In Westminster the debates on the Queen's Speech go on and the SNP representatives, having made themselves somewhat objectionable by their behaviour in and out of the Chamber, are settling down though they will insist on wearing a white rose, which they insist is that of Scotland while others suggest might be of Yorkshire. We suspect that discussion will run on and on.

One of the speakers in the debate was Stephen Gethins, MP for North East Fife, an almost unexpected victory for his party, and the SNP spokesman for Europe. He is also a man who has spent his career in the NGO sector, much of which receives money from the EU. As has been pointed out on this blog, the SNP stand on "Europe" is somewhat incoherent and, at present, they seem to be against the IN/OUT referendum, with Nicola Sturgeon, the incoming First Minister maintaining that it would be undemocratic to impose the results of that referendum on Scotland.

There are two points that Ms Sturgeon seems to have ignored. One is the obvious one that the people of Scotland had voted decisively to stay in the United Kingdom and did so in the full knowledge that there might soon be an EU referendum, which will be done on a national and not regional basis. Unless Ms Sturgeon is arguing that the people of Scotland are uniquely stupid and, therefore, their opinion can be set aside as being of no real value backed by no understanding, she had better accept that. We may add that if Ms Sturgeon really knew Scottish history and the history of Scotland in the world, she would realize how very untrue that is.

Secondly, as we have suggested before, it is not impossible that in the IN/OUT referendum Scotland as a whole will also vote for the UK to come out of the European Union. What then? What will Ms Sturgeon say then?

Back to Mr Gethins, who made a very creditable maiden speech, observing all the rules, thanking the Speaker for the help the new boys and girls on the block had been given and referring with admiration though obvious political disagreement to his predecessor in North East Fife, Sir Menzies Campbell.

He then enumerated the various developments in his constituency, all of which require international trade, something we would have even outside the EU but, clearly Mr Gethins thinks that because the products of the excellent distilleries in his constituency need to be and will be sold, we ought to start thinking about a common EU defence policy. Not a particularly logical thought.

However, it seems that not everything in the garden is lovely:

None of us on the SNP Benches is saying Europe does not need reforms. The common fisheries policy has had a devastating impact on communities across my constituency in the East Neuk of Fife and elsewhere across Scotland, as my colleagues will testify. Similarly, the expensive practice of moving the Parliament from Brussels to Strasbourg every month defies any logic in these times of straitened budgets.

Gosh, really? You mean the devastation that the CFP wrought on the British fishing industry is in the same category as the, admittedly ridiculous, monthly circus of moving the European Parliament from Brussels to Strasbourg (which is also written into the treaties, incidentally)? Do Mr Gethins's constituents know that his thinking is along those lines?

More to the point, exactly how does Mr Gethins propose to reform the fisheries policy in any meaningful way while we stay in it and in the EU?


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