Friday, 16 December 2011

Russian Ships, Sheep And The EU

The Scottish government has caused me some concern this week, apart from the passing of the sectarian legislation.

Not only was Angus Robertson doing his utmost to create an international incident about a Russian ship showing bad manners by disposing of their waste overboard, while they were sheltering from bad weather off the Moray Coast, but Alex Salmond was over dramatic in his response to Cameron's decision to refuse the EU access to the UK's finances.

If Mr Robertson had omitted the point about the rubbish and concentrated on the fact that Scotland's seas are no longer reasonably policed, then his protest would have been seen as genuine. But instead his mention of waste conveyed a slight petty attitude. Unfortunately, the media emphasised that point rather than the scrapping of the Nimrod fleet, which has led to a massive gap in the security of these islands. Mr Robertson is well versed in military matters and a skilled politician. Such a shame he sounded like a whinger this week.  Yes, it may be the media decided to convey that attitude, but I would have expected Mr Robertson to know their wiles and realise the London press will do their utmost to convey the SNP government in a bad light.

By now you may be wondering why this post is carrying a photograph of sheep.  All will be revealed shortly.

Mr Salmond, in his letter to David Cameron this week, accused the PM of 'changing the UK's entire relationship with the EU - without even discussing it with his own Libdem colleagues, never mind the devolved administrations in Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast'. Fair enough, he has a good point but it would appear his reaction was a little speedy. It's unlike the First Minister to be less than very calculated in response to Westminster.

However, he accused the PM of 'blundering' and suggested that Cameron's decision would affect key Scottish industries because they were 'being represented by a UK government that is excluded from important decision making meetings'. source  The following story shows it could be more a case of 'who you know' rather than the seat you sit on at meetings.

The area in which I live is well known for livestock farming and sheep farming is important to the economy.  In December 2007 the European Parliament's Agricultural Committee passed legislation which made electronic identification (EID) mandatory for sheep and goats. Farmers here were up in arms about this and have been protesting loudly.  It could well constitute the last nail in the coffin for sheep farmers, few of whom can afford to fit every animal with expensive microchips or deal with the complex cross-compliance issues involved.

It seems Cameron's non-veto has made no difference to Scotland's access to the EU heath commissioner John Dalli. He has (finally) agreed to look at the EID system to see if it can be simplified. Local farmers here are delighted but there have been casualities. In the intervening years, two have decided enough is enough and sold their stock.

As the Perthshire sheep sector declines, once again the EU will increasingly have to rely on imported lamb from countries outwith the EU, who pay no attention whatsoever to the rigorous regulations and controls imposed upon our own farmers.

Why has it taken four years for poor legislation to be re-examined? Mr Salmond thinks full membership of the EU will be important to an independent Scotland. Although a reduction in the UK sheep stock may be of little importance at present, EU legislation which is unnecessarily complicated and expensive, will drive more and more farmers out of business.

Is that good for Scotland?


DaveP said...

"Mr Salmond thinks full membership of the EU will be important to an independent Scotland."

This is the thing though. How can Scotland be independent within the EU? The EU interferes in every aspect of our lives. For instance Its now nearly Christmas, and the annual slow destruction of our once great fishing industry can be renewed with this years CFP offerings, and we will always be outvoted here.

Salmonds talk about an independent Scotland within the EU is just oxymoronic.

subrosa said...

Years ago I thought the SNP's EU policy was fine. I think it was drawn up by Jim Sillars (read that somewhere recently).

However, things have 'progressed' and the EU is no longer just peaceful trading partners Dave. You highlight our fishing industry and yes, it has been in gradual decline for years - thanks to EU policies. Shameful really but the UK can't seem to do anything about it.

Salmond should stand back and see the bigger picture. He should also look at the Scandinavian countries and others who are not full members.

Maybe his insistence that Scotland will be a full members revolves around money. Trying to research anything regarding grants etc is a nightmare. Of course EU officials purposely make it difficult for the lay person. They don't want us to know.

Anonymous said...

"Whatever the position under general international law, a decision on Scotland’s status within the European Union (after independence) is likely to be a political one. If all the EU Member States agreed, then Scotland could continue automatically as a Member State (pending negotiations with the other member states on details of membership, including the number of MEPs to represent Scotland). On the other hand, Member States with their own domestic concerns about separatist movements might argue that Scotland should lose its membership on independence, and hold up or even veto its accession."

Gedguy said...

I suspect Salmond is playing the bigger picture by playing to the audience everything that could be good or bad for Scotland; after all it isn't as if he has the ear of the media in Scotland.
I suspect that he doesn't want to rock the boat too much before such an important referendum. far better to let sleeping dogs lie then say to the Scottish people, post independence, what do you want?
Personally, I am a supporter of the EU and, as I don't trust a word that comes out of the main stream UK media, I ignore all the anti-EU crap that has been circling in the UK for decades.
Yes, there are important points that need to be clarified about the EU; fishing for one. Let's remember that it was the BRITISH government which gave away our fishing rights and not the EU taking it from us. This was just another media spin backing the decisions of the UK government of which ever colour.
Stay loyal to Salmond for I believe he is trying to do the right thing for us.

