By a Newsnet reporter

Both the leader of Scottish Labour and a leading Scottish newspaper are today facing claims that they have misled the Scottish public over statements made by European Commission Vice President Viviane Reding, on the EU membership of newly independent states.

It follows an article in yesterday’s edition of the Herald in which the paper’s political editor, Magnus Gardham, claimed that Alex Salmond’s belief on EU membership of an independent Scotland “had been thrown into fresh doubt by one of Brussels most senior officials.”

According to Mr Gardham, Viviane Reding - in a letter to the Spanish Government - had “backed comments suggesting a newly independent country would have to apply for membership.”

The Herald article entitled 'Further blow for Salmond over Europe' pointed to a leaked letter to Spain's Europe minister, Iñigo Méndez de Vigo written by Ms Reding, which emerged in Spain's El Pais newspaper.

According to the Herald article, Ms Reding backed Mr Méndez de Vigo's claim that even if Catalonia gained independence from Spain constitutionally "then such a state would not in any case form part of the EU".

Johann Lamont

The Herald quoted Scottish Labour Labour leader Johann Lamont as saying: "Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon continue to assert Scotland will remain in the European Union but admit they have no real legal basis to back that up.

"Now we see further doubt cast on Scotland's place in the European Union by the Vice-President and Commissioner for Justice, Viviane Reding, who believes an independent Catalonia would be viewed as a new state in Europe.

"Why would Scotland be any different?"

However, the segments of the letter published by the Spanish newspaper make it clear Viviane Reding said no such thing.  In fact, contrary to Mr Gardham and Ms Lamont’s claim, she was not asked to comment on a “constitutional” vote for Catalonian independence, but on a very specific unconstitutional situation.

Ms Reding was asked to comment on a unilateral declaration of independence by Catalonia without prior negotiation or agreement with Madrid.  Given the Edinburgh Agreement signed by the Edinburgh and London governments, then the hypothetical situation commented on by Ms Reding has no impact whatsoever on a newly independent Scotland.


Through the office of Iñigo Méndez de Vigo, the Spanish government's minister for EU affairs, the Spanish government sent a letter to the EU Commission detailing its legal objections to Catalan independence and an independent Catalonia remaining within the EU.  European Commission Vice-President Viviane Reding replied in a letter of 4 October, which was leaked to the Spanish newspaper El País and published on Monday of this week.

As the letter from Mr Méndez de Vigo and the reply from Ms Reding make abundantly clear, the scenario under discussion is the status of an independent Catalonia which had made a unilateral declaration of independence which had not been negotiated with Madrid.  

In his letter to the European Commission, Mr Méndez de Vigo wrote:

"In this sense, article 4.2 of the Treaty of the European Union is categorical when it indicates that the Union must respect the fundamental constitutional and political structures and the territorial integrity of member states, whose decision is the exclusive authority in these matters.  In consequence, the European Union cannot recognise a unilateral declaration of independence by a part of of a member state."

In reply Ms Reding wrote:

"In any case I want there to be no room for doubt about my position, expressed by President Barroso in the name of the Commission, and that I fully agree with the analysis of the European constitutional framework which you develop in your letter.  My intention was only to explain that I fully trust in the common sense and Europeanism of the Spanish in order to resolve this question within the domestic ambit to which it is proper."

Contrary to the statements by Ms Lamont and reported in the press, the attitude of the EU towards a unilateral declaration of independence by Catalonia has no bearing on Scottish independence, which would come about as a result of negotiations with Westminster following a yes vote in a legal referendum whose result Westminster has pledged to respect.

This is entirely different from the situation in Spain.  The inquiry from Iñigo Méndez de Vigo and Ms Reding's reply deal with the hypothetical situation of a unilateral declaration of independence by Catalonia following a yes result in a referendum which Madrid claims is illegal.

The exchange of letters between Ms Reding and Mr de Vigo follows controversy after a recent interview given by Ms Reding in which she insisted that she knew of no international law that would force newly independent Catalonia to be expelled from the EU.  Her remarks caused controversy and were widely reported in Catalonia.

The EC was quickly put under pressure by Madrid to withdraw the comment, and press statements were subsequently issued by the spokespeople of Ms Reding and EC President José Manuel Durão Barroso denying Ms Reding had made the claim.  However, Newsnet Scotland located the journalist who conducted the interview and published a recording of Ms Reding making the comments in our exclusive story that exposed the false EC denials - a story that remains unreported by the Scottish media.

Catalonia and Spain

The Spanish government is seeking to ensure that any new Catalan state would be forced to leave the EU.  The legal grounds on which Spain makes this argument have little or no relevance to the Scottish situation.  

Madrid maintains that the planned Catalan independence referendum is contrary to an article in the Spanish Constitution which states that Spain is "one indivisible nation" and that the government of Catalonia has no legal authority to hold a referendum on independence.  The government of Mariano Rajoy has stated that it will not recognise the outcome of any such referendum, which it would consider illegitimate, and that it would refuse to enter into independence negotiations with Catalonia.  

Ms Lamont's misleading interpretation has been reported uncritically in the British media, such as the report in Wednesday's Herald newspaper.  However the relevant paragraphs from the letters quoted in El País make it abundantly clear that Mr Méndez de Vigo's inquiry and Ms Reding's response concern a situation which has no parallel to the Scottish context.  

The original Spanish language report upon which Ms Lamont relied was further misinterpreted in Mr Magnus Gardham's news report in the Herald, in which he wrote:

"In a leaked letter to the country's Europe minister, Inigo Mendez De Vigo, she backed his claim that even if Catalonia gained independence from Spain constitutionally 'then such a state would not in any case form part of the EU'."

These comments were not made by Ms Reding, but rather by Mr Méndez de Vigo in his original inquiry.  Mr Méndez de Vigo argued that the EU does not recognise the right of any part of a member state to secede, and added:

"For the purpose of argument, if the Spanish Constitution were effectively modified in order to permit the celebration of such a referendum [in Catalonia] and if an independent state were to arise as the result of this, this new state would not in any event form a part of the EU.  This is the result of article 52 of the EU Treaty, in which the member states to which the Treaties apply are enumerated, amongst them the Kingdom of Spain.  Therefore, according to what is established in article 49 of the EU Treaty, this hypothetical new state would have to apply for membership and obtain a favourable decision from the European Council, unanimously, and the Act of Accession would have to be ratified by the Parliaments of all member states."

