By Steven Paterson, Former Stirling MP
It’s official: Scotland’s voice is finally being heard in the remotest corridors of power!
The BBC has finally presented the UK map in correct proportions ….but it is all a matter of perspective.
Yes, after a thirteen-year wait, the BBC’s Weather Forecast Department has finally relented to complaints from their distant licence-fee paying customers north of the border that Scotland is actually in reality somewhat bigger than Cornwall. In future, BBC weather forecasts will be presented on a map that accurately reflects the size of Scotland as compared to other parts of the British Isles, instead of being as a grossly-distorted virtual image of Britain as if filmed from a hot air balloon flying somewhere above Bordeaux, with Stirling appearing a billimetre above the Solway Firth in that wee speck at the top.
Every journey starts with a first step, I suppose.
Unfortunately, however, a mile or so down the road from Broadcasting House in Whitehall, the Tory UK Government continues to listen to nobody except itself.
This week, Number 10’s spin machine decided to bill special meetings of the Cabinet taking place to thrash out a common position on Brexit negotiations in the most valiant of terms, describing them as meetings of the “War Cabinet”. But it wasn’t long before expectations of what the “War Cabinet” might achieve were being drastically downgraded. As The Independent’s headline on Wednesday, revealed, “Brexit: Theresa May ‘War Cabinet’ unlikely to reach agreement on UK aims, admits Business Secretary Greg Clark”.
by Grant Dunnery, President of the Stirling University Scottish Nationalist Association
While the rhetoric from Downing Street has alluded to a Hard Brexit, the reality will be very different. However, in order to understand why the UK will receive a weak deal, we must first uncover how we got here in the first place.
The vote to leave was deeply skewed, and based on a mistaken understanding of European integration. The vote to leave the EU was an attack against globalisation and all of its key traits.
It was an attack against free market principles however, voters really intended to attack the injustice of neoliberalism. It was an attack against immigrants and to those who spoke a different language, however, in reality, the UK is far more divided by wealth disparity and social class that it is nationality or race.
The misunderstanding of the virtues – and I believe necessity if you evaluate our bloody past – of European integration, have been masqueraded. A dangerous combination of misinformation, rising poverty, a lack of opportunities and voter frustration have led us to this point. In addition to this, the UK government’s plans are equally as flawed in nature.
Stirling MSP Bruce Crawford engaged in discussions with UK Government Ministers and House of Lords Peers last week as part of a delegation of MSPs raising concerns about the urgent need to amend Brexit legislation.
New economic impact analysis by the Scottish Government has confirmed that the best way to protect the local economy and household incomes in the Stirling Constituency is through Scotland remaining in the Single Market and Customs Union.
On June 23rd 2016, Scotland voted overwhelmingly – by 62% – to remain in the European Union. Indeed, my own constituency voted by more than two-thirds to remain. The Scottish Government’s position is that the will of the Scottish people must be upheld.
In 2014, ahead of the Scottish Independence Referendum, Westminster unionist political parties told the people of Scotland that a No vote would secure our nation’s place in the European Union as part of the UK. Whilst claims that Scotland choosing to become independent would result in the country being ejected from the EU are completely baseless and false, nevertheless it is undeniable that this was a major plank of the No campaign and many people in Scotland rightly feel that they were sold a falsehood as they voted by a small margin to stay in the UK and by a large majority to stay in the EU.
Whilst the wishes of the people of Scotland were clear in last year’s referendum, the Scottish Government has lobbied the UK Government for a compromised approach that would ensure that Scotland would be able to retain the rights and privileges of the European Single Market and the Customs Union once the UK leaves the EU. However, to date, the UK Government has stubbornly refused to make such a commitment, instead aiming for what is known as a ‘Hard Brexit’ where we leave the Single Market too.
Comment By Steven Paterson, former MP for Stirling
It was reported at the time that when the Exit Poll was revealed at the close of polls at the General Election in June, projecting (fairly accurately as it turned out) the result that would be confirmed in the hours to follow, Prime Minister Theresa May burst into tears.
