Margo MacDonald: Scots resources our ace in hand

Scotland would have control of a third of the EU's fishing grounds after independence. Picture: Keiran Dodds
Scotland would have control of a third of the EU's fishing grounds after independence. Picture: Keiran Dodds
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Dear Alex, With reference to Senor Mariano Rajoy’s statement that Scotland would not slip “seamlessly” into full state membership of the EU, might I suggest a tactic for the present circumstances?

The Spanish Prime Minister refers to EU agreements and rules. Of course this style of opposition has to be countered in much the same way as ­Richard Lochhead did on Radio Scotland this week, when he used the EU’s own rules to support his case. However, he did not succeed in making the case to the satisfaction of the interviewer, in spite of the justifiable certainty he exuded.

Those MSPs and others who argue the case for an undramatic entry by Scotland cannot win the argument.

They will be correct constitutionally, but when the chips are down, as they surely will be after a YES vote next year, politics will be the order of the day.

Two can play the game that way. At the right time, I hope you will remind Senors Rajoy and Barrasso that Scotland has other options, namely membership of EFTA. As the President of the EU Commission, Barroso is concerned with the constitutionality of Scotland changing her status. That will not be the driving factor. That is much more likely to be the political difficulties in Madrid, caused as much by the possibility of Spanish fishermen being excluded from their traditional area if Scotland is a member or ­associate of EFTA, as the drive for Catalan Independence.

Yours aye,


The letter was sent to the First Minister last week, before the Belgian government, in a sneaky unattributed statement let it be known that it would stand shoulder to shoulder with the Spaniards in denying Scotland her democratic right to claim nationhood under the EU’s own rules.

There’s been a fair amount of legal opinions exchanged on whether ­Scotland has the same rights as England, Northern Ireland and Wales after Scotland is independent.

Both sides of the argument seem to have overlooked an internationally agreed process that will result in a country becoming independent . . . the United Nations’ affirmation of a country’s sovereignty outranks the self-interested assertions of two countries that contain what have been described as the “submerged nations” of Europe, the Catalans and the Flemings.

There seems to be a common ­misunderstanding of Scotland’s clout in the EU. Firstly, it’s important to remember that strength derives not from the EU treaties, nor the size of any given country.

Power is determined by the resources member countries bring to the negotiating tables . . . and which countries can walk away.

Scotland can claim a third of the fishing grounds of the EU, a big card to play. Quite apart from our non-renewable and renewable sources of energy and the much-overlooked supply of water that we haven’t even started to exploit, our traditional fishing grounds mean that EU countries need us more than we need them. If Scotland were outside the EU now, it would be begging us to join.

Alex Salmond should let it be known that Scotland could negotiate favourable terms with EFTA (European Free Trade Association).

There’s hardly unalloyed admiration of the EU and the alternative of EFTA, free trade minus the expensive, centralist politics, could prove to be very attractive.

Trams are here, thanks are due

The trams are coming. Honest. This time I’m sure they’ll be running to time from now on. And, just like I prefer to get my retaliation in first, I’d like to thank some people before things get too hectic and thanks get left standing at the stop.

My thanks go to the engineers, labourers and lorry drivers and other drivers of fearsome looking vehicles in general. They must have endured hours of jokes about their work when they entered their pub of choice.

It’s invidious to pick out one person from what is most definitely a cast of thousands that is responsible for what is just the first section of the tram system … I hope.

But I hope nobody on the team objects to my singling out Lesley Hinds for special thanks.

She puts her heart and soul into everything she takes on … and taking responsibility for the trams has been no exception.

Tom brave for taking plunge

My heart went out to Tom Daley when I saw his video in which he announced his relationship with a man. He told us of the happiness he was experiencing, but he looked as though he’d been unable to sleep.

This beautifully stylish diver who has won almost all the world’s top prizes before he’s out of his teens sounded as though he’d had to “out” himself before someone else did it for him. It couldn’t have been more different than when Olympic gold medallist Greg Louganis announced publicly that he was both gay and HIV positive in the 1990s. That affected his career … but being gay should be no barrier to Tom Daley reaching the top.