Margo MacDonald: We’d get warm welcome at UN

Scots usually take the lead in negotiating EU fishing quotas. Picture: Getty Images
Scots usually take the lead in negotiating EU fishing quotas. Picture: Getty Images
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‘The United Nations is very much in favour of self-determining nations.” Who said that?

Not Douglas Alexander MP, Her Britannic Majesty’s next-in-line Foreign Secretary. His job is to keep repeating that Scotland is better off having our national determination subsumed in British determination. And even worse for Devo Dougie, is that “Scotland would be welcomed in the United Nations”.

They’re the considered opinions of Sir Jeremy Greenstock, the UK’s former ambassador to the UN, commenting on the report produced by the House of Commons on the foreign policy considerations for an independent Scotland and the reformed UK. It’s unlikely that the good Lord is unaware of the debate now entering into the interest zone of the wise public. Sir Jeremy confined his remarks to factual information.

What a contrast with the pro-Union commentators whose job it was to rummage through the report, accentuate the negative, eliminate the positive, and forget the in-between.

These same commentators have used their time reminding Scots of how small and inconsequential Scotland is when strutting our national stuff amongst other nations doing exactly the same.

According to Douglas Alexander, if we take the fishing negotiations with the EU as an example, Scottish fishermen would get a better deal under the Union “because Scotland punches above her weight in international negotiations”.

That sort of guff has gone largely unchallenged by the independence campaign, even though the regular fishing industry negotiations provide the best example of the truth of Sir Jeremy’s statement that Scotland would have to establish her own personality in the UN, and the UK would develop its amended personality.

Right now, even without independence, the Scottish minister at the EU fishing negotiations often cuts a more substantial figure than his/her English equivalent, the leader of the British delegation . . . from England.

The reason for the Scottish member of the UK team taking the lead is a recognition of the importance of fishing to the Scottish economy, the daily activity that sees the Scottish landings of fish to be the biggest in Europe, and the agreed quotas, although contested by Scotland’s fishing captains, proportionately much greater than those for the industry south of the Border.

As an independent member of the UN, Scotland’s interests would sometimes be more important when energy policies are under international 
scrutiny than those of the UK, in other matters, the UK’s armed forces policy would be of greater interest to the other members.

Scotland would have the easier job in establishing a distinctive national personality, just as the new nations from Eastern Europe and beyond have found their places. But the UK is worried that the loss of Scotland will diminish its footprint in the UN and the EU. This turns on its head the “No” campaign’s warning to Scots that without the Union flag wrapped round them, they amount to little internationally.

And equally important, Dr James Kerr-Lindsay, of the London School of Economics, says in his evidence to the Foreign Affairs Committee: “There is very little reason to believe that Scotland would face any opposition to its statehood from its European 
partners.”

We have nothing to fear but fear itself.