However the Spanish government also maintains that the Scottish referendum is an entirely different set of circumstances, which does not involve the "secession" of part of a member state and the creation of a new state from part of an existing state which then continued to exist as an EU member.  The position of the Spanish government is that the Scottish case represents the unique instance of the possible dissolution of a union between two kingdoms which is without parallel elsewhere in the EU.  

This position entails Spanish recognition of both the Kingdom of Scotland and the Kingdom of England (which includes Wales and Northern Ireland) either as equal successor states or equally as new states outside the EU.  The EU accession treaties were signed by the United Kingdom, they were not signed by either the Kingdoms of Scotland or England.

Speaking on 16 October during a meeting with Carlos Urquijo, the representative of the Madrid government in the Basque country, the Spanish foreign minister José Manuel García-Margallo explained this.  Mr García-Margallo's comments were reported in the Spanish media:

"Every country has its own different constitutional order and different history and in [the case of] Scotland, the creation of the United Kingdom, Great Britain, was born as a consequence of the union of two kingdoms, that of Scotland and that of England."

He added: "The British constitutional order foresees a referendum of this type, something which does not occur in any other country of the European Union."

Mr García-Margallo's comments are consistent with the opinion expressed privately by a former Labour Lord Chancellor to former Conservative cabinet minister Norman Tebbit, as reported in his column in the Daily Telegraph in February of this year.

The Spanish government's position is also consistent with the opinion given by a former President of the European Court of Justice.  Speaking in the 1990s, the late Lord Mackenzie-Stuart - a judge with the European Court of Justice between 1973 and 1988, and President from 1984-88, said:

"Independence would leave Scotland and something called 'the rest' in the same legal boat. If Scotland had to reapply, 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."

Eamonn Gallagher, former director-general of the European Commission and ambassador to the United Nations in New York, also drew the same conclusion, and said:

"Scotland and the rest of the UK would be equally entitled to continue the existing full membership of the EU."

Although Mr García-Margallo's remarks directly concerned the position of both Scotland and the rump-UK (AKA the Kingdom of England), Newsnet Scotland was the only English-language media outlet to carry the news.  It was entirely ignored by the mainstream Scottish media which continues to portray a one-sided view of events.

The only conclusion which can be drawn is that the English language media in Scotland have made no effort to read the original documents relating to the debate on Catalan independence, Spain and the EU, nor to understand the political and constitutional context of the Spanish state.  Instead it would appear that the Scottish media relies exclusively on press releases from the anti-independence parties when writing their supposedly objective news reports.

A Newsnet Scotland researcher contacted the Herald news department early yesterday morning by email pointing out that Mr Gardham's article was erronoeous.  We received neither an acknowledgement nor a reply.

The Kingdom of Spain and the Kingdom of Great Britain:  A comparison

The Kingdom of Spain was created in 1469 with the union of the Crown of Castile and the Crown of Aragón upon the marriage of Queen Isabela of Castile to King Ferdinand of Aragón.  The Crown of Aragón comprised a number of territories, the Kingdom of Aragón proper (the Spanish speaking region centred on the city of Zaragoza), the Kingdom of Valencia, the Kingdom of the Balearics, and the Generalitat of Catalonia.  These are now all Autonomous Communities within the Spanish state.  Aragón also held a number of other territories, most notably Sardinia, which are now a part of Italy.

Each of the former possessions of the Crown of Aragon and the Crown of Castile preserved distinctive legal rights and privileges, known as 'fueros' in Spanish.  These were abolished in the aftermath of the Spanish War of Succession in the early 18th century when centralised rule from Madrid was imposed across the whole Kingdom of Spain.

The Catalan independence referendum will involve only the Generalitat of Catalonia.  In the event of a yes vote in the Catalan referendum, the other former possessions of the Aragonese Crown will remain a part of Spain.  These territories comprise 3 out of the 4 Aragonese Kingdoms, and form the largest part of the territories and population of the lands of the former Crown of Aragón.  Spain minus Catalonia can therefore still claim it is essentially and legally the same Kingdom of Spain created in 1469, although reduced in size and population.

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland originates in the 1603 dynastic union between the Kingdom of Scotland and the Kingdom of England.  The Kingdom of England incorporated Wales and held Ireland as Crown possession.  Although the first monarch to rule England and Scotland jointly in this way - James VI of Scotland and I of England - styled himself the King of Great Britain, his two kingdoms maintained their status as separate sovereign states.

In 1707 the Treaty of Union between Scotland and England abolished the parliaments of both kingdoms, and created a new parliament which met in the same building as the former English Parliament.  The Treaty specified that the union of Scotland and England created the new state of Great Britain.  

Wales was legally incorporated into England during the 16th century.  Ireland was a possession of the English Crown.  The later Union of Ireland with Great Britain in 1800 did not alter the character of the union of 1707 which created Great Britain.  Ireland was a colonial possession of the Crown where the native Irish were denied representation.  English law had been imposed on Ireland, and native Irish law suppressed.  Unlike the Treaty of Union of 1707, the Irish Acts of Union of 1800 did not represent a treaty between two sovereign states.

With a yes vote in the Scottish independence referendum, Scotland and England would revert to their prior status as independent states which share a common monarch, the Kingdom of Scotland and the Kingdom of England.  The state of Great Britain would legally cease to exist and both Scotland and England would be its legal successors.  Wales would remain a part of the Kingdom of England as it is now - the Prince of Wales holds his title by virtue of being heir to the throne of England.  Northern Ireland would likewise remain a possession of the English Crown.

Neither the Kingdom of Scotland nor the Kingdom of England signed the EU Accession Treaties, and neither figures in the list of countries which comprise the EU as listed in Article 52 of the European Treaty.  The Kingdom of England cannot claim that it and it alone is the successor state to the UK by virtue of the continuing "Britishness" of Wales and Northern Ireland.  These were possessions of the English Crown to begin with and as such have no bearing on the status of the Kingdom of England as a successor state to the UK.


