If there’s one thing we all ought to grudgingly respect about the No campaign, it’s its ability to get all its ducks in a row and pump out an absolutely united and consistent lie. It’s a lot like a World War 1 artillery barrage – impressive in the sheer co-ordinated brute force of its display, even if it’s in fact completely useless in achieving its desired objective and ultimately leads only to a slaughter of its own troops.
Jose Manuel Barroso must be marvelling at it today. Time after time after time he’s quite unmistakeably said “I am NOT referring to Scotland, I’m talking in generalities”, only for the British media to report it, with a single unified voice, as the EC President making clear and specific proclamations directly about Scotland.
With a lack of professional journalistic self-respect that in a taking-one-for-the-team sort of way is almost admirable, Alan Cochrane leads the line for the Telegraph today:
“And so, yesterday, we had the denouement in an interview on BBC TV’s Hardtalk. In the clearest of terms, in words of one syllable, slowly and surely but allowing for no misinterpretation, or textual analysis, Mr Barroso spelt out the facts.
If Scotland decided to be independent – something, he added, that it has a “sovereign right to do” – it would be a new state and as such it would have to apply for EU membership.”
The irony is overwhelming – Cochrane actively and blatantly misrepresents Barroso in the very same breath that he claims the President’s comments were absolutely un-misinterpretable. It is a simple matter of empirical fact that Barroso did NOT say Scotland would be a new state, either in the BBC interview or his letter. He couldn’t possibly have been more clear that he was NOT speaking about Scotland’s specific and unique situation, but about general principles.
Yet the Unionist media seems to have just driven a tank over the inconvenient reality and blithely asserted that Senor Barroso was doing the exact, precise thing he so carefully and repeatedly said he wasn’t doing.
“The SNP Government was on collision course with the European Commission last night after Nicola Sturgeon refused to accept a ruling by the body’s president that a newly independent Scotland would have to apply for membership of the EU.” (The Scotsman)
“An independent Scotland would be outside the EU and face joining the euro if it wants membership, the president of the European Commission said yesterday.” (The Scottish Daily Express, adding a whole extra layer of misrepresentation to Barroso’s comments, which didn’t mention the Euro at all)
“Barroso: it’s ‘obvious’ independent Scotland must re-apply for EU membership” (The Herald, being careful about which bits it puts in actual quotes despite the whole headline being attributed to the President)
“José Manuel Barroso: Independent Scotland not EU member” (The Telegraph with just one of many similar headlines in the paper on the story)
“Barroso: no automatic entry to EU for Scotland” (The Times)
For the elimination of any last remaining sliver of doubt, we decided the only sensible thing to do was get an official response from the European Commission itself. An alert reader dropped the Commission a line after the BBC interview went public:
“Scotland is a founder member of the United Kingdom, the two parliaments of England and Scotland were joined in 1707 by a Treaty between nation states. Scotland is not, therefore, a region of England or the UK becoming independent, but a signatory to the EU treaty through its partnership in the Union.
Is President Barroso therefore saying that Scotland is a “mere region” breaking away, or are the circumstances he outlined inapplicable in these circumstances?
Thank you for your time”
The reply arrived just before 7pm last night. (Our emphasis.)
“The European Commission has not commented on a specific scenario – it will only give its legal opinion on a specific scenario, if requested to by a Member State (in this case, the UK Government).”
It doesn’t seem ambiguous, does it? It’s rather odd that so much of the UK media has somehow managed to arrive at such a markedly different – some might say just plain wrong – conclusion. We’re sure the misunderstanding will be cleared up soon.