Lessons from the Scottish referendum

Now that the referendum in Scotland is over we need to look at lessons which can be learned in order that we are prepared for a possible vote on EU membership after the next General Election. Although, not being Scottish, I have no right to comment on the feelings of those that are, for me the issue would not have been primarily about economic matters. I know that all the warnings from banks and big businesses as to the the apocalyptic result of voting for independence would, in my case, have been counter productive but one must not ignore the fact that many may have been swayed by such dire prognostications of doom. Although the arguments concerning the economic effects of the UK withdrawing from the EU are very different, and in reality are overwhelmingly on our side, we can be certain that the usual suspects will be predicting catastrophe unless we cling to the nanny of Brussels. Therefore it will be essential that we have as many as possible big guns ready to present the opposing case. We know that many small and medium sized organisations, plus a number of large ones, are against continued membership, although unfortunately a number of them still qualify their statements of support by comments concerning successful renegotiation of terms. We must convince them that this will not happen in any significant way and that all the political class intend is another confidence trick such as that practised by Harold Wilson in 1975. Already we see Cameron claiming victories which are meaningless, given that, should the British elect to stay, any concessions would soon be reversed by a newly invigorated Brussels dictatorship.

Another line of attack directed at Scottish nationalists related to doubts concerning the currency they expected to use as an independent country but, of course, this objection has absolutely no validity when looking at an EU referendum. The Euro is a disaster, dragging the whole of Southern Europe down and is set fair to torpedo France and then Germany but, as the pound has its own central bank, we would obviously continue to use the normal instruments of fiscal control just as we do now.

The advocates of Scottish independence also suffered from a lack of clarity about what their strategic aims for the future were, leading to questions about NATO membership, in or out of the EU etc. We must be certain that we make clear which direction we wish to see the UK take and the first thing would surely be to refute those who seek to attribute to Eurorealists intentions which are totally false but which, if believed, would be likely to undermine support for our cause.

First we are accused of wanting to make the UK the 51st state of the USA. This is absurd for, although we have much history and many interests in common with America, we recognize that, given the vast demographic changes taking place in the latter, their view of us is as no more than a small and occasionally valuable ally. A growing proportion of their population no longer looks upon the UK as the mother country and the so called special relationship is nothing more than a chimera, used by British politicians to make themselves feel more important than they are. The differences in our culture are such that the majority of British people, while basically thinking of the Americans in a positive way, would not wish to see the UK subsumed into any sort of Anglo American state and this is certainly not the aim of Eurorealists.

Another ridiculous idea is that we somehow want to set ourselves up as some sort of enemy of the EU and of other European nations in general, based upon accusations of Eurorealists being xenophobic and harbouring hatreds of our neighbours. As anyone who has been active in the movement knows nothing could be further from the truth. While we resolutely oppose the bureaucratic monster of Brussels, we possess no enmity for the people of Europe and, indeed, often work closely with democratic groups throughout the EU who agree with our contention that it is destroying freedom across the continent. Many Eurorealists, myself included, love the culture of nations such as Italy, France and Germany and have friends within those countries. An independent UK would desire friendship with all decent democratic nations.

A further accusation is that we seek to isolate Britain in the world, and this is perhaps the most absurd lie of all. We are a member of NATO, a permanent member of the UN Security Council, the fountainhead of the Commonwealth and the English speaking world, sit at the global hub of finance and communications and have access to worldwide historic markets, created over centuries. It is the EU which is inward looking, protectionist and set to decline as its demographics see its populations shrinking, while we can trade mightily with the growing world economies of Asia, South America and elsewhere.

Finally we must present an optimistic vision of what Britain will be like once we have broken free from Brussels. An independent, democratic nation, free to make its own laws, trading with all, but beholden to none, possessing many allies but self confident and secure within our own boundaries, having made a sea change in our politics so that the selfish consensus which has so damaged us for decades is replaced by those seeking a better life for all Britons. It can be done.