The splitting of nations

 

The EU is changing its attitude to regional and provincial government. It used to see it as an ally in attacking the powers of the member states. The EU offered more powers to the regions as it took more powers to itself, acting as a pincer movement on the authority of national g0vernment. They sought a Europe of the regions.

Now the EU is becoming concerned that fostering regional power centres is getting out of control. They do not welcome the independence movements in Catalonia, Scotland or Lombardia. They are happy for regions to have some devolved powers, but they do not wish them to press their claims to the point where they rupture the constitution of a member state. The EU would not wish to renegotiate membership with a smaller Spain and an independent Catalonia. It does not want to see the richer parts of Spain spin off from the Spanish state at a time of heavy indebtedness and substantial cross border liabilities extended through the Spanish state and Spanish banking system.

Scottish nationalists assume that Scotland could automatically become a member of the EU on the same terms as the UK currently enjoys. Even if the rest of the EU agreed, there would have to be Treaty amendments, as the MEP seats, the voting weights and other constitutional matters would need sorting out between Scotland and the rest of the EU. There would have to be a deal on both the rest of the UK and Scotland’s financial contribution. Would Scotland still enjoy the exemption from joining the Euro? Would it negotiate any part of the UK rebate? The rest of the EU might see Scottish secession as an opportunity to make Scotland join on more conventional terms.

What sort of a deal could either Catalonia or Lombardia do, should they fulfill their wish to gain independence following a referendum? How could the EU be sure residual Spain and Italy could honour their debts and liabilities?

It is facsinating to see the EU now becoming an advocate of the status quo on exisiting member states configurations. The early enthusiasm for stronger regional government, which may have stoked some of the mood for independence, is now coming back to worry them.

Meanwhile the EU’s refusal to recognise England along with its continuing wish to splinter England into unwanted regions, fuels anti EU sentiment in England.

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169 Comments

  1. Brian Taylor
    Posted December 2, 2012 at 6:36 am | Permalink

    Lets start the process now that would require a new arrangement by using Article 50 from the Lisbon Treaty.
    This would concentrate the minds of our own negotiators,something I wonder if they would enter into with any great gusto!!”
    What do you think Mr Redwood?

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted December 2, 2012 at 9:24 am | Permalink

      The minds of our negotiators should first be concentrated on Article 48 TEU on revision of the treaties, to seek EU treaty changes in our national interests.

      For example, as a kind of test case, just as there is an existing protocol giving the UK a treaty “opt-out” from ever having to join the euro, so there could be a new protocol giving the UK a treaty “opt-out” from the EU’s fisheries policy.

      Then if/when it is found that the governments of other EU member states will not agree to such treaty changes, Article 50 TEU on voluntary withdrawal from the EU.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted December 2, 2012 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

        http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/361937

        “THE scandal of fit-for-the-table fish being thrown back into the seas because of EU ­quotas would end if Britain had control of its fish stocks, tests reveal.”

        “Environment Minister Richard Benyon, an outspoken critic of “discards”, has backed the trials which lend huge weight to ­demands for a change in EU rules.

        The Minister says he believes EU policy is too centralised and bureaucratic and has been leading calls to give ­European countries more say in the way their own fisheries are managed.”

        So why doesn’t the Minister get cracking and start drafting a protocol to give the UK a treaty “opt-out”, to be proposed as a treaty change under Article 48 TEU on revision of the treaties?

        “The Government of any Member State, the European Parliament or the Commission may submit to the Council proposals for the amendment of the Treaties. These proposals may, inter alia, serve either to increase or to reduce the competences conferred on the Union in the Treaties.”

        • Disaffected
          Posted December 2, 2012 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

          Denis, because the minister is not allowed by the Tory led Coalition to do this.

          The Lib Dems would not tolerate less Europe in any form, despite Clegg promising a better in/out EU referendum than the Tories. It does raise the question was he ever serious, was he misleading the public for votes or going by their voting record on Europe not telling the truth? However, I am sure the electorate has made its own mind up and is voting accordingly and will continue to do so.

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted December 2, 2012 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

            There’s no need to invoke the LibDems as an obstacle.

            Under Howard’s leadership it had become official Tory policy that powers over fishing should be repatriated, but Cameron scrapped that policy in June 2006.

            That was the first EU-related pledge that he dropped.

        • uanime5
          Posted December 2, 2012 at 9:56 pm | Permalink

          I doubt any of the other EU countries would support the UK being excused from the CFP in exchange for nothing so making this protocol is a waste of everyone’s time.

          Why not just reform the CFP so that discards are illegal rather than trying to remove the UK from it?

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted December 3, 2012 at 9:37 am | Permalink

            Because we’re not so stupid that we can’t learn lessons from four decades of experience. We should never have given up control of our fishing grounds – OUR fishing grounds – and we want to take back that control.

    • Timaction
      Posted December 2, 2012 at 11:18 am | Permalink

      Regionalisation is all part of the grand plan to ensure citizens of the respective Countries have no sense of Nationhood but of a Greater Europe by incremental stealth. Devolved powers to Mayors, assemblies in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland were all part of the grand plan (FCO 30/1048 of 1971 says it all). Mass migration imposed on England was to make us feel that we no longer belonged to a Nation state. Pretending mass migration is not past and current policy is just lies, especially from eastern Europe. Not allowing England its own Parliament. No answer to the West Lothian question. English only matters being carried by Scottish MP’s e.g. Tuition fees where they don’t pay! Then their is Gay marriage, attacks on the Christian Church trying to ban the wearing of crosses in the workplace in the EU HCR. Mr Cameron said in the commons he would oppose this whilst at the same time Government Lawyers were arguing their case in the Hague. Its all an attack on nationhood, its traditions and values. If we keep voting LiblabCon we will get more of the same as we have for 40 years.

      • Disaffected
        Posted December 2, 2012 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

        Prepare yourselves for more taxation this week. Osborne wants more strivers to work longer and pay for his reckless borrowing and spending on EU, overseas aid, mass immigration, welfare, socialist views and values. Advice to the young with ability: run fast run far. EU unemployment is rising fast to realise a political dream of an EU superstate. I wonder where the Romanians and Bulgarians will emigrate next year?

        People who work or strive for a better life are robbed by the Tory led coalition in their working life and now in retirement. They want to develop our beloved countryside into houses (always with a large proportion of affordable homes to bring the area down) and wind farms so affordable housing can built on your doorstep while you spent all your life striving to live in a better area to improve the life chances for your family.

        Now it is given away to the undeserving there is no incentive to work or try to improve yourself. No need to work hard at school, best places at university are reserved for those from poor backgrounds and even if you do get in you will pay for the fees for the rest of your life (unless you are from the EU because you do not have to pay or you can clear off without a trace), no need to work to buy a house one will provided for free in the best areas.

        No need to save for your retirement or pension the Tory led coalition will provide a care home for free, if you own a house it will have to be sold to pay for your care. The Tory led coalition is currently recking the strivers pensions and savings for more borrow and waste. Who believes Mr Cameron when he says he is for strivers? Perhaps, based on the performance to date, he means that he is out to penalise the strivers?

        Come to the UK for free health, education and house. All provided by the UK taxpaying strivers. Hurry while stocks last because the country is going broke.

        • Graham Swift
          Posted December 2, 2012 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

          Agree completely. This country is finished.LibLabCom are only interested in the something-for-nothing sh*ts.

          • Posted December 3, 2012 at 2:40 am | Permalink

            By the Grace of God let Scotland secede! This will restore England & provoke a cleaning of the Augean Stables. Out with many wretched free-riders, (undesirables from overseas), & domestic traitors. We will join NAFTA & focus our growth on Asia. We will wipe the floor with the pathetic euro losers!

      • uanime5
        Posted December 2, 2012 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

        Not allowing England its own Parliament. No answer to the West Lothian question. English only matters being carried by Scottish MP’s e.g. Tuition fees where they don’t pay! Then their is Gay marriage, attacks on the Christian Church trying to ban the wearing of crosses in the workplace in the EU HCR.

        None of these are the fault of the EU, all but the last one are caused by the UK’s Government.

        Also not letting people wear religious jewellery (or any jewellery) when there’s a risk that it will get caught in a machine isn’t an attack on the church, it’s common sense.

        • Timaction
          Posted December 3, 2012 at 9:46 am | Permalink

          There is no attack on foreign religions, just Christianity.
          Are you a Government/EU plant Uanime5? You do really belong on Left Foot Forward or the Guardian.
          Go read 30/1048 of 1971. I mean really READ it! Then come back on these pages and tell me about the English parliament etc

        • Edward
          Posted December 3, 2012 at 10:40 am | Permalink

          uni,
          The courts refusal to allow employees the freedom to wear a symbol of their religion had nothing to do with health and safety matters.

  2. Leslie Singleton
    Posted December 2, 2012 at 6:46 am | Permalink

    The idea of England being (compulsorily) split up is simply fatuous. Not that I understand the EU, far from it, but you’d a thought that more amalgamation would have been their game (their game, not mine) instead of (artificial) dinky regions.

    • David Price
      Posted December 2, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

      Divide and conquer?

      • Posted December 2, 2012 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

        Divide, buy the politicians with good wages, good pensions, expenses, travel, promotion and a few good dinners and conquer – so much cheaper and more effective than war.

  3. Duncan
    Posted December 2, 2012 at 7:03 am | Permalink

    “The rest of the EU might see Scottish secession as an opportunity to make Scotland join on more conventional terms.”

    John why on earth do you ignore the actual fact that Scotland is already a member of the EU? I can prove it to you, in a drawer not 500cm from this keyboard in Scotland is my passport. On that passport I am told that I am a citizen of the EU. By what law will that be taken from me? No law exists in the EU to do that. Equally no law exists to expel any part of any country, state, region that declares independence.

    ” Would Scotland still enjoy the exemption from joining the Euro? ”
    There is no pressure on Sweden to join the Euro, they have taken a democratic vote to not join the Euro, Sweden joined after Maastricht when the Euro was born.

    John try and understand that just because the forthcoming independence of Scotland creates resentment in the breast of some of our English cousins, which causes them to react like a child denied sweeties at the supermarket checkout, it does not cause these emotions in the rest of the world. Unionists have finally realised after years of negative propaganda that this referendum is going to take place in Scotland, and that there is a very good chance that we will vote to embrace self government like the other 196 counties on earth who have such independence. Many of them having voted for such in the past twenty years.

    The Daily Mail reading types who wail and bleat about Scotland as if it were in the ownership of England, and that we are nothing but impertinent up starts who should be jolly grateful for England’s generosity to us, are living and have been living in a parallel universe, that never existed. UK Government figures show that we have paid our way for years and more, and that we will be financially sound after independence. Being in control of the fiscal policies that presently bind us to the economy of the SE corner of these islands will allow us to plot our own course and reindustrialise and rebalance our country that your party turned in to an industrial waste land.