# mudfries 2012-11-01 07:41
It looks like we've found the REAL bare faced liars. Scotland doesnt deserve these kind of people holding it back.
# rhymer 2012-11-01 21:46
[quote name="mudfries"]It looks like we've found the REAL bare faced liars. Scotland doesnt deserve these kind of people holding it back.[/q

Since the FM's words get called into question - I would ask that the FMs circumstances be also applied to the leaders of the opposition so that these characters have to provide proof and not just lies, out of context statements, spin and propaganda. This should be applied equally to the Herald, the BBC, or whoever is printing or publishing these lies. Retraction anyone ?
# mudfries 2012-11-02 11:14
Agreed rhymer.
# Galen10 2012-11-01 07:58
No wonder the Herald is on its last legs! The sooner unionist propaganda rags like the Herald and the Scotsman go bankrupt the better... perhaps then Scotland will get a quality broadsheet which reflects the desires of the majority of the Scottish people rather than being in thrall to the swivel eyed carpet biters in the unionist establishment!
# fynesider 2012-11-01 12:33
Why let the facts get in the way of a 'good' headline...!
# grahamhgraham 2012-11-01 08:07
Excellent research, analysis and conclusion. This article powerfully demonstrates the deeply disturbing depth of subterfuge the Scottish print media and the Unionist parties in Scotland are willing to exercise in order to deceive the electorate.

Writing to Mr. Gardham, as I have also done, to highlight other euqally blatant factual errors, has proven to be a waste of time. Responding to his articles only serves to prolong the inevitable disappearance of his disgraceful editing from the news stands.

I suggest then, boycotting The Herald & The Scotsman entirely by neither purchasing print versions nor reading their on line version. And I would urge everyone to resist making comments on their web pages, it will do nothing to make them swerve from their current course.

Instead, share this site and the articles through the well proven social media outlets & leave an easy to find trail wherever you visit.
# BillDunblane 2012-11-01 10:07
Agree with you re boycott Graham, but the Herald has been very selective in choosing comments for a long time anyway - either not accepting them at all, or delaying them for several hours or even days before 'approving' them, making them a waste of time. I have gone further by not putting links to any of their articles on the Facebook or Twitter accounts I control, which in itself will decrease their on line readership, and informing them of the fact. (Subscription required to read them in any case)

Might be fun to run a sweep to see which of the two papers folds first!
# breastplate 2012-11-01 23:09
A boycott of the 2 you mention, if we all take part, would see them change their tune very quickly. After all, money talks.
# Marian 2012-11-01 08:12
It is abundantly clear now that the unionists and their BBC and MSM acolytes are going to lie outright in order to preserve their beloved Westminster government.

The truth will always come out eventually no matter what the unionists do to try and suppress it.

It is also clear by their lies and concealments that their cupboard is completely bare so far as having legitimate reasons for retaining Westminster government over Scotland.

However the problem for the YES campaign is still how to ensure the unionists lies are made widely known to potential voters.
# Dowanhill 2012-11-01 08:21
Thought Blair Jenkins came across very clear and precise compared to Kelza Dugdale all over the place and unconvincing response to the questions put to her last night on Scotland Today.
# RaboRuglen 2012-11-01 08:25
Hi there,

Ms Reding writes "My intention was only to explain that I fully trust in the common sense and Europeanism of the Spanish in order to resolve this question within the domestic ambit to which it is proper."

I take this as diplomatic speak, meaning - "Don't be so bloody stupid. If the Catalans want to be Independent, Spain must find a way of letting them go, lest you start a civil war in EUROPE."

Of course Gardham and his ilk would have it that she, and the rest of the EU, agree with Spain's current policy of suppression. Silly man.

# Marga B 2012-11-01 11:21
Raboglen - You are almost certainly right, since Reding was awarded the top Catalan honour, the Cross of Sant Jordi, in 1992 for defence of the Catalan culture and language, and stood up to Sarkozy on gipsy deportations so is friend of minorities.

The Catalans are steering a difficult path which I understand entails "legitimising" their cause by gradually exhausting all legal possibilities without acting illegally, whereby if they get to the end with enough internal support, the EU may look at their case. Rather like Beowulf or an epic effort of a people.

Anyway, congratulations again on this first-class coverage of a thorny issue, where Newsnet has proved head and shoulders above other media, as has been recognised in Spain, though apparently not yet in the UK.
# govanite 2012-11-01 08:31
The unionist position lies in tatters today.
Stupid Dugdale ripped it up with her acceptance that Scotland would remain in the EU. Now they have been forced to move on to the minutae which nobody cares about.
Even the BBC have conceeded this morning that the UK has no opinion from the EU & will not be seeking one.

Prof Avery's submission has shredded the unionist argument.

Time now to get to work on the attempts of Washington to bully Scotland, and we all know how that worked out last time.
# Astonished 2012-11-01 08:45
The problem is that the majority of the population believe Mr Salmond told a lie.

This was the lie presented by the BBC and there has been ( And never will be) any correction.

I hope the next protest is in George Square with banners saying the" Governors must go". Hopefully that will get their attention.
# Zed 2012-11-01 10:37
John McKay gave Kazia one of the easiest interviews you could possibly get.
At one point he even asked Blair one of her questions for her!
Blair said the Better Together campaign was run from London. She denied this of course saying Alisdair Darling fronted the campaign. But surely he should have asked her who funds the campaign? Dreadful interview by McKay and one I'm convinced it was intended to be that way.
# Independista 2012-11-01 12:54
I agree. Later on when signing off he thanked her with "thank you Kezia'. Do you think he would have said that to Alex. No. I think not
# clootie 2012-11-01 09:16
Those who look for it can find the truth. However the majority only ever hear the sound bite lie.
At the moment the Liars are winning and we must find a counter.
The EU have announced that they will only respond to a question from the UK government and they are not going to ask it.
# call me dave 2012-11-01 09:35
That's right the situation has flipped right over and the shoe is on the other foot.

Will the ragbag opposition in Holyrood now turn their attention to informing the Scottish population about their legal advice on EU. It appears they have not asked for any!

