Margo MacDonald: Rebel yell is a timely reminder of Euro con

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Some MPs in Westminster, as Kate Hoey told a well-attended debating chamber on Monday, put the interests of their country above loyalty to their parties and voted in favour of having a debate on a referendum on the UK’s relationship with the EU. Why? We had a referendum in 1975. I was there.

The country was conned into believing that joining the Common Market made sure of getting a captive market into which we could sell our manufactured goods. Fair enough, we had to sign up to the Common Agriculture Policy, Common Fisheries Policy and lose control over the UK’s coal and steel industries, but we had a veto if ever our state interests could be damaged by policies from Brussels.

So . . . the UK couldn’t be out-voted against our own interests. With a modest amount of enthusiasm Scots, with the exception of Shetlanders, followed a slightly more enthusiastic England and voted Yes. That was it, deed done, mission accomplished, so why are so many people asking for another referendum? Because the last one was a con. I doubted that Scotland would get closer to real decision making in Brussels, so I campaigned on a “No Voice, No Entry” platform. But I might as well have campaigned for Scotland to have a seat at the top table of the African Union, or the Councils of the Nordic or West Indian countries, so irrelevant and misleading was the promise of being free to protect our national interests.

As the Common Market or EEC metamorphosed through the EC to the EU, with each name change came a weakening of the national veto and strengthening of political control from Brussels. Like many another, I continued to give “Europe” the benefit of the doubt because of the improvements to conditions of employment and protection for employees for example, ushered in by Jacques Delors. But the balance of my judgement tipped away from the EU when the Berlin Wall was torn down by Europe’s people. That changed everything, yet the EU elite group of politicians and bureaucrats carried on with their grand project, regardless.

The drift from Common Market to 27-member EU didn’t happen by accident, or because of events, dear boy. Oh no, the attainment of a European Economic and Monetary Union was being planned as far back as 1970. The Werner Report outlined a three- stage process for creating the EMU. And though the unexpected collapse of communism held up the process to a economic union, it did not destroy the dream for the project’s leaders in the upper echelons of French, German Belgian and Dutch politics and public institutions.

This elite is more autocratic than any political “in-crowd” in the UK, and they have shaped the EU in their own image. The administration is scandalous in allowing the rip-off in expenses that make the Westminster fiddlers look like amateurs. The elite just doesn’t let its plans be thwarted by a democratic vote in a member country. Remember Ireland’s vote against the Lisbon Treaty? Brussels just leaned on the Irish Government to have another referendum, and Ireland isn’t the only EU member to be strong-armed into thinking again on a vote the Commission didn’t like.

But perhaps the biggest scandal of all was the conspiracy to create the single currency regardless of the true ability on the part of applicant countries to structure their economies to meet the demands of a monetary union driven by the German economy, and with a very wide range of economic differences represented amongst the other member states.

A big fuss was spun by the press officers in the Berlaymont HQ of the EU Commission about the three per cent “convergence” (debt was no more than three per cent of GDP) that all countries had to achieve before they would be allowed to give up their Drachma, Lire, Escudo etc to join the Euro. Those of us who were openly sceptical of the data produced by Greece and Italy in particular were dismissed as soor-moothed party-poopers, who were anti-EU. Germany and France were the first to break this rule. But, hey, when did rules, or laws stop the guardians of the holy grail of full European integration?

That’s why it would be a wise move for the SNP to take a step back from a commitment to take Scotland into the EU as an independent member. Apart from any other doubts about EU nit-picking standardisations, and encroachment on sovereignty, the Lisbon Treaty confirmed that countries applying for EU membership must sign up to membership of the single currency, a structurally unsound system. There are other ways to play a part in Europe via the European Economic Area. Up the rebels!