    In 1707 Scotland was 20% of the UK population with an economy growing at 2.5%. Today we struggle to make 9% of the UK population and our economy has failed to keep pace with the rest of the UK for decades. That paints the picture of Scotland in the union.

    Reply: I have not attacked Scottish Nationalists and accept that Scotland will decide. Scotland has to understand that there is no acceptance by the rest of the EU that a region leaving a country member of the EU automatically becomes a member. It will need negotiating – how much would Scotland pay in? How many votes would Scotland get around the table? How many MEPs? Why do you think Scotland – or indeed the rest of the UK – would automatically get all the special terms of membership the UK has negotiated for itself?

    • lifelogic
      Posted December 2, 2012 at 9:08 am | Permalink

      Indeed there would be a huge amount of negotiation needed by Scotland both with the EU and with the rest of the UK. Especially if they are to retain the pound, and doubtless still want cash from England and/or the EU too.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted December 2, 2012 at 9:13 am | Permalink

      “John why on earth do you ignore the actual fact that Scotland is already a member of the EU?”

      Maybe because Scotland is NOT already a member of the EU?

      Scotland is part of the EU, which is an international organisation established by treaties between its sovereign member states, but it is yet not a sovereign state and therefore it cannot be a member state of the EU in its own right.

      In fact if you do a word seach of the present EU treaties, which are here:

      http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:C:2008:115:0001:01:EN:HTML

      you will find that the word “Scotland” does not appear anywhere in the treaties; crucially it does not appear in the list of High Contracting Parties to the treaties, but nor does it appear anywhere else.

      Surely it is obvious that an independent Scotland could not be a member state of the EU unless it was listed as a separate sovereign party to the EU treaties?

      The opening sentence of Article 1 of the Treaty on European Union is:

      “By this Treaty, the HIGH CONTRACTING PARTIES establish among themselves a EUROPEAN UNION, hereinafter called “the Union” on which the Member States confer competences to attain objectives they have in common.”

      For Scotland to be a Member State of “the Union” it would have to be listed among those “HIGH CONTRACTING PARTIES”, and that would require treaty change.

      I’d also question whether EU treaty change could be avoided even if Scotland left the UK but did not remain within the EU as a separate member state in its own right, as the “GREAT BRITAIN” part of “THE UNITED KINGDOM OF GREAT BRITAIN AND NORTHERN IRELAND” would no longer exist as a political or legal entity as understood by the other parties to the EU treaties at the time they were made.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted December 2, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

        Missed for moderation.

    • APL
      Posted December 2, 2012 at 9:45 am | Permalink

      Duncan: “John why on earth do you ignore the actual fact that Scotland is already a member of the EU?”

      You are a citizen of the European Union by virtue of the membership of the United Kingdonm of that organization.

      You may be a citizen of the EU, but the country ‘Scotland’ which doesn’t exist at the moment is not.

      Duncan: “John try and understand that just because the forthcoming independence of Scotland creates resentment in the breast of some of our English cousins, ”

      You have just confirmed my earlier assertion that as a political entity Scotland does not exist.

      But that aside, you cannot be independent if you are a vassal state of the EU

    • Leslie Singleton
      Posted December 2, 2012 at 10:58 am | Permalink

      Duncan–We had the same Monarchy, the same currency, the same language (approximately), a common border and Scotland had lost a devastating amount of money and prestige in the Darien Disaster, so I find it odd to read what you have to say about 1707. Scotland was happy enough to be united when we had an Empire (Sorry, we are not supposed to mention that in case it annoys you, best I understand) indeed Scots built the Empire so don’t be too surprised if some English do not appreciate Scotland now wanting to jump ship. What goes around comes around. May I at least suggest that you find out what some of the answers are going to be before you vote? Personally from my many visits to Scotland I am confident the Vote will be a resounding No. I certainly hope so.

      • Duncan
        Posted December 3, 2012 at 11:51 am | Permalink

        Scotland wasn’t bankrupt in 1707. But even if it was, so what? Norway was a basket case in 1707, Finland was a poverty stricken remote forgotten corner of Sweden, and Switzerland was a collection of remote mountain valleys with an economy based on cheese and yodelling. The state of the Scottish economy over 300 years ago isn’t relevant to our economic potential in the 21st century. Bringing up Darien just goes to show that the anti-independence argument is stuck in the 18th century.

        Even if this Unionist claim were true, are we supposed to base our decision on the future of our country because of a good turn done to us over 300 years ago? We’ve repaid that debt many times over. But the truth is that Scotland was not bankrupt in 1707, we did not need England to bail us out. They didn’t bail us out, Westminster just bribed some lords, the ‘parcel o rogues’ Burns wrote about.

        Scotland in 1707 was doing quite well for itself. According to the historian Michael Lynch, the Scottish economy was growing at 2.5% annually – a rather more impressive figure than we’ve managed these past few years under Westminster. Scotland, like other countries in Western Europe at the time, was beginning to develop a middle class and an urban working class. The towns and burghs of Scotland were cash rich, and were beginning to agitate for greater political power. This went down as well with aristos of Scotland and England as a Craig Whyte and Neil Lennon karaoke double act would go down at Gers fans night out.

        The Darien colony was largely bankrolled by Lowland lords. However the idea that Scotland might embark on some colonialist adventurism off its own bat was anathema to Westminster, which believed it had a monopoly on imperialist ambitions. England sided with Spain and blocked Scottish access to all English colonies, as a result the Darien scheme was doomed even before it even got started.

        Failure of Darien left the Lowland Lords in financial strife, and they were threatening to default on the bills they owed to their mainly English creditors. With war looming between England and France, Westminster was determined to secure its northern border. The infamous ‘English gold’ was sent north. The money paid by the English Parliament was in the form of bribes to private individuals to vote for Union, it was not a payment to bail out the Scottish national exchequer. http://www.newsnetscotland.com/index.php/scottish-opinion/4341-a-unionist-lexicon-an-a-z-of-unionist-scare-stories-myths-and-misinformation#darien

        • Lindsay McDougall
          Posted December 5, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

          The Darien scheme was doomed from the start because it was daft. Here is what the (English) historian John Prebble wrote in his short history “The Lion in the North”.

          “The Council-General of the Company [of Scotland Trading] abandoned its earlier thoughts of Africa and decided to establish a colony and an entrepot on the coast of Darien, the most inhospitable and unhealthy part of the Isthmus of Panama. No one, not even Paterson who had suggested this site from the beginning, had ever been there………………………

          In July 1698, five ships left Leith upon a wave of emotion. They sailed north about and down the Atlantic, made a landfall off the coast of Darien in November, and claimed it as the Colony of Caledonia. Many of the colonists were already dead from flux and fever, and their leaders were inefficient and quarrelsome. The splendid harbour chosen was a trap for vessels that could not sail to windward. Ambition, pride and envy, aggravated by ignorant stupidity, destroyed the spirit of those who survived the killing fevers. Paterson’s wife died within a few days of the landing, and he went slowly out of his mind with despair…………….”

          Do you still blame the English for Darien [or RBS or HBOS]?

      • davidb
        Posted December 3, 2012 at 9:44 pm | Permalink

        Historian TC Smout pointed out in one of the history books I read, that interest rates did not rise in Scotland after the Darien disaster. That may have been expected if the country had indeed lost all its capital. So I suspect its one of those lies that Mr Goebels would have liked, where its repetition makes it true.

        What happened was that moneys lost by a small group of aristocrats was repaid to them by an English parliament. They sold their country for personal gain – how often has that been the case?. It is akin to say a modern banking collapse where the majority of the taxpayers get to bail out the rich self aggrandising idiots running the banks, while gaining precious little themselves.

    • Posted December 2, 2012 at 11:34 am | Permalink

      Duncan, it isn’t that simple. The fact the UK is a signatory to various treaties does NOT automatically transfer to both parts if the UK should split – or did you expect Scotland to hold a permanent seat on the UN Security Council, too? Do you expect Scotland to be required to pay the EU the same amount each year that the UK does currently?

      Bear in mind that when Czechoslovakia separated, the Czech Republic and Slovakia both had to apply to join the UN as new member states. Had one or the other been designated the ‘successor state’ to Czechoslovakia, that one would have retained the UN membership while the other had to apply to join: this would be Scotland’s situation, since presumably “UK minus Scotland” would be the UK successor state in the event of Scottish independence.

      I have seen it argued that the Vienna Convention on Succession of States in respect of Treaties would enable Scotland to retain the UK’s status … an argument ever so slightly weakened by the fact neither the UK nor the EU are signatories to that treaty! Without that route, Scotland would legally be a “new” state – a successful application to join the UN would allow it to sign most treaties (Geneva Convention, all the usual rights and obligations about diplomatic status, embassies, international travel etc), but EU membership would at the very least require the EU’s consent – and that could well come with strings attached, not least from Spain.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted December 2, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

        And although that Convention dates back to 1978 it took until 1996 to get the 15 ratifications necessary for it to come into force, and then of course it only binds the 22 states which have ratified it, listed here:

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vienna_Convention_on_Succession_of_States_in_respect_of_Treaties

        as Bosnia, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Dominica, Ecuador, Egypt, Estonia, Ethiopia, Iraq, Liberia, Moldova, Montenegro, Morocco, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Serbia, Seychelles, Slovakia, Slovenia, Macedonia, Tunisia, and Ukraine.

        There’s an interesting account of it here:

        http://untreaty.un.org/cod/avl/ha/vcssrt/vcssrt.html

        which says:

        “Nor did the 1978 Convention’s rules about the break-up of States reflect modern State practice …”

        “Although the 1978 Convention is an example of progressive development of international law, the customary rules of international law on succession of States in respect of treaties apply to most States, yet they are not reflected in the text of the 1978 Convention. Therefore, it is not a reliable guide to such rules of customary law on treaty succession.”

      • Duncan
        Posted December 2, 2012 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

        A lot of supposition there.

        In 1992, because of growing nationalist tensions, Czechoslovakia was peacefully dissolved by parliament. On 1 January 1993 it formally separated into two completely independent countries: the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic. I was not aware of Czechoslovakia being a member of the EU, and neither were they I think, so you comparison is a wee bit strange and frankly desperate. The two separate entities applied as separate states and joined, what is your point. They never had previous membership as Scotland has with the UK.
        SPAIN have insisted they will not block an independent Scotland becoming a member of the EU.
        UK ministers had claimed Madrid was considering a veto because of fears that Scottish independence would encourage the Catalan and Basque OPINION Garcia-Margallo separatist movements in Spain.
        But Spanish foreign minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo said it would not raise objections to Scotland joining the EU.
        Garcia-Margallo said: “If in the UK, both parties agree that this is consistent with their constitutional order, ( as indeed we have through the Edinburgh agreement) Spain would have nothing to say. This does not affect us.
        “The constitutional arrangements in Britain is one and in Spain another. It is up to them.”
        Spain has previously refused to recognise Kosovo as an independent state. (So what?)

