Speaking on the Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, European Commission President José Manuel Barroso repeated the Glesga clippie objection to Scottish membership of the EU – c’mon get aff the bus and get tae the end o the queue.
Funny how it’s only the negative stuff that gets blanket coverage on the telly news isn’t it? Here we go again, a new day and a new scare story, or more precisely an old scare story reheated. This one has been reheated so often that it’s little more than a toxic mass of bacteria which is unfit for human consumption, but that doesn’t stop the BBC presenting it as a tasty little delicacy. They think if they coat lies in lard and deep fry them, Scottish people will consume them eagerly.
Barroso is a member of the European Popular Party He belongs to the same centre-right cabal as the Spanish Partido Popular, and the UK Tories (before they went off in a collective huff and left the European Popular Party to join up in the EU parliament with far-right Latvian holocaust deniers). The Spanish PP has spent considerable time and effort persuading fellow members of the European Popular Party to adopt its line that states which become independent from existing EU members must leave the EU and reapply for membership. Reliant upon the support of European Popular Party members of the EU Parliament, Barroso wasn’t going to upset Partido Popular’s applecart.
Barroso is a Portuguese version of David Cameron or Mariano Rajoy. Formerly the Prime Minister of Portugal, Barroso introduced a unpopular programme of austerity cuts and wage freezes which did not go down well in Lisbon. He enthusiastically supported Bush and Blair in their illegal invasion of Iraq despite massive protests, and amidst mounting domestic pressure announced his resignation so he could go off and become EC President. His pals in the European Popular Party gave him a convenient excuse to run away to Brussels, and Portugal breathed a collective sigh of relief.
As the most prominent member of the European Popular Party, its successful candidate for the election to the EC Presidency, naturally Barroso will repeat the party line. He is after all a political appointee. But what he is saying is political manoeuvering , it’s not EU law or EU policy and has been rubbished on several previous occasions by real experts in EU law and EU enlargement, like Professor Graham Avery – most recently just a couple of weeks ago.
The extreme, and unrealistic, nature of Barroso’s position was illustrated in the example he chose as a comparison with Scotland. Barroso noted that Kosovo’s application to join the EU was being blocked, saying:
“We have seen that Spain has been opposing even the recognition of Kosovo, for instance, so it’s to some extent a similar case because it’s a new country and so I believe it’s going to be extremely difficult, if not impossible, a new member state coming out of one of our countries getting the agreement of the other [existing member states].”
What he didn’t say was why Spain refuses to recognise Kosovo, and blocks its application for EU membership. It’s because Kosovo declared independence unilaterally from Belgrade, despite the fact that the Serbian constitution forbids the independence of any part of Serbian territory. This objection does not apply to Scotland, as the Spanish Government has stated on numerous occasions. Just as it has insisted frequently that the cases of Scotland and Catalonia (or Kosovo) cannot be compared. Spain sees no parallel between Scotland and Kosovo, but Barroso wants Scottish people to think they do.
But despite the fact that José Manuel Barroso is fully aware of the reasons why Spain objects to Kosovan independence, is fully aware that the Spanish Foreign Minister has stated that this objection does not apply to Scotland, is fully aware that the Spanish Government has said there is no comparison between countries like Scotland which have a constitutional right to independence and countries like Catalonia or Kosovo which don’t, and is fully aware that the Spanish Prime Minister consistently dodges the question of whether Spain will veto Scotland, it didn’t seem to stop him implying the contrary on the BBC.
He was not challenged on his remarks by Andrew Marr, who really ought to do better research or give up any pretence that the BBC is unbiased. It was a complete misrepresentation of Spain’s position, and a blatant piece of political interference in the affairs of Scotland.
In its gleeful coverage of the interview, which naturally didn’t mention anything that the Spanish government itself has actually said as this would contradict Barroso, the Guardian – the newsletter of the Islington Labour branch of Better Together – reported:
“The statement will be seen as a blow to the hopes of the Scottish Nationalists who claim the country would join the EU in the event of a yes vote in September’s referendum.”
No it won’t Guardian. It will be seen as yet another scaremongering intervention from one of David Cameron’s right wing pals. It will be seen as another example of how bullying, threats and intimidation are our political masters’ stock in trade. Scotland has seen a lot of that recently, and it’s why we’re increasingly of the opinion that we are not Better Together with sic a parcel o rogues.