Part 2 of a record of the conversations between German national Ellen Höfer living in Scotland and Scot Laura Muncie living in Germany
Ellen, the impression I get is there are broadly 2 camps when speaking about Brexit and Scottish independence. One group who believe independence for Scotland will compound Brexit problems. The other group believes independence during or after the Brexit process would alleviate negative Brexit effects.
Do you think that? I have been out the country for a while so am not as in touch with what the public think.
It is important to remember that in Scotland while 62% voted to remain in the EU, 38% voted to leave it. That is not a small number. But you’ve got a fair point. People forget that Holyrood was helped by the EU through EU rules that pushed member states to extend democracy across their communities. It helped give meaningful power to the devolved administrations.
These devolved powers can be taken away just as easily. To delay a referendum vote until after Brexit would be insanity in my view. Waiting till after Brexit means Holyrood would have no protection and the question would be, why would the UK Government then agree to a referendum that they don’t want to have?
I didn’t know that devolution has been helped by EU involvement.
Lots of people don’t know that, and that’s one problem. Rather like the EU citizens who blend into the population, EU policies have as well. Unfortunately as a result the only things people see are the EU initiatives that are not working. Everything that is working, which is significant, is not noticed.
Farming subsidies for example, that is sometimes held up as an EU problem. But there was a report that said the UK Government delayed payments to the Scottish farmers. The money was there from the EU. The UK was holding that money and it was not getting distributed properly. The EU is made the scapegoat and people believe it.
If you compare the UK Parliament to the German Parliament, is the German Parliament as dysfunctional as you feel Westminster is? What’s your impression?
Even though Germany has had a conservative Chancellor and Government for a while, it has proven to be more liberal than even the Labour party in the UK is proving to be. There is something quite broken about Westminster. There is reluctance to change even to a more representative voting system. It seems to be set up against the people. Westminster resists removing class barriers that come with having a House of Lords. What do we need them for? Apparently now we need them (House of Lords) because they have more of a conscience than the Government.
Germany is used to having to form coalitions. Coalitions as weak as they appear to people, have the upside of creating skill. You have more voices at the table and compromise happens. Compromise is a way forward.
People in the UK for some reason like the Tory power stance, but then aren’t happy with the results of it. What is lacking there? Compromise.
Compromise that has a human element to it. When you watch Westminster MPs they are eternally frustrated by the system.
What impressed me was soon after the result Nicola Sturgeon got out in front of the cameras and made it clear to EU citizens she appreciated their contribution to Scotland. That statement showed the human element you mention. I think if the Tory party are serious about keeping the UK together never mind anything else, they should look at alternative solutions for Scotland. It would keep the UK united and give the Scots a bit of what they want. For me the Scottish Parliament is important because it has provided a counterweight moderate voice to otherwise harsh rhetoric.
The UK Gov did try to give Scotland a bit of what it wanted with The Vow during the Independence referendum but then they didn’t follow through on The Vow.
While political parties breaking promises happens everywhere, there are systems to uphold accountability. The systems to hold politicians to account keep failing in the UK.
Ellen is creative director of the group EU Citizens for an Independent Scotland.
The group has organised an event Jock Tamson’s Europe fest to be held in Dundee 14th July that will host guest speaker Nicholas Hatton founder of group The 3 Million.
The 3 Million has been involved in talks with the EU parliament and at Westminster in progressing discussion about citizen rights post Brexit.