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted December 3, 2012 at 9:28 am | Permalink

          There’s no precedent, which presumably is why the EU Commission has recently changed its tune and admitted that it doesn’t know what would happen.

          http://euobserver.com/political/117867

          “Commission ducks questions on separatism in EU states”

          “The European Commission is refusing to be precise about the potential EU future of separatist-minded regions, as Flemish nationalists made gains in Belgian local elections and Scotland formally agreed an independence referendum deal.

          Rolling back on previously more definite statements about new states being obliged to apply for EU membership, the commission on Monday (15 October) said it would express an opinion only if asked by a member state and only if it concerned a specific situation.

          “Concerning certain scenarios, such as the separation of one part of a member state or the creation of a new state, these would not be neutral as regards the EU treaties,” said a spokesperson.

          The commission would express its opinion on the legal consequences under EU law on request of a member state “detailing a precise scenario.””

          Well, of course Scotland becoming an independent sovereign state and a separate EU member state in its own right could not be “neutral as regards the EU treaties”, because at present the word “Scotland” doesn’t even appear anywhere in those treaties and while some things could perhaps be fudged without treaty change others could not.

          For example, Alex Salmond talks about Scotland getting “a seat at the top table”, but unless the EU treaties were changed so that Scotland became an EU member state in its own right he would not be counted in among “the Heads of State or Government of the Member States” and so he would have no right to attend meetings of the European Council.

          • Denis Cooper
            Posted December 4, 2012 at 10:20 am | Permalink

            Awaiting moderation.

    • Sue Doughty
      Posted December 2, 2012 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

      Duncan, if Scotland were to be no longer part of the UK all Scots would lose the right to have a UK passport, to use the UK currency and to hang onto the EU rebate. They would be paying a full share her head. That is very generous of Scotland, and though they have been good neighbours to us I hope they get what they want.

      • Duncan
        Posted December 2, 2012 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

        On the other hand Scotland has lost out on grants from the EU so as not to compromise the UKs rebate status. There are many areas of the Highlands and the Central Scotland that would qualify for funding. The structural funds were set up to give financial support to under-developed and economically weak EU regions. They comprise the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), European Social Fund (ESF), Cohesion Fund, European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund, Financial Instrument for Fisheries Guidance (FIFG) and the Instrument for Pre-Accession Assistance (IPA). Between them, they now make up a major part of the EU budget. Alongside their economic aims, the funds are also important in pursuing the EU’s aim of solidarity between the regions of the EU. While many welcome their economic goals, the way in which they share out money has frequently been a source for argument, especially following the accession of poorer eastern European countries to the EU.

        • Wireworm
          Posted December 3, 2012 at 4:47 am | Permalink

          I can hear the unmistakeable sound of a gravy train rumbling and clanking in the distance.

          • Duncan
            Posted December 3, 2012 at 11:54 am | Permalink

            Correct it is the one that the Westminster apparatchiks have been riding for the past 304 years, being shunted in to the weeds to make way for the Caledonian Express.

        • Lindsay McDougall
          Posted December 6, 2012 at 6:20 pm | Permalink

          All these funds, all those acronyms, all those sticky fingers before anything useful is done. “Let the money fructify in the pockets of the people.” quoth William Ewart Gladstone, and I’m not sure he was wrong.

    • Jon
      Posted December 2, 2012 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

      The last poll I remember was that most English would be happy if Scotland left the union.

      I respect people who want independence but thats not what I see from the SNP in the Scottish Parliament. I see them criticising the “Westminster Government” when much of what they criticise is EU policy. The SNP wants to be fully subject to the EU without the robustness of the union to vote against many of its extremes. That to me is less independence.

      Remember when Eire voted against the EU fiscal policies. Mr Sarkozy told them to vote again and to tick the right box this time which they dutifully did. That is not independence, if anything its just very sad. Scotland will have 1% of the vote in the EU, that means you will not be independent under the SNP.

    • Graham Swift
      Posted December 2, 2012 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

      Good riddance to Scotland and sooner the better. Pay for everything which is subsidised by English tax payers , and take the liebour ….. MPs with you, particularly Gordon Brown.

    • Duncan
      Posted December 2, 2012 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

      Sorry John I had not meant to imply you were attacking the SNP. Although I cannot see where I did.
      We know there will be much negotiating to be done both with London and Brussels. No one that I have heard from the SNP is trying to suggest otherwise. There is much to be done and it will be done. If Scotland stumble and makes mistakes along the way they will be ours, made by us, not by London on our behalf as we see in our fishing and agriculture industries. We can then reject the SNP if we so choose and vote in a party we want, not one that has not been voted for by us. Who knows we may even see the return of the Torys under Murdo Fraser who seemed to get the message on Scotland unlike the kick boxing line in the sand Ruth Davidson.
      There are very many question that cannot possibly be answered until independence is declared. But I can tell you this, Scottish voters trust Alex Salmond more than they trust anyone. Poll after poll says so. I would much rather he and his very able cabinet were negotiating with Brussels and London than anyone. Like him or loathe him, you would not beat him in negotiation.
      With regards to the EU. You can go back to 2007 when Eamonn Gallagher- former director general of the European Commission stated: “Scotland and the remainder of the UK would be equally entitled, and obliged, to continue the existing full membership of the EU. This was conceded by Emile Noel, one of Europe’s founding fathers and long-serving secretary-general of the European Commission, who said Scottish independence would create two states, which would have “equal status with each other and the other states”.
      This is backed up by Article 34 of the Vienna Convention on the Succession of States, which reads:
      “Any treaty in force at the date of succession of states in respect of the entire territory of the predecessor state continues in force in respect of each successor state so formed.”
      Or you COULD listened to Lord Mackenzie-Stuart, former president of the European Court of Justice who stated:
      “Independence would leave Scotland and something called the rest’ in the same legal boat. If Scotland had to re-apply, so would the rest. I am puzzled at the suggestion that there would be a difference in the status of Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom in terms of community law if the Act of Union was dissolved.”
      However two years will see lots of water pouring under that particular bridge and the EU may itself disintegrate. To try and imply that Scottish independence is going to result in us becoming an isolated backwater as many seem to be trying to do is just the old fashioned scaremongering stuff we have heard for decades. Scotland is well able to forge her own way in the world, it is the small independent Scandinavian country’s we aspire to that are the success story of the EU. Norway has found international admiration and respect, and that is as a non member being part of the trading block. So even if Scotland chose to leave the EU and give up the citizen ship we already enjoy, we would survive.
      Even the much sneered at Iceland is booming again with 2.7% growth and paying back bank account money to Scottish local authorities they thought they would never see again. Of course they had the good sense to sack the politicians and bankers who failed them. Scottish independence is inevitable come hell or high water.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted December 3, 2012 at 9:34 am | Permalink

        Well, you can forget all about the Vienna Convention on the Succession of States, for the reasons given above.

      • Leslie Singleton
        Posted December 3, 2012 at 9:56 am | Permalink

        Duncan–It must be a big frustration to you that England is inconveniently between you and your beloved Continent. Personally I think Salmond has spoken too much nonsense to persuade the majority of sensible Scots to leave the Union. His Arc of Prosperity was a purely artificial construct if ever there were one and I for one do not think an independent Scotland should (or should want) to be able to use Sterling–suppose France wanted to try and force us to let them use Sterling and potentially screw up our monetary policy–would we allow that? Clearly the Scots (with Salmond no longer so keen on the Euro one notes) would need their own currency (the Scottish Dollar, maybe??). And Salmond isn’t even right about Patterson (the man responsible for the Darien Disaster) founding the Bank of England though admittedly he did formulate the plans a few years ahead of its opening. Thought should be given to whether it was the SNP that was positively being voted for or whether, as I have to admit is very likely, it was the Tories and Labour that were being voted against. There is a big difference.

      • Max Dunbar
        Posted December 3, 2012 at 10:19 pm | Permalink

        All this worn-out old hat is the stuff that the SNP have been repeating tediously for some time now.

        Have a look at some of people that the SNP associate with and you get a flavour of what is in store for those foolish enough to remain living in what will become a poverty stricken socialist collective if separation happens; Dennis Canavan, Patrick Harvie and frequent guest appearances by SNP MSPs at Scottish Communist Party meetings should ring alarm bells.

        There has been no evidence that businesses have been keen to come here in anticipation of “independence”, on the contrary in fact. The number of For Sale and To Let boards on commercial buildings in Glasgow city centre have increased dramatically within the last year. Property prices continue to drop.
        The working population of Scotland is under-skilled. The benefits system has corrupted the people and hindered initiative. The State Sector is enormous and the Creative Sector is mainly the high-profile drinks industry such as whisky and the oil fields (extractive more than creative).

        The predominant geographical feature of Scotland is barren wet mountainous desert which was created largely by human over-exploitation years ago. There are few areas of good farm land. The fishing grounds around Scotland are unlikely to be managed any better than at present.

        The military-strategic issues of maintaining Britain’s defence capabilities make Scotland extremely important notwithstanding the fact that it is an economic basket-case.

        The UK is greater than the sum of its parts. Once we are broken the consequences will be catastrophic but not unpredicted.

    • Electro-Kevin
      Posted December 2, 2012 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

      “…which causes them to react like a child denied sweeties at the supermarket checkout,”

      Actually I think we English have been rather grown up about the iniquities with regard to education, healthcare, old age provision, parliamentary representation…

      Our country is far more ethnically and religiously diverse than Scotland. Ergo more accommodating.

    • uanime5
      Posted December 2, 2012 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

      John the EU charges about 1% of the GDP of each member state and the number of MEPs they have is based on the population of the country. Everything else can be negotiated.

    • IndependentEngland
      Posted December 2, 2012 at 10:54 pm | Permalink

      ‘John try and understand that just because the forthcoming independence of Scotland creates resentment in the breast of some of our English cousins’.
      The only resentment Duncan will be if Scotland, after all the years of whinging and complaining about being dominated by England etc. etc. , actually votes NO in 2014. There will be a groan of despair. We English want Scotland to vote YES in 2014.

    • pete
      Posted December 3, 2012 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

      Why would an independent Scotland (if their figures are true that they could stand on their own two feet which I have grave doubts) want to become part of the disaster EU anyway?

      Are they advocating out of the frying pan into the fire by choosing to be subservient to Brussels instead of London?

