Manuel Barroso, Lucinda Creighton, Edgars Rinkevics and Jean Asselborn all have in common?
Before answering, I should warn you, this is a political post, there are no whimsical digressions about doughnuts, smart phones or cooking pasta in the kettle, as ever; move along if you're not interested.
The answer? They all responded to questions posed by BBC journalists about EU membership and had their answers twisted to support the status quo (Francis Rossi and Nick Parfitt were thrilled.) So far so swivel-eyed? Well, you might say that but apart from the odd opinion piece, no part of the Scottish press contingent takes a positive view on Independence, the BBC has openly said, since it isn't an official referendum organisation it can be as biased as it likes (and it is: "we are not in an official referendum campaign and therefore do not have to balance it out between yes and no." was the email answer a licence payer received after making a complaint.)
Concentrating here on the BBC, I don't watch BBC Scotland news output religiously and I reckon you don't either, but generally; try to think of one positive argument a BBC news correspondent has ever said, however grudgingly, about Scottish independence?
The names at the top of this post are the beginnings of growing list of representatives from other EU countries the BBC have contacted in order to collate opinion on Scotland's position with the EU if it gains independence.
Now I fully understand the EU is really boring, hold on, let me rephrase that: really fucking boring - but the press (I suspect at Better Together's behest) have latched onto it as an area of weakness for Nationalists, so the BBC and the execrable Scotsman etc are pumping out as much bile as they can on the topic.
But what is the argument exactly? The SNP and Yes Scotland have always accepted there would need to be negotiations with the EU if a yes vote is secured in 2014, Scotland would officially become responsible for itself in 2016, in between times; the Scottish Government and civil service would negotiate terms from within the EU, any new obligations would come into play in 2016, (in March of that year as it happens.)
In short, the old obligations would end at midnight, the new ones would begin at midnight plus one minute on independence day in March 2016.
Better Together say, if a yes vote is won, all current agreements between the new Scotland the EU would end instantly (they don't quite say when but are happy for people to assume at the point the count is finished and Alex Salmond starts pumping the air with his fist,) ramifications include extreme uncertainty for EU citizens currently working in Scotland, Border controls shooting up at Carter Bar and more generally; no one in Europe will play with us any more.
Manuel Barroso said new countries would need to negotiate entrance, which is not at odds with what Yes Scotland and the SNP claim. The BBC attempted to infer Scotland would need to start a membership application as a non-member state if a yes vote is given in 2014. Essentially, the BBC put words into Mr Barroso's mouth he did not utter about a country he was not talking about. Even their (the BBC's) clarification was half-arsed and disproved their own assertion, although from the headline, you'd think the opposite was true.
Lucinda Creighton, the Irish EU affairs minister had to write to Nicola Sturgeon to clarify what she'd said in her interview with Raymond Buchanan, the BBC again tried to mangle the opinion of a third party. Ms Creighton said: "I am concerned that an interview which I conducted with the BBC is being
misconstrued..." and "I thought that my reply was largely in line with that of the Scottish
Government. I certainly did not at any stage suggest that Scotland could,
should or would be thrown out of the EU." This was at odds with what Ray (can I call you Ray?) reported in his side bar here and what has been repeated since then by the rest of the Scottish press.
Edgar Rinkevics was next in line for the treatment, this time by way of the BBC's Glen Campbell here. Mr Rinkevics said; "If Scotland clears independence, it is a new country. The procedure of admitting a new member to the EU would have to be followed. All the chapters of negotiations have to be opened, duly negotiated and then closed." and went on to say the process should be a "bit quicker" because Scotland is already in the EU, which is what Yes Scotland and the SNP have been saying for years.
(Westminster's view on its own position in the EU between 2014 and 2016 if we vote yes, is it would carry on as before, although the exact same Edgars Rinkevics mentioned above doesn't think so, although you'll not get that from the BBC...)
Finally, Jean Asselborn, Luxembourg's foreign Minister said: "As we are all facing serious economic and social challenges, this is a time for
solidarity between Member States of the EU and within Member States, rather than
for going separate ways." - Which seems unequivocal, except, he went on to say - "This being said, Scotland's constitutional future is a matter to be decided by
the people of Scotland." In a further clarification on a Luxembourg news site a Luxembourg Government spokesman said “The BBC chose to present the position of the minister in opposition. Whereas it
was more nuanced than that, It's a reflection which is valid
for all member states, not to go their separate ways.” While you could claim this was a simple misunderstanding on the BBC's part, in the current context, its pretty hard to swallow.
The reporter went on to say: "It would seem that there was no misunderstanding on the part of Scotland's
parliament, which interpreted the minister's comment as directed at the UK's
anti-Europe stance." So, nothing to do with Scotland at all then, more to do with Westminster's planned referendum on EU membership in 2017, or is it 18, its hard to remember, what with all the uncertainty...
The BBC has asked all 27 member states (plus Croatia which joins in July 2013) what they think will happen to Scotland and its relationship with the EU after a yes vote in 2014 and independence day in March 2016 (remember, there will be a period of time in between the two.) Estonia, Hungary and Slovakia have answered by saying clarification is required and going by the topic of this blog, Ireland, Luxembourg, Latvia and Spain could do with some clarity on the issue too.
Instead though, we have BBC News Scotland abetted by the rest of the Scottish Press contingent for the benefit of Better Together; obfuscating, misrepresenting and bending statements to meet its own political aspiration, namely the continuance of its position of so-called authority in Scottish news output.
The final irony is, the only government which can ask for that clarity is the one BBC Scotland seem so intent on propping up: The UK Government, a.k.a Westminster.
I don't know about any one else, but surely something is wrong with this picture?