Alan Sked:No, I think the people voted for it merely as a protest vote. They are absolutely not interested in the European Parliament. There have been dozens of UKIP MEPs going back to 1999. They don’t do anything constructive there, they just go to take the money, the expenses and get pensions. Their leader, Nigel Farage – it is claimed that he has taken 2 million pounds in expenses, although he hardly ever turns up, he doesn’t go to key meetings, he avoids key debates, as do most of the others; two of his MEPs have been put in jail for fraud. They are really a very sad reflection of protest politics. They are not very bright and people vote for them really to show contempt for the EU, and its institutions.
SS: I know, but whatever the reason is, David Cameron has promised that referendum on British exit – what do you expect from that? Do you think that will ever take place?
AS: I think there will be a referendum in the next two or three years. For one thing, it’s quite possible that the federalists inside the EU Commission and the federalists inside the Parliament will want to push further toward the goal of ever closer union, in which case a new treaty will be required, and if a new treaty is required, there would have to be a referendum, and it would be very difficult not to make that an in-and-out referendum, given the political conditions in Britain. As for Cameron’s own pledge of the referendum, well that’s entire dependent on David Cameron’s winning the next general election. That doesn’t look too likely at present, I’d put my money on Labour just now. But he might win, and if he wins and doesn’t have a majority, it’s not clear that he could get a referendum bill through Parliament.
SS: What are your thoughts – why would he make this promise in the first place? I mean, did he all of a sudden become a genuine Eurosceptic, or is it really all for the votes?
AS: No, no, David Cameron has no principles whatsoever, if you examine records of his speeches, and what he’s written over the course of his political career, it’s entirely opportunistic and contradictory. He just thinks he should be there in power, he doesn’t actually know why, he just likes it. He’s not there because he has an ideology, a set of principles, he’s there because he wants to possess power. So, he’s opportunistic, and because there were fissures inside the Conservative Party, largely caused by what looked like the rise of UKIP, then he made promises which he thought would stifle debate about Europe inside the Tory party. But, remember, UKIP only got to that situation because the Liberal Democrats went into a coalition, and then although UKIP had no policies as such, they became the default party of protest, which the Lib-Dems used to be.
SS: I want to talk about another hot topic, which is the Scottish referendum – what do you predict for it? Do you think Scotland will go it alone?
AS: Well, I’m Scottish myself and I have a home in the Scottish highlands… One of the problems about Scotland is related to the EU. I wrote an article about this in the Sunday Times and I pressed this point, but it doesn’t really get anywhere, but it’s a very vital one. That is the case against the Scottish nationalists and the independence lobby – is that they are all fakes. I mean, Alex Salmond isn’t promising independence, all he is doing is promising that Scotland will become a separate province of the EU. Scots wouldn’t even get a Scottish passport, they got EU passports. Scottish law will remain subordinate to European law; Scottish agricultural prices for Scottish farmers will be decided in Brussels, Scottish fish quotas for Scottish fishermen would be decided in Brussels; Scottish social policy, in fact, every policy, foreign and defense policy and probably energy policy, including the declining resources of Scottish oil, would all be controlled by Brussels. So, he’s offering a deal whereby Scotland will become like Greece or Portugal, and become a minor economy inside the EU, and would have its budget within the Eurozone, would have its budget controlled by Commissioners in Brussels and by Germans, say – he’s making Scotland a small province of what the Greeks already see as a Greater Germany and he’s calling this “independence” – it’s a farce! But, Cameron and Miliband and Clegg can’t say this because of the restriction that would remain on Scotland inside the EU – of course they support restrictions on England and the rest of the United Kingdom. So we can’t have a proper debate about Scottish independence, because the fact is that Scottish independence won’t exist, Scotland will just become a tiny province of the EU with about 7 MEPs in the EU Parliament as opposed 56 MPs in the British one. All of this can’t be mentioned because you can’t criticize the EU if you’re in one of the big mainstream parties.
SS: But just a “yes” or “no” question – do you think the Scots will vote “yes” or “no”?
AS: It’s very tight just now. I think they will vote “No,” and I certainly hope they will vote “No.”