      A small country would do well taking their opportunity to stay out of that mess and truly be an independent state. Think Norway….

      Just think, European Free Trade Area – no outside imposed red tape or laws just some friendly mutual free trade agreements with the rest of the world and options to join the odd EU project on a collaborative basis if its in their interest….

      • APL
        Posted December 5, 2012 at 11:24 pm | Permalink

        Pete: “Are they advocating out of the frying pan into the fire by choosing to be subservient to Brussels instead of London?”

        That would be a ‘Yes’, Pete.

  4. Mike Stallard
    Posted December 2, 2012 at 7:24 am | Permalink

    This week we had two Basques come to our Centre. They were refugees from economic misery. And this is new.
    I am reading about the French Revolution at the moment which, without warning, leapt out of terrifying misery, starvation and poverty. The magnificent King and Queen, both decent second raters, were ferociously brought down. Looking at the leadership of Europe, with its strong Belgian/Portuguese influence, you might have thought that the two Presidents and Mr Verhofstadt would have known better than to have encouraged regionalism.
    Meanwhile, the people of Europe as a whole are rapidly getting a lot poorer…….

    • Bazman
      Posted December 2, 2012 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

      Does that include the British citizen Mike or are they all just living it up on benefits?

  5. Peter van Leeuwen
    Posted December 2, 2012 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    It is interesting to see something you’re part of consistently described as “them”.
    Meanwhile, does the UK recognise “England”? Any devolved parliament in England in sight?

    • APL
      Posted December 2, 2012 at 9:52 am | Permalink

      Peter van Leeuwen: “It is interesting to see something you’re part of consistently described as “them”.”

      Indeed. Especially (i) as you’d expect members of our political class who got us into this pickle, would know the impact of the laws they have passed.

      (ii) It also goes some way to explain the extraordinary ignorance of the UK population of the impact of our membership of the EU. The political class goes to some considerable lengths to obfuscate our true relationship with the EU.

      • Lindsay McDougall
        Posted December 4, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

        APL, you have to be fair. It was BRITISH politicians who got us into this pickle and lied to the British electorate, not continental ones. And it is British politicians who have signed 5 Acts of Accession participating in ever deeper integration without holding any referendums.

        We have to focus now on the dire threat to the United Kingdom from Germany, with a full blown federal agenda voiced not by a minor enthusiast but by the German Head of State herself. Her words have been spoken in the open, not behind closed doors. If we ignore them, we have nobody to blame but ourselves.

    • Brian Tomkinson
      Posted December 2, 2012 at 9:59 am | Permalink

      Peter,
      You may happily consider yourself a citizen of the EU but many in this country do not and never will.

      • Cliff. Wokingham.
        Posted December 2, 2012 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

        Indeeed Brian,
        I am English first, British second but European NEVER!

        • Rustylink
          Posted December 2, 2012 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

          Pathetic obscuarntism is here exhibited! I’m not an earthling, I want of get off :-)

      • Peter van Leeuwen
        Posted December 2, 2012 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

        @Brian Tomkinson:
        Ok so you really want to forego your rights here like e.g.
        – right of free movmement and residence throughout the EU.
        – right to vote or stand in European elections (poor UKIP!)
        – right to vote in municipal elections in other EU states (imagine residing outside the UK)
        – right to access EU documents

        the other rights you can find through wikpedia.

        • Brian Tomkinson
          Posted December 3, 2012 at 8:19 am | Permalink

          I shouldn’t miss any of your list. I don’t want my country to be in the EU.

    • Alte Fritz
      Posted December 2, 2012 at 10:14 am | Permalink

      “Them” was a science fiction film made around 1950. It featured ants (the “them” of the title) which had hideously grown many times their normal size, in “their” case as a result of the testing of atomic weapons. “They” were nasty while they lasted but happily were seen off.

      I leave other readers to draw parallels with the hideously bloated EU and the plight of the many peoples living in it.

    • Posted December 3, 2012 at 2:45 am | Permalink

      It will not be a minute too soon! England fills you sad euro’s with fear & trembling. Because you are & will always be LOSERS & LICKSPITTLES!

  6. Kevin R. Lohse
    Posted December 2, 2012 at 7:36 am | Permalink

    An object lesson in the action of the Law of Unintended Consequences?

  7. lifelogic
    Posted December 2, 2012 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    I had always assumed that the EU were very keen to break up countries into weaker and smaller parts. Parts like the absurd, artificial and hated British regions, this solely in order to strengthen EU power. One wonders why on earth MPs let them get away with this absurd butchery of England.

    From the EU perspective it can, I suppose, become a double edged sword. Good.

    It is being reported that Osborne will now attack the private sector pensions (currently often only about 10% of the size of state sector ones) this by restricting higher rate tax relief. This would be absurd and an outrage. Any attack should be to equalise the pensions, not make the division between the cosseted state sector and the over mugged private ones even more unfair. If anything he should introduce a state sector mugging tax to redress the balance, say 80% of any income from state sector/BBC/quango pensions above say £10,000. Perhaps extend it to some RBS/Natwest/Fred Goodwin bank pensions too – now they are state sector too.

    Anyway it would rarely make financial sense to put money into a pension, with only 20% tax relief (actually just deferral) but then have to pay 40% or 45% on it when it is drawn. Especially as you cannot now even recover dividend tax within the pension fund, thanks to G Brown’s mugging that started all the rot.

    I also see that Nick Clegg’s office has denied the Deputy Prime Minister was involved in any wrongdoing amid claims his aides intervened to help secure £12 million of public money for a charity linked to his wife. No doubt her involvement is coincidental, but why is government giving to charities at all. That is surely for individuals and companies to do voluntarily not for a government middle man to force them hand money away to some favoured charities.

    Anyway second hand books usually cost just a few pence and electronic ones can be virtually free. Books have never been cheaper the problem is finding time to read them not the cost of them.

    I also see that Bishop Welby, the next Archbishop of Canterbury, has attacked the high interest rates charged by pay day lenders. It is good to see that some Bishops do, very occasionally, say something sensible.

    • Bazman
      Posted December 2, 2012 at 9:56 am | Permalink

      Pay day lenders are providing a valuable service in a free market obeying British law and being encouraged to come here as most countries in the world are cracking down on them with absurd regulations and falsely limiting interest rates. An overdraft with many British banks is more expensive, so why do you agree with non financial peole such as Archbishops interfering with the free market. Can’t pay the money back don’t borrow. That is the only regulation required and is personal not the states responsibility. The tax generated by these companies pays the benefits that are used to pay back the loans in many cases.

      • Mark
        Posted December 2, 2012 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

        Try doing the maths on that.

        Payday loans simply kick people whose lives have become disorganised with a privatised extortionate income tax instead of pointing them in the direction of some proper moral support to gain control over their lives again.

        • lifelogic
          Posted December 2, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

          Indeed they are, in many ways similar to drug dealers for drug addicts just bringing misery in the main. The law needs changing.

          • Edward
            Posted December 2, 2012 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

            Payday loans quote interest rates of several hundred percent and this always makes people shout foul.
            But this is because of the way APR is defined as an annual percentage rate.
            If I made you a loan of £100 for one week with an additonal cost of £20 this would give an APR of 20 pounds x52 weeks =1040%
            Ive only made £20 yet I’m being called a shark.

          • uanime5
            Posted December 3, 2012 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

            @Edward

            An increase of 20% per week for one year isn’t 1040% it’s 5694 unvigintillion %. An unvigintillion is a number with 66 zeros (million has 6 zeros). So yes Edward you would be considered a shark for charging so much interest over a one year period.

            Compound interest is why loan sharks need to have the amount they can charge severely limited.

          • uanime5
            Posted December 3, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

            @Edward

            Got a decimal point wrong. 20% interest per week over 52 weeks will turn a loan of £100 into a £13,105 debt. This is an increase of 13,105%, not 1040%.

          • Posted December 3, 2012 at 5:36 pm | Permalink

            It is not the definition of APR that is at fault it is just how the maths of interest actually works.

          • Edward
            Posted December 4, 2012 at 8:59 am | Permalink

            Uni
            You miss the point as usual in your rush to reply
            The weakness of Apr is that it is an annual system of calculation
            All these payday loans are set over a week or two
            Regulations make loan advertising state just Apr
            And it is the resulting high interest number which is causing the reaction
            If you looked at the amount paid back after a week or two ie the term of the loan then it is quite reasonable for the risk involved.
            Before you start shouting at me I am not involved in the industry and like internet gambling this new growing area needs controlling

      • Andrew Johnson
        Posted December 2, 2012 at 4:19 pm | Permalink

        The havoc wreaked by “Payday” loan companies and similar lenders, on the poor and vulnerable has been ignored by both Conservative, Labour and Coalition Governments.
        Any reader of this blog fancy paying an APR of 4,214%?
        (Advertised rate by a well known company….) You can find even higher rates if you unlucky.
        Just imagine what happens when you default on your payday loan.
        Banks don’t lend to poor people who don’t have any money.
        The answer? Credit Unions run by local people for local people, but who will provide their start up deposit?

        • lifelogic
          Posted December 2, 2012 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

          Indeed with main stream daytime TV adverts for these loan “services”.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted December 2, 2012 at 10:26 am | Permalink

      What unites the eurofederalists is their commitment to the creation of a new country, which might be called just “Europe” or something longer like “the United States of Europe” or “the European Federation”, which would be recognised as a sovereign state by the other sovereign states around the world.

      Therefore for example the federal Australian government would regard the federal European government as their sovereign counterparty for treaties and other international agreements, accepting that the federal European government spoke for all of “Europe” and that any dealings they had directly with its non-sovereign component parts would only be as permitted by the sovereign European federal authorities.

      There have always been different strands of opinion among the eurofederalists about the best internal organisation for that sovereign pan-European federation, although I don’t think many of them have envisaged that there would always be a devolved government for the whole of what is now the sovereign state of Spain, or a devolved government for the whole of what is now the sovereign state of the United Kingdom.

      There could be a devolved government for the whole of a smaller country such as Luxembourg, but not for the larger countries, with one possible exception.

      • pete
        Posted December 3, 2012 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

        You mean EUssr….

    • forthurst
      Posted December 2, 2012 at 11:38 am | Permalink

      “Anyway second hand books usually cost just a few pence and electronic ones can be virtually free.”

      How would parents buying their children secondhand copies of the books they themselves might have enjoyed in their own childhoods ensure that new or important ideas and their authors are financially supported and promulgated in preference to obsolete stereotypes? Is it not better to tax parents and use the money so appropriated to a better charitable purpose?

      • lifelogic
        Posted December 2, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

        Is it not better to tax parents and use the money so appropriated to a better charitable purpose?

        Who says it is? Often most of it goes in wages to staff and the tax payers would probably spend it better and without all the middle men taking a cut.