FM questions could be interesting but I think Lamont will choose student grants or the health service and leave the EU stuff to the grown ups.
# Scotlandfirst 2012-11-01 09:20
So who would you trust and believe with Scotland’s future, the Unionists and especially "Lament" or the SNP with its warts and all. At least the SNP party is a true Scottish party beholding to no one in Westminster that can honestly claim that it does its best for Scotland and its people. At the end of the day the 2014 vote will be a vote of trust, confidence, and belief in what is being said
# Mac 2012-11-01 09:23
The Herald are learning to their cost that Magnus Gardham is the worst appointment they could have made. Mr Gardham is destroying the Herald's much claimed political neutrality, and turning it into another unionist rag with misleading headlines and partisan journalism.
# Macart 2012-11-01 09:31
He's a busy wee soul, Mr Gardham. Front page on the Herald site has his own editorial take on the piece by the Washington post. Apparently, because this is the paper which broke Watergate, its a really, really serious title honest. Posting one of the most poorly researched pieces of editorial on Scotland and the debate I've ever seen.

Wonder if Magnus actually provided the research? :D
# bipod 2012-11-01 10:43
It really is a strange turn of events. Not only are we to wee, poor and stupid, but we are also too important. The world would be plunged into chaos if Scotland left the union. Well according to the Washington post anyway.
# Macart 2012-11-01 11:19
Aye its amazing what the addition of another wee 'statelet' would do to Europe apparently. :D

We'd also significantly weaken a long time ally of the states. So on that basis oor teas oot. I thought I'd read some tosh in the UK press but that article set new standards.
# clootie 2012-11-01 13:45
Apparently the fear is not having a lap dog to do American bidding - very telling.

Why would the rUK not suffice to keep up this role as America's European aircraft carrier. They would be deminished and poorer at the loss of Scotland - I wonder why!

So vote NO and continue to feed a war machine that protects American interests and influence. If we are good little boys and girls we can pretend to have an "Independent" nuclear threat and we can sit beside them on the security council.

The benefits of the Union are very, very obvious.
# Macart 2012-11-01 14:15
Good point clootie. This wee article may wind up doing us a favour here. It certainly underlines one particular priority for certain parties in Washington.

Force projection.

Vote NO, keep the nukes and have your kids visit new and interesting warzones.
# J Wil 2012-11-01 09:55
Perhaps Iain Bell and Iain McWhirter will tell it like it is, not like the Herald and Mr Gardham would like it to be.

The public, like myself, must be utterly confused about the almost one a day statements coming out of the EU and the interpretation of them by the media, Also the fact that the BBC are selective about which ones they want to publicise to suit their own unionist agenda.

These organisations are always ready to condemn the Scottish Government for not making things clear (another misrepresentati on) while they themselves are deliberatly contributing to the confusion by deceiving the public.

The EU is no better and it is no surprise that the EU is in the mess it's in when this is the confusing message they are projecting on only one simple matter.

I expect Alex Salmond will have something to say on the whole issue to the nasty party at FMQs today. I hope the 'bare-faced liar' remark will be thrown back in Lamont's face.
# hiorta 2012-11-01 10:46
Do we need a 'crime against democracy' to tone down rabid unionist distortions and lies?
# Mac 2012-11-01 10:50
On the day that we find out that the unionists and elements of the Scottish media have been misleading Scots on EU membership we are being denied the ability to comment on many news-sites.

I wonder why that is?
# Dundonian West 2012-11-01 10:52
My Gran used to tell me never believe all you read in the papers.
Perhaps she should now add BBC Scotland and Johann's Scottish Labour.
Have they no sense of what's right and wrong?
# alexb 2012-11-01 10:55
As the "alleged" banner in the newsroom of the "Sun" used to say, "Never let the truth get in the way of a good story".
# grahamhgraham 2012-11-01 11:13
Aided & abetted by a self serving media including The Herald, The Scotsman & the disgracefully biased BBC, the Unionist parties will peddle lies, smears & misdirection at every opportunity. And the British State & its messengers of propaganda in London & Edinburgh have much to lose; status, titles, lucrative board positions, generous expense accounts, guaranteed pensions etc as well as a reduction in their global presence & reach, especially if they have made no provision for the removal of Trident or Trident v2 from Scotland. We are experiencing the beginning phase of a chronic & extremely vitriolic attack on the truth in order to preserve the status quo. The shrinking giant that was once the mighty British Empire & its increasingly inward looking London based institutions will use every means available to it to destabilise & block the will of the people of Scotland. This is a war of willpower & intention and the first casualty in any war is the truth. You have been warned.
# Breeks 2012-11-01 11:25
I find the Washington Post article very curious in it's priorities.

Reading it carefully,it is one of the first opinions I have read which assesses Scotland's autonomy in the primary context of it's consequences for the rUK and it's global potency. The article is deeply flawed and superficial in its knowledge of Scottish affairs, but so is our own population, and we're all being fed the same rotten media.

Reading the article again, I don't think it's as hostile towards Independence as I took it to be on first reading. There is a genuine concern here, but equally genuine ignorance; a lack of knowledge certainly, but a real concern, and I don't detect the same vitriolic prejudice we see in our own media. It's naive (very), but not nasty.

Perhaps the US might yet be persuaded to our way of thinking by gentle exposure to the truth... if our media cabal ever lets them see it.
# Old Smokey 2012-11-01 13:14
Its unfortunate that as its an editorial piece, you dont know who actually wrote it. I would suspect that the writer actually has a connection with the UK
Or is it that the Washington Post really doesnt check anything that it publishes?
The sudden uptake by the BBC, The Scotsman and the The Herald of the article seems a tad more than coincidence, after all ther are actually many articles published in US and Canadian papers about Scotland, why the Washington Post editorial come out for special attention?
# steveb 2012-11-01 12:47
I'm afraid chaps and chapesses, we will have to stop visiting the herald site online, just like what we do to the Scotsman, (I hope none of us are actualy still visiting that rag and giving them advertising value)
The Herald is now just the same, it is not worth visiting to read Ian Bell, MacWhirter or the occasional good letter.
# Ayes On The Prize 2012-11-01 13:13
During WW 2 MI5 requested that the Times newspaper should report a bogus attack by a Nazi agent on an aircraft factory. The editor, Robert Barrington-Ward, a pillar of the establishment, refused, stating that he could never knowingly allow a false story to be published in his newspaper. EVEN for the war effort !
How far have the UK's press 'standards' fallen...I simply do not trust any of them, and that goes double for the BBC.
# Jim Johnston 2012-11-01 13:24
Further proof, if any more were needed, that you cannot believe anything that comes out of anti-Independence mouths, be they Westminster / Holyrood political parties, the BBC, regionals like the Herald and Scotsman, or the MSM.

