The Illusion of Control: What Do You Mean “We,” Paleface?

Then again, this IS the Express...

Who’s country’s flag is that on the shield, Express? Pretty sure it isn’t “Britain’s.”

The SNP’s positive case for Scotland remaining part of the European Union is commendable, and the Wee BlEU Book is an excellent publication full of all the facts, statistics and comments you could possibly want or need. I think the SNP have definitely made the right choice in starting their own campaign, distinct from that of the UK Government’s. Part of the problem with the wider Remain campaign is that it fell all too readily into old habits. Project Fear kept going, trumpeting uncertainties and warnings of cataclysmic futures outside the safety and security of the EU – a campaign which didn’t win the Scottish Independence Referendum so much as survived it. A campaign starting with a 30 point lead and ending with a 10 point lead cannot be considered successful except by default.

Nonetheless, the official result on the 19th of September was a victory for the Union. Time will tell how long that victory will last, considering how utterly thrashed the forces of Unionism were in subsequent elections. But there’s a really unpleasant air of frustrated apathy going around: both the Remain and Leave camps are being accused of inaccuracies and scaremongering, the same stories from the indyref are being trotted out, and people are confused by what a Remain/Leave vote even means. If I didn’t know better, I’d say the establishment didn’t want people to engage in the questions – all the more disappointing given the democratic awakening in Scotland.

Unfortunately, in this referendum, Scotland is treated as a region of Britain – and the question on the ballot issued to Scots on the 23rd of June will not mention the name of our nation at all.

It is this fact which belies the fatal flaw for the Leave campaign – that they have absolutely nothing to offer the people of Scotland.

Who’s “We”?

Let’s have a gander at what Vote Leave is offering the people of Scotland:


That is the only time the word “Scottish” appears in the entire document. “Scotland” and “Scots” – nowhere. All throughout Vote Leave’s PDF, reference is made to “us,” “our,” “we,” and other collective terms.

Yet when you look at this from a Scottish perspective, everything seems just the slightest bit hollow.

We need to be able to hold our lawmakers to account

  • Over half our laws are made by unelected EU bureaucrats in Brussels who we never voted for
  • The Eurozone has a permanent majority in the EU voting system – this means we’re always outvoted
  • The UK has been outvoted every single time it has voted against EU laws
  • These laws have cost British taxpayers £2.4 billion

We should take back the power to kick out the people who make our laws

So tell me, Vote Leave: how do you propose this helps the people of Scotland? How will leaving the EU help the Scottish people hold our lawmakers to account? Many of our laws are made by unelected Lords who we did not vote into the house. England has a permanent majority in the Westminster voting system – this means we’re always outvoted. Scotland has been outvoted every single time it voted against the clear majority of English MPs.

Let’s take back control over our economy and trade.” “We don’t need to accept the control of the EU Court to trade with Europe.” “This is our last chance to take back control – there is no status quo on offer.” How much of that control is going to filter down to Scotland? Will leaving the EU mean that Scotland gains control of our economy & trade, that we can trade with Europe, that we can “take back control” – or does it just mean that power which already resides with politicians we didn’t vote into government is strengthened even more? If this was a heist movie, you’d be the guy who convinced his pals to break into Fort Knox by promising a fair share of the spoils – only to scarper away in the night with all the gold.

A vote to ‘remain’ means:

  • Permanent handing over of £350 million a week to Brussels
  • Permanent overruling of UK law by EU law and the EU Court
  • Permanent EU control of our trade and economy
  • Permanent EU control of security and migration

A vote to remain is a vote to keep giving more money and power to the EU every year

Let’s put aside the, shall we say, factual issues of Vote Leave’s campaign, including the statements above. Let’s assume, against the evidence, that Vote Leave are telling the truth about the EU. What, then, are Vote Leave offering the people of Scotland – not the UK – but Scotland?

A Vote to Leave takes back control

We stop handing over £350 million a week to Brussels
We take back control of our borders and can kick out violent criminals
We take back the power to kick out the people who make our laws
We decide what we spend our own money on
We free our businesses from damaging EU laws and regulations
We take back the power to make our own trade deals
We have better relations with our European friends
We regain our influence in the wider world and become a truly global nation once again

Europe Yes, EU No – the Safer Choice

Never has the idiom “except for viewers in Scotland” been more appropriate. Voting to leave the EU won’t change the democratic deficit which most affects the people of Scotland. Scots won’t stop handing over our money to another country’s capital. Scots won’t take back control of our borders. Scots won’t take back the power to kick out the people who make our laws. Scots won’t decide what we spend our money on. Scots won’t free our businesses from damaging laws and regulations. Scots won’t take back the power to make our own trade deals. Scots won’t have better relations with our European friends. Scots won’t regain our influence in the wider world.

