Posted again due to very helpful comments by readers esp the last one: Uncritical EU loyalty not the suggestion of IndyRef2 was to blame for SNP losses. As the EU abandons the Catalans, it’s time for us to abandon it


(c) poleev

 I know Reporting Scotland can find any number of folk in the street saying they don’t want another independence referendum but that doesn’t mean they would all be voting No if they got one. There’s no convincing evidence of that and the Yes vote is holding up in polls far too close to 50% for us to think we couldn’t push it over the line as the Brexit deal becomes clear, as oil prices boom, as EU nationals turn in support for Yes, as the mainstream media shrinks and as the Tories make embarrassing mistakes weekly in the run-up. I don’t often agree with psephologist and Professor John Curtice but his article in Prospect magazine today is right on the money. The link is below but here are the key points summarised for those without the time:

  1. The SNP vote is recovering, already 2 to 3 points up since June;
  2. The SNP is still way ahead of its rivals;
  3. The opposition is divided and not credible as an alternative government;
  4. The Tory boom has stalled as they fall back to third in polls;
  5. Support for independence is holding solid above 40%;
  6. Support for independence has polled as high as 47%;
  7. 25 to 33% of SNP supporters voted ‘leave’ in the EU referendum;
  8. Much of the drop in support, in June, seems likely to be due to the above;
  9. UK unionists care more about that union than the EU and so will never support the SNP;

I’d add one more point:

  1. The Labour recovery is very fragile and party support could split after the leadership election.

Curtice concludes:

‘Indeed, rather than simply being occasioned by opposition to an early independence referendum (as is widely assumed), much of the drop in the SNP vote in June looks as though it was occasioned by the party’s ardent support for the pro-European cause. Between one quarter and one third of 2015 SNP voters actually voted to leave, and according to the British Election Study, support for the party dropped by 20 points between 2015 and 2017 amongst Leave voters, compared with just five points amongst those who voted to Remain.’ 

The EU has turned its back on the Catalans. France has said it will not recognise an independent Catalonia. The UK certainly won’t either. The EU’s economic policies remain neo-liberal unlike those of the SNP. Look at their treatment of Greece. In the light of all of this, it’s time for the SNP leadership to make a u-turn (not always a bad thing), go for and explain why, EFTA membership, publicly disown the EU over its treatment of Catalonia and its denial of the right to nationalise rail and energy companies, promise support for a Corbyn Labour government to kill Scottish Labour support and go for a referendum in 2020. We can win it.

Footnote: Back in 2014, one blogger compared me to Prof Curtice by saying he was like a Premier League player and I was like a reserve for the third team at Elgin City! A bit harsh? I bet I could have dribbled by him easy. One of my second or third or fourth cousins won the European Cup with Notts Forest!


34 thoughts on “Posted again due to very helpful comments by readers esp the last one: Uncritical EU loyalty not the suggestion of IndyRef2 was to blame for SNP losses. As the EU abandons the Catalans, it’s time for us to abandon it

  1. Dan Huil October 9, 2017 / 4:33 pm

    I think the smart move would be for the SNP to guarantee an EU referendum for an independent Scotland [should the EU offer membership] in the first independent Holyrood parliament. It would help molify Leave voters in Scotland, especially those of a pro-indy Scotland persuasion. Indyref2 must be uncoupled from any EU relationship.

    Liked by 2 people

      • Anne Duncan October 14, 2017 / 1:22 pm

        I’m leaning towards EFTA and then talk, as an Independent Nation, about whether we want full EU membership or not


  2. gavin October 9, 2017 / 4:49 pm

    Scotland should join EFTA, and trade with the EU through the EEA agreement. It keeps certain things (ag & fish, etc) in-house and while we would have no say within the EU, its highly doubtful we would have any traction within the EU, given our size.
    I very much doubt the EU would go for another bi-lateral deal, a la Switzerland.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Ann Forbes October 9, 2017 / 6:22 pm

    In case anyone missed this –
    1) Taken today from
    2) see the end for links to full letter and reply

    You are here: Commissioner for Human Rights View

    Commissioner calls on Spain to investigate allegations of disproportionate use of police force in Catalonia

    PrintCommissioner calls on Spain to investigate allegations of disproportionate use of police force in Catalonia English English français français
    STRASBOURG 09/10/2017
    Commissioner calls on Spain to investigate allegations of disproportionate use of police force in Catalonia
    Today the Commissioner published a letter sent on 4 October to Mr Juan Ignacio Zoido Álvarez, Minister of the Interior of Spain, in which he raises concerns regarding allegations of disproportionate use of force by law enforcement authorities in Catalonia on 1 October 2017.

