Jonty Bloom (“Scotland’s EU catch-22”, TNE #366) writes about the possible relationship between an independent Scotland back in the European Union and a Brexit England still outside. Having taken Scotland out of the EU against its will, it is a kind of mafiosi-like protection racket argument for the Westminster government to say “Well, you wouldn’t be able to deal with a hard border at Berwick, would you now?”
The EU will welcome Scotland back in and do its best to ameliorate the problems. Scotland has an educated English-speaking workforce, thriving industrial and arts sectors, world-class universities and a worldwide profile.
The Baltic states had many difficulties in extricating themselves from the Soviet Union and setting up their economies and ultimately their membership of the EU, but they did and are thriving. Scotland can and will flourish as a member of the European family, while England, tragically, carries on waving flags and thinking that it’s exceptional.
The best argument I have ever heard for Scottish independence was the clip on television of a woman who said that she “just wanted her children to live in a normal country”, and despite Jonty Bloom’s reservations, Scotland can be that “normal country”, within the EU.
Jonty Bloom is wrong. Scotland doesn’t just provide an “add-on” to UK trade – oh, how lucky we are to be pulled along on their coat-tails! – as for example, Scotch Whisky provides 22% of UK food and drinks exports. Scotland has lost around 38% of food exports to Europe since Brexit.
What about Scottish gin (70% of the UK’s gin)? The oil? That stuff you told us was finished and now suddenly seems precious again. The wind power? What about a berth for Trident missiles that doesn’t sit adjacent to one of England’s biggest cities?
Balance that against five frigates being built for the Navy on the Clyde, and against a payment of £3.5bn a year to service UK debt for which Scotland has neither control nor benefit. England would need to do a re-think, and there would be no harm in that.
There is a problem with the SNP’s competence, there is a problem with UK state “spite” (there will be no velvet divorce) and there will be a difficult economic transition even with a benign government in Westminster. But the reality is that England (and thus the UK it dominates) is an increasingly failing state – both economically and politically. Do people in Scotland really want to continue to be helpless bystanders in the continuing English-Tory-nationalist psychodrama?
My view is that once Northern Ireland goes, Scotland will follow…
Jonty Bloom is wrong about the need for passports to visit an independent Scotland in the European Union. None are required for travel into the North of Ireland, which is essentially still in the EU, with borders at the Scottish ports.
Iain F Gow
Liz Gerard in “Conspiracy of silence” (TNE #366) highlighted the Telegraph’s biased coverage of the Covid inquiry and its focus on the minority view that the lockdowns were “disproportionate, unsustainable and not effective” rather than on the thousands of extra deaths caused by ministerial dithering.
It’s therefore puzzling to learn that the culture secretary, Lucy Frazer, has ordered an investigation into the potential impact on the accurate presentation of news and freedom of expression arising from moves by an Abu Dhabi-sponsored group to acquire the Telegraph. Why is the accurate presentation of news now an issue when previously it wasn’t a concern?
Also, is “freedom of expression code for the ensuring the Telegraph must continue supporting the Tories which, given their drift to the right, has resulted in its reputation for good journalism becoming “tarnished by its increasingly extremist output” – as observed by Patience Wheatcroft in “The fall of the Daily Telegraph” (TNE #348).
Surely, the prospective new owner couldn’t do any worse.
James Ball’s forensic examination of the rise of leaders with some of their fascist traits identified by Umberto Eco fails to mention our own home-grown National Conservatism, whose catchy slogan Faith, Family & Flag seems to echo that of another “simple and repetitive” slogan from the middle of the last century.
It is easy to dismiss these individuals, but in the context of the wider rise of populist leaders, with their call to the myth of authoritative stability, the “it could never happen here” comment rings hollow.
My German Jewish grandparents refused to leave their home as they believed the German people were educated and sensible and would see through, and see off, Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party. They ended their lives in a gas chamber in Auschwitz.
If the national narrative is in the hands of politicians like the National Conservatives, platformed by media outlets like GB News, Eco would recognise exactly where this country is heading.
Umberto Eco’s list of fascist traits misses the visceral storm of fundamental fascist feelings: the lethal compound of homophobia/misogyny/ racism, which erupt in violence and murder; the craving for dominance and control, for extermination of the Other, which haunt and contaminate these (mainly) men’s sense of self-identity. Eco’s list sidesteps the primacy of violence for fascism, originating in the fundamental fear and hatred of the feminine.
