It should hardly be necessary to advise people not to be influenced by anything David Cameron says. Many people in Scotland may be tempted to vote Out because they believe what Cameron says about this making independence more likely. Those people need to pause for thought.They need to reflect on the fact that they are taking a Tory British Prime Minister’s word at face value.They need to ask themselves why any sane, sober and sensible person would do such a thing.
The first and most important thing to remember is that independence is coming anyway. Independence is inevitable. It is inevitable because any devolution measure which succeeds in terms of the aims and objectives of the British state necessarily fails in terms of the aspirations and priorities of Scotland’s people. And this was never more true than it is of the latest round of inept and malicious constitutional tinkering represented by the Scotland Bill.
The EU referendum is a distraction. It is a distraction from – some would say a malicious interference with – the Scottish General Election. And it is a mere sideshow relative to the fight to restore Scotland’s rightful constitutional status. It must be understood, firstly, that the EU referendum has nothing whatever to do with economics. There is no possibility of any economic advantage in quitting the EU. It must also be appreciated that the EU referendum has nothing whatever to do with politics outside the narrow concerns of the British Conservative Party. (For most purposes, and certainly in this context, UKIP can be considered no more than a Tory ‘rebel faction’.)
The dispute about EU membership is really no more than a squabble among British nationalists about how the British state is defined and which clique most faithfully represents the “One True Britain’. At base, it is a dispute between those who see the EU as a tool of British exceptionalism, and those who see British exceptionalism as requiring no such tool, and/or being diminished by it.
In a very real sense, this is not our fight. Given that independence is about extricating ourselves from the British state and ridding ourselves of the impediment of British exceptionalism, Tory bickering over who has the strongest claim to the bedraggled and besmirched mantle of British nationalism is nothing whatever to do with Scotland.
Unfortunately, being yet bound to the British state, Scotland cannot avoid being impacted by this infighting among British nationalists. But we can avoid being drawn into serving the petty purposes of either faction in this squabble. We can keep our eyes firmly on our own purposes and our own interests. We can close our eyes and ears to the blandishments and beguilements and devious pleading of British politicians and concentrate on what is best for Scotland.
There will, of course, be differences of opinion about what this is. There will be disagreement about whether Scotland’s interests are best served by an In vote, or an Out vote. It will doubtless be a matter for considerable debate. But it is not more important than the Scottish Parliamentary elections. Nor does it relate in any direct way to the matter of Scotland’s constitutional status.
We do not need to take sides in this British nationalist dispute. Our consideration of the EU issue should be informed by a rational assessment of Scotland’s interests and by our own concept of sovereignty and nationhood. A concept of sovereignty which recognises that it is not diminished by being pooled but, rather, that pooling of sovereignty is the very basis of democracy.
A concept of nationhood that rejects both isolationism and exceptionalism in favour of the simple and fundamental principle that all nations are entitled to the capacity to freely negotiate the terms upon which sovereignty is pooled.
Whichever way you, as a Scottish voter, intend to vote in the EU referendum, just be sure that it is for appropriate reasons, and not for the purposes of any British nationalist faction. And always bear in mind that it is a decision that we should be making in our own right as an independent nation.