La gota que colma el vaso

Sometimes, you can provide proof positive of that someone isn’t going to do something. You can explain in detailed arguments why it’s not in their interests to do so. You can provide copious examples of their behaviour in directly comparable circumstances which strongly point to the extreme unlikelihood that the person will take the action under discussion. You can cite direct quotes from the persons concerned saying that they have no intention of doing whatever it is and stating that they’re not going to do it. You can do all that, you kill the suggestion for ever, bury it under six foot of concrete and build a block of flats on top of it, and still, still, some Unionist idiot on social media will insist that Spain is going to veto Scotland’s membership of the European Union.

The claim was that by vetoing Scottish membership of the EU, Madrid would deter Catalan and Basque hopes of self-determination. It was always an example of fake news, based on no more than a supposition. But that didn’t stop it being repeated ad nauseum as though it was a solid fact. Every time the topic of Scottish membership of the EU was aired, up would pop some Unionist person on social media, claiming that Spain would veto us. It was an argument I had with Tory MEP Ian Duncan on Twitter a couple of weeks ago. Ian was insistent that just because no senior Spanish politician or representative of the Spanish government had ever said that they’d veto Scottish membership of the EU, that didn’t mean that they wouldn’t.

Ian was determined to interpret a wee rant by Spanish Partido Popular MEP Esteban Gonzalez Pons as a threat that Spain would veto Scotland, even though Gonzalez Pons hadn’t actually said that. Gonzalez Pons’ wee rant was published in the UK media as “blow for Nicola Sturgeon”, because he’d said that Scotland would have to go to the back of a mythical queue for EU membership. It was published in the Spanish media as Partido Popular MEP gets slapped down by the chairperson of an EU committee, and cited in the Spanish media as an example of a Spanish politician making a bit of a fool out of himself by making an intemperate rant.

The argument upon which Spain bases it opposition to Catalan and Basque self-determination is a clause in the Spanish constitution which forbids them to have independence referendums. There is no such clause in the British constitution forbidding Scotland from holding an independence referendum. When Scottish independence come about, it will be legal, it will be constitutional, and it will be negotiated with and recognised by Westminster.

Spain doesn’t recognise the independence of Kosovo from Serbia because Kosovo declared independence unilaterally, an independence which isn’t recognised by Serbia and which Serbia claims is contrary to the Serbian constitution. But Spain does recognise the independence of Montenegro from its union with Serbia because Montenegrin independence was permitted by the constitution and is recognised by Serbia. Unionists only ever cite Kosovo, never Montenegro.

Some of us have been arguing for years that there was no chance of Spain vetoing an independent Scotland’s membership of the EU. Arguing that Spain would veto Scotland was based upon a fundamental misunderstanding of the argument that Madrid makes against Catalan self-determination, and if Madrid was to veto an independent Scotland which achieved independence legally, constitutionally, and which was recognised by Westminster, then all they’d do would be to undermine their own argument against permitting Catalonia to hold a referendum.

The truth is that vetoing Scotland from EU membership would not deter the Catalans from their pursuit of independence, quite the reverse. It would only inflame the situation by undermining Madrid’s claim that its opposition to Catalan independence was based on a constitutional and legal argument. You could point out that no senior Spanish politician had ever openly stated that the Spanish government would veto Scottish membership of the EU, but that didn’t stop the Unionists from repeating the claim. They had their suppositions, and by god they were going to stick to them. The reality has always been, as I have been arguing in this blog for years, that the morning after a Yes vote in a Scottish independence referendum, the line from the Spanish government would be, “We’ve said all along that the circumstances of Scotland and Catalonia have nothing to do with one another.”

On Friday we received what ought to be the final nail in the coffin for the Spanish veto myth. The self-same Gonzalez Pons was asked by a BBC reporter whether the Spanish government would veto Scottish membership of the EU, and he said no, it wouldn’t. “If you are thinking about Catalonia,” he added, “the Catalan situation is very very very different.” You can’t get much clearer than that. He did say that Scotland would have to apply for membership in its own right, but few have ever argued otherwise, but he also finally put to rest the claim that Spain would veto Scotland’s application.

