The Al Capone of Europe

Well that didn’t take long did it. The Spanish veto threats have been turned 180 degrees from what the Unionist politicians and their media supporters have been telling us for years, while those of us who were saying what was really going to happen were ignored and sidelined. This blog has been saying for years that Spain would not veto the membership of the EU of an independent Scotland, something that the Spanish foreign minister Alfonso Dastis, confirmed this weekend. Asked if Spain would veto the EU application of an independent Scotland, Dastis categorically replied, “No, we wouldn’t.” To which this blog can only say, “Told you so. Told you so. Told you. Told you. Told you so.”

The real Spanish veto is the veto that Spain now wields over any UK Brexit deal that includes Gibraltar. It’s not Scotland that has anything to fear from Spain, it’s the Tory government in Westminster, and they don’t like it at all when the bota is on the other foot. Just a few days after Theresa May has pressed the big red Brexit button, there are already senior Conservative politicians who are so upset at the Great British Slap Down that they’re threatening to make things go ‘boom!’ Quite literally. It’s a British nationalist thing. When in doubt, when there’s a hint that things might not be going your own way, threaten a war and ramp up the threats of violence. Why else to you think that they love to glorify the military so much? It’s not because they love bunting.

Michael Howard, former leader of the Tory party and semi-retired vampire, is outraged about the Spanish veto over any Brexit deal involving Gibraltar, which no one saw coming except people who were paying attention and who weren’t seduced by the Brexiteer conceit that the rest of the world is in thrall to the UK. Michael was so furious at the realistion that Brexit isn’t going to mean the EU is going to roll over meekly and give Britain everything that it wants that he went on telly in daylight. Michael risked self-combustion to remind Spain that Margaret Thatcher went to war with another Spanish speaking country in order to ensure that a small colony could remain British. Because comparing an EU democracy and another member of NATO to a Latin American dictatorship is really how to make friends and influence people in negotiations with the European Union. Britain goes to war to ensure that small British populations can consent to remain British, thundered Michael, who was coming perilously close to bursting into flame even without the assistance of the spring sunshine on his leathery vampire exterior.

Britishness is all about consent except where Scotland is concerned of course. We only got to consent the one time. Apparently the 2014 vote meant that Scotland consented to give Westminster carte blanche to do what it likes with Scotland in perpetuity and we surrendered all and any right to hold them to account even though every single promise and commitment that they made in order to secure a No vote has turned to ashes just like a Michael Howard who’s been left out in the sun too long. Funny how they never made that clear when they were telling us how we were an equal partner in a family of nations which could only remain in the EU if we voted No.

But it’s not entirely bad.  First this week we had Westminster giving itself Henry VIII powers, and now it’s talking about going to war with Spain.  There’s something consistently 16th century about it.  And of course in the 16th century Scotland was an independent state, so we’ve got that to look forward to as well.  Funnily enough this blog reported a year ago that a previous Spanish foreign minister was predicting that as a result of Brexit the UK would return to England’s frontiers of the 16th century.  It’s all panning out then.

The bellicose threats against a country that was until last week a partner of the UK are part of a pattern. It was also revealed this weekend that the UK is considering using its military and intelligence strengths in order to bully the EU into giving it a better deal on trade. In effect, they’re threatening to leave the rest of the EU to the mercy of terrorist threats and the crushing embrace of the Russian bear unless the EU agrees to give the UK a better financial deal. That’s the UK in the 21st century. Its negotiating tactics are so sophisticated that it’s reduced to making an implied threat that the EU will be subject to violence and abuse unless they allow Britain to make money. A protection racket, in other words. Brexit Britain plans to carve out a new role for itself as the Al Capone of Europe.

Unfortunately, protection rackets only work when you yourself are the gangster. And even then they invariably end badly for the mob. Britain’s problem is that it’s not the gangster in this equation. The UK is every bit as much at risk of terrorism and Russian expansionism as the EU is. Given the UK’s propensity for militarism, some might argue that the UK was at even more of a threat.  And the EU knows that too. The British attempt to link security and its military to a trade deal isn’t a sign of British strength. It’s a sign of British desperation.  It will not end well for Westminster.

