Thursday, July 12, 2012
Alex Salmond told by Information Commissioner to reveal if he took legal advice on EU membership, since when is the truth not in public interest?
Awhile ago the BBC ran programme called the Big Debate hosted in Pacific Quay in Glasgow by Isobel Fraser.
It was very interesting to be part of the studio audience and see the workings of how a programme is made.
During the debate, Tory leader Ruth Davidson pulled out a letter from the EU which stated that the SNP Government hadn’t had any discussions regarding EU membership.
The SNP had never been in contact either as a government or as a party of opposition.
The letter completely blew Nicola Sturgeon out of the water and for others in the party who spoke to me afterwards they couldn’t believe what they were hearing.
The defence that Nicola Sturgeon put forward amounted to her saying that ex commissioners had been asked and they had said yes.
So, what weight does their opinion hold?
Exactly they same as a guy down the pub, it’s just an opinion; it isn’t legal and carries no weight in court of law or anywhere else.
To be blunt there is no contract between the EU and the Scottish Government, therefore EU membership is dependent on being part of the UK.
They hold the sovereign agreement and the treaties.
Now, Alex Salmond has been ordered to reveal if he has received legal advice on whether an independent Scotland could join the European Union.
Can Scotland join the European Union?
Yes, but only as a new member and that means the SNP Government would sign up Scotland to joining the Euro further down the line.
Scotland’s Information Commissioner has ruled that Scottish ministers were wrong to impose the equivalent of a super-injunction by refusing to say whether they had such advice.
When the SNP took government they made allsorts of promises regarding openness, transparency and the public’s right to know.
By withhold the information, this creates an air of distrust, although some people make think they are being clever, they are actually being quite stupid.
In a detailed judgment, Rosemary Agnew said the Scottish Government had broken Freedom of Information (FoI) laws and gave it six weeks to confirm or deny the existence of the material.
Will people vote for independence when doubt exists into their trustworthiness and integrity?
No, they will not is the simple answer.
The failure to be transparent make cover up the fact that the work hasn’t be done temporarily but the truth will always eventually get out.
And the truth does more damage to the SNP Government than they can possibly imagine.
And all this embarrassment for Alex Salmond and SNP ministers is because they tried to be cute.
Their argument it is “not in the public interest” to tell the truth is laughable.
The SNP claims an independent Scotland would count as successor state and therefore entitled to membership is nonsense.
Where’s the contract?
The Information Commissioner’s ruling comes more than a year after Labour MEP Catherine Stihler first asked ministers for a copy of their legal advice regarding the status of Scotland within the EU in the event of separation.
The government rejected her FoI request, and her subsequent appeal.
External Affairs Secretary Fiona Hyslop wrote to Ms Stihler saying:
“We consider that to reveal whether or not the information you have requested exists, or is held by the Scottish government, would be contrary to the public interest.”
The Information Commissioner’s ruling said if legal advice did exist, ministers must either provide the information to Ms Stihler or explain why it is judged to be exempt from disclosure. If it did not exist, they should notify Ms Stihler that they do not hold the information.
The government said it was considering the judgment.
Tell the truth, either be up front and do the work required for independence or put independence back to my preferred date of June 2018.
Ms Stihler said:
“This is a landmark judgment, and I am absolutely delighted. People have a right to know whether an independent Scotland would be part of the EU and on what terms, but the SNP want to keep it secret. The pressure on the SNP to release this advice is now overwhelming. They should just be straight with us: tell us whether the advice exists, and if it does, release it now.”
A government can be seen as heartless and survive, but once it becomes lodged in the minds of the public they are hopeless, they are finished.
The currency of independence is the truth.
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University