This we already know of course, and it wont be changing any time soon.

What is it with this undisguised hatred of Scots and the Scottish Government ???

I fail to see what or where this hatred will get them, except eventual bankrupt court rulings.

As the days pass to the referendum and YES to Scottish Independence becomes ever more evident, I fear some of these people are going to be in dire need of psychiatric help.
# Old Smokey 2012-11-01 13:31
Watched FMQ's and think that Alex Salmond had a great session, with Lamont, Davidson and Rennie, serving themselves up to be deep fried
Thought the trust percentages was a good touch by the First Minister
(Rennie at 2% - really the kind of level you want to hide under a rock )
# J Wil 2012-11-01 13:56
A very good performance by Alex Salmond, badly reported again by BBC Scotland, on the lunchtime news. You just have to count up the time given to the unionist side, Lamont et al, and the tiny clip at the end of the piece about the Avery document.

I was pleased to reflect that Lamont looked positively sick for the first time.

And Jackie Baillie being effectively slagged off as the gloom and doom merchant of Scottish politics.
# Edulis 2012-11-01 13:33
Anent the gravitas of STV's Scotland Tonight, I am afraid the quality of John MacKay and particularly the lady presenter leaves a great deal to be desired. They typically just regurgitate questions asked by one of the interviewees, usually the Unionist one in any Referendum debate.
# exel 2012-11-01 13:50
The SNP have been trying for years to convince the Scottish electorate to secede (about 80 years). All they have convinced us so far is:
1. The present system of UK government is broken.
2. The present government is not one with any intention of repairing it.
3. The fact that there is no written constitution to control the behavior of politicians.
4. The UK economy is in meltdown and by extension so is Scotland’s.
When are we going to get some honest/accurate information on which to base our “historic decision”?
# Galen10 2012-11-01 16:54
Excel.. all the polls show around 30% firmly for indy. It's highly likely a significant section of the 30% undecided will vote for indy given a yes/no choice in 2104. There are 2 more years to make the case, which won't only be done by the SNP.

Yes, the system is broken, and the unionist establishment won't fix it. The written constitution is a WIBNI ("wouldn't it be nice if"), but not an essential. Honest/accurate information will be spun by either side to suit their purposes, just like statistics.

Individuals decisions will be made for a variety of reasons; economic, social, political, sectarian, emotional, historical - some will be objective and some subjective. The certainty you seek is a chimera, just like your strange insistence on a written constitution delivered yesterday.
# exel 2012-11-01 18:46
First paragraph: Cloud Cuckoo Land!!

Second paragraph: Neither the SNP nor any other YES campaign is suggesting a fix either.

Third paragraph: I would never seek to tell the Scottish electorate when they can consider a written constitution.

What I am saying is (as Kenyon Wright did) "One thing that has to happen is for the Yes to independence campaign to develop a written constitution for Scotland or at least the principles of one that covers human rights, the rights of the Scottish people and what kind of society is being created.”
# Galen10 2012-11-02 08:25
Exel: if you believe these figures are cloud cuckoo land, you haven't been paying attention. The polling figures are widely available and consistent. The fact you don't agree with them or don't like them doesn't make them less true.

The fix for those campaigning for a Yes vote is independence, followed by the Scottish people developing a more progressive system for themselves. Hardly rocket science. No party (pro or anti) can or should claim to have detailed answers now; it wouldn't be credible. All they would be at present are wish lists.

We know your views about the constitution; they don't get any more convincing because you always refuse to answer the questions of legitimacy and mandate of those dreaming it up, and also explain WHY it is so urgent for it to be done now rather than post 2014.

Weak even by your low standards.
# exel 2012-11-02 10:41
First paragraph: Polling figures are consistent?

Second paragraph: Voting YES only starts the process of secession, which means the Scottish electorate wish change. But they also want to know what the “more progressive system” would be and I suspect would like a say in formulating it before jumping off the cliff singing “we can overcome”.

Third Paragraph: I have never refused to answer a sensible question in my life. I have consistently advocated that the “draft constitutions” are debated by a body legitimised by the Holyrood Parliament. The mandate would be from the sovereign people, voting for the one most acceptable to them. It is urgent BECAUSE the political parties are wasting our time with all this electioneering on future policies.
# Galen10 2012-11-02 15:58
Highly disingenuous. The estimable scottish_skier has done a good job of deconstructing unionist disinformation about the polling evidence. Everyone knows there is a pretty consistent roughly equal 3 way split: yes, no and undecided. That changes when the undecided's are faced (as they will be in 2014) by a str8 yes/no question.

2nd para: the time for it is post 2014. A large section of unionists will simply NOT engage prior to any Yes vote in 2014. Those who do engage will only be putting forward their wish lists; the time for ALL the Scottish people to decide will be after 2014. Only then will the situation economically and vis a vis the negotiations with rumpUK be clear.

3rd para: you are a renowned obscurantist, and that response had to be dragged out of you. The constitution is important but NOT urgent. Virtually nobody supports your view, here or anywhere else!
# rhymer 2012-11-01 22:02
Quoting exel:
The SNP have been trying for years to convince the Scottish electorate to secede (about 80 years). All they have convinced us so far is: The present system of UK government is broken.bbbWhen are we going to get some honest/accurate information on which to base our “historic decision”?

