There are, of course, lies and lies. There are the routine ones, the ones that Ministers reach for as the alcoholic reaches for the hooch, the ones that go to make up the daily grist for the mill of modern politics. In other circumstances they might be called ‘white’ lies.
Then there are the whoppers, the ‘black’ lies beloved of true masters of the Goebbels technique (I await the dawn raid of the Thought Police for calling really nasty lies ‘black’) which are lies about matters of real substance and importance. And in the Scottish context, there is no matter today of more substance and importance than the issue of independence, for it shapes and drives every decision and thought of the SNP Executive as it tries to manipulate opinion North and South of the Border into support for schism.
Of such lies we already knew that ‘Smiling’ Alex Salmond is a considerable exponent. He lies about the facts of independence with the true facility of a Grand Master of the art, comparable perhaps only to Alistair Campbell (The most interesting Propaganda Chief since April 1945). One of his lies is that, like a fine Scottish salmon, Scotland will leap effortlessly into the EU as its newest member on the stroke of independence. It is a vital lie that underpins the whole SNP racket. And now his deputy Nicola Sturgeon is showing herself to have learnt a thing or two at The Master’s knee.
Notwithstanding the irony of seeking to escape the supposed and illusory tyranny of one Union for the actual tyranny of another, The SNP has predicated much of the basis of its case for ‘independence’ on its future membership of the EU, not least because it supposes that it will be the beneficiary of huge handouts in aid which will ease the passing to full Statehood.
This is, of course, a notion that does not square with its boast that Scotland will be one of the richest and economically most successful of the EU States, in which case it will find itself as a net contributor to le Grand Projet and thus acquire a fresh lesson in the redistribution of wealth which is the raison d’être of the EU. Nonetheless, the SNP line is that when independence comes, Scotland, being part of the UK which is a member of the EU will acquire membership of the EU seamlessly at the very moment of Independence.
This is not so, as I have pointed out not once but twice in recent months. That the matter is troubling both the SNP and the Scottish people is demonstrated by Ms. Sturgeon feeling the need to repeat the big lie once more as The Scotsman reports today of her appearance before the Scottish Parliament’s Europe and External Relations Committee:
“It is the very clear view of the SNP and of the Government that Scotland would automatically be a member of the European Union upon independence.
“There is very clear legal opinion that backs up that position. I don’t think the legal position, therefore, is in any doubt.”
She said that the political position was “clearer still”. As the EU was expanding, “the idea that Scotland would somehow be cast out is incredible and does not bear any sensible scrutiny”.
There may well be ‘very clear legal opinion’ that backs up the SNP position, though its source is not cited nor has such opinion ever been made public so that it might be subjected to critical scrutiny. Nor is the ‘political’ position any clearer, for, as has been pointed out, both the Fisheries Commissioner Mr. Borg and Romano Prodi have both expressed a clear contrary view in the recent past.
Rather, as I have pointed out, the customary international law militates strongly in the opposite direction, to the effect that Scotland would have to apply for membership not only of the EU but of the UN and a whole range of other international bodies and to be signatories of various treaties. And getting into the EU might take several years as Scotland meets the various economic and political criteria for membership.
The rest of the UK would, meanwhile, be treated as the successor state for the purposes of customary international law and would assume the extant membership of the UN, the EU etc.
It is time for the other three parties to shoot this particular SNP fox: they should get the opinion of a decent international lawyer and publish that advice. At the very least Scots should know the truth, which may well make the prospect of independence all that more unpalatable.