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European Parliamentary Election Earthquake - What does it mean for Scotland’s independence referendum?
The sadness and disappointment in many Scots over the recent European parliamentary elections is profound though there is nothing about the result that is particularly surprising. UKIP and their PR wing, the BBC, have been predicting a landslide in their favour and lo, it has come to pass. In England. In England UKIP have conclusively won. The consequences of this win are far more profound for Scotland than the other bit of news, that UKIP have secured a seat in Scotland.
UKIP as opposed to winning in Scotland have finally managed to squeak through to fourth place which got them the seat. Far from any meaningful repudiation of the SNP who have actually increased their percentage and actual vote to maintain their representation. The unionist parties have unsurprisingly managed to portray this SNP win as the most dreadful defeat. The media have predictably fallen all over themselves to gleefully bash Alex Salmond the Nats yet again.
The UKIP seat in Scotland barely means anything for Scotland. What it does do is highlight the point that Euro-scepticism does exist in Scotland. This is not exactly news as polls indicate that roughly 44% of Scots hold some form of Euro scepticism. 44% while being lower than the 48% in England is still a significant number and was bound to have some electoral effect at some point. This election is the one that it manifested in a small way in Scotland.
The SDA supports the idea that sovereignty and independence are inseparable and the automatic assumption of membership of the European Union is undemocratic. The SDA believe that the Scottish people should be the ones to decide whether or not we are to remain members in the EU through a separate referendum on the issue. The SDA’s position is that membership in EFTA would be better for Scotland and that our near neighbour across the North Sea, Norway, should be our model. This position was arrived at through careful consideration and research. It is not coloured in any way with the anti-Europe, anti-immigrant and anti-gay baser aspects of a far right ideology that UKIP espouses.
UKIP in spite of its other faults (and they are legion) is an anti EU party and the main one standing in the European elections. It is therefore not surprising for UKIP to have received a small measure of electoral success as the voice of discontent with the current political system.
Many Scots will have lived in the belief that we were all better than what UKIP is. Many will no doubt hope that the folk who voted UKIP held their noses to the taint of homophobia and racism and voted only on the issue of the EU.
In the wider context of the United Kingdom these European elections been nothing short of an earthquake with profound consequences for all the people of these islands. The trends we can glean from the polls on the direction of opinion in England have played out in much the way it was thought to. UKIP will absolutely swing the entire apparatus of the Westminster parties even further to the right. Whether UKIP ever gain a seat in the Westminster parliament in the 2015 UK elections or not, none of the other parties will fail to adjust to the new right wing norm that they’ve brought to England.
This means that we will certainly have a UK wide referendum on EU membership by 2017. While you might think that the SDA would support this it is still nonetheless a troubling development in that Scots sovereign choice to be in or out of the EU would likely again be overwhelmed by the greater weight of the votes of England in the same way that we’ve gotten government after government at Westminster that we didn’t vote for.
Ultimately, the European election results only serve to reinforce what is at stake in the independence referendum. The choice we are making on 18 September 2014 is NOT between independence and the status quo. It is about choosing our own destiny and building a country based on the rule of law, on social justice, that cares and protects all of us together. Only a yes vote in the referendum gives us the chance to bring this vision to reality.
A no vote leaves Scotland at the mercy of the corrupt, morally bankrupt, brutal, far right elitist state that the United Kingdom is rapidly becoming. What it is now is bad enough but what it will become, whether we stay or not, is becoming increasingly clear. The choice in the independence referendum is clear too.