      • lifelogic
        Posted December 2, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

        “Ensure new authors are financially supported” – I had not noticed a shortage of new authors, writing is hardly an expensive activity and electronic publishing is virtually free.

    • forthurst
      Posted December 2, 2012 at 11:42 am | Permalink

      “I had always assumed that the EU were very keen to break up countries into weaker and smaller parts.”

      They want to destroy the nation state, not encourage the creation of new nations and hotbeds of nationalistic fervour. Image if the English got their own country; imagine the feverish long overdue housekeeping that might ensue.

      • uanime5
        Posted December 2, 2012 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

        Well if Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland all vote to leave the UK then the English will have their own country.

  8. JoolsB
    Posted December 2, 2012 at 8:40 am | Permalink

    “Meanwhile the EU’s refusal to recognise England along with its continuing wish to splinter England into unwanted regions, fuels anti EU sentiment in England.”

    True John but it’s not just the EU. Each successive UK Government post devolution, including to it’s shame this Tory led coalition, also refuses to recognise England. England has no voice and is not even recognised as a nation in it’s own right which is why the UK Government can discriminate against it in the way it does. It has no-one to represent it or stand up for it’s interests in the same way Scotland, Wales and NI does and what is the Conservative party doing about it – absolutely NOTHING. Where is our First Minister because it sure as hell isn’t Cameron? He and the rest of the Tory party can’t even say the word England let alone stand up for it.

    The party which relies on England for it’s support has let it down badly and we all know Labour are already promoting the idea of regions again by trying to stir up the north/south divide. If Labour get back into into power, which looks likely God help us, they will stop at nothing to balkanise England and the Conservatives will have done absolutely nothing to stop it. If they cared anything about England, they would address the English Question but as they can’t even address the West Lothian Question, we shouldn’t hold our breath.

    We are constantly told “there is no demand for an English Parliament” Well if that is true, why are the politicians afraid to ask us?

    • lifelogic
      Posted December 2, 2012 at 9:12 am | Permalink

      We are constantly told “there is no demand for an English Parliament” Well if that is true, why are the politicians afraid to ask us?

      Because of course like any vote on the EU they only ask when they know they will get the answer they want. Other than the Libdems that is, on the AV referendum, who were just incompetent as usual, anyone could have told them, that politically, it was a non starter.

      • lifelogic
        Posted December 2, 2012 at 11:21 am | Permalink

        Listening to the LibDem’s Lord Oakeshott today, yet another Oxford PPE, suggesting his ideas for getting some growth going, one has to wonder what planet these people are on and what sort of economics they are taught in Oxford PPE.

        Everyone knows what is needed- cheap energy, easy hire and fire, an uplifting smaller state vision, lower taxes, no renewable religion, less or no EU, less gifts to the PIGIS, real incentives to work and functional banks.

        All things the Libdems seem to oppose at every turn. Hence they come 6th in by-elections. Now they even want to kill press freedom too.

        • Graham Swift
          Posted December 2, 2012 at 5:14 pm | Permalink

          You must realise that PPE is Oxford University’s version of Media Studies , a meaningless qualification taken by (MPs) like Cameron, Osborne,Miliband brothers, Clegg, Harman, Cooper,et.alia.

  9. Graham Carson
    Posted December 2, 2012 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    Blair’s dismemberment of our country was the greatest of a great number of shameful acts he perpetrated. I don’t know if he is capable of shame, but if he is, he should show it.

    • lifelogic
      Posted December 2, 2012 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

      One assume he caught Catholicism, so that he could repent, for all his lies and the pointless & counter productive wars entered into on a (apparently ) dishonest basis. He certainly does not seem to be capable of shame, despite all these pointless deaths and maiming.

    • uanime5
      Posted December 2, 2012 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

      The person who introduced regions to the UK was John Major. These regions were based on the regions used during WW2 and were used by the EU to provide financial aid to various parts of the UK.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted December 3, 2012 at 10:13 am | Permalink

        It is correct that John Major supported the break up of the UK into EU regions, and therefore agreed to the establishment of the EU’s Committee of the Regions under the Maastricht Treaty:

        http://cor.europa.eu/en/about/Pages/key-facts.aspx

  10. Posted December 2, 2012 at 9:40 am | Permalink

    The EU is a collection of people. Some of those people are against independence movements and will doubtless have moved motions against them.

    Should it happen I would imagine it won’t be a big issue for the EU as it already contains a lot of very small countries.

    • lifelogic
      Posted December 2, 2012 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

      EU is a collection of people exploited by a collection of over paid bureaucrats and politicians, that cannot be evicted, or even influenced very much by any individual countries population.

    • Posted December 4, 2012 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

      I do enjoy Miss Hanson’s delightful posts! It as if the Coalitions computer managed to create the exact (of course female) voter they imagine: come to think of it is Miss Hanson flesh & blood or a computer at HQ?

    • Lindsay McDougall
      Posted December 5, 2012 at 4:22 pm | Permalink

      @Rebecca Hanson. Here is something that Enoch Powell wrote in the bitterness of defeat immediately after the 1975 referendum.

      Quote
      “Britain will be more prosperous in the EEC”; “the British will have more power and influence in the world in the Community”; “Britain has the opportunity to lead Europe.” These are trick sentences. The words “Britain” and “the British” are used as if they meant the British nation and are intended to be so understood; but the statements in which they stand, though they appear to be political statements, presuppose the non-existence of the British nation, the prior elimination of the British nation State.

      “The British” in statements such as these is merely the plural of “a Briton”. “Britain” and “the British” denote simply those of the Community’s inhabitants who live in Britain, speak English, eat fish and chips and exhibit other non-political symptoms associated with the people of this island. Britons as individuals will have higher incomes, and some of them as individuals will occupy prominent positions in a more powerful State. One might, unkindly but graphically, say that Sir Christopher Soames is the ideal of Community Man.
      Unquote

      For Community read Union. Mrs Hanson, there are no nations in the European Union.

  11. APL
    Posted December 2, 2012 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    JR: “The EU would not wish to renegotiate membership with a smaller Spain and an independent Catalonia. ”

    Not least because having bought all the current Spanish governments bonds – in an attempt to support its ruinous currency, the two new entities might repudiate their Euro denominated debts and in doing so, instantly atomizing the ECB. Poof! The new Spain and independent Catalonia debt free at the stroke of a pen, the organization their former legal incarnation owed so much of the blood sweat and tears of the Spanish citizen, atomized instantly.

    No debtor no creditor, such a scenario must appear more and more appetizing to Madrid as their financial crisis gets deeper and deeper.

    • uanime5
      Posted December 2, 2012 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

      If Spain and Catalonia try to make their debt disappear they shouldn’t be surprised if no one lends to them. They also shouldn’t be surprised if they’re kicked out of the EU and eurozone for ignoring their euro-debts.

      • APL
        Posted December 3, 2012 at 7:44 am | Permalink

        uanime5: “If Spain and Catalonia try to make their debt disappear they shouldn’t be surprised if no one lends to them.”

        Ho ho uanime5, you really don’t get it do you?

        Countries have taken on too much debt. They can’t support their own spending initiatives with out borrowing. We are now in the end game of the deficit spending model, there is no way it isn’t going to be painful.

        Debt repudiation would imply, no demand, that the country live within the income it can rasie from its own tax revenue.

        Yes it would have to cut back its spending by 40% or 50%, but it then wouldn’t have to borrow, therefor wouldn’t care if anyone wants to lend money.

        • uanime5
          Posted December 3, 2012 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

          Unless the country can suddenly go from needing to borrow money to having a balanced budget expect the transition to be disastrous.

          Also expect taxes to rise along with cutting back spending. You know, what they’re doing in Greece to balance the budget.

          • APL
            Posted December 3, 2012 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

            uanime5: “Unless the country can suddenly go from needing to borrow money to having a balanced budget expect the transition to be disastrous.”

            Chuckle, you are a funny man.
            But, not very observant.

            What is happening to Greece is disastrous, not many people actually wanted Greece to become bankrupt, but what people want doesn’t have a aweful lot to do with reality.

            Spain isn’t far behind Greece, but on the same economic trajectory.

      • APL
        Posted December 3, 2012 at 7:47 am | Permalink

        uanime5: “They also shouldn’t be surprised if they’re kicked out of the EU and eurozone for ignoring their euro-debts.”

        A laugh a minute.

        In the scenario where the ECB has been atomized by the repudiation of Spanish, Italian or Greek debt obligations, there wouldn’t be an EU to be in.

        • uanime5
          Posted December 3, 2012 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

          You do realise that the EU can survive without the ECB.

          • zorro
            Posted December 4, 2012 at 7:15 am | Permalink

            LOL…..uanime5 barking orders from the bunker……uanime5’s Downfall

            zorro

  12. Acorn
    Posted December 2, 2012 at 10:37 am | Permalink

    Anyway, forget about sovereign debt, particularly for Greece. This is a trick any nation can play. Debt to GDP is no longer a problem. Those MMT kids must be on the right track.

    http://soberlook.com/2012/12/greek-debt-transformed-into-zero-coupon.html

  13. NickW
    Posted December 2, 2012 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    I see the desire for national fragmentation as having more to do with a loss of confidence in all Governments and much less nationalism per se.

    There is no country in the world whose Government is not tainted with corruption and corporate croneyism and electorates have had enough of it.

    Westminster is still polluted with the presence of freeloaders who shamelessly game the expenses rules to maximise their returns, these people, along with those who blatantly use their positions in Parliament and Government to further their business interests, are the ones who are feeding the fires of separatism.

    Even the USA has a number of States where there is an openly expressed desire to be freed from the US Government, partly because corruption and corporate croneyism is the signature feature of US governance.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted December 2, 2012 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

      And luckily in Europe we have the alternative of being governed from Brussels, which is entirely free from any taint of corruption …

      • NickW
        Posted December 2, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

        They don’t need corruption; they just change the law so that it suits them; The Eurocrats get huge salaries and pensions which are tax free.

        It wouldn’t be so bad if they were competent, but the opposite is true.

        Greece is being destroyed by Brussels because it suits the Germans to delay the necessary debt writedowns until after the German elections.

        Merkel should be ashamed of herself, that she puts political expediency ahead of Greek lives.

        France, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Ireland and Cyprus are not exactly examples of competent and successful European Governance either.

        • NickW
          Posted December 2, 2012 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

          From Der Spiegel;

          “The International Monetary Fund believes that the only way to reduce Greek debt to a sustainable level is by way of a debt haircut involving the country’s government creditors. But with an election approaching, Germany has refused to consider the proposal. Reality is on the IMF’s side”.