There’s a choice facing Scotland now. What sort of country do we see ourselves as? What sort of country do we want to be? The independence referendum campaign in 2014 was dominated by the economy, and while no one is denying that the economy is an important question, the second independence referendum needs to be about much bigger and more profound questions. I firmly believe that Scotland’s economy would be stronger as a result of independence. There would certainly be a difficult period of adjustment, but in the medium to long term we’d be far better off financially.

But a country whose independence rests upon proving that the average family would be better off by the price of an Indian takeway once a month is a country that doesn’t deserve independence. The economy is important, but the Unionists want us to believe that the people must serve the economy, when it’s really the other way about. The economy must serve the people. Only with independence can we make sure that the economy of Scotland is the servant of the people of Scotland. As part of the UK the people of Scotland are the servants of the British economy, and that means that we work to make the City of London and large financial interests even richer while our public services and our cohesion as a society is wrecked. We work to provide an impotent ex-Empire with the viagra of militarism.

Independence will save Scotland money, but independence isn’t about saving money. It’s about saving our decency as a society. It’s about morality. It’s about ensuring that Scotland is a small island of good and humanity in a cruel world. It’s about being the opposite of the kind of bellicose, xenophobic nation that’s quick to resort to the armed force that Michael Howard fetishises. Britain is a country which slashes public services to the bone, which casts families out into the street, which destroys its health service, all so it can buy bigger and better bombs. Those servicepeople who form the backbone of the British military might that people like Michael glorify are thrown out after they’ve been used up, all too often they are thrown away on the scrapheap and ignored, reliant on charity.

That’s the kind of cruel and heartless country that the Tories have in store for us. It’s not Scottish exceptionalism to say that we can be better than what the Conservatives plan to turn Britain into. It’s common human decency. It’s humane, moral, and decent to say that we can be better than what Liam Fox, Michael Gove or Theresa May long for, that we can and must strive for a society which cares for the weak, which looks after the vulnerable, and which ensures that the rich and big businesses pay their fair share. The real heart of the coming Scottish referendum is that independence is the moral choice.

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0 thoughts on “The Al Capone of Europe

  1. I’m watching the Four Fevvers oan the telly the noo. We sure showed these Fuzzy Wuzzies a thing or two. Now them bleedin’ Jocks are revolting.

    • Of course, any attack on Spain would bring in NATO to Spain’s defence, under the NATO constitution.

      So President Trump will get to fight his first war. Will be back the EU and NATO, or will he back an out of control UK? Remember the US only gave limited and grudging help against Argentina.
      Perhaps he could ask his pal Putin for advice?

        • It depends on the state. In some states, Hispanic votes are diluted. In others, such as the line from Florida to California, it is largely in line with population share.

          In any case, Hispanic votes are becoming more important over here.

    • Yes, but I doubt if even the UK would be so stupid.

      The worst I could see would be the bullying that Royal Navy tried against Iceland in the Cod Wars -dangerous collisions and brinkmanship.

      Turned out that Icelandic warships have thicker steel…

      • As I recall the pride of the British Navy destroyers were undone not by an Icelandic warship but by an Icelandic tugboat used as a battering ram, cheating by ignoring the international collision avoidance rules. The noble admirals hadn’t thought of that just as they have not figured out how to deploy the absurd new aircraft carriers into a conflict zone without a support fleet.

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  3. An absolutely brilliant post Paul.

    “It’s humane, moral, and decent to say that we can be better than what Liam Fox, Michael Gove or Theresa May long for, that we can and must strive for a society which cares for the weak, which looks after the vulnerable, and which ensures that the rich and big businesses pay their fair share.”

    Says it all for me. Thank You.

    • Anent Thepnr’s post above, the dug stated “Those servicepeople who form the backbone of the British military might that people like Michael glorify are thrown out after they’ve been used up, all too often they are thrown away on the scrapheap and ignored, reliant on charity.”

      Yesterday’s Herald (1 April, but no joke) had a brief article about the Scottish Gov’t setting aside £5m so that the costs of social care are not deducted from military pensions and injury compensation. So, our ever-compassionate UK government will make these deductions and the service personnel will be reimbursed by the Scottish Government out of its total budget. It says it all about the attitudes of the respective governments.

      Now, will the Express, Mail, Sun and the rest of the MSM runs this story? And then will Ruth, Kez and Wee Wullie stage photo-ops to complain about Scotland’s Gov’t’s irresponsible waste of public money?