Gedguy said...


Who cares what the UK parliament thinks? Did we really expect the UK parliament to produce something that would back the SNP's stance?
This is just another piece of the 'black ops' that is outpouring from the UK 'establishment'. I am confident that there will be much worse than this getting released.

Anonymous said...

This situation with independence and the EU is a tricky one. It may be down to money, which would also explain the renewable enthusiasm. Money pours out of the EU and Alex may well be making the most of it in the short term at least.

Call me Daves performance last week deserves a Oscar quickly followed by a P45. He was out maneuvered initially and now Sarkozy has gone too far. The UK may well be worth more to the EU than the EU would care to admit.

Alex also says we will look north and east for our trading partners post independence. This makes a good deal of sense and you would expect it to include France, Italy as well as the Scandics, the post USSR states but also Canada, the USA, Australia, New Zealand etc, for obvious reasons.

Is Alex as canny as he likes to have us think or is he more so or less? Time will tell.

Never forget he has £2M at least to spend on his campaign.

RMcGeddon said...

The SNP's love of the EU and windmills are their two main weak points that will lose them votes.
Independence in Europe is obviously absurd. How independent is Greece, Ireland and Italy ? Their governments empty vassals totally reliant on the EU to survive.
80% of our fishing grounds have been taken from us and the total estimate of lost revenue through fishing is now £320Bn. All that fish hoovered up and taken back to Spain and Portugal etc.
Some good news today though. A spin off from the Limpit games for Scotland. Prestwick has been designated as the main hub for hijacked planes. This will boost the local economy and increase revenue for the airport. Win win for Scotland again.

J. R. Tomlin said...

Rosie, You might want to read Moridura on Angus Robertson's speech. I believe he was there.

Do you really expect fair coverage of the SNP? They can find something to distort almost every time. The number of times I have WATCHED the FMQ (yes, I do watch them) and then read coverage that in no way had any resemblance to what happened is beyond counting.

The EU, I really think the SNP is walking a fine line with keeping the country's options open and trying to bring both sides of the debate into their big tent. Is it REALLY something that has to be decided years before the independence campaign even starts much less is won? I would hope that, unlike Britain, in Scotland it really would be put to a referendum. Then all sides could make their case.

Joe Public said...

"In December 2007 the European Parliament's Agricultural Committee passed legislation which made electronic identification (EID) mandatory for sheep and goats. "

That was for trial purposes only.

I've no doubt that the EU grand plan is Phase 2, to be EID for humans.

Apogee said...

I am happy to see I am not the only one thinking independence within the EU is a non-starter.This has been shown to be the case over the last couple of weeks with Greece and Italy.I sincerely believe we would be better off as we were 60 years ago, than we would be in the EU, by ourselves,"independent within Europe".How independent is Greece, Ireland,Italy, even France?

subrosa said...

Thanks Matt. So it's all to play for as they say? Time for the debate. :)

subrosa said...

I know Salmond defends Scotland's interests Gedguy, but he overplayed the drama this week and that's quite unlike him. Mind you, with the schedule he's had in the past weeks he must be exhausted and bound to put a foot wrong at times.

That's true about our fishing but I'm uncomfortable about other aspects of the EU. It's taking over governments in Europe at present and that's just one aspect of their authority.

subrosa said...

I hope you're right TT and also, if we do vote to be full members, we won't be net contributors like the UK is at present.

The £2m has to be spent wisely. People have to be told the truth and not hypothetical nonsense.

Oh I've no doubt Alex is canny - as canny as they come.

subrosa said...

When talking with folk this week RM, the 'green' tax on utility bills was the main moan.

As Gedguy says the UK gave away our fishing rights, the EU didn't take them.

Aye I read about Prestwick, but I also read that any terrorist-threatened plane coming from the west at present is sent there too. Didn't know that.

subrosa said...

Jeanne, Moridura's night out had little to do with what Angus Robertson said earlier in the week about the Russian vessels.

No I don't expect fair media coverage and the SNP don't either. Hence they have to be more than cautious about press releases and not sound as if we're whining.

You're possibly spot on about the fine line walking but yes, I think the EU business has to be discussed before the referendum. The influence the EU has in Europe is more than Washington has over your states.

subrosa said...

No Joe, as far as I'm aware it wasn't. The deadline for EID on sheep and goats is a week on Saturday yet many farmers here haven't undertaken it yet. Haven't had a chance to speak to any farmers as yet about this development, but all will be pleased I should think.

subrosa said...

That's my opinion too Apogee but we do need to find out how many people feel that way now too. So often we're told 'The Scots aren't anti-EU'. Who says?

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