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By Jason Michael
Our independence movement is still divided on Europe, and this division may damage our hopes of independence in another referendum. A case has to be made that the next vote is about Scotland and the UK, and that the EU and the UK are not the same.
Ongoing division over Scotland’s place in the European Union poses a potential risk to the success of the independence campaign in the next referendum. No matter how certain we are of the outcome of any political strategy there is always the possibility that the human factor can put a spanner in the works, and some Yes supporters’ reluctance to see our country a member of any union has the potential to fatally undermine another vote on independence. Some 36 percent of SNP voters – the overwhelming majority of the Scottish independence movement – voted to leave the EU in the June referendum last year and it is not unimaginable that significant numbers of these people will vote against independence on the grounds that it means EU membership.
As a seasoned anti-capitalist I have serious reservations about the European Union. Its nature as a corporatist and financial institution with various political agendas on the side worries me. I am not by any stretch of the imagination a fan of the EU as it is currently constituted and structured, and its behaviour towards Greece and the Greek people during that country’s recent debt crisis has not inspired any great confidence in me to the EU as an institution. This said, however, the European Union and the Union of Britain and Northern Ireland are two very difference political and economic arrangements. Confusing these in another independence vote will be destructive to the project of separating Scotland from the UK.
Scotland voted 62 percent in favour of remaining in the European Union – a result broadly similar to the split we have seen among SNP voters on the question. Other than indicating that the SNP divide reflects the opinion of the country as a whole, this means that most Scots are in favour of this country being part of the EU. What our Eurosceptic fellow Yessers – about 36 percent of the movement – will do about their Euroscepticism in another independence vote may threaten the success of our campaign, and they certainly have the numbers to do that if enough of them decide to against independence at this point to guarantee our departure from Europe.
There is a discernible element conspiracist thinking behind much of the anti-EU discourse; primarily due to the baseless notion that the UK and the EU are both alike, in that they are both politico-economic unions that diminish the sovereignty of their members. Perhaps indeed there are those in Europe who have such aspirations for the European project, but the EU is nothing like the UK. EU member states maintain their statehood and national autonomy within the EU. Scotland, together with Wales and Northern Ireland, has been relegated to formal and legal non-existence as part of the UK. If we are to keep all of 2014’s Yessers Yes in the next Scottish referendum then we have to make this difference clear to them. We must also make sure that the question is clear – that this is the same as 2014; that this is about getting Scotland out of Britain.
EU Referendum: UK Votes Brexit – what about Scotland?