# exel 2012-11-01 14:11
The economic debate: Is an independent state of Scotland, economically, a viable proposition? The nationalists claim it is: they claim the total income accrued to a Scottish treasury would be much higher than the total received from UK treasury at the moment. They use as proof for this the GERS (Guessed Economic Receipts Scotland) figures from the unaudited UK treasury GDP. Of course the unionists say it is not a viable proposition.
# Piemonteis 2012-11-01 15:15
I think the debate has shifted past that and there is a generally acceptance that an independent Scotland is a "viable"proposition economically. Even Davie C has admitted that Scotland could stand on its own two feet.

The question that seems to motivate the public is, would we be a wee bit better of or a wee bit worse off? And really, who knows? The figures on both sides of the argument are not particularly distant, which implies that even with the most detailed pre-referendum analysis, they would come up somewhere in the middle with a margin for error both ways.

Basically, we can't tell if we'd be 50 quid better or worse off each. That's why both sides are making claims which suit their argument. Because they can't be definitively proven wrong.

The other economic question which is a wee bit shakier, however, is currency.
# exel 2012-11-01 18:22
Piemonteis 2012-11-01 16:15 said; “I think the debate has shifted past that and there is a generally acceptance that an independent Scotland is a "viable “proposition economically. Even Davie C has admitted that Scotland could stand on its own two feet.”

I am afraid you are sadly mistaken; I suppose if you blindly accept the politician’s version of the state of the UK economy, you would think that.

Problem is the electorate have not been involved in a debate, we are being asked to jump and hope for the best.
# Piemonteis 2012-11-01 19:48
Which "politician's version" would that be then? Evidently, the UK economy is in a horrific state, as is the economy of the whole of Europe. Why would the UK (as it is now or magically reformed) be a more viable proposition for surviving the next few years than Scotland.

A Scotland which can focus its direct its economic recovery in the best way that addresses the economic particularities that Scotland has as a country. Rather than being dragged along for the benefit of South-East England growth, with centralist policies which leave Scotland unprotected against the world outside.

Surely the STUC would be a good place for you to start if you want to look at the realities of Scotland's economic and trade position which would result post-independence. Why are they, with their huge vested interest in the Scottish economy, starting off from the assumption that an independent Scotland would be more than solvent.
# Ready to Start 2012-11-01 14:11
Its time the Scottish Parliament had a serious review of the Media output in Scotland.

Whilst it has no powers over the behaviour of our political journalists it should demand that erroneous stories be corrected on the same page and prominence or time if by broadcasters.
# J Wil 2012-11-01 14:21
"Its time the Scottish Parliament had a serious review of the Media output in Scotland."

There should be a debate about it in Holyrood, which would raise the profile of the problem and put both the BBC and the unionists on the spot as they would have to respond. It could also make the case for transferring control of Scottish broadcasting to the SG.
# Briggs 2012-11-01 21:35
'It could also make the case for transferring control of Scottish broadcasting to the SG'

I'd rather that an SBC were independent from Government.
# Independista 2012-11-01 14:19
An excellent piece of analysis by Newsnet which was once the hallmark of both the Herald and Scotsman. Nowadays we only get that kind of journalism in comment columns like Ian Bell and Ian McWhirter.
It is surely time for the Yes campaign to invite the likes of Ms Reding to Scotland to redress the balance of information.
# RTP 2012-11-01 14:24
Post Scottish Independence.

We have the Washington Post side on this.

How about this then Scotland signs a trade agreement with Russia which includes the use of Scottish ports for servicing their ships,so is America going to demand the RUK to place sanctions on Scotland and if that dose not work will they then threaten Scotland with military action,as we have already had a Tory Lord saying they would maybe have to bomb Scotland is it all to far fetched.This is all tongue in cheek but.
AS I thought had a very good FMQs today.
# bringiton 2012-11-01 15:26
The USA has little interest in Europe these days and is rapidly shifting it's focus to the Pacific area.
The Washington Post article has all the hall marks of its friends across the water the Torygraph...very lazy journalism.
# J Wil 2012-11-01 15:31
On the prospect of Scotland becoming an outcast and being ostracised by the rump UK:

As I have suggested before, when England decides not to take up the Scottish Government's offer of having some of their bases up here, Scotland could offer land for military and air bases to the Russians, at a price of course. I am sure they would be keen to take up the offer, particularly as Scotland is strategically placed. It is on the Atlantic and it is not far from the Arctic Circle where Russia has an interest in oil exploration.

The media are making great play of the argument that Scotland would be in a weak negotiating position when it wants to get rid of Trident, but the very opposite could be the case, with Scotland having the upper hand. for some of the reasons just described.

As they say. Two can play at that game.
# davemsc 2012-11-01 18:47
It's bad enough that we're currently in bed with the Americans thanks to London's policies. Why the hell would we want to get out of that and into bed with the Russians?
# Displaced Patriot 2012-11-01 14:36
Lamont and a Unionist Labour journo lying ,why the surprise?
The lying by the Bitter Together mob hasn't even begun yet.
Meanwhile EBC is in overdrive , and it will get worse.
# balbeggie 2012-11-01 15:03
Well the Herald have now changed their tune. To prove it I have provided the link. However don't visit their site, it just keeps them in business.

AN INDEPENDENT Scotland would be fast-tracked into full membership of the European Union after a "simplified procedure" of negotiations, according to a leading expert on European policy.
Graham Avery, an Oxford academic and senior Brussels policy adviser, said Scots were already EU citizens and "could hardly be asked to leave and then reapply for membership in the same way as the people of a non-member country such as Turkey".
# Dundonian West 2012-11-01 15:19
"However don't visit their site, it just keeps them in business."
I've stayed clear of both the Scotsman and the Herald sites for 2 months or more.
The same old regurgitated stuff,which quite honestly doesn't deserve to see the light of day.
They are putting their workers' jobs at risk pursuing their current policy,but I suppose they think even less of them than the pursuit of balance and truth.

LET THE WORD GO OUT.Just leave Newsnetscotland mods/editors to have a look---I do.
Which reminds me,I'll make another contribution to NNS---top of page.
# amfraeembro 2012-11-01 15:51
Don't link to their site either. It pushes them up search rankings.
# Marga B 2012-11-01 16:06
A suggestion that is working well for Catalonia - send a reply to the Washington Post. Give them the facts. If you think they are getting info. from unfriendly sources, give them another source.