Not only was the loss of the slim Tory majority a personal humiliation for the Prime Minister who, after all, hadn’t had any real need to call the election in the first place, but it also made the intensely difficult job of negotiating a favourable Brexit deal with the EU27 much, much tougher.
It would also have been obvious to the Prime Minister at that moment that unless the Exit Poll was very wide of the mark, the remainder of her premiership would be in the gift of Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party. No wonder she cried.
However, there was little time to wallow on the election failure. With so much wasted time since the EU referendum, Brexit negotiations had to be the top priority for the weakened Prime Minister once the £1 billion bung of our money was agreed to buy the DUP’s ten votes. The most pressing agreement required was over the conundrum of reconciling having a soft border between the UK and the Irish Republic with a hard Brexit that meant the UK being out with the single market and the customs union.
By Steven Paterson, Former MP for Stirling
The minority Tory Government at Westminster has survived another week, but the sense of utter shambles and paralysis at the heart of Whitehall has only been reinforced.
The week started with the news strategically leaked to the media that the Government was prepared to up its divorce offer to the EU to €50 billion. This vast sum is to cover existing financial commitments entered into by the UK as a current member of the EU, a pre-requisite for the EU 27 before any detailed trade negotiations can take place.
By leaking it (and therefore having plausible deniability), the Government was subsequently able to dispute the veracity of the story in order to allow it to better manage some of the more rabid and frothing anti-EU MPs marauding the Tory backbenches who think that walking over the abyss with no deal makes any kind of sense. It says it all about this ludicrous process that the Government is intent on paying out this colossal sum to leave the world’s largest trading bloc in order then to be able to negotiate terms to retain maximum access to the very same trading bloc at significantly inferior terms.
By former Stirling MP, Steven Paterson
It’s a Kind of Magic
It occurs to me that magic may be involved in the remarkable political phenomenon we are presently living through, known by those with deep knowledge of the magic circle as ‘Brexit’.
Professional magicians call the technique being employed here ‘cognitive illusion’: a trick whereby mental illusions fool our subconscious to the extent that we incorrectly process the sensory information being gathered, and form an incorrect conclusion of what has been witnessed.
Coin tricks are a common example of this technique. A good exponent of the magic arts persuades you to pay close attention to the wrong things, usually after the subtle switch has already taken place, and the coin thus disappears, magically appearing somewhere else to the amazement of those watching.
Yet the scale of the current Brexit deception seems set to break all previous records in this regard. This is no cheap coin trick; rather it is an enormous swindle taking place in plain sight, so gargantuan that the Great British public shrug and conclude, contrary to all the evidence in front of their faces, that it couldn’t possibly be so catastrophic.
Even a cursory review of the Brexit story to date reveals all kinds of hocus-pocus.
Take the shameless claim about £350 million per week we would all save by voting to leave the world’s largest trading bloc and instead spend it on the NHS. Although it was only a small part of a nasty, bitter campaign dominated by anti-immigration undertones, it was obvious that this claim was ludicrous nonsense the instant it was plastered to the side of Vote Leave buses, yet at the time many of the supposed political big beasts who have led us down this garden path were happy to see this claim unchallenged.
Now it’s as if we’re being absurdly asked to simply erase all the promises and claims pulled out a hat from our memories, and get behind the Prime Minister and her Government as they deliver the Brexit divorce following that appalling referendum campaign in which we were clearly lied to.
The risks of Scotland crashing out of the EU without the UK government securing a deal have been revealed in a damning report by the London School of Economics.
Figures show that every single part of Scotland, and of the UK as a whole, will be adversely affected even in the event of a soft Brexit with single market membership maintained – however the impact of dropping off a hard Brexit cliff edge would be significantly worse.
Farmers in the Stirling area could see their incomes could cut in half after Brexit, a report by the Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board has warned.
The staggering new research warns that a No Deal Brexit, as increasingly threatened by Theresa May, is one of a number of threats to farm incomes – alongside possible changes to tariffs and subsidies.