    “The Spanish authorities should ensure that swift, independent and effective investigations are carried out into all allegations of police misconduct and disproportionate use of force. This is of fundamental importance, both for deterring any further police misconduct but also to prevent any escalation of tensions and violence. In addition, ensuring accountability for any misconduct is essential to preserve public confidence in the work of law enforcement officials”, writes Commissioner Muižnieks.

    In this context, the Commissioner reiterates his recommendation to establish an independent complaints mechanism covering all law enforcement officials, either by enlarging the competencies of the national Ombudsman or by setting up a new body.

    Read the letter of the Commissioner for Human Rights sent to the Minister of Interior of Spain
    Read the reply of the Minister of Interior of Spain, Juan Ignacio Zoido Álvarez

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Ludo Thierry October 9, 2017 / 7:04 pm

    Hi Ann – thanks for posting the info regarding the letter from Council of Europe Commissioner Nils Muiznieks to the Spanish Interior Minister. That is very good news. Hopefully, where the Council of Europe has led – the EU institutions will follow. Lord knows our Catalan friends need every bit of international help and support they can find right now – Horrible feeling things might get stickier there before they get better – Cheers, ludo

    Liked by 2 people

    • Alasdair Macdonald October 9, 2017 / 8:23 pm

      The Council of Europe can be pretty influential in an understated diplomatic way, but it tends to get its way. The quiet approach tends to circumvent the ego involvement which can often be a barrier to change.

      The EU and the Commission do need to change, to become more open and accountable and there needs to be some degree of control by the European Parliament, but national governments are very loth to provide this since it means them ceding powers. On the whole, I think the EU has been ‘a good thing’, which is why I voted Remain, like 62% of Scots.

      Nevertheless, membership of the EU is an issue with a significant number of independence supporters, with the most vocal being Mr Jim Sillars, Unionists, whether or not they personally are in favour of the EU will certainly use this difference of opinion to seek to drive a wedge between groups of pro-independence supporters. So, there is an argument for seeking to de-couple the EU from the next independence referendum and to deal with the matter of staying with whatever Brexit leaves us, joining EFTA or seeking re-entry to the EU once independence has been achieved.

      Liked by 1 person

    • johnrobertson834 October 9, 2017 / 9:20 pm

      Yes, I too am worried. Hopefully the Council of Europe can bring influence to bear on Spain,


  5. Ludo Thierry October 9, 2017 / 8:43 pm

    Hi Alasdair – I think you are pretty much bang on. I have had my strong pro EU feelings somewhat dunted by: a) reaction to Greek crisi and b) non-reaction to Spanish state police action in Catalonia.

    However, I am taking my instructions from the people of Scotland – and 62% (myself and yourself included) very recently voted to remain part of the European project.

    In the face of what is happening in Catalonia it seems of small consequence I admit – but the European Commission actions on chasing down taxation contributions from Amazon and Apple last week (actively threatening to bring the ECJ into action) is something of immense importance globally.

    This chasing down of massive corporate ‘hiding’ of profits can be achieved much more successfully through the EU rather than individual countries being picked off by the corporate bandits.

    Salut, ludo


    • Alasdair Macdonald October 9, 2017 / 9:30 pm

      Yes, these big global companies can, literally, be a law unto themselves. Many smaller countries can often become low tax hosts because of the amount of other revenue having such companies can bring, in terms of employment and consequentials. However, this is ultimately a self-defeating strategy in that much larger taxation is foregone, taking all countries into account. Having such a big organisation and market as the EU, with pretty sophisticated legal systems, the blackmail these companies operate can be challenged. I would still like individual European countries to be as ruthless with such companies as the US Federal Government can be. Sadly, I fear that Brexit will leave these global companies carte blanche within the UK, with a bit of skim for the friendly legislators, who include many Labour and LibDem life peers as well as Conservative peers and MPs. I think that people near the top of Better Together fall into that category, darlings!


  6. trispw October 9, 2017 / 8:59 pm

    The EU is far from perfect (what “government” is?) but I’m reminded of something attributed to Churchill: “Democracy is the worst form of government … except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time”. That’s how it seems to me.

    Not being in some sort of European Free Trade/customs union seems like the very worst possible outcome. No deal is most assuredly not better than no deal.

    Membership of EFTA would be excellent, and, on occasions, I have thought it preferable to EU membership, but I remember reading that Norway pays a bigger per capita membership fee to NOT have a seat at the table; to NOT have a veto, and to have almost no influence on decisions taken, but total obligation to accept the rules. Iceland and Liechtenstein likewise. On top of that, there is no grant aid to the EFTA countries, structural, social or agricultural.

    EFTA countries are, of course, rich enough to accept that.

    The lack of action of the EU in the horrific situation in Catalunya is explained quite easily, although I’d admit that my first reaction was, like many otehrs’. Horror.

    The EU has no remit to tell Spain how to conduct internal affairs related to the Constitution, or to policing and law and order. It is simply without their scope.