That hasn’t stopped some from suggesting Scotland would gain more powers out of the EU than if they remained:

‘If the UK leaves the EU, all the powers Brussels and Strasbourg currently have over Scotland – fisheries, agriculture and important social and environmental policies – will be automatically devolved to Holyrood. I think those powers would be better used by Scottish politicians directly accountable to Scottish voters. It’s a pity Kezia Dugdale and (the Other Party) don’t agree.
– Tom Harris


Nice to see Tom’s come around to the idea of Scots being better placed to decide their own affairs since five years ago.

An interesting perspective from Tom Harris – one which raises several questions. The first is this: if we don’t have power over fisheries, then how come it’s on the list of devolved powers? Regulations and quotas are not “powers,” they are regulations and quotas. Second: if Brussels and Strasbourg do, in fact, have power over fisheries, agriculture and “important social and environmental policies,” then who speaks for Scotland on those issues within the EU Commission right now? You’d think it would be one of the 6 Scottish MEPs, yes? Well, it isn’t as simple as that:

The Scotland Act 1998 set out that it is the responsibility of the Scottish Government and Parliament to implement European Union regulation when it relates to devolved issues.[1] Such issues range from economic development, law and order, local government, fisheries and agriculture, protection of the environment, transport and climate change.  The policy aims of the EU have been closely tied to the Scottish Government’s 2020 Growth Strategy and there is a lot of common objectives between Scotland and the EU.[2]

So the Scottish Government is responsible for implementing EU laws.  However, when it comes to agreeing what the laws actually say, under the current UK constitution, Scotland’s Government is represented in the Council by the UK Minister.  Scottish Government Ministers may attend, but always only with the permission of the UK Government.

So, who’s the UK’s representative on the European Council? It’s the head of state or government of each member. In case you’ve forgotten who that is for the UK, here’s a picture.


Could be worse, I suppose. Could be the Queen.

Well, what about the European Commission – surely the UK government has someone more representative of the people of the UK than the Prime Minister who formed a majority government with the second smallest vote share in the UK’s history?


The current European Commissioner from the United Kingdom is one Jonathan Hill – that is, Baron Hill of Oareford, Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, former Leader of the House of Lords, and former Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. This man, a former UK Government Party Cabinet Member Sworn to the Privy Council who was never elected at any time by the UK electorate, represents the people of the United Kingdom – including Scotland – in the upper echelons of the European Union. An unelected Lord was chosen by the UK government to represent the 64 million people of the United Kingdom on the EU Commission.

Whenever the Leave campaign talk about the “undemocratic” nature of the EU, they frequently point to the “undemocratic” EU Commission. No, we don’t choose who goes on the EU Commission – but by the same token, we don’t choose who’s in the UK Cabinet, the Privy Council, or more glaringly, the House of Lords. Yet here we are: a man who has never been elected by the people of the UK is representing us in the EU.

Still, that’s by the by: what matters is whether the people who represent us in Europe look after our best interests. To hope the UK government’s representatives would treat the ministers and people of Scotland with respect is, sadly, not borne out by past history:

Sending a Conservative peer to represent Scottish fishermen at EU talks is a “slap in the face” for Scotland, the country’s fisheries minister has said.

Richard Lochhead argued that he should have been allowed to stand in for UK Environment Secretary Liz Truss, who is unable to attend the meeting.

But the UK government has instead drafted in Lord de Mauley.

Two-thirds of the UK’s fishing industry is based in Scotland.

Monday’s talks in the Belgian capital are to focus on quotas for deep sea stocks, which disproportionately affect Scottish trawlers.

That’s fishing, then. How about agriculture – is the UK more accommodating to Scotland’s interests in that field?

SNP MEP Alyn Smith has reacted angrily to news that the UK government has today (Friday) announced that it will not pass on hundreds of millions of pounds in EU agriculture payments to Scotland which only accrue to the UK because of Scotland’s unique agriculture.

The shock decision comes in the wake of a cross party call from Scottish politicians at Holyrood, including the (Other Party), (UK Goverenment Party) and (Coalition) parties as well as the Scottish government, for the payment to be passed on.  The decision sees Scottish farming losing out on €60million a year until 2020, some €230million in funds to which Scotland’s farmers are objectively entitled.

This sort of thing has been the state of affairs practically since the UK joined the EU:

SECRET papers, released today, have revealed how the Scottish fishing fleet was betrayed by the government 30 years ago to enable Britain to sign up to the controversial Common Fisheries Policy.

