The SNP Depute Leader election

Eastwood Hustings.
Eastwood Hustings.
I went along to the Eastwood Hustings last night to get a better idea about who to vote for in the SNP’s election for a new depute leader.

It was quite interesting — although unfortunately Angus Robertson couldn’t make it — and I now feel I know how to prioritise the candidates. Here are my thoughts, started with the candidate I’ll be ranking lowest and ending with my preferred depute leader:

  • Chris McEleny has some decent ideas about reforms to the party structure, but I think the other candidates have listened to these and are likely to implement them, too. However, his focus seemed very strongly to be on local elections, and with the possibility of a new independence referendum, I don’t think this is the right kind of depute for the SNP at the moment.
  • Tommy Sheppard is great and I’m really appreciative of the things he’s done during the indyref campaign and as an MP. At another point in time I can imagine he would have been my preferred candidate. However, like Chris he seemed to focus more on local elections and on the party structure, and again I’m just not sure this is the right time. Paid organisers might be a great idea, but when the next referendum campaign gets called, a lot of activity will probably shift to Yes Scotland 2 (or whatever it’ll get called), and then these organisers could almost become a hindrance.
  • Angus Robertson is one of my heroes. As somebody who’s half German myself I really admire the way he’s explaining Scottish politics in German to German and Austrian audiences — he simply says all the right things, like for instance: “Wir Schotten sind […] Weltbürger — von daher ärgert mich die deutsche Übersetzung meiner Partei: Wir sind keine Nationalisten.” He’s also doing a great job in Westminster, and I’m sure being depute leader of the SNP could help him there. Finally, his point about making sure that the SNP doesn’t lose the rural areas now that the party is becoming much more urban makes eminent sense to me. I’ll be very happy if he wins this election.
  • Alyn Smith is, however, my preferred candidate. His famous speech in the European Parliament has shown he can win over European hearts and minds, and that really matters at the moment. He also pointed out last night that his election will send a strong signal to Europe that the European Parliament matters more to Scotland than the UK Parliament in London, and he can really use the depute leader title to impress on people across Europe that he’s to be taken seriously. Finally, although he didn’t say it, I can’t help thinking that somebody who’ll lose his current job if Scotland gets chucked out of the EU will perhaps work harder to keep us there than those who won’t. Given how much staying in the EU matters to me as a New Scot from another EU member state, I’ll cast my first vote for Alyn Smith.

The United Kingdom must be competent, or it is nothing

Crew of the HRESS Nevergonnagetbuilt
Crew of the HRESS Nevergonnagetbuilt.
I grew up in Denmark with the impression that the UK had great politicians and civil servants. Very old-fashioned and conservative ones, yes, but very well-educated and competent.

Having lived here since 2002, I would now perhaps revise my earlier impression and add that they were often bastards, but at least they were competent bastards.

To a large extent, that explains why Scotland for so long was reasonably content to be governed by Westminster. The decisions they made on Scotland’s behalf might have been reactionary and horrible, but at least they were made by competent people and presented elegantly.

However, ever since the morning of Brexit, the UK has been the laughing stock of the world. Scotland is now universally regarded as having better, nicer, cleverer and more competent politicians that the rUK.

This must be the final nail in the coffin of the UK. The United Kingdom must be competent, or it is nothing.

Scotland is my home

There’s an article by yours truly on Bella Caledonia today:

It felt like the sun had broken through the heavy clouds of an unexpected storm when Nicola Sturgeon made her statement the morning after the Brexit referendum.

As a New Scot and EU migrant, her direct message to us brought a tear to my eye – and I know many Scots, old and new, felt the same. It was such a contrast to the UK politicians and media that didn’t seem to care about us.

Read the rest here.

Reverse Greenland

Qaqortoq
Qaqortoq.
Lots of people are currently talking about Scotland (and perhaps Gibraltar) doing a Reverse Greenland, which means that the UK would leave but Scotland (et al.) would remain within the EU.

I don’t think that’s particularly likely for the following two reasons:

  1. A Greenlandic solution doesn’t mean that Greenland is independent in all areas where the EU is representing Denmark. Instead, Copenhagen is ultimately in charge of these areas (unless they’re devolved, of course). In other words, if Scotland achieved a Reverse Greenland solution, Westminster would for instance have to conduct their own trade policy for England while representing Scotland in Brussels at trade summits. It would lead to a lot of conflicts of interest at Westminster, and I don’t think Brussels would like this at all.
  2. As Craig Murray has pointed out, there’s no legal basis in the EU treaties for having a territory of a non-member state as a member: “The European Union is an institution which is based on treaties which have legal force. There is nothing whatsoever in any of those treaties, and nothing in any existing arrangement with any state, that makes it possible for part of a state, even a federal state, to be inside the EU, when the state itself is outside. […] The Greenland case is not in the least comparable because its relationship with the EU is based on the fact that it is an autonomous territory of an EU member state, Denmark. That is completely different from the situation of an autonomous territory of an EU non-member, which the UK will be.” I presume this means that the only way it would work would be if the UK remained a member, and England and Wales then left the EU (like Greenland). Given the size of England, I really can’t see this happening.