    I could elaborate, but I would prefer to direct you to two articles in a blog which explain the situation with a great deal more clarity that I could manage.


    I propose you read them.

    I did and now I understand the situation.


    • johnrobertson834 October 10, 2017 / 8:28 am

      Thanks, very useful contribution. I agree that the EU has no remit to comment on Catalonia but does that stop MEPs from expressing their views?

      Liked by 1 person

      • trispw October 10, 2017 / 8:51 am

        No, it absolutely doesn’t, but I think that some have.

        It just means that the likes of Junker, Verhofstadt et al cannot speak with EU authority on the matter of Catalunya.

        Just as it wasn’t within their jurisdiction to criticise police brutality, authorised by Thatcher on the miners, in the 1980s.

        These things must happen at national level, and so far many countries have been slow to make any critical comment, the UK included.


    • Alasdair Macdonald October 10, 2017 / 11:34 am

      TRISPW, I think terryentoure has analysed the situation pretty well. His conclusion echoes that of Anne Forbes, who has posted earlier that it is the Council of Europe which can make the difference. It will be slow and the negotiations will be nuanced. However, eventually change will occur.

      The difficulty the EU is in is in many ways analogous to the situation in the US prior to the Civil War and arguments continue into the present about “states’ rights” versus Federal powers. Lincoln, Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson pushed things in the direction of the Federal Government whereas others from President Hayes have pushed things in the direction of states, with President Reagan being the most recent example.

      There are also similarities with the Organisation of African Unity, which has had difficulty in dealing effectively with the appalling atrocities in the Congo, the Biafran War, Uganda, Rwanda. The OAU’s difficulties were of course increased by the malign actions of the former colonial powers – Belgium, UK, France – and also by the proxy wars being fought on behalf of the US, USSR/Russia and China.

      The UNO, Council of Europe, other supranational organisations, and many third sector bodies have a very difficult role to play in seeking to mediate and to reduce the numbers of deaths. Atrocities continue to occur as we have seen in say, Syria, and the many thousands fleeing north across the Mediterranean. However, relative to the contemporary world populations the death rates might well be less than they were 50 and 100 years ago. It is a grisly calculation, akin to “would you rather die by a bayonet of a machine gun? “. However, the world population is growing, health levels on the whole are better, more people, particularly women, are receiving education, water supplies in places are better, energy and light is more widely available.

      Since WW2 in Europe, for all the doomsaying, broadly there has been peace, in the western part and since the 1990s in the former Comecon area. Standards of living have risen. There are still serious problems to be unravelled and the effects of the Treaty of Versailles are still being dealt with. There is the rise of fascist and Nazi groups in many places. The economies are still in the grip of the ‘free market’ hegemony, inequaity is increasing. However, in centuries past many of these things would have brought war to parts of Europe, which by various treaties would have caused it to spread. We have avoided some of that.

      My wife and I viewed a video last night made at the time of the death of Bobby Sands in the north of Ireland. The anger, hatred and bile being spouted on both sides did not offer much hope and yet barely 20 years later, the “Chuckle Brothers” , Messrs Paisley and McGuinness were cooperating. The peace is fragile and the uncertainties of Brexit and the incompetence of Mrs May’s government might break it. However, there is the hope that wiser counsels will prevail because people have got used to living amicably and living fairly comfortably. Let us hope such counsels prevail in Catalunya and Castille. Let us hope that we in Scotland can show that peaceful democratic transitions can take place.

      Can we awaken the decent people of England? Can we convince enough of the (ageing) unionists in our midst?

      Liked by 2 people

      • trispw October 10, 2017 / 4:03 pm

        Beautifully summarised, Alasdair.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. johnrobertson834 October 9, 2017 / 9:21 pm

    True re the corporations but do you think the 62% might be falling now?


      • Alasdair Macdonald October 9, 2017 / 9:35 pm

        EFTA might be more prepared to accept an independent Scotland, given its size. I am not sure if EFTA would be happy with a bullying and bombastic UK, assuming that Johnson and Fox and their fellow privateers do not get their way and get a ‘hard’ Brexit

        Liked by 1 person

    • Alasdair Macdonald October 9, 2017 / 9:32 pm

      I suspect that the 62% is possibly flakier than it was as some people take Brexit as fait accompli.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Alasdair Macdonald October 10, 2017 / 4:42 pm

        The most recent poll indicates that the Remain leanings might have increased. I suspect that in addition to ulterior motives of those promoting the polls that the volatility is largely explainable by the uncertainty of the times.


  8. Terry Entoure October 11, 2017 / 2:32 pm

    To be honest, I’m a little baffled by this article. What has EFTA or its members done on this issue that makes it more attractive than the EU? The answer is that it hasn’t done anything for the Catalonian cause that is superior to the EU. Both organisations are operating under the same constraints yet nobody seems to care when it is EFTA that finds its hands tied.