          Full article;

          http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/germany-remains-adamant-in-refusal-to-forgive-greek-debt-a-869300.html

          • NickW
            Posted December 2, 2012 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

            And this from a Greek Economics Professor; long but well worth reading.

            http://yanisvaroufakis.eu/2012/12/01/the-eurozone-after-the-november-eurogroup-greek-deal-the-state-of-current-play/#more-3023

            The IMF has agreed to remain involved in the Greek bailouts after pretending along with Eurozone Ministers and the ECB that the Greek economy will grow at 4% for 8yrs; thus bringing debt to GDP down to the magic 120%. No policies have been put in place to turn massive annual contraction into growth; it’s just a fantasy to fit the figures.

            What every European Country needs is urgent secession from the EU.

          • Lindsay McDougall
            Posted December 6, 2012 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

            But it isn’t true. Greece leaving the Euro zone, and executing a partial default by converting its Euro debts to depreciating local currency, is a perfectly viable alternative. However, that would mean the IMF also taking a ‘haircut’, which would get Madame Lagarde into an awful lot of trouble.

  14. Wilko
    Posted December 2, 2012 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    If some of our Scottish citizens seek the freedom of independence, shouldn’t they be averse to the entanglement of EU restrictions?

  15. MajorFrustration
    Posted December 2, 2012 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    I suppose England could seek independence the result of which would be to take us out of the EU without the need for a referendum – and it would leave NI Wales and Scotland in the EU. Now theres a thought.

    • David John Wilson
      Posted December 2, 2012 at 2:31 pm | Permalink

      For that very reason the English should have a vote in the Scottish Independence referendum. The governement is probaly worried that even if the Scots vote against independence the rest of the UK might want to be rid of them.

    • IndependentEngland
      Posted December 2, 2012 at 10:58 pm | Permalink

      And a very good thought David, a thought which many of us English share. I believe that an independence referendum in England would get a resounding YES.

  16. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted December 2, 2012 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    Scottish nationalists also assume that an ‘independent’ Scotland would retain sterling as its currency and The Queen as Head of State. It’s high time that you English dispelled these illusions. Independence must mean what it says. Scotland must also be made aware that an independent Scotland could not guarantee that England would defend it.

    • David John Wilson
      Posted December 2, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Permalink

      There is certainly a huge problem with how a devolved Scotland could retain its use of sterling. The first thing that would have to stop is allowing the Scottish Banks to print their own currency.

    • Patrick Loaring
      Posted December 2, 2012 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

      Would an independent Scotland using the pound sterling as their currency accept that the Bank of England would determine their bank interest rate? Also RBS and BOS are now owned and supported by the UK taxpayers so I suppose that Scotland would either have to set up their own new BOS or pay the billions back to the rest of the UK that it cost to save “their” bank?

      That of course is only the start. The rest of the UK, England, Wales and NI
      would not be prepared to defend Scotland free of charge so there would have to be a large contribution from the Scottish Exchequer to pay their share of defence costs. Could Scotland be members of NATO bearing in mind that the Scot Nats say that they do not want any part of a nuclear force?

      Considering that it has only been the Scot Nats that have wanted independence suggests that Scotland could become a one party state with all that history has to show for that outcome.

      Would Scotland be prepared to let the EU represent them in the EU embassies around the World? Not if they have any brains they won’t. If they then decide on their own embassies then they have that considerable cost to also bear.

      No doubt when the real campaigning starts these issues will become much more prominent and at that stage it is likely that the financially canny Scots will have to think long and hard about writing a future blank cheque!

    • Duncan
      Posted December 2, 2012 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

      You appear to ignore the fact that sterling is a UK currency not the property of the none existent English treasury but rather the UK treasury. It is this assumption that all of the UKs assets, including Scotland, some how accrues to England that drives harder the engine of Independence for Scotland.
      Had Westminster been able to modernise itself and recognise the desire for greater autonomy for Scotland with greater urgency than it has, things may have been different. As it is devolution, Calman and all the bawbaggery and humbuggery surrounding it all has been one massive waste of time and money. Commission after commission after commission all time wasting talking shops designed to keep Scotlands revenues pouring in to London. 2014 will put a stop to it all.

      • Lindsay McDougall
        Posted December 3, 2012 at 2:08 am | Permalink

        For all your bluster, you cannot prevent England from refusing to share a Head of State, currency or defence system with an independent Scotland. If I were you, I would locate the descendents of Bonnie Prince Charlie so that you would be ready to restore the House of Stewart, learn about groats and barter, and how to manufacture and use dirks and schiltron spears. You would also be well advised to avoid setting up colonies like Darien.

        • Duncan
          Posted December 3, 2012 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

          Sterling the UKs currency is a fully tradeable currency which any one can use, if they so wish. England does not have any power to prevent that. Scotland has at this moment in time decided to keep the UK monarchy as head of state, that is a matter for the Monarchy and Scotlands sovereign government England has no powers to prevent that. It is not bluster but plain fact. The rest of your post is bigotry and not worthy of further comment.

          • Leslie Singleton
            Posted December 4, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

            Given how easy it is (says you) to run an independent economy using a currency issued by someone else’s central bank it is a wonder there has been so much grief over the euro. Sorry but I cannot believe even you believe that the Bank of England is going to become Scotland’s central bank. The euro didn’t work, and outliers, such as Greece, have been crucified even though in their and the case of the other problem countries they DID, unlike what would happen with the Bank of England, believe they could rely on another’s central bank. I cannot believe that there are many Scots who are not going to see this only too clearly. Anyway, why England, since you clearly hate us–why not say Norway, who also have a fully tradeable currency? Dream on.

          • Lindsay McDougall
            Posted December 4, 2012 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

            Believe me, England has the power to stop Scotland printing sterling pound notes, even if it takes an act of war to enforce it. You will not be allowed to play Greece to England’s Germany. Her Majesty is conscious that she was crowned Queen of the United Kingdom of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. If Scotland goes its separate way, she may well think differently. If the Westminster parliament passes a new Royal Titles Act that is not to Scotland’s liking, what are you going to do about? You’re all piss and wind, Duncan.

  17. adams
    Posted December 2, 2012 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    Does not matter what sort of machinations the EU Empire has to engineer to keep the power grab gravy train on the tracks . The Conservative Party will still support it . Eh JOHN ? LOL .

  18. David John Wilson
    Posted December 2, 2012 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    “Meanwhile the EU’s refusal to recognise England along with its continuing wish to splinter England into unwanted regions, fuels anti EU sentiment in England.”

    When has the EU been asked and has subsequently refused to recognise “England”? There is currently no prosepect of this beng likely to happen. Even if Scotland became independent all the the EU would be asked to do is to continue to recognise the remainder of the UK.

    It is a pity that the EU is backing down from its support of regions as it would be much more sensible to have two levels of government and get rid of national governments. We would be a lot better off if we got rid rid of Westminster and the huge civil service it demands and moved onto a European Government and slim regional parliaments.

    • Martyn
      Posted December 2, 2012 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

      I suspect that the EU’s refusal to recognise England is not quite the case. In response to an inquiry I made to the EU why England had been removed from the map of the EU (sadly, I forget quite how I did it, that being 3-4 years ago) I was categorically informed by the EU response that it was “because the UK government had not wished it to be so”.

      Do you not recall when Wales around that time was ‘accidentally’ removed from the EU map the ensuing howls of outrage in Parliament and Wales resulted in Wales being hastily put back on the EU map?

      I do, most clearly and recognise that for England to no longer identified on the EU map was a deliberate decision of the UK government at the time. No prizes for guessing who that was…..

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted December 3, 2012 at 9:57 am | Permalink

      At least you’re honest about what you want, unlike many eurofederalists including the closet eurofederalists in the upper echelons of the Tory party.

      • zorro
        Posted December 4, 2012 at 7:19 am | Permalink

        Very candid…..

        zorro

  19. Mark
    Posted December 2, 2012 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    Gallia est omnis divisa in partes tres – which was convenient for Caesar in his conquests. However, the fractured Europe of his day was constantly fighting. This rather abbreviated take on Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire makes a number of points that resonate with today’s world.

    http://www.worldology.com/Europe/decline_rome.htm

    Consider the role and nature of the roaming Huns.

    Explanation of the Fall of Rome:

    1. Barbaric Invasions. By the 3rd Century, Germanics to the north raided Roman territories at will. Famine & increased populations drove the Germanic peoples south & west inside Roman borders. The expansion of the Huns into Europe also forced Germanic tribes into Roman territories. Germanic tribes learned from Roman tactics & military technologies to become a formidable foe. Beginning in the 3rd century, Germanic tribes encroached deeper and deeper into Roman territories. By the middle of the 5th century, Germanic tribes were marauding through the heart of the Roman Empire (Italy), bringing an end to the security which allowed Rome to be an empire, and completely undermining the empire’s ability to govern.
    2. Mercenary Military. Rome became reliant on hired, foreign soldiers to bolster their military, especially Germanics. Therefore, much of the military was not loyal to Rome, often switching sides in battle. Mercenaries were more loyal to their commander than the government, leading to several civil wars & military coups which ripened Rome for collapse.
    3. Indefensible Borders. Rome’s eastern & northern borders covered large stretches of easy-to-traverse land. As the Germanics became more numerous, it was not feasible to maintain large enough legions to prevent infiltration.
    4. Economic Ruin. Roman citizens became accustomed to a lavish lifestyle, due to the wealth generated as a result of Rome’s ability to consolidate an abundance of resources under the banner of one sprawling empire. As part of the corruption this ultimately bred, excessive currency was produced in relation to actual reserves of gold, silver and copper, resulting in runaway inflation. Instead of downscaling, the ruling elite increased taxes throughout the far reaches of the empire, ending loyalty and pacification Rome had successfully achieved over diverse nations of peoples.
    5. Political & Social Strife. The worsening economic conditions motivated the aristocracy to increase the tax burden upon the general populace. As Germanic peoples encroached on Roman territory, they often reduced the tax burden, causing Roman citizens & subjects to withhold tax revenues & loyalty.
    6. Epidemics. The Western Roman Empire suffered a number of plagues in the 2nd & 3rd centuries, cutting the population in half. This compounded economic & military problems, fueling reliance on foreign soldiers.

    Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. – George Santayana

    • Mark
      Posted December 2, 2012 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

      Who Were the Huns?

      The Huns were a confederation of tribes originating in Central Asia (modern Turkestan & surrounding nations). It is unknown exactly which tribes formed the Huns, but they are likely of Turkic origin, given their Turkic language, & the geography from whence they originated. As they expanded in all directions (especially westward into Europe), they accumulated the loyalty & cooperation of several “client” tribes, including the Bulgars & Magyars from north of the Black Sea. In which case, the Hunnic Empire was multi-ethnic. It was also highly decentralized & nomadic in nature, making it a loosely -formed political entity. The Huns & their clients were not farmers, so they were continually migrating, ravaging people tied to their lands in cities & villages, plundering their possessions, forcing them to pay tribute, or to join their alliance. The Hunnic Empire reached its zenith under Attila the Hun, but completely broke down upon his death in 453. Since there was not a bureaucracy in place to keep the empire intact, the various tribes either became independent once again, or were absorbed into other nations.

