon, above everybody else… We did not know the truth about our country’s finances, our leaders lied to us. There were jobs, money was going around,we thought the times were good. We fell in the trap of the global financiers like some others like the Portuguese and the Irish.

    But now we are called to pay the price and a heavy one too, while those who created the situation escape the consequences unscathed. That is capitalism for you.

    The EU elite knew that Greece should not join the eurozone, or at least it was not ready to the time it did. Yet they accepted the country in the block for other reasons.That is why they have a share of responsibility too…

    And now Germany simply wants to impose austerity to correct the situation, but austerity does not work without growth. At least not in some nations. We have to deal with the problem taking in consideration the different economic factors that exist in every country, not use the same panacea everywhere.

    We only needed systemic reforms,notably in our outdated taxation system. None of these reforms are encouraged by Germany’s EU/IMF austerity programs, only cuts, cuts cuts and job loses.. That is outrageous! Something is wrong in Europe, and we all know it..

    On the question of the Scottish independence, I feel it is a matter of the Scotts to decide. I personally do not see any point of constant fragmentation and redisigning of the European borders, especially since all states sooner or later will join the EU and bring these borders down again. A more lose federal model and more independence for Europe’s regions is perhaps more appropriate..

    But in this specific case, perhaps it is better for Scotland to get independence from London, since the English are way too blinded by the City of London and the interests of the global marketeers and financiers to see that their eurosceptic stance only serves the interests of this elite and not the people’s.

    So good luck to Scotland, whatever they decide it will be respected and accepted. We need more pro-European nations in EU.. Or at least less rigid and more open minded.

  21. avatar
    Bojan Sarkic

    Just a thought about referendum in Scotland.As your referendum is set up for 2014, you do not have a lot of time for the preparations and you might face very different wievs on it. Just to remind that for the independence of Montenegro, EU (?) was asking 55 % majority(Montenegro got 55,5%) which is first time in the history of the world and maths, that a majority is not 50% but 55%.Probably in Scotish case that will not be the situation. Second is the question, who is eligible to vote on the referendum. All Scots,Scots overseas, or only Scots and non Scots who has a permament residence in Scotland(and for how long).So you have a huge work to do to prepare ,all the things, like we did in Montenegro. So, good luck to you ,whatever your decission would be.

  22. avatar
    Bojan Sarkic

    Just a thought about referendum in Scotland.As your referendum is set up for 2014, you do not have a lot of time for the preparations and you might face very different wievs on it. Just to remind that for the independence of Montenegro, EU (?) was asking 55 % majority(Montenegro got 55,5%) which is first time in the history of the world and maths, that a majority is not 51% but 55%.Probably in Scotish case that will not be the situation. Second is the question, who is eligible to vote on the referendum. All the Scots,Scots overseas, or only Scots and non Scots who have a permament residence in Scotland(and for how long).So you have a huge work to do, to prepare ,all the things, like we did in Montenegro. So, good luck to you ,whatever your decission would be.

  23. avatar

    All nationality is based on a social construction of reality. The Scots are a similar racial mix to the English – celt and anglo saxon (Edinburgh used to be part of the English kingdom of Northumbria) and there was a British (ie celtic kingdom straddling) the borders. Both countries were settled in parts by scandanavians. Scots is a seperate dialect of the English language. The similarities are greater than the differences but the English/Scottish border was set in 1018 and is said to be the oldest set border in the world.

    England and Scotland as states clubbed together in 1707 in part because they had had one monarch since 1603 and a Protestant commonality (even if the Church of Scotland was originally Calvinist and the Church of England a typical English compromise designed by the country’s greatest monarch Elizabeth the first). England allowed the Scots to join its imperial adventure under the guise of Great Britain. This has now run its course and the time may have arrived to seperate (as the Scots in Northern Ireland are quite belligerent I think Scotland should inherit Ulster when the split comes)! As the world gets smaller and closer it does seem strange that everywhere the tendency seems to be for states to fragment. I can understand it in Africa where European empires shoved peoples together without any say and I suppose if states want to firm up their identities groups of people who dont feel part of it may want to leave. Maybe a big umbrella like the EU lets people feel safe in doing so. Unfortunately for me the EU does not provide a form of identlty I want. It is one giant bureacratic mess operating for the benefit of existing ruling elites. The Scottish elite is welcome to try this route but it may prove no more attractive than trying the UK approach has been.

  24. avatar

    Yes Scotland should get their Independence.

  25. avatar
    Tamás Heizler

    I’m not saying that Scottland should be independent or not; I’m just saying that the referendum has to be organized in 2014 and if more than 50% of the voters wants to be independent, then Scottland should be independent. However if lower than 50% wants it, then they shouldn’t (this also applies for Catalonia). All nations have the right for an own country if they wish. It’s possible for them either to keep Pound or change to Euro. I guess they fullfill the criteria for Euro zone.

    The Scottish Negotiations about EU accession should start before the independence, so that they can join to the EU as an independent country on the very same day as they quit from the UK. And they can indtroduce the Euro on the same day when Pounds are abolished.

  26. avatar
    David Tough

    Scotland has more in common with Scandinavia England I am afraid hates Europe

  27. avatar
    roger nickolds

    as a welsh born brit I wonder who the scots will blame once they are independent, I hope they get independence, there own currency I believe it should be all or nothing no just opting out of the bad bits and taking the good. Stand on your own feet, and good luck.

  28. avatar
    Francesco Castellana

    Go, and long live to Scotland

  29. avatar
    corto maltesse

    Long live Scotland

  30. avatar
    olej cbd 5 w³aœciwoœci

    Thanks for finally talking about >Should Scotland be independent?

    – Debating Europe <Liked it!

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