    There are many reasons to favour EEA/EFTA over EU membership. This isn’t one of them.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. johnrobertson834 October 11, 2017 / 3:08 pm

    My article was mostly about Scotland not Catalonia. I wasn’t really pushing EFTA and you’re correct they’ve done nothing for the Catalans either but then Spain isn’t in EFTA so why would they comment? I was ony suggesting consideration of EFTA. we’d need to know more.

    Thanks for contributing. We need to find out more about EFTA.


  10. Derick Tulloch October 13, 2017 / 1:06 pm

    I voted Remain in 2016, but if we go into Indyref2 (or an independence election) on an EU premise. We. Will. Lose.

    The biggest advantage of EFTA/EEA is a political one. It offers both the 12% who have moved from No to Yes because of Brexit AND the 11% who have moved from Yes to No because they want independence but not EU membership, something positive to vote for.

    There is no point going into a referendum on a premise – the EU – that pretty much guarantees that we will lose. Yes support is not 62%.

    Second, accession to EFTA is much simpler and faster than rejoining the EU.

    Accession is via Article 56 of the EFTA Convention, “any State may accede to the Convention provided that the EFTA Council decides to approve its accession.” That’s it. Iceland, Norway, Lichtenstein and Switzerland, meeting in the EFTA Council must agree our membership. There is no ‘Spanish Veto’, or UK veto, or French veto for that matter. They are not members. The EFTA Council meets 10 times a year. Pre-negotiate terms and we’d be in within a month of independence.

    As with EU membership it’s necessary to join the EEA to get the benefits of the single market. Rejoining from within EFTA after we are independent, and with the backing of the Four is a much more do-able prospect than to go straight to EU membership. The EEA meet twice a year. Potentially we would be back in within six months.

    By contrast re-joining the EU, even if the various hostile states do not veto that, would take a minimum of 3 years after independence. After which there would be the six months or so to re-join the EEA. Too long to be out of the single market.

    Scotland is a very good fit for the EFTA four. We share interests in fisheries, renewable energy, financial services to name but three. Our membership would strengthen and stabilise EFTA. Look up the extent of the territorial waters of Iceland, Scotland and Norway – the NW Atlantic and most of the North Sea. Look up the proportion of Europe’s total renewable and geothermal energy resource in Iceland, Scotland, Norway and Switzerland. We have selling points for them, to approve our membership.

    EFTA/EEA offers all the advantages of EU membership for individuals and businesses, including freedom of movement, participation in ERASMUS and Horizon 2020 etc. and various EEA programmes which the EFTA states choose to participate in., without the downside

    There is input to EU policies via the EEA shaping agreements. Arguably that is as much influence as any small EU member has. With EFTA strengthened by Scottish membership, it’s influence is also strengthened.

    There is no requirement for political integration in EFTA as there is with the EU, no requirement to commit to joining the common currency, no ‘convergence criteria’ and no requirement to conform to the EU common foreign policy. Which is why Iceland was able to recognise the independence of the Baltic States, before the EU did. And why Switzerland was free, last week, to offer to mediate between Catalonia and Spain.

    EFTA gives more flexibility on fishing and agriculture, with neither Norway nor Iceland being in the Common Fisheries Policy, but also having market access to the EEA. Fisheries is a minor sector of the Scottish economy. The related seabed and associated oil reserves and tidal resources are not. We have to bring the fishing communities with us.

    Independence in Europe is a must have. But we don’t have to be in the EU to be ‘in Europe’


    • johnrobertson834 October 13, 2017 / 1:17 pm

      Great, very helpful, thanks very much for this. you make a very strong and clear case for EFTA and there are signs SNP leaders are drifting toward it. Any other readers have a view.


    • johnrobertson834 October 14, 2017 / 8:29 am

      Derick. Do you mind if I post your reply as a separate post to give it more attention?


      • johnrobertson834 October 14, 2017 / 10:32 am

        I’ll just do it. Can’t imagine you’d mind given that you posted it as a reply.


  11. Jimmock October 18, 2017 / 1:23 pm

    Stating EU membership as a long term aim would not do much for our chances of joining EFTA. I was an unequivocal supporter of EU membership until the Catalan disaster. We should reject the EU in favour of EFTA. The SNP has little chance of convincing leave voters of the independence case while it still supports EU membership, even as a long term aspiration. EFTA will welcome an independent Scotland as we fit well with existing members in terms of area and population and we would bring skills and resources that would add to the strength of EFTA. We would gain access to the single market which is vital to our future prosperity while protecting our fishing communities and being able to manage our economy without some of the strictures on government support of essential aspects of the economy.

    Liked by 1 person

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