Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The SNP might not just wipe out Labour. UKIP should fear them too

Were I a member of UKIP this morning the news of the Populus poll in the Times about the Scottish election would have me worrying. Instinctively one might wonder why the Scottish elections should worry what is, perceived to be at least a single issue party around the on the matter of our membership of the European Union, but I shall explain.

If, as the poll suggests, and the SNP wipe out Labour in the Scottish elections then one of their key policy platforms is a substantive referendum on full independence from the United Kingdom.

Now, I don't know what the chances of winning such a vote is for a party that is predicted to achieve 50% of the vote in May, but what seems clear is that the possibility of a referendum being won by the SNP seems far more likely today than it has for some time.

Should such a referendum be held and won then it will effectively be Scotland that resolves the West Lothian Question with the nuclear option. The destruction of the Act of Union, and thereby the end of the sovereign existence of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland will remove all questions about English votes for English matters.

So where does UKIP fit into all this you may wonder? Well, as most people know, the European Union as it is today is the sum of its treaties. In the case of our membership, it was the UK that negotiated entry and agreed to become a signatory. An SNP referendum win on independence will effectively nullify all those treaties. After all, if the nation state that joined no longer exists, then, as they say, "all bets are off".

Scotland will, if it so chooses (and I can't see her not doing it when the money from England disappears), negotiate its own membership of the EU. Likewise, it will be down to what is left, be it separate nations or a new Union between England, Wales and Northern Ireland, to find a settlement on it’s relationship with the EU.

Consequentially, and party politically, as the United Kingdom will technically not exist it means the playing field on which UKIP places itself is suddenly, and dramatically, altered changed. The simple move of breaking the Act of Union will instantly propel each of the home nations out of the EU and will provide the means for renegotiation on whatever terms we so choose. Be it rejoining; be it EFTA; or be it "sod off".

The question is, what happens to UKIP? Now, I imagine my UKIPer friends will point out to me that their party is undergoing a re-branding strategy and will soon emerge as the Independence Party. This is all well and good, but how many members, and crucially voters will it retain? I’d suggest that many will simply flock back to the Tory Party that they originally left once the EU issue is resolved.

Consider this as well; many of the most active people in UKIP are libertarian free marketeers (which is not a bad thing in itself). However I’d hazard a guess that a large majority of its vote is simply made up of traditional Tories whose only problem is the single issue of Europe.

Arguably, the party that UKIP and Nigel Farage should fear if any is not the traditional three, but actually the SNP. It is the SNP who threaten to end the Union, and along with it the very relationship with Europe that UKIP (and a lot of Tories too) want to see changed.


david kendrick said...

What a curious view. Most UKIP members don't want to see a break up of the Union. But if Scottish independence creates a situation where England could escape from the EU, we'd take it like a shot.

Maybe UKIP supporters north of the border should vote tactically SNP.

dizzy said...

"Most UKIP members don't want to see a break up of the Union."


"But if Scottish independence creates a situation where England could escape from the EU, we'd take it like a shot."


But then where so UKIP go?

Anonymous said...

Re your 5th paragraph, I may be mistaken - and no doubt some legal person can clarify if so - but I thought that in the event of a change of status of a country or territory, the position relating to international treaties to which that country/territory was a party was that the territory was assumed by the rest of the signatories to still be a party until such time as it make a declaration to the treaty Depository to the contrary. If this is correct then a newly independent Scotland would have to undertake an extensive programme of denunciation of existing treaties if they wish to leave the EU.

david kendrick said...

UKIP's raison d'etre is to disentangle the country from the corrupt, unnecessary (we no longer have to bind the hun into the rest of Europe) and bureaucratic EU.

If UKIP helps to achieve that, it would count as a major triumph. After that is an issue?

Its like asking whither Sinn Fein after they have achieved a united Ireland. It may (or may not) be interesting. But it is not the point.

Anonymous said...

"But if Scottish independence creates a situation where England could escape from the EU, we'd take it like a shot."

But then Scottish UKIP voters would be signing themselves up to be even more integrated in Europe.

Anonymous said...

its not as simple as that -
Scotland would have to become a Republic first. if they retain the Queen as head of state, then technically, previous treaties are still valid.

Maastricht treaty text:

refers to:

Douglas Hurd and Francis Maude signed the treaty on behalf of the Queen, not on behalf of the United Kingdom parliament or the UK as an entity.

david kendrick said...

fjms. Superficially true only. If England gave notice to quit the EU, there would still be relations with Europe. England would have de facto associate member status, if not in name. The English market is too valuable to EU member countries not to have special agreements.

And other countries would see the benefits of a common market, rather than the Economic Union and...

dizzy said...

In response tot he Maastricht quote, of course it would require them to not just vote for independence but enact it, that was assumed as a matter of course.

Tartan Hero said...

Yeh but... if she is no longer Queen of a United Kingdom but still of its disparate parts, she is in effect no longer the person she was on signing the treaty.. ergo, neither of the constituents parts - Scotland and the rest of the UK - are technically the countries which were signed up. This could be a great thing for UKIP, and I agree, vote tactically for the SNP and you have a chance to re-negotiate your relationship with Brussels.

Machiavelli's Understudy said...

Scotland leaving the United Kingdom would not necessarily mean the dissolution of the United Kingdom, in effect leaving England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

By convention, as seen with Serbia's EU entry negotiations whereby Montenegro had to launch its own entry application, the original state retains its relationship with the EU.

In this instance, I would see the UK retaining its relationship with the EU, although I have for some time seen this argument coming. Despite being a Unionist, I consider disengagement from the UK to be the lesser of two evils when compared to an entrenched relationship with the EU. England has an opportunity after May to voice its own demand for a parliament and independence, to the advantage of having a fresh relationship with the world, let alone Europe, without submitting to federalist coercion by our continental 'friends'.

James Higham said...

DK answered you, Dizzy and I think both of you made good points. He said:

...I suspect that both the Tories (in their present incarnation) and NuLabour would also renegotiate entry, but they might try to do so under different terms. This would be far harder and probably well-nigh impossible...

This is the point, as far as I can see - that Thatcher negotiated a good deal for Britain but do you see any leader with the wherewithal to take on the EU monster and win concessions acceptable to Britain's new constituent parts?

Anonymous said...

To follow on my previous post.

When Ireland left the Union, the union was not destroyed, and was only renamed.

As with Ireland so with Scotland.

The Union of England and Wales existed before Scotland joined, so as Scotland left, the Union would naturally retract to that of England and Wales.

dizzy said...

Guys, there is no Union between England and Wales, England just took the place over. Scotland however has a treaty forming the Union. That treaty, the Act of Union, disappears if they became independent.