Here we go again. According to assorted reports in the Unionist media, especially its frothier end (which these days is getting more frothy than a capuccino made with fairy liquid) Scotland’s got no chance of remaining in the European Single Market because Spain says no. This is, apparently, yet another major blow for Nicola Sturgeon and hopes of Scottish independence because absolutely everything that happens anywhere is a blow for Nicola Sturgeon and hopes of Scottish independence. After all, this week because Network Rail’s works on a number of Scottish railway lines overran, it was a blow for the SNP even though Network Rail is entirely owned and controlled by a UK government which refused to devolve responsibility for it. We had assorted Scottish Tory MSPs tweeting hilarious pics of lethal disasters and asking if Humza Yousaf was responsible when it was in fact the Tory transport minister in London whose resignation they should have been demanding.
But don’t believe the hype. What we’re really seeing is yet another jamón fisted intervention from a Spanish right wing administration which makes Ian Paisley seem like a man who was ready to say Yes to anything and a desperate Unionist media that is losing the argument against independence and is clutching at whatever straws it can find. The latest Hispanic intervention is really a blow for the UK and for the chances that the United Kingdom can remain united. Spain’s intervention makes the chances of a second independence referendum more likely. It’s an example of the same pig-headed and unthinking intransigence which is driving the cause for Catalan independence.
If Madrid’s goal is to discourage the Scottish independence movement, they’re doing a spectacularly poor job of it. But then, if you’re familiar with the Partido Popular you’ll realise that shooting themselves in the foot and doing a spectacularly poor job is their Unique Selling Point. The only jobs that the Partido Popular do well are those which involve collecting cash in brown envelopes. And even then the only part that they do efficiently is the picking up the envelope bit. The Partido Popular thinks that it can discourage independence by saying no to everything, without realising that what’s it’s saying no to would actually make a second independence referendum less likely.
Earlier this week a Spanish MEP, Esteban Gonzalez Pons, was reported as saying that the Scottish Government’s attempts to secure a special deal for Scotland are impossible. Esteban has previous when it comes to ramming a stick into the spokes of the wheel of Scottish aspirations. He was the member of the Partido Popular who met with Ruth Davidson and other members of the Conservative party back before the first independence referendum in an attempt to build a pan-European anti-independence alliance amongst the right wing parties represented in the European Parliament. After meeting with Ruthie and some other Tory figures at the Conservative party conference in Birmingham in 2012, he announced he’d be visiting Edinburgh in the December of that year to plot further with the Scottish Tories, and also claimed that he’d be meeting with representatives from the Labour party.
Anything that the Spanish government says about Scotland in Europe is seized on by an increasingly desperate Unionist media. Except of course when what the Spanish government says isn’t helpful to the Unionist cause. That’s what happened a couple of months ago when a far more important and influential Spanish politician, the Foreign Minister José Manuel García-Margallo, said that he thought that within four to five years the UK would return to England’s sixteenth century borders because he thinks it’s highly likely that Scotland will hold a second independence referendum in order to preserve its EU membership. He’s a far more important figure than Esteban Gonzalez Pons, he’s got far more power and influence, yet the Unionist media was silent about his remarks, just as they were silent about his threat a couple of days previously to veto Brexit if the UK intends to include Gibraltar in it.
The most recent comments are directed squarely at any attempt by the Scottish Government to negotiate a deal that allows Scotland to retain access to the Single Market while the rest of the UK leaves. Gonzalez Pons was talking specifically about a Scotland which remains a part of the UK. He also said that although he was speaking in a personal capacity and not as a representative of the Spanish government, his views were those of his party. However his party is a minority administration in Spain, it requires the support of other parties in order to pass any laws. Meanwhile in this latest supposed blow for independence the Spanish MEP said nothing at all about the status of an independent Scotland. It just suited the Telegraph and other Unionist outlets to gloss over that point in order to present the statement as a reverse for Nicola Sturgeon. Gonzalez Pons said absolutely nothing about the EU membership of an independent Scotland, and most categorically did not threaten to veto membership of the EU for a Scotland which had just voted for independence.
The Unionist parties can avoid a second independence referendum. All they have to do is to recognise that Scotland voted to remain a part of the European Union and grant the outcome of that Scottish vote the same respect that they’re always demanding for the outcome of the referendum in 2014 – a referendum which they won in part by promising that a No vote was the only way to ensure the safety and continuation of Scotland’s membership of the EU. Yet the Tories and their right wing allies in Europe are cutting off all the avenues that allow them to escape another independence referendum. They’re the ones ruling it out. They’re the ones insisting that Scotland’s vote only needs to be respected when it suits them. They’re the ones demanding that Scotland only has a part time democracy. They’re the ones who have created the conditions for a second independence referendum, and everything they’ve done since only makes that referendum more likely.
When that referendum does come about, the Scottish Government will be able to say in all honesty that it’s the duplicity, intransigence, and obstinacy of the Unionist parties which have brought Scotland to this point. And they’ll be aided and abetted by a right wing Spanish Government which fondly imagines that it can discourage Scottish independence by ruling out the only way in which the UK Government can have both its Brexit and its Union.
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