  4. A good post Paul and its a pity the media as usual will bury it under the call of once more rule britannia , the usual Brit establishment gunboat diplomacy. it worked for them in the past , ah the past its long gone and the establishment are the only ones clinging on to it .
    Well we are a matter of days into the Brexit negotiations and there go the toys already , I was wondering how long it would take gee wizz even i thought it might be more than a few days , next up will be the Daily Mail you could almost write the headlines , so f/n predictable Maggie MK 2 into battle with those pesky foreigners .

    • “Britain Stands Alone!” Can’t you see the headline? Only a true-blue Englishman could see being out at the end of a very long limb as a ‘position of strength’. “Plucky Little England!” Plucky little eejot more like. The sooner we’re out of this madhouse the better, the loonies have taken over the asylum!

  5. Brilliant post.

    It is also ironic or summat that Gibraltar, which voted overwhelmingly to stay in the EU as part of the UK vote, is the now supported by Brexodus fundamentalists as worth going to war over. Why weren’t they allowed their own mandate? Oh! They might have voted differently from England. And we can’t have that now? For we are all together, sink or sink, in the great Conservative disasterthon..

    We are lions led by donkeys.


    Incidentally Paul, we are trying to get a Pensioners for Independence local group in the West. Perhaps once we have some numbers, you would be willing to talk to us?

  6. Well said dug. We need to frame the narrative next time, and force Westminster to keep up. We must not dance to their tune like before. Saw plenty of evidence in IndyRef1 of the social side of Yes: in the art and slogans the movement generated and in speeches at rallies. But very little of it on TV debates etc, where the ‘debate’ was driven to an economy, currency, economy, currency loop. Not that those subjects were not important, it’s where Yes was weakest and so that’s where the No camp chose to fight. Now we need to fight where they are weakest; the Tory policies being inflicted down South and how we can only mitigate them here – for a while. That and every lie they ever told in IndyRef1.

    4 days into Brexit and the yoons want to start a war. In 2017 ffs.

    In their arrogance they believed they just needed to demand something and the EU 27 would meekly comply. Now the Britnats are throwing all the toys out of the pram because they were so easily outwitted by Spanish politicians whose position on Gibraltar has been very clear for years. Same old Westminster “do as you are told, foreigner” mentality.

    Grim. And perhaps an indication of what their thinking is regarding us when we also refuse to be telt by our Imperial Masters. These Britnats are loonies.

    Yoons: you don’t have an Empire any more and you aren’t going to get one anytime soon. And the few remaining colonies left are in rebellion already. Happy days. Indy2 can’t come fast enough.

  7. Superbly put Paul and its not just the economy that should serve the people either.

    My first response upon hearing both Fallon and Howard was basically WHAT THE F**K ARE YOU DOING?!?

    Falklands rhetoric? Don’t mess with Britain? Howard and Fallon are dangerous morons who should learn to keep their faces shut. Just when you need a minder (nanny in the case of Howard) to pounce on the halfwits before they get out of order, there’s no bugger to be seen.

    They are off their bloody heads. This will come nowhere near conflict of any kind.

    Bit of a reality check for both HMG and I’m afraid the people of Gibraltar. All it will take is two little words – hard border.

    Spain simply refuses to deal or trade with Gibraltar or England in any way shape or form. That simple. They could also stick their oar in to any negotiated trade deals brought before the EU for voting, or indeed ensure that any and all tariff or VISA laws applicable come down on England or Gibraltar like a falling cliff.

    Not a single shot fired or a sabre rattled. A nation state simply adhering to the letter of EU law and procedure.

    So far this week since A50 was triggered. UK gov have threatened the EU with removal security sharing and conservative politicians seem hell bent on ramping up military rhetoric against a near continental neighbour.

    Brexit looking good so far folks? Still better together? Oh, and how’s that whole unifying the UK thing looking at this point?

    Maybe just me, but if the calibre of arrogant bumtrumpetry coming out of W1 is anything to go by, the future of continental relations doesn’t look particularly bright.

    Now does it?

    • Macart,

      On the other hand, Gibraltar could declare it’s independence from the UK and claim accession to the EU, Given that 90% + of it’s electorate has declared a preference for remaining members of the EU, what would Spain do if Gibraltar had it’s own constitutional convention, call it what you will, and threw it’s lot in with the EU. Would either the EU or Spain reject them? Would Spain continue to make territorial claims?

