I may be alone in this, but I think the point that was most striking about Obama’s intervention was how it proved what the Yes campaign has said all along – that it’s only with the power and standing of a state that you get recognition.
How did his remarks come about? He was buttonholed by the Prime Minister at the G7. Is Scotland separately represented there…?
One national leader always displays respect for another – even small ones – because they form part of international alliances and the wider diplomatic community. One head of state, or national leader, is theoretically equal to another in that they represent their people and country.
We have no such status. In the international arena, we are invisible. Indeed, the British government’s own legal advice says exactly that – in terms of international law Scotland does not exist.
There is no Alex Salmond present at almost any of these summits – he was at the D-Day commemoration and Jack McConnell was at the Gleneagles G20 – and he is an outsider, a leader of reduced status, as is the country he speaks for.
How much easier is it to come out against a region of a state than against a state itself?
On the other hand, had Scotland been independent and had bilateral relations with the US and head-to-head meetings in the UN and the EU, its status would require to be respected and only in extremis would we be subject to critical comment from the likes of the President – as Putin is now discovering.
Our diplomats would mingle with each other and share information, alliances and understandings are formed and criticisms can kept mostly private.
It is because Scotland does not qualify as a member of the club of states in our own right that we can be dismissed by the others. Normally, the member state would object when part of its territory was criticised but in this case, we have no protection because our state is working against one side of our domestic debate. We are left defenceless.
Indeed it’s not so long ago we had more striking proof of this when Cameron stood beside Obama in Washington and first listened to Obama weighing against the Scottish government’s freeing of Megrahi and then joined in with his own deprecation of the decision.
Whatever Cameron’s opinion, I think it was incumbent on him to find language which at the very least supported the right of the Scots to make that decision. We are after all part of the United Kingdom. We were left, yet again, defenceless to the rhetoric and politicking of the big boys. Being part of the UK is no defence when our leaders oppose our views.
The lesson is easy enough. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.
I notice too that there is a growing strand among right wing Unionists which uses the election of UKIP as a starting point to engage in their perverse indulgence of denigrating their own people. First we had their whoops of delight that the small-minded anti foreigner party could pick up a seat here thus, in their logic, proving Scotland was as anti immigrant as anywhere else. Victory!
Indeed it was noticeable at the referendum debate in East Kilbride on Friday last that the Unionists now throw at the audience the assertion that Salmond wants a million immigrants. He doesn’t of course, in that I can find no such figure attributed to him. Our net immigration appears to average about 22,000 a year and he’s said we might look for another 2000 a year. It was, I think, Labour itself that claimed more were needed to avoid a pensions crisis – possibly adding up to a million by the middle of the century. That’s 2050, in 36 year’s time. That would be, if remotely true, 37,000 incomers a year on average, or an increase over a generation of 15,000 a year on current numbers. This is an arbitrary figures dreamt up by Labour, remember and I don’t believe that shocks even doubtful Scots when immigration adds to our economy the way it does. But we should be wary of ‘one million immigrants’ statements because it is unquestionably a dog whistle gambit aimed at bringing racism into the debate.
On Twitter there is now a similar perversion over the Iraq war which they are pleased to present to us as ‘not illegal.’ This is the same type of revisionism which tries to portray Scots as just as racist and just as bellicose as anybody else. (You see the trend – don’t get above yourself, don’t aspire, just accept that you’re no different and you don’t need a separate government). Not that they’re anti-Scottish, of course.
So, if we ignore Kofi Annan’s statement that it was illegal, the accepted world view outside of the culpable Security Council, Hans Blix, the Dutch government’s unanimous report and the advice to the Blair government by all 27 attorneys in their Foreign Affairs Office that war on Iraq was unlawful, they have a point. No court decreed it illegal. Which court would that be?
The information about the legal advice was disclosed at the Chilcot inquiry by the testimony of Foreign Affairs leading legal advisor, Sir Michael Wood, who added that the reply from Prime Minister Tony Blair’s office was chastisement for putting their unanimous legal opinion in writing.
Sir Michael testified that Foreign Secretary Jack Straw preferred to take the legal position that the laws governing war were vague and open to broad interpretation: “He took the view that I was being very dogmatic and that international law was pretty vague and that he wasn’t used to people taking such a firm position.”
The pattern of the right wing Unionist assault is to absolve Britain from culpability. It is to be written off as a left wing nationalist agenda when ordinary people ‘know there was no illegal war and Saddam had it coming anyway’. Further, of course, the Scottish Parliament voted in support of war – well done, Johann – so Scots also endorsed the ‘legal’ invasion which wasn’t all that bad at all…
In fact, that vote under a Labour/Lib Dem administration demonstrated exactly why we need to escape the reach of Westminster. It was imperative that Labour MSPs supported Blair in his endeavor for the sake of the party when any poll of Labour members would have been massively against war.
These are desperate days in the campaign. The pressure is ratcheting up and we must remember what this about. We ARE a nation. We deserve our own government. With it we will create a non-racist, peaceful and prosperous country. No illegal wars. No discrimination. No penalising the poor. No nuclear weapons. No House of Lords. No blank cheques for bankers.
Oh, and no killing children with drones, Mr President…by