This is the first time, to my knowledge (and trust me I’ve looked), that a senior Spanish politician has ever given a direct answer to the question of whether Spain would veto Scottish membership of the EU, and the answer was a clear and unequivocal no. The closest previous instance came during the first independence referendum when the then foreign minister Garcia Margallo said that if Scotland achieved independence legally and constitutionally, then Spain “would have nothing to say”, a very strong hint that Spain wouldn’t veto Scotland, but a little short of a direct and clear confirmation. During the first independence referendum campaign, the Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy dodged the question three times in an interview with El Pais newspaper, saying that he didn’t want to get into hypotheticals.

So it’s interesting to ask why Spain is now willing to state clearly and openly that it won’t veto Scottish membership of the EU. During the first Scottish independence referendum, Spain did not wish to antagonise the government of another EU member state, that is no longer a consideration. But Spain’s willingness to state openly that it won’t veto Scottish membership of the EU is not unrelated to Spanish, and European, anger with the intransigent and frankly pig-headed approach to Brexit adopted by the British government. Some of Westminster’s statements have been interpreted in Europe as a declaration of economic war, and no EU state is in the mood to do Westminster any favours right now. If openly stating that they will not hinder Scottish independence undermines the British government, EU governments won’t shed any tears.  Westminster’s self-created difficulty is Scotland’s opportunity.

I feel vindicated now. The Spanish veto myth should by now be dead and buried, never to be heard from again. The statement from Gonzalez Pons is la gota que colma el vaso, as they say in Spanish – the drop that makes the glass overflow. But that still hasn’t prevented some of the more obtuse Unionists on social media from claiming that Spain would still veto Scotland. They’re the young Earth creationists of politics, no matter what evidence you present them with, they’re not going to be budged from their articles of faith. These are the people who claim that the independence movement is a cult, but it’s their own behaviour which is cultish. And that may or may not be a typo.

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21 comments on “La gota que colma el vaso

  1. […] Wee Ginger Dug La gota que colma el vaso […]

  2. a.dun. says:

    Best regards
    from the eastern border of the EU.
    Slovakia

  3. Diane says:

    I have frequently referred people to this blog when they were looking to argue the Spanish veto point with No voters 😀

  4. Bill McDermott says:

    What is your reckoning on the way that Gibraltar will be used by Spain to derail the UK negotiating position? What sort of scenarios might come into play?

    • diabloandco says:

      Isn’t Gibraltar about to have one big , uppity Royal celebration? 100 years of something?
      It makes me wonder if Westminster is thinking of jettisoning them and they are appealing to a
      ‘ higher’ power.

      • Dave Hansell says:

        There are some interesting articles in the Gibraltar Chronicle (available online) which gives some indication of the economic, employment and other practical difficulties facing Gibraltar as a result of the Westminster decision, based mainly on English and Welsh voting decisions, to leave the EU.

        It may well be the case that Gibraltar faces a hard choice between economic survival and loyalty to the Crown. Real food on the table or bunting is a stark choice and will certainly provide a test of the faith based flat earther’s resolve who form the core of UK Unionism.

  5. Saor Alba says:

    “But that still hasn’t prevented some of the more obtuse Unionists on social media from claiming that Spain would still veto Scotland. They’re the young Earth creationists of politics, no matter what evidence you present them with, they’re not going to be budged from their articles of faith. These are the people who claim that the independence movement is a cult, but it’s their own behaviour which is cultish.”

    This is exactly the point about many such unionists.

    In the Astronomer Carl Sagan’s book, The Varieties of Scientific Experience, he argues that myth making and superstition are of little use in the search for truth. They are marked not by their pretension to a body of knowledge, but by their method of attempting to seek the truth. He suggests that they constitute simply “belief without evidence” which is so typical of many unionist arguments. Logic can certainly be applied, but is based on false premises, in which they have this belief without evidence. In some cases it is much worse than this and simply a straight denial of truth for their own which is already obvious.

    To find the truth, the scientific method and logical reasoning are most useful, building on the body of knowledge already available, but also engaging the mind in sceptical thinking and challenging previously held doctrines to see if they stand up to experiment or reasoned scrutiny. This challenges and tests new information to see if it concurs with already known concepts for which much evidence already exists. When something knew becomes accepted, it has stood the test and it will not be accepted otherwise. In many cases, new evidence causes the rejection of previously held doctrine. This method leads us to believe in something for which we have evidence.

    This requires and open and enquiring mind which only builds on solid premises for which much evidence already exists. I don’t see much of this in most (but not all) unionist arguments, much of which is built on hearsay, fear, hatred of others or simply downright lies (for which there is already a plethora of useful evidence built up, stored and available on a number of sites).