      I very much doubt it.

      This is interesting because it has echo’s for the Scottish argument.

        • Very true, Macart. It takes quite a degree of Britishness to vote for the UK by 94% to 4%. Interesting to watch the Gib Foreign Minister on Marr today, talking about the intense talks he has had with Prime Minister May, unlike the FM of Scotland, First Minister of Wales and anybody in NI. No wonder some in NI today was asking for the some of the same interest shown in Gib to be shown to NI.

          • Their choice (shrugs).

            I suspect, as more than a few others do, that the play is for hard brexit and early exit from talks. Whether the Gib likes it or not, they most certainly are pawns and will be used as such by UK gov.

            The UK needs that early exit in order to expedite two things – 1. the Great Repeal Bill and enactment of the Henry VIII legislation 2. The use of this emergency legislation and unaccountable ministerial power to thwart the very real constitutional catastrophe of NI and Scotland. They very much need the peace of the one and the very tangible assets of the other.

          • Gibraltar is a tax haven. It is stuffed with British descendants of the military defenders of the Rock. They ensure there is no influx of Spanish citizens, who might vote in favour of Spain and against the UK.
            This is directly against UN charters which do not allow a nation to occupy another nation’s territory and flood said territory with their own Nationals. The UK did the same with Northern Ireland. Flooding it with Scots Unionists.

    • Either Westminster is spectacularly incompetent and clueless, or they are deliberately going out of their way to antagonize the EU. Half expecting these zoomers to have already ordered a frigate to stop by Gib. Wave the flag nonsense, and ramp up the pressure some more. UKIP gonna love it. Mayhem looks “strong”, more gushing comparisons to Thatcher. (Retch..)

      Looking like they have decided “No Deal” and are just itching for an excuse to walk away in the huff. That won’t help them at all either, but might get the Tories re-elected in a quick GE. There’s no plan anyway and 9 months on there still isn’t. So falling back to Patriotism to keep their precious Union alive a bit longer. They have backed themselves into a corner and see no way out; just swivel-eyed lunacy left now. May and Co are at the mercy of the EU negotiators and their own rabid nationalists. Seems there isn’t anyone really in charge down there at all (nobody grounded in the real world anyway).

      • Whilst I want to believe they are spectacularly incompetent and clueless, the possibility that they could cut the talks short, leave in a huff if you like, seems possible. It would be the ultimate nationalistic weapon for a losing negotiation. Lots of wee Brits would rally, and that would suit the Uniionist agenda enormously.

        Interesting times.

      • There have been rumours circulating for a while that May et al have no intention of trying to get a deal as they know they are in no position to get a good one. Allegedly the plan is to flounce out after the French and German elections i.e. the end of this year.

        The Gib response (or lack of it from no 10) certainly does nothing to refute that. Flag waving, gun-boats, defending Brits from Johnny Foreigner…all help to create a siege mentality among the Brit nats. That, and a compliant right wing press will allow the tories to sell the idea that EU intransigence has forced UK govs hand.

    • When we become independent, I have a dream.

      The constitution of Scotland will reject anyone that was educated at Eton from standing for any position whatsoever in the governance, economy or banking sector of the country. On the grounds that they are, by definition, incapable of running a country, and are as thick as shit.

  8. I was struck by the background for the interview. Was he sitting in his retirement home or something?

  9. Michael Howard sits in the Lords, he is part of the government of the UK, making laws, voting on going to war, and he threatened another country in the EU.
    When weighing up what kind of country we want to live in, we need to calculate there are the Tories who want a UK Tory ruled country and quite a lot of thick cunts, some who inhabit Scottish Labour, but many who want any excuse not to do anything, then complain when doing nothing brings a ton of shit on their heads.

    • The Government mostly control the media and the message. That’s what is worrying. That “story” should have been spiked, not printed. Which loony-tune approved it? Didn’t May or at least the Foreign Office get a heads-up, and did they say “no bother, let’s go with that! Better yet, stick the old fool on the News channels as well…” What the hell are they thinking? And more to the point, do they really expect Spain or the EU to change their minds? Why would they – they hold all the aces. Down the rabbit hole now, for sure

      • It doesn’t take long for the right wing press to further inflame Lord Howard’s jingoism with appalling stuff of their own, fed by a former very senior figure in the UK armed forces. Having stoked up anti-EU feelings over decades The Telegraph is now happy to generate and give space to war-mongering rhetoric.