If they don't take notice the first time, keep at it. It will bear fruit. Before, US correspondents on Spain stayed in Madrid, now they go to Catalonia. The Americans but particularly the Financial Times has made great progress: they have several people well-informed and sourced on Catalonia now.

Scotland is news these days. Salmohnd is news. Someone there will appreciate the effort made and investigate. Catalans had to translate into English to get the message over. It's relatively easy for Scots.
# J Wil 2012-11-01 16:48
REF: The BBC today used the Washington Post article to discredit the independence movement, citing that newspaper's top credentials which stem from their exposure of Watergate:

Here is a link to a whole pageful of The Washington Post articles, telling Americans what they think of the BBC.
# call me dave 2012-11-01 17:13
BBC Radio has it that the 'Scottish lab party' is to ask the UK government to ask the question!

However the devil is in the detail as it has to be a specific question.
# Rafiki 2012-11-01 17:57
The Washington Post editorial can be summed up in one word: Trident.
# Koenig 2012-11-01 20:48
To be fair it's more than one word:-

Billions on Trident
Billions on Joint Strike Fighter
Biliions on Aircraft Carriers
Billions spent in Iraq
Billions spent in Afghanistan
Billions spent in Libya

RUk would be broke and unable to honour the firat 3!
# dtr 2012-11-01 18:05
"Given the Edinburgh Agreement signed by the Edinburgh and London governments, then the hypothetical situation commented on by Ms Reding has no impact whatsoever on a newly independent Scotland."

I'm supportive of independence but this article reads as opportunist. Prior to the "Edinburgh Agreement" the Scottish Government said that they did not need such an agreement so it's a bit weak to pull it out now to make Scotlands claim to ongoing membership watertight when the claim has been made all along.
# govanite 2012-11-01 18:19
Whether we need an agreement or not, there now is one. That sets some rules for both sides.
On that basis it is wise to seek a view from where we are now.

Like you, I'd prefer to have been Independent long ago & be deciding our own European choices.
# Canmore 2012-11-01 18:53
This entire blown up topic is rather laughable.

What is Ms Lamont and her unionist friends views on the future of the UK's membership of the EU?

Lets face the facts here we have the English pushing more and more for a referendum on the EU which will lead to the UK leaving make no mistake there. So if we stay part of the union that EU membership Ms Lamont and her unionist friends care so much about will end.

Once again Ms Lamont and her friends are in a state of total confusion. They dont know whether to move right, left or jump up and down. Lunatics!!!
# exel 2012-11-01 19:06
The written constitution debate: Kenyon Wright in an interview is quoted as saying: "One thing that has to happen is for the Yes to independence campaign to develop a written constitution for Scotland or at least the principles of one that covers human rights, the rights of the Scottish people and what kind of society is being created.”

Unfortunately none of the political parties are interested in a Codified Constitution never have been never will be, as far as Westminster and Holyrood are concerned the peoples sovereignty only extends to having a vote every five years, at all other times it rests with parliament.

In my opinion either campaign can swing the vote by following Kenyon Wright’s advice, which he probably gave during the devolution referendum as well as in this interview.
# Galen10 2012-11-02 08:41
Excel; please, please answer the questions about this hobby horse which you have consistently dodged over months and months:

1) What mandate would any self appointed body or civic group developing such a written constiyution have?

2) How could it be regarded as legitimate?

3) Why is it so urgent that it be done before 2014 rather than after a Yes vote is achieved?

4) What are the prospect of pro-unionist parties and individual getting involved in such discussions, when they are fighting against the very premise.

Until (faint hope!) you have answered these questions, nobody can take your fixation seriously.
# exel 2012-11-02 12:25
I refer you to my post: exel 2012-11-02 11:41
# Galen10 2012-11-02 16:22
You avoided it for so long we've all forgotten; don't refer us to historic posts, precis and justify your woo woo views; if nothing else it's good for a laugh watching you continue to dig your obscurantist hole ever deeper!
# exel 2012-11-02 17:58
Today a historic post?
A visit to Specsavers?
# Piemonteis 2012-11-02 19:07
The Constitution debate is certainly relevant. We need to know what the basic values of our country will be at the very beginning of the process.

However, I don't think it is necessary to start drafting the constitution yet. What instead needs to be done, is that a process needs to be set out concerning what mechanisms shall be used to create this mechanism in the event of a YES vote.

The public needs to know that it will be they, or people who genuinely represent them, who will sculpt the shape of the new Scotland, and not the political party of the SNP or the political movement of YES Scotland.
# cynicalHighlander 2012-11-01 19:34
A Quarrel in a Faraway Country?: Scotland, Independence and the EU:
# Leswil 2012-11-01 20:35
Turned on Newsnight Scotland(last Night ), and just caught the interview between an American guy( professor ?) and an American Lady who was apparently a A/S advisor at some point.
The guy really did not have a clue about Scotland, the lady was far more clued up and convincing.
The upshot of what the Prof? said was that if Scotland were to be independent, it would weaken the rUK both militarily and financially, and that would be against American interests??
Eh? so it would follow that it is important to have Scotland kept right where it is, in order for the rUK to remain the power it is!

So that's it folks, we have to waiver our future for the UK to keep it's International standing. Wow, what a convincing argument, I thing we should all go for that! to hell with poverty levels etc etc.
# rgweir 2012-11-01 21:22
OT.Just watched FMQs,When is the presiding officer going do something about the personal insults being chucked at the first minister every week by Lamont and Davidson?
# km 2012-11-01 21:37
The more Lamont whines, the deeper she digs her own grave. But it is so very depressing watching her (and particularly Willie Rennie today) continually talk Scotland down and be happy to go along with all Scotland's external relations being handled via Westminster.
# Piemonteis 2012-11-01 22:26
I think Willie Rennie has improved a lot over recent weeks and he's the only one who has been looking for some element of consensus in a number of issues.

He had an absolutely rotten start to the role of LD leader, which was largely down to his phenomenally aggressive attitude at the beginning as well as the fact that everything he would come out with was undermined by his coalition partners.