    Gullible people are easily taken in and there are far too many in Scotland.

  6. Saor Alba says:

    Lines 12 and 13 should read:

    “In some cases it is much worse than this and simply a straight denial of already obvious truth for their own ends.

    Apologies.

  7. Andy in Germany says:

    Not just governments either. Many people have come and asked me what the hell ‘England’ thinks it is playing at, and how on earth they think they’ll get away with it.

    Personally I think Westminster is playing to the domestic right wing audience. They make ridiculous demands and then when Europe quite reasonably says no, they’ll present this as Johnny Foreigner bullying the plucky British…

    • David says:

      I think that is the context in which you have to look at a lot of the comments coming from the government, opposition and media in England. They are not saying these comments to persuade Scots to stay in the union. They are saying them for the benefit of the English domestic audience. Particularly the right wing nationalist elements of it.

      They are currently building Scotland up as a fifth column, ready to be used as the reason Brexit hasn’t been wonderful.

  8. Moonlight says:

    Following a successful independence vote in Scotland, Gibraltar might choose by referendum to place itself under Scottish protection. We both stay in the EU and it might be that Spain will not have the same animosity to such an arrangement as it does to the current one with the UK.

    Scotland will hold some influence with it’s control of it’s fishing grounds, no Spanish government in it’s right mind would choose to deprive it’s population of a regular supply of bacalao, merluza and gambas.

    Gibralter gets to keep it’s Queen, although slightly metamorphosed as Queen of Scots and a degree of happiness might reign.

    Sssssh, don’t mention Ceuta and Melilla.

    • davidbsb says:

      England’s imperial problems cease to be ours the instant Yes crosses the finishing line first. No more futile wars, no more bombing of America’s enemies, no more Scots used as shock troops. no more money squandered pretending “we” still rule the waves.

      Gibraltar, the Falklands, Diego Garcia – not our business.

      The Empire was over 50 years ago. How long will it take for them to finally get over it? Yes we did well out of it here in Scotland – and access was the only thing we really got out of the 1707 treaty. But the world has moved on, and empires are no longer in vogue.

      As Craig Murray points out. Most of the world’s nation states are new. In 1900 there were about 70 “Sovereign States”, there are 196 today. 34 have been born since 1990 alone. Independence is the normal state in the modern world.

  9. Alasdair Macdonald says:

    Mr Kavanagh has frequently repudiated this ridiculous assertion, and, as he says, Senor Pons, who has been quoted often by the unionist media has repudiated it himself.
    However, this does not mean that unionists will not reassert it in the next independence campaign. They are seeking to stop a haemorrhage of the NO vote. In politics, lies and illusions are particularly potent, otherwise they would have stopped using then. Most of us have ‘myths’ which encapsulate our beliefs, and there is an integrated aspect to these. Restating supportive ‘evidence’ helps to bolster these myths and resist more objective evidence to the contrary.
    This does not mean that Mr Kavanagh’s efforts are in vain. Regular, prompt rebuttal is necessary, because, combined with other arguments, mindsets do change, and, when they begin to change often do so quite rapidly and quite significantly.
    The wit and humour which Mr Kavanagh deploys is a positive factor.

  10. Robert Graham says:

    Add this to the other dominos that are falling, the percentage of those favouring Independence edging over 50 % now, The next wee lie that will be aired, you will have to join the Euro , along with all the other fairy stories, all the debunked lies that were used in 2014 will be rolled out again in the hope people have a collective memory loss , not sure how the Vow will go down this time as it’s been shown to have been a load or tosh , The Union is as dead as Labour in Scotland ,we know it the only ones who can’t come to terms with the fact are getting very excited because Independence is on the Horizon and there is nothing that they can do to stop it , expect some hasty conversions soon as the penny starts to drop , you can almost hear the lifeboats being launched as the rats leave the Unionists sinking ship.