        Here are extracts from what was published by The Telegraph today, on 2 April 2017 and written by Laura Hughes, their Political Correspondent (*/ )

        ‘Rear-Adml Chris Parry, a former director of operational capability at the Ministry of Defence,  has called on the Government to “appropriately” invest in Britain’s military capacity if it wants to “talk big” over Gibraltar.’

        “We are a lot less powerful than we were during the Falklands and we are much weaker. Our capacity for actually enforcing our will in military terms is significantly less.”

        It goes on:

        ‘However, he insisted that Britain’s military capability “vastly” outnumbers Spain’s and that if it came to a war, the UK is three times more powerful. But he added: “We could cripple Spain in the medium term and I think the Americans would probably support us too”.

        “In terms of military capability we would vastly outnumber them and our capacity to do them harm is far greater.”

        The very fact that such a ‘high ranking’ individual EVEN THINKS about a European country in these terms in the 21st Century far less spouts this stuff, and that a newspaper either seeks this out or agrees to give it profile, says so much about the state of affairs in this UK that we must escape from. What must sane people in Europe and the wider world think of us?

        • Spain going to welcome Scotland into the EU with marching bands and fireworks now 🙂

          Well, I can dream anyway 🙂

        • When you consider just how successful the EU experiment has been at keeping the peace in Europe, one of the drivers for setting it up, and now we have a bunch of right wing lunatics threatening a war 4 days after they give notice of leaving.

          • Laughable that he thinks the US would back the UK against Spain. The US didn’t support the UK in the Falklands where Argentina were a clear aggressor.

  10. Absolutely gobsmacked!! Did May sit down and think, “How can I get the very best deal for the UK? Oh, I know, declare war on one of the other 27 nations. That should do it!” What a bunch of complete wallies!! Aaaaaaaaaaargh!

    • France also has nuclear missiles. And, as far as I know, they are not under Washington control.

      Ours are.

      Theresa May is a complete, utter plonker.

  11. Send an Armada to Spain! What an eejit Howard is! The register of war epithets used since No 10 started the process.
    Trouble us there are no reliable frigates left! Try will be taking Maggie May away yet. Too many they don’t like it u..types around in the House of Relics.
    And the aircraft carriers have nae planes yet!
    It is becoming dire. How to make friends, eh?! When you are out and hoping for a good deal, just threaten the blighters.
    I suppose Wills and Harry will be in the front line!!

  12. Paul, excellent, sir.
    I have counselled patience before. I have every confidence that the Madness of May and the Brexiteers, coupled with the buffoonery of Davidson Dugdale Rennie, Kelly Fraser Tomkins and Bailllie will convert many to the Yes vote.
    For the moment we need sit back and watch the Yoons destroy themselves.

    In tandem with their quite outrageous Gunboat Diplomacy over Brexit negotiations, the Joint Red Blue and Yellow ‘Austerity ‘ cuts are beginning to bite, and although slightly obscured by the Spirit of The Falklands nonsense clogging up newsprint and the airwaves, hundreds of thousands of our children, pensioners, disabled, unemployed, employed poor, and widows, rape victims, and 18-21 year old jobseekers, will feel the cold dead hand of the English Establishment on their shoulders.

    They won’t need Brewer or the Herald to tell them that the Unionist in London, of all parties, and their Branch Office Collaborators Up Here, have no qualms over rewarding the rich, and making the poor, and the rest of us pay for it.
    How many pensioners in Scotland live in rented accommodation, surviving on a basic state pension plus Pension Credit top up, now face eviction or starvation because they now fall under the Bedroom Tax rules?
    When reality bites, many former Nos will surely see the light.
    England is gripped in mass hysteria now.
    It is to be hoped that the 48% Remain and those who did not vote at all eventually find their voice, and stop this insanity. All this and it’s only Article 50 + 5.

    • I’m guessing party season on the Costa will be quite an event this year. Ibiza should be a hoot on its own. 🙄

      Seriously though, I wonder how many folk in dear old blighty stuck a deposit down on a Spanish holiday this summer? How many travel agents are pooping their wossinames about now?