  20. Denis Cooper
    Posted December 2, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    JR, would it possible for whoever manages the technical aspects of your blog to change the settings so that the comments which have been submitted earliest appear at the top of the list rather than at the bottom?

    • David John Wilson
      Posted December 2, 2012 at 2:36 pm | Permalink

      What is the problem? Just use CTL and page down and work from the end.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted December 2, 2012 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

        It’s not a matter of how they’re displayed here, but how they’re displayed to JR for his moderation.

    • NickW
      Posted December 2, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

      Wouldn’t that mean that the reply appeared before the comment that was being replied to?

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted December 2, 2012 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

        No, because JR has said recently that the system works to put the most recently submitted comment at the top of the list of comments requiring his attention for moderation, and naturally enough he works down from the top. Hence if he has insufficient time to clear the whole list it can happen that more recently submitted comments get published while comments which have been submitted earlier remain unpublished.

  21. Sue Doughty
    Posted December 2, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    There will always be an England. When I go abroad people recognise my language and ask if I am English, never British. And they recognise that the English have our own style and wit and reluctance to shoplift or pilfer. I assume the EU would like to deprive us of that birthright, but what we are born with is more than documents and lines on maps. If they are jealous and want to be like us we would be happy to teach them for a price.

    • David John Wilson
      Posted December 2, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

      Except in California where they always think you are Australian.

      • alan jutson
        Posted December 2, 2012 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

        David

        So true, even happens in other States as well !

    • Muddyman
      Posted December 2, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

      We seem to have developed a revised terminology for ‘BRITISH’, these persons seem to be from other countries having some tenuous connection with the country and with no real connection with the English,Scottish or Welsh residents of this island. Could someone explain how this came about?’

    • lifelogic
      Posted December 2, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

      I am not sure the figures support you on shoplifting any more.

    • Posted December 4, 2012 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

      Well put! My suspicion has been it will take a lady to restore England…

  22. Chris
    Posted December 2, 2012 at 1:56 pm | Permalink

    Der Spiegel attempts to analyse the potential for possible fragmentation in Spain and the arguments against. It quotes Die Sud Deustche Zeitung, which indicates that neither Rajoy, obviously, wants fragmentation, but nor does the EU, even although it has apparently sought to balkanise countries in its attempts to destroy national identities:
    http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/independence-push-in-catalonia-still-a-problem-say-commentators-a-869532.html
    “”Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, however, did have an answer. He would like to block independence for Catalonia, a region with both tourism and industry…. The horror scenario he painted for an independent Catalonia proved to be quite useful. He said that the region would suffer an economic collapse outside of the EU and the middle class would slide into poverty. And Rajoy was supported by European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, who stated clearly that every new state must go through the same EU accession process.”

    “Mas found no answer to this Europe dilemma, particularly given the complete lack of support from European leaders for his march to independence. And the overwhelming majority of Catalonians, even if they want to secede from Spain, want to remain a part of the EU.”

  23. Neil Craig
    Posted December 2, 2012 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

    It seems almost certain that Scotland, as anm EU member, would have to sign up to the Shenmgen agreement on free immigration. That in turn means that the border agency would have to establish customs posts at Berwick, something which the SNP have always promised would not come with separation.

    • Duncan
      Posted December 3, 2012 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

      From where does this certainty you speak of derive? These negotiations will take place between the sovereign government of Scotland and the EU. No one knows what will result. It seems to me that what we are hearing is background static is s few little Englanders and the Westminster elite, who bear ill will and malice towards Scotland. As if we are impertinent upstarts who dare to defy Westminster and withdraw from a union that was forced on us 304 years ago, and has become a historical anomaly overtaken by a modern world that has moved beyond the values of the decayed monolith that Westminster now is. England does not own Scotland or the UK, get over your selves.

  24. Mark B
    Posted December 2, 2012 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

    Well, well, well. “The EU is changing its attitude to regional and provincial government. ”

    What is it they say about wishes ?

    This is the problem with politicians/amateur social engineers, they think they have the solution to all our problems.They just need us to let them have free rain at running ‘our’ lives.

    No ! Just do as little as you can, and leave us in peace. Small government is good government.

  25. BARMOUTH FAN
    Posted December 2, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    The Catalan desire for independence has been bubbling away for the three hundred years or so since Catalonia within the Kingdom of Aragon was split by treaty in two parts – one to Spain and one to France. What has made it a hot issue is the bursting of the bubble in the Spanish economy that was caused by ECB decisions bringing about a NEGATIVE interest rate (perhaps as high as FIVE percent) and the previous Socialist government not monitoring the spending of the regional governments – as they are responsible for healthcare and other services that in UK have always been run by the national government – overspending was MATERIAL! Also once the squeeze was applied and almost all regions were shut out of the capital markets Catalonia started focussing on the DISCREPANCY between the TAXES that they sent to Madrid and the funding coming back. It is thought that the Catalan PM wants Basque-Country-level autonomy but once you start riding a tiger it can be difficult to get off!
    I think that it would be worth listing the ACHIEVEMENTS! of the EU in the last decade:-
    1)Of course they made no progress with the 2000 Lisbon Agenda to make EU ‘most competitive economy in the world’.
    2)Greece and Spain are in DEPRESSION (25 % UNEMPLOYMENT) with Portugal and Italy to follow. Even Germany with its UNDERVALUED currency and big exports is being drawn into the vortex. There’s a dispute between the Economist and Citibank as to just how bad France’s position is.
    3)neo-Fascist Golden Dawn now with seats in the Greek parliament and they have risen from 6 % to 14 since June election.
    The only solution when you’re in a hole is to stop digging, but will Brussels and, to be fair, current southern governments arrange an orderly departure from the Euro. Of course not. It is clear that EZ policy is being driven by postponing the CRYSTALISATION of Northern losses until after the German elections in September.
    Hopefully UK businesses will have reduced their exposure to ZERO in another nine months, but I saw some surprisingly worrying data recently given just how long the writing has been on the wall. Some are very good – they take cash out in the evening and put it BACK in in the morning!

    1

  26. Jon
    Posted December 2, 2012 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

    So where does that leave Michael Heseltine’s report, does he need to amend it?

    • Patrick Loaring
      Posted December 2, 2012 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

      No, just file it in the round filing cabinet called a dustbin! Michael Hesletine with John Major took us deeper into the EU. They have a lot to answer for.

    • Antisthenes
      Posted December 2, 2012 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

      It does not need amending it needs scraping.

  27. alan jutson
    Posted December 2, 2012 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    Ah yes.

    The law of unintended consequences.

    The biggest unintended consequence of the EU will eventually happen when Nation is against Nation, in trying to preserve its own identity and financial credibility for its own people.
    In other words, self interest will eventually come to the fore wqhen the chips are down.

  28. The PrangWizard
    Posted December 2, 2012 at 4:41 pm | Permalink

    The talk must be for a parliament for England. This must be unequivocal, English Votes for English Issues within the British goverment will not stand and is an insult to the English, some kind of third class concession.
    Who do the British think the English are, their colonial subjects?
    We must not concern ourselves with what Catalonia or Lombardia may or may not want.
    England is without question a distinct and ancient proven nation, it is this issue we must concentrate on. England is not recognised even in Britain yet the principle of national identity is accepted as normal for Scotland and is lauded.
    Why not England too? Our case is undeniable. It must be granted and it is becoming urgent.

    • Patrick Loaring
      Posted December 2, 2012 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

      We live on a nation where the minority opinion seems to take priority over the silent majority. If you can shout loud enough and push the right PC buttons your opinion is listened to and acted upon.

  29. Andrew Johnson
    Posted December 2, 2012 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

    I think the “EU” has, is and will be ready, willing and able to do whatever it takes to keep the EU federal superstate vision on track.
    As regards to an English parliament, all that’s needed is for Parliament to vote that Scottish, Northern Irish, Welsh MP’s are excluded from voting on matters that apply to England only.

    • Duncan
      Posted December 3, 2012 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

      The SNP already do this as a matter of policy. Only two years and we will have it sorted for you. By the same token the English MPs should abstain from voting on Scottish, Welsh, NI business.

      • Coinneach
        Posted December 4, 2012 at 9:17 pm | Permalink

        No problem. However, there is always the law of unforseen consequences. We might for example, discover that the North of England vote to become an English province of Scotland, the Highlands and Islands vote to join Norway, and London and the SouthEast vote for independence from everyone. Given the recent figures on how much of the UK’s wealth this latter area generates for the rest of the UK, then we really would all be up the creek without a paddle.

  30. Antisthenes
    Posted December 2, 2012 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

    It is obvious to even the most casual observer that the creation of the EU has created an environment that ferments division and disharmony the opposite to that which it was set up to do. The Euro was a blessing in that it brought this fact to light much more quickly than it would have done without it. The reason why this unintended consequence of the creation of the EU is happening is because the builders of the EU have built hastily and without democratic process. If the EU had been allowed to grow more slowly organically and with proper consultation with the people it would have been a much better construct. However as the build has been overseen by an ideologically obsessed political elite who wanted to see their European dream implemented in their time and a core of we know best technocrats we now have a union that is highly centralised and not functioning in a way that will in the end benefit anyone except the few at the top. The joke that the EU is morphing into the EUSSR is steadily being replaced by the fact that is exactly what is happening. History tells us that the merging of independent states is mired in dangers and often than not results in conflict. We are of course a long way away from that but if this fact is not given serious consideration then that may be the direction that EU will eventually take.

  31. Barbara
    Posted December 2, 2012 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

    Quite honestly I don’t want anything to do with the EU. The sooner this country can get a party who will give us the right to withdraw the better. The sooner we get MPs to work for us instead of themselves the better. Many do work hard for the constituants but many don’t, they adhere to party dogma. That is the problem, working for the party more so than the electorate that elected them in the first place.
    A majority now want a referendum. Cameron suggests we may have one after the next election, what if he does not win? Miliband is just as deceitful, he won’t give us one either. Who are these self appointed MPs who decide what we want? They have no right to deny a nation the right to decide for themselves, it shows their worth. We need the referendum before the next election or during it, so its decided by the people before the next government is instated. Then whoever gets in will be obliged to give the people what they have decided. Failing this, none are worth their salt. I will vote for UKIP who will give us the right to vote; and anyone else who refuses to be conned again should do the same. Simply put, trust as gone.