It is a shame that in “We need a Brexit inquiry” (TNE #366), Steve Richards mistakenly asserts that we “ended up with… tariffs for goods leaving the UK to the EU”. The free trade agreement, the TCA, provides for the continued elimination of tariffs.
What there are, are non-tariff barriers, and Boris Johnson lied about these, claiming there were none. But the checks UK exports face are the result of the EU and UK now having different regulatory and customs rules. Not tariffs.
Rules of war
Am I the only one who found Matthew d’Ancona’s “If you think Gaza is heading for a neat and happy ending, you’re wrong” (TNE #366) disturbing in its absolutism?
Imagine if all references to Israel were replaced by Palestine. For example, in reference to the slaughter of Palestinian families, it would read:
“Their words will remind anyone with a shred of decency why Hamas cannot tolerate the continued existence of Israel or its control of Gaza. Those who are serious about political progress must accept that its destruction is the absolute precondition of everything else.”
We would find that deeply offensive.
Netherthong, West Yorkshire
Matthew d’Ancona writes about the importance of testimony, sacred in the Jewish tradition. This is equally true for the Palestinians.
There is already much evidence from UNRWA, Unicef, WHO, and a multitude of respected international charities, as well as from many doctors and journalists on the ground that the IDF is acting indiscriminately and disproportionately in its bombing and shelling. The world has also witnessed the deprivation of food, water, fuel and medicines to the Palestinians, a clear breach of the rules of war.
If I hadn’t invested in the New European and been a loyal reader since issue #1 I’d have cancelled my subscription after this blinkered piece. Of course, no one should support terrorism… but the solution is to solve the problems that cause terrorism to flourish.
With every child, woman, journalist and other innocent person slaughtered in Gaza, Benjamin Netanyahu is creating people who will feel justified in seeking revenge. Destroy the brutal obscenity that is Hamas? The figureheads and name may go, but a new army of fighters is being created by Netanyahu’s actions as we speak.
If Hamas is not destroyed or at least crippled to a point where it is not able to commit or plan any further attacks, the October 7 attacks will be just peanuts.
Hamas has not only started “a war”, it has started a second Shoah. We are talking about an organisation that is not willing to give up its goal of destroying Israel. Without this goal, it would not have any reason to exist.
Movie to miss
Re: “What do the French make of Napoleon?” (TNE #366). Ridley Scott’s movie is exactly the kind of film I don’t watch. A disparaging account of Napoleon made with US money by an ancient Englishman who was brought up to despise everything French.
Scott’s interview (“The French don’t even like themselves… if you weren’t there you can fuck off” etc) was the last straw for me.
It’s not just the French who don’t like Ridley Scott’s film; people who actually like things to be historically correct also have a few things to say on the matter.
Re: Picasso and “Defender of the faith” (TNE #366). What he did or didn’t do to women should be investigated and considered with weight subsequently accorded as to his legacy. However, Guernica will always be THE absolute most iconic painted image of war and its effects, ever.
The preferential voting joke in Auf Wiedersehen Pet – quoted in Letters, TNE #366 – was perhaps more profound and prescient than it at first appears. The punchline “everybody gets what nobody wants” is an early example of Brexity bamboozling by illogic and misdirection. Your second CHOICE is clearly something you DO want (or at the very least can tolerate) whereas other people’s first choices were what “nobody wants” bar one!
It is the UK system of voting, which delivers 60% of seats to 40% of voters and, for instance, the privatisation of the water industry, which 90% of the population opposed. It is Brexit logic that claims that a poorly representative parliament, a House of Lords and a hereditary monarchy is democratic, but a proportionally representative parliament and a council of the ministers of the democratically elected governments of the sovereign member states is not!
Whatever one thinks of Rishi Sunak’s politics, it should not gratify anyone to see a basically decent man, complimented as such by Kenneth Clarke in “The surreal party (TNE # 365), being humiliated in public virtually every day. He was handed a poisoned chalice and is widely regarded as being in the wrong job. I for one do not relish the prospect of his appearance at the Covid inquiry.
In order to salvage some pride out of his present situation – and before things get worse – my constructive suggestion to Sunak would be to call an early general election, preceded by an honest and robust address to the nation explaining why this is urgently necessary. If this wrong-foots those elements of the Conservative Party that have been hostile to him, so much the better.