  11. BBC Goebbels House surpassed itself on their Sunday Politics magazine today.
    Brewer ostensibly covered the Lib Dem and Green Conferences, had a wee chat with john McDonnell in Glasgow, and managed to turn the whole tawdry little programme into an Indyref 2 Bad show.
    Being talked about while you are not in the room, comes to mind.
    The Brew was touting the nonsense that we should all sit on our hand, and let May get on with Brexit, and Indyref2 could wait until after the Brexit, when Scotland had been forcibly removed from the EU. Oh yes, and that the 30% Yes voters who voted Leave, would somehow morph into Little Britons, and vote No the next time.
    Brewer even hinted that there would be a redrafted question next time so that the Pro Independence campaign would not be allowed to use the affirmative Yes as their slogan.
    At least he didn’t peddle his ‘shed load of new devolved powers’ post Brexit garbage this week.
    It beggars belief that our ‘independent’ broadcaster can conduct itself in this way.
    There are 56 WM SNP MPs, and the SNP has formed the Holyrood Administration for a record third term, yet BBC Scotland defies the ‘democratic will of the Scottish people’, by refusing to allow an SNP spokesperson on to their wee Yoon Show, to get their views on Brexit, Indyref 2, and the timetable.
    Is there any other democracy on this planet which would tolerate this 1984 Big Brother Newspeak?
    Rennie and Cole Hamilton are beyond satire or ridicule.
    Demockery rather than democracy.
    The SNP apparently didn’t win the May ’16 election.

    Is Willie Rennie really mad?
    It took a 16 old lad to make the speech of the LD Conference.
    He is a No to Yesser.
    Cole Hamilton’s face was a picture, as this brave young lad, in my view a future star, told the assembled throng of 89 the unshakable truth. Brexit has destroyed their Union. The only way is Independence as a member (or not) of the EU.
    Paul, keep slapping down this ‘Spain Veto’ nonsense.
    It will come up again, no doubt.
    Blair McDougall will be warning us all of the 9 million Romanians who will flood into Scotland when Engwaland pulls up the drawbridge.
    It is going to get very stupid, in a Dugdale Davidson Rennie sort of way.

  12. FergusMac says:

    Another point about English crassness angering the rest of Europe. If Argentina decides to have another go at disputing ownership of the Falklands/Malvinas, Westminster would find itself virtually friendless. I am not necessarily thinking of another invasion by the Argentinian armed forces (God forbid), but serious diplomatic/economic action. Especially if Scotland votes to end the Union, what about a motion in the General Assembly of the UN to strip the Former UK of its permanent membership of the Security Council, with its veto, on the grounds that the founding member country no longer exists? Then the English, with their tattered delusions of world power status, would feel well and truly FUKed … I don’t see the French, the Russians or the Chinese losing any sleep over that. Trump might veto it, to give the USA the slavish support that a grateful May would never refuse, but, on the other hand, he might just feel that it wasn’t worth the candle. Never forget that the USA’s founding myth is of a freedom-loving people throwing off the yoke of British tyranny.

    Theresa May’s government does not seem to realise that antagonising people is a strategy that might just bite you on the bum.

  13. orri says:

    My take on the “Spanish Veto” was that at the time it was an attempt at a subtle threat that the rUK would either arrange an exchange of favours so as not to appear unsportsmanlike or at the end of the day it would be them that blackballed Scotland.

    As far as arguments against independence go Brexit has really undermined the EU access argument.

  14. Macart says:

    Intent to hold Indyref 2 declared by FM.

  15. Robert Graham says:

    Ok we’re OFF , and right on Cue . The BBC ramping up the better together campaign, what’s yer curency , who’s paying your debt. What about your deficit, Who would have thought it , so many new questions ha ha aye right, same shit different day.

    • Macart says:

      As predicted Robert.

      Action = consequence = legality and procedure.

      Brexit timing and the threat of Scottish citizens losing their right to either residency or voting privilege was always utterly unacceptable. These folk are new Scots and this is where they chose to make their home. There was no moral argument acceptable for allowing UK gov to use them as bargaining chips in a demented negotiation process. Taking the wider Scottish citizenry anywhere against their express wishes, also utterly unacceptable. Reneging on the outcomes and pledges made in indyref1… unacceptable.

      Whatever spin from UKgov’s meeja wing comes next, and there will be plenty, it must be remembered why we are here today.

      We’re here because Westminster and its parties acted in accordance with its own nature.

      • Robert Graham says:

        I thought I would check RTs site and how they covered it, fair enough I suppose, I made the mistake of looking at the comments section, oh dear need a shower now, it made the Scotsman look pretty fair, The loons are out in force today, so much it kinda looks rehearsed and a bit like a government department working overtime.

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