  32. harry
    Posted December 2, 2012 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

    John, you seem to understand the problems the English have with the EU not recognising us or our great country, and the unfair way which the British government has treated England since devolution to our neighbours,could you not sit down with David Cameron and explain it to him as he just does not seem to understand,a lot of those votes the Tories are losing to UKIP are not all about the the EU .

    • mike
      Posted December 3, 2012 at 12:05 am | Permalink

      “,a lot of those votes the Tories are losing to UKIP are not all about the the EU .”

      Quite.. I attended a UKIP meeting last year where a chap walked in and announced that he liked the EU in general but had joined UKIP due to other manifesto commitments.

      It looked as though he expected to be chucked out on his ear by angry, snarling, anti-EU fanatics.

      Even I was somewhat surprised at the people who agreed, welcomed him and started telling stories of why they had themselves decided to join despite being moderately europhile.

      It seems to be a common position amongst some of the ex-labour supporters.

  33. Bazman
    Posted December 2, 2012 at 7:42 pm | Permalink
    • Duncan
      Posted December 3, 2012 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

      No not fantasy but lies, disgraceful cheap nasty lies, read this:

      Davidson has nowhere to hide and must apologise
      Tue, 09/10/2012 – 14:03

      Ruth Davidson has ‘nowhere to hide’ and must apologise for her ‘catastrophic error of judgement’, the SNP has said, after the Party published fresh data from SPICe which demonstrated that Scotland is not the nation of spongers which the Tory leader has tried to portray.

      The SNP asked the Scottish Parliament Information Centre to rerun the Tories’ analysis – flawed as it was – for the rest of the UK. The results showed that, even by Ms Davidson’s misleading standards, the percentage of ‘net contributors’ in Scotland was almost identical to the rest of the UK.

      There was fresh embarrassment this afternoon for Ms Davidson after Tory grandee Lord Forsyth – one of her key backers in her leadership election – described her presentation of the figures as ‘unfortunate’.

      Commenting, SNP MSP Jamie Hepburn – Deputy Convener of the Scottish Parliament’s Welfare Reform Committee – said:

      “This really has been a catastrophic error of judgement from Ruth Davidson. She deliberately chose to fiddle the figures in a way that talks down Scotland, but now she has nowhere to hide.

      “What she didn’t tell the Tory faithful down in Birmingham was that the figures she published for Scotland are actually comparable with the rest of the UK. Quite why she chose to conceal this fact – which she knew wouldn’t get her the cheap headline she was after – is only something she can explain.

      “But it is her insult to pensioners which is the worst of all. They have paid thousands of pounds in taxes throughout their working lives, but Ruth Davidson believes they haven’t made a net contribution to Scotland. No wonder the Tories were so keen to introduce a Granny Tax.

      “If Ms Davidson wants to have a serious debate about the role of the public sector in Scotland, then let’s have it. But let’s start with the facts, and let’s not start by insulting pensioners who have contributed through their taxes all of their lives.

      “When even prominent backers such as Lord Forsyth are distancing themselves from her, it really is time for Ms Davidson to hold up her hands and admit she has got this dreadfully wrong, and apologise for her insult to Scotland.”

      ENDS

      Notes:

      Further criticism for Ruth Davidson today:

      Stephen Boyd, STUC – http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/oct/08/scotland-ruth-davids

      Michael Forsyth – “To accuse people on the public sector payroll of being dependent on the state; it’s an unfortunate way to present it.” (BBC Daily Politics; 9th October)

      John Mclaren, CPPR “This is not just benefits, this is middle-class families with three kids sending them to school being paid for by the state. If you want to call them spongers that’s up to you, but it’s not about bebnefits, it’s everything – police on the street, schools and the rest.” (Daily Mail, 9th October)

      New data from SPICe attached. An explanation of the necessary caveats provided from SPICe is reproduced below – which is for background only and not for attribution:

      “You asked SPICe to provide a figure for the proportion of UK households making a net contribution to the Exchequer, equivalent to the 12% figure quoted for Scotland. As we discussed, you asked for this to be produced using the same methodology used to produce the 12% figure, although you are aware of the limitations of that figure and the caveats that were attached to the original analysis. You should also note that the original analysis was based on 2009-10 ONS data, as that was the latest available at the time of the original request for analysis. Data for 2010-11 are now available, but this analysis is based on the 2009-10 data in order to provide comparability.

      As we discussed, much of the original analysis was based on UK data, due to the fact that sufficiently detailed Scottish data are not available. As highlighted in the original analysis, one of the assumptions on which the methodology rested was that the distribution of Scottish income is the same as at a UK level (which is a reasonable assumption, on the basis of other data sources on income distribution, such as Households Below Average Income). As a result of this assumption, many aspects of the analysis for the UK are identical to that undertaken for Scotland.

      A table equivalent to that produced for Scotland but showing analysis for the UK is attached. The only lines that have changed are those based on the GERS analysis (rows 18-21), where UK data has replaced the Scottish data. As you can see, the analysis suggests that – on the basis of this particular methodology – 13% of UK households make a net contribution to the Exchequer.”

  34. Jon
    Posted December 2, 2012 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

    Divide and conquer will get you a temporary land grab but not an empire as the Romans knew. Here is where I find incompetent socialists are better than competent ones. For all their incompetence I hope they never get competent.

  35. uanime5
    Posted December 2, 2012 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

    John the EU favours regions because every EU country splits itself into smaller regions which are responsible for the running of this region with the central Government being responsible for issues that effect the whole country. This is how a federal system works. Just because it isn’t used in the UK doesn’t make it wrong.

    The advantage of giving aid to regions, rather than the central government, is that it ensure that the money is spent throughout the country, rather than just in the capital. I have little doubt that if all the money the UK receives from the EU went straight to the Government it would only be spent in London, rather than spent equally throughout the UK.

    Regarding Scotland, Catalonia, and Lombardia what will happen if these regions split off from the country they belong to will be determined by these countries, not the EU. The only thing the EU will do is recalculate the number of MEPs Italy, Spain, and the UK will have and offer the new countries terms for membership if they wish to join the EU.

    England is simply too large and too populous to be a single region, so it has to be split into smaller regions in order to be effectively managed. This is why England doesn’t have one police force or one NHS trust running every police station/hospital in England.

    • Lindsay McDougall
      Posted December 3, 2012 at 2:15 am | Permalink

      The United Kingdom and its nations and regions do not ‘receive aid’ from the EU. The way it works is that every year the EU steals vast amounts from the UK and gives some of it back, after spending money on top heavy administration, dodgy projects and an insane agricultural policy.

      • Duncan
        Posted December 3, 2012 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

        Precisely what Westminster has managed to achieve with Scottish funds down the centuries, perhaps now you have a better understanding of the driving force behind Scottish Independence. Why for example are UK funds being used to build Londons latest sewer projects? This is Londons problem let them use London moneys, as Scotland has to do for our infrastructure.

        • Leslie Singleton
          Posted December 4, 2012 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

          Duncan—The rest of the UK is really rather relaxed on whether Scotland becomes independent because there are certainly advantages even for Unionists but for Scotland there is the tragedy of people like you who exaggerate the position so much that they (only about a third at most, one gathers and falling I reckon) are so wound up on the subject that they cannot see straight and who won’t happily accept an answer No. What will you do then? Will there be an SRA, a Celtic Spring and all the tragic rest one sees whenever one turns on the News? Indeed be careful what you wish for. BTW, you never quite answered how you could sensibly hope to survive long using someone else’s central bank.

        • Lindsay McDougall
          Posted December 6, 2012 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

          Many really big infrastructure projects are financed at UK level. Let me understand you correctly: are you saying that London is not part of the United Kingdom or that London should make a big net contribution to the State? I have news for you – it already does.

      • uanime5
        Posted December 3, 2012 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

        Allow me to use real information to defeat your nonsense.

        In 207 the UK’s gross contribution to the EU was £14 billion (less than 0.7% of GNI) but the net contribution was £3.5 billion. So the UK received back 75% of what they paid.

        http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/8036097.stm#start

        The UK pays far less to the EU than the europhobes would have you believe.

        • Lindsay McDougall
          Posted December 4, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

          And no doubt a lot of that 75% serves no useful purpose.

        • Edward
          Posted December 4, 2012 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

          Unaime5, Im puzzled by your figures because all sites I loooked up via a google search the costs of the EU show much higher figures than yours.
          The Bruges Group produced a study in 2008 and in summary they said:-
          “The total gross cost to the UK of EU membership in 2008 is estimated at around £65,000,000,000* – including:-
          £28 billion for business to comply with EU regulations,
          £17 billion of additional food costs resulting from the Common Agricultural Policy
          £3.3 billion – the value of the catch lost when the Common Fisheries Policy let other countries fish in our territorial waters
          £14.6 billion gross paid into the EU budget and other EU funds.
          (In 2011 this had risen to £19 billion)
          They said the money we get back from our gross contributions, although ours originally, was not free to spend, but designated for EU approved projects only.

        • Leslie Singleton
          Posted December 4, 2012 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

          Unanime5–I don’t care if we “get back” 100%, what I don’t want is foreigners deciding what the 100% gets spent on–and, Trust me, I am not alone.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted December 3, 2012 at 9:44 am | Permalink

      England has long been split into smaller units for effective administration; they’re called “counties”, or as Alfred the Great would have said “shires”; the problem is that while in general counties are suitably sized to form part of the top tier of local government for England they are too small and too numerous to form part of the top tier of local government for the EU.

  36. Posted December 3, 2012 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    Several years ago, Brtitanny Ferries (now pricing itself out of the market) printed maps of the EU for its passengers.
    Lo and behold, “England “simply wasn’t there – yet “Wales”,” Scotland” and “Northern Ireland” were.

    • Bazman
      Posted December 4, 2012 at 8:28 am | Permalink

      Got any proof of this story Bernard? Brittany ferries use Plymouth, Poole, Portsmouth as their main ports. How would you not be able to show these on a map?

      • Lindsay McDougall
        Posted December 8, 2012 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

        Perhaps the ports were shown but the word Angleterre was missing. No doubt something symbolising England from the French perspective was there instead – King Harold being shot in the eye or William the Conqueror sitting on his throne or the front cover of the Domesday book. Or perhaps it was a bon mot, such as ‘Le Pays de les Rosbifs’ or the French for ‘Here be dragons’ or even ‘Voici la belle Margaret, a quelle les yeux de Caligula et la bouche de Marillyn Munroe’.

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood has been the Member of Parliament for Wokingham since 1987. First attending Kent College, Canterbury, he graduated from Magdalen College, and has a DPhil from All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has been a director of NM Rothschild merchant bank and chairman of a quoted industrial PLC.
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