      It’s a pickle for them.

      I’m not entirely sure HMG and the wider Brexiteer polity thought this one through you know. Just a thought.

      • What if Spain played hard ball and issued nearly a million Brit Silver Surfers with notices to quit tomorrow?
        All those leather skinned pensioners flooding into Blighty looking for accommodation, registering with a GP, clogging up Virgin’s A&E services and generally making a geriatric nuisance of themselves. Think a post office queue on Pension Day, then multiply it by 100,000.
        Of course there won’t be nurses or doctors or home helps to service the influx; The Home Office is busy giving them their marching orders as I clack.
        It is all going catastrophUKly wrong for them.
        As I say, steady does it. Softly softly catchee Gibraltan monkey.

        • As I said above Jack, not a shot fired or a sabre rattled. Spain need only adhere to EU and national law to the letter and they could make the UK govs Brexit an administrative and economic nightmare from day one…

          … Ohhhhh wait now. 😉

        • Indeed, but ’twas all bluff, WWII had exhausted the UK and the US & USSR were the real victors. The Commonwealth was a clever PR stunt to disguise the disintegration of the Empire. But hey, the Coronation sold lots of tellies and turned Royalty into a substitute for Religion as a foundation for the Establishment and the status quo. All a bit threadbare by now though. Sic transit gloria mundi?

          • Yes, notice he referred to an English monarch. Elizabeth I was an English, not British mo arch. Though, if you trad the popular history books from dahn sath, you will see the history of “monarchs of Britain” can start at Alfred the Great of Wessex.
            Yes, Churchill, the English historian who tried to write a history of the English-speaking peoples, was attempting to create the myth if a pax brittanica, a sort of post-Roman empire based on a language link.
            Trouble was the US did not fit, despite the bluff about special relationship, which was a figment of Churchill’s imagination as his mother was American.
            Note the Jingo Tories, like Fallon, are stressing this atlanticist link as a post Eng/brexit fig leaf.
            Watch for the next gun boat to arrive at the Rock with fanfare!

  13. OTOH, surely in 6 months time our FM will be able to say “We know NOW what Brexit will be like because Spain will veto any deal. So there’s no deal. So now IS the time.”


    • Scotland can decide what our relationship with EU will be – after we get Indy. For now, the relationship with EU is the driver here if we like it or not. It was only over that issue that another vote looks like it’s going to happen.

      We have to get independence first. Voting against Indy NOW over whether we will be in or out of EU in the years afterwards is just shoot-yerself-in-the-foot stupid.

      Mind you, it seems to be in the air at the mo’

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  16. Couldn’t agree more. Independence is a moral thing, and being in Britain is looking increasingly like being chained to a lunatic.

    Going back to Gibraltar, Article X of the Treaty of Utrecht – the same article which grants Britain control over Gibraltar, also forbids cross-border trade between Spain and Gibraltar. Which is what the Spanish are now suggesting. We won’t hear much of that treaty obligation.

    Oh, and as an aside “The Gibraltar pound is the currency of Gibraltar. It is pegged to – and exchangeable with – the British pound sterling at par value. The central bank controlling the GIP, with responsibility of minting coins and printing notes, is the Government of Gibraltar” (Wikipedia). So it has its own independent currency. Too wee, too stupid…

    • FM, since last Wednesday you are forbidden by law to use phrases in a European language. Didn’t you get the memo, er, minute?
      From now on you must use the English translation of ‘carte blanche’: which is, erm, ‘carte blanche’.
      But the ‘a’ in ”blanche’ is now pronounced ‘ah’ as in ‘fart.’
      The Grammar Vigilante stalks these Isles.
      ‘Baton’ will be replaced with ‘stick’.
      ‘Ballet’, ‘dancing on one’s toes.’
      ‘Baguette’, ‘long skinny roll.’
      and so on throughout the alphabet.
      Bread tainted with garlic will be banned under the Great Repeal Bill.
      We are taking control back, doncha know?
      The Thought Poplice and the Witchfinder General rampage through our land.
      Next they’ll be telling us that German biscuits are to be renamed Empire Biscuits and that Lord Battenberg has changed his name to Lord Mountbatten.

  17. Karl Marx reckoned England would be Europe’s first communist country. But the way things are going, it is on course instead to become Europe’s last fascist country.

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