However, I think it’s absolutely correct and proper that Nicola Sturgeon explores all options before calling a second independence referendum.

Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity

EU referendum result: Prime Minister’s statement
EU referendum result: Prime Minister’s statement.

I used to think that David Cameron was secretly trying to engineer a Leave vote. There were so many signs, e.g., (1) making demands from the EU that could never be met, (2) disenfranchising EU citizens and long-term British residents in Europe, (3) holding the referendum just after the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish elections (leading to a lot of election fatigue in these areas), and (4) also holding it during Euro 2016 (when national pride is always running high).

However, the way he didn’t do any Brexit contingency planning and simply threw in the towel now makes it clear that he just was naïve and arrogant enough to think that he’d achieve a Remain vote no matter what.

I’ve even seen it mentioned that he bragged to Juncker that he was going to achieve a 70% win for Remain, which was clearly delusional.

Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity!

Thanks, Nicola!

I was distraught this morning. Non-metropolitan England had voted in great numbers for Brexit, and the British TV channels hardly mentioned Scotland at all.

Shortly after 11 o’clock, however, Nicola Sturgeon started her press conference, and one of her first sentences was this:

It’s hard to express in words how much this meant to me. It brought a tear to my eye. Thanks, Nicola!

And then she proceeded to state in no uncertain terms that it’s very likely there’ll be a second independence referendum soon (I loved her choice of flags, by the way):

This gives me a lot of hope. Scotland might never leave the European Union, but simply leave the broken British one instead.

We need to make this happen!

I am one of the disenfranchised EU migrants

Just married!
Just married!.
I flitted to Scotland in 2002 because I got a job at Collins Dictionaries in Bishopbriggs. Because of the EU, it was almost a simple as getting a job at home — I simply applied for it, went for an interview and signed a contract, without having to apply for a work permit or anything. I had to get a national insurance number, but that was straightforward; the only real difficulty I faced was getting a bank account, which was a real pain.

To this day I’ve never had a work permit or any other piece of paper confirming that I have a right to live here — this is different from all the non-EU migrants who of course have to get such papers as soon as they move here.

I fell in love with one of my colleagues, Phyllis, and we married in 2009 (I was of course wearing a kilt, in the beautiful Buchanan tartan). In the same year, we set up a company together. Our life is here, and yet I’m only allowed to live here because of the EU — our daughters have dual nationality, but I’m still only Danish.

And yes, I could apply for UK citizenship, but until September 2015 it would have meant giving up my status as a Danish citizen because of Danish legislation (and my daughters would also have stopped being Danish at that point). I’m looking into it now, but it’s a complicated process which involves two exams, a lot of forms and a significant amount of money.

Denmark disenfranchises its citizens after two years abroad, so since 2004 I’ve only been able to vote for two parliaments: The Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh and the European Parliament in Brussels and Strasbourg. Neither the Danish Parliament in Copenhagen nor the UK Parliament in London wants to know what I think. And of course I can’t take part in the Brexit referendum tomorrow, because it uses the Westminster franchise.

If the UK votes in favour of leaving the EU tomorrow, one of the consequences will be that I won’t be able to take part in Scottish Parliament elections any more, and if there is another Scottish independence referendum, I won’t be able to vote in that, either. The mere thought is absolutely heartbreaking, given how much time and effort I invested in the last indyref.

Of course nobody knows what Brexit will entail. It could be that the outcome is a Norwegian solution, in which case the only real consequence for me will be losing my right to vote in Holyrood elections, but if it ends up as an acrimonious divorce, nobody knows what the consequences will be — EU citizens might for instance be charged to use the NHS, or we might lose the right to some benefits.

I really fail to see how Brexit will benefit normal people, and it has the potential to harm millions drastically. Voting Leave is not simply a harmless way to give David Cameron a bloody nose, but a potentially serious blow to the European Union — which, in spite of all its failings, has allowed normal people like me to get a work in another country and to start a family there without having to jump through hundreds of bureaucratic hoops.

Please vote Remain. I can’t, but I would.

Scottish Independence with a Scandinavian Slant