26th June 2016

Brexit, interesting times and Alyn Smith

The UK is in turmoil after last Thursdays vote to exit the EU. With the Cameron only really minding the office at Downing Street, we now have to await a Tory Party leadership campaign to decide who the next PM will be. Labour is once again ripping itself apart both South and arguably North of the Border. Corbyn has sacked Hilary Benn and a number of the Labour Front Benches have walked out with him over Corbyn’s failure to turn up for the EU Remain campaign. Scottish Labour seem to be in their usual predictable shambles with Ian Murray stepping down as Shadow Scottish Secretary and former Labour First Minister Henry McLeish stating support for Independence, while Kezia Dugdale and Murray state they won’t support a future referendum in Scotland!

With Scotland voting so overwhelmingly, nearly 2 to 1 to remain in the EU it materially changes the situation North of the border. As Nicola Sturgeon said this morning, the UK, people voted to remain part of in 2014, no longer exists. The prospect of a second Independence Referendum now looms and there is evidence as picked up by the  newspapers, and personally that the tide is turning to a future Yes vote to Independence.

Newspaper covers

Some of the Post Brexit Headlines

Alyn Smith MEP and Wee Bleu Book

Alyn Smith and the Wee BlEU book

Here in Stirling we always hoped for a good solid vote for remain and indeed it came on Thursday but it was massively heartening to see other areas of Scotland, some of which were actually stated to be Eurosceptic or marginal, all vote to remain. I think in no small part credit for this must lie at the door of Alyn Smith MEP  one of the Co-Authors (along with Ian Hudghton MEP) of the Wee Bleu Book who worked tirelessly campaigning and supporting branches across Scotland giving the real facts and blowing away many of the myths surrounding the EU. I say this as I myself was somewhat Eurosceptic ( mainly due to issues around lack of accountability and democracy )  and probably ignorant of much of the actual workings and responsibilities of the EU until I heard Alyn speak about it to branch back in February I went from being a hesitant fence sitter who would “probably” vote to remain to being comfortably pro EU though recognising that it needs reform. On a later visit in April he expanded on some of the themes and explained the real views of Europe on issues from Turkeys membership, TTIP,  to the EU’s “apparent” opposition to Independence and answered many questions from branch on those concerns openly and frankly . I think if you seen Jean Claude Junker’s abrupt one word answer to a UK journalist after the exit vote you see why the EU can raise so many hackles with people, it does itself no favours sometimes. Here in Scotland though we can now see past what might be seen as arrogance or petulant behaviour of some Eurocrats and see the difference being part of the EU makes to our lives because people like Alyn went out and explained it during the campaign. Looking across the UK to see the difference in voting North and South of the Border, especially where here even marginal areas swung to a remain vote, you have to ask what the difference was, I doubt anyone in England did anything similar and look at the result!  A positive campaign well explained, by people like Alyn, and of course Nicola Sturgeon in the debates on TV and all ably supported by our Campaigning members

We are proud here in City of Stirling Branch to have Alyn as a great friend and look forward to his future visits. The irony too is the very need for reform might now be pushed along by the EU for the remaining countries due to the Brexit vote.

With England heading for the exit  Nicola and Alyn and of course all our branch campaigners and supporters have potentially won us a valuable opportunity to settle Scotland’s destiny as an outward looking self governing country in the not too distant future- that time remains to be settled and a lot can happen between then and now, but we must be prepared.

I personally don’t have a huge social circle- yeah “Johnny nae mates!” but even in that fairly small microcosm of Scottish society I know personally of 6 former No voters who are now committed future Independence voters. If we can all replicate that across our country, we will get the vote we all want and have Scotland stand as an Independent nation on the world stage. Twitter was predictably alight with many people from the BT side swinging to Independence.

The next few months and years are going to be interesting. We need to prepare and so we encourage our members to get along to our meetings every second Wednesday of the  month and join in the debate and hear whats happening. If you have thought of joining us, DO IT NOW! Things are uncertain without doubt  but exciting times could be coming. Be part of it.

This is a comment piece and does not necessarily form the official view of City of Stirling Branch