However, with Rennie's subtle change towards constructivity, I don't think Alex Salmond has struck the right tone with him in recent weeks. He would be better taking advantage of any consensus from across the chamber to get away from the prevalent SNP vs The Rest gulf.
# call me dave 2012-11-01 22:49
Yes I have noted a few nods in the direction of the SG in the last 3 weeks.

Is he under London orders or is it a genuine Scottish Lib/dem group approach.

Lets wait a wee while before warming too much to them.

On the other hand Ruthless and Lamont continue to plough the same furrow.

She (Lamont) must have used up her vocabulary of insults now, 'chancer' indeed.
# Piemonteis 2012-11-01 23:03
With the confrontational approach of Moore and Alexcander's Westminster party, are the Lib Dems really clever enough to play Good Cop, Bad Cop?

I think it might be a Scottish Lib Dem quest for relevance. They know which way the wind's blowing and they don't want to be left behind when October 2014 comes round. If that's the case, Labour would do well to follow.
# weegie38 2012-11-01 21:28
The members of the European Commission are compromised by the fact that they have to deal with existing national governments.

You'll never get a Commissioner saying to Madrid that of course Catalonia/Basque Country would remain within the EU: they know that they will have to deal with that Madrid government in future, so getting their backs up isn't in their interests.

This makes Professor Avery's remarks all the more significant: he was deep inside the EEC/EU, so he knew his way about. However, now that he's retired from that role, his opinion is not be coloured by realpolitik. Unlike Viviane Reding's.
# Hirta 2012-11-01 21:38
# call me dave 2012-11-01 22:15
Thanks for this.

It is an interesting read with much in Scotland's favour but you can see the usual suspects (our MP's) poke and chip away at perceived weaknesses that the experts are asked to answer.

I liked the part where it was stated that "there is a great deal of good will towards Scotland"

I noted the OIL and 'the law of the sea' came up near the end but the committee time was running out.

To be continued I presume.
# Alphenscot 2012-11-01 22:07
George Orwell said "at a time of universal deceit telling the truth is a revolutionary act".
Does this apply to the way Scotland is being subjugated at this moment in time?
# southernscot 2012-11-01 22:19
Editor: Your time stamps are an hour out
# rodmac 2012-11-01 22:21
Earlier today after FMQs ...I thought it a good idea to lighten things up a bit :)


and then I got a wee bit more serious again

# J Wil 2012-11-01 22:46
We are just about to witness the adventure of another Newsnight Scotland and guess what? It's Professor Curtis again. If we are going to have his proselityzing for two more years, which seems very likely, we are going to be absolutely sick of seeing him. Doesn't he realise this.

BTW. Where does he get all his information? He seems to be able to rustle up every scintilla of nuance about the Scottish electorate at the drop of a hat. Are his beatitudes actually possible without being reckless with the truth?
# cokynutjoe 2012-11-01 22:55
Curtis has found a "Dripping Roast" and is coining it in, why would he worry?
# Aplinal 2012-11-01 23:38
Just watched QT online (probably a criminal act against the BBC monopoly - I am outwith the UK) David M came over as pretty sound. Just as well labour rejected him. Much more of a serious politician than wee Ed.
# km 2012-11-02 00:06
Scotsman reporting an independent Scotland could become a member of the international community 'remarkably quickly':

I wish they would make up their minds.
# Carrasclet 2012-11-02 19:07
The Crown of Aragon was a collection of independent states between them. First were the Kingdom of Aragon and the Principality of Catalonia, the "reconquest" were created after the Kingdom of Mallorca and the Kingdom of Valencia, making them independent of each other but united by the monarch. The Crown of Aragon (called in medieval Crown of Aragon and Catalonia politically since a few centuries removed the name of Catalonia to remove it from the world.) Was united with the Kingdom of Castile than marriage between Isabel and Ferdinand but the grandson of Charles I of Habsburg such, maintaining the independence of all states, united once again by the king. In Castile the king was absolute since time immemorial. States of the Crown of Aragon King shared power with the Parliament of each territory and there were some General Courts when they had discussed was of interest. The Government was permanent Parliament Principality of Catalonia.
# exel 2012-11-02 19:53
Piemonteis 2012-11-02 20:07

First paragraph: The “process” for writing a constitution usually begins with setting down the basic principles. OK so far.

Second Paragraph: That is your opinion, fair enough. But you must be aware that there are already several “drafts” ready for discussion/debate, not least, from the SNP which has been updated /amended over the last 30-60 years. The mechanism is usually the setting up of a constitutional convention.

Third Paragraph: There is nothing to separate the SNP and the YES campaign, but I do not think they should be excluded. After all Mr. Salmond has indicated that they have plans to outlaw nuclear weapons in a written constitution, so I assume they are in the process of amending their “draft” before they present it to a Constitutional Convention.
# Piemonteis 2012-11-02 21:14
You've missed my point completely. Of course there are several draft constitutions drawn up. For all you know, I could have my own one here.

But you don't start with the principles before you get the people to set them down. The "process" I was alluding to was a structure in which we can get a constitution drafted wherein it is the people who decide its content.

The problem with setting out its content now is that there will be no input from 50% of the population who don't support independence in the first place.

In the case that the referendum is successful, you can then sit down with a cross-section of the population and decide what the people want for Scotland.

Finally, I really don't care about what the SNP are doing with their constitution. At the end of the day, the SNP constitution sets out SNP party policy for how they see the principles of Scotland and should not be considered when the constitution is drawn up for real.
# exel 2012-11-02 21:25
Bull Manure!!
# Piemonteis 2012-11-03 07:06
Please do explain...
# Galen10 2012-11-03 08:40

exel has a long and baleful history in this regard, but continues to tilt at the "constitution now" windmill. He can't back up what passes for his "argument", and signally fails to answer the criticisms of his proposed way forward, despite constant calls from me and others to do so.

There is no body, party or interest group with the mandate or legitimacy to make any meaningful decisions bout the matter prior to 2014... and realistically not until after then!

As you also rightly point out, the anti-indy brigade are simply not going to engage in any such discussions before a Yes vote. thus exel's plans disenfranchise a large group of voters... hardly a great way forward!

I doubt you will get any coherent answer from him... it's been tried before, but trolls like him can rarely come up with the goods when called out on it!

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