Prime Minister Edward Heath’s officials estimated that up to half the fishermen in Scottish waters – then 4,000 men – could lose their jobs, but the decision was taken to go ahead with plans to sign up because it was believed that the benefits to English and Welsh fishermen would outweigh the disadvantages in Scotland.

Three decades on, with the same policy now threatening the very survival of the Scottish whitefish fleet, the new revelations are certain to fan the flames of deepening unrest in Scotland’s coastal communities.

In a memo dated 11 December 1970, on the negotiations to sign up to the CFP, the department of Agriculture and Fisheries for Scotland conceded that the policy would lead to a “weaker and less efficient national fleet”.

A DAFS briefing note warned: “In short, at present it is much easier to see the drawbacks for our fishermen likely to be involved in the Common Fisheries Policy than to be at all positive that there will be benefits to offset, let alone outweigh them.”

Nonetheless, the assumption that everything in the EU’s remit would be devolved to the Scottish Parliament is a reasonable one to make. So is the idea that the UK government could decide to take back those powers before they even made it across the channel:

Lords axe Holyrood’s power over Scottish renewables

Commenting on the debate in the House of Commons on the Lords’ amendment to the UK Energy bill – and in particular  Amendment 54 which removed the Scottish parliament’s powers in respect of renewables obligation in Scotland – SNP Energy spokesman Mike Weir said:

“This is an outrageous example of the unionist parties ganging up to remove powers from the Scottish parliament. Worse still they did so by introducing last –minute amendments in the unelected House of Lords, rather than even having the courage to debate it on the floor of the House of Commons.

“There was no consultation with the Scottish Government or the Scottish parliament prior to the introduction of this amendment, nor when challenged in the Commons did the minister or his Labour front bench counterpart have any reasonable explanation as to why this happened in such an underhand manner. “

If the UK had any interest in ensuring the Scottish people had the loudest voice for Scottish fisheries, farms, and EU-related policies, then they would’ve done so long before now.

One Nation, One Britain: a lovely idea for a charity that nonetheless gives me the boak.

One Britain, One Nation: the UK’s civic nationalist response to UKIP is sadly Too Little, Too Late.

Well, if the Remain camp want the Scottish people to vote as members of the UK, then so be it. It means that if Scotland is taken out of the EU by a Leave-voting England, then we Scots will have to decide whether that’s a price we’re willing to pay for continued UK membership. But by the same token, if Scottish votes are enough to tip a close vote – as many polls are predicting – then you cannot then “blame the Scots” for making a decision which you were adamant to ensure was a “British” referendum. If we’re voting as One Nation, then it doesn’t matter if England narrowly voted Leave and Scotland massively voted Remain – if it’s a British vote, it’s a British vote. Complaining that the Scots “subverted the will of the English people” means you only want to be One Nation when it suits you.

Unlike some varieties, however, we’re not fair-weather nationalists. Independence-supporting Scots will be voting in the referendum from the perspective that we don’t want to be voting on EU membership as a part of the UK – but since we are in the UK, we will vote in whatever way furthers our cause. Voting Leave does not further the cause of independence, for independence for Scotland is not on offer. Voting Remain, on the other hand, ensures that Westminster’s control over Scotland is not extended more than it already is- and Westminster does not grant anything to Scotland without attempting to extract a heavy price.

I’m fighting to take Westminster’s power over Scotland away, and place them back into the hands of the people of Scotland. I’m not going to vote to give them even more control over Scottish affairs – especially given how they use that control. Vote Leave in this referendum, and you’re voting to hand everything that we currently share with the EU to the same establishment who denied us our parliament; who suppressed our wealth and constantly, baldly, shamelessly, and determinately lied about it; who devastated our industries; who poisoned our lands and seas; who stole our waters and natural resources; who systematically killed our people through neglect.

How is this a dilemma?

5 thoughts on “The Illusion of Control: What Do You Mean “We,” Paleface?

  1. Jim Morris says:

    A great and accurate assessment. However, many I have talked to (argued with) declare their intention to vote Leave in order to guarantee the IndyRef2. And many too refuse to vote for Cameron and Osborne, somI have to ask them why they want Boris Johnston?

  2. […] with “the future of our country” (what do you mean “we,” paleface?) being “at stake” in a “leap in the dark,” “wrangling,” […]

  3. […] June – Metamorphosis & Ecdysis. I published a lot of posts in April & May, all heavily focused on the Scottish Elections and EU referendum. The fallout of the 24th of June […]

  4. […] a Remain vote in the UK’s referendum on membership of the European Union, for many reasons stated many times. I worked with the Scottish branch of the official Remain campaign, which meant I was […]

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