The Scottish National Party topped the poll in the 2009 European Parliament elections across Scotland. The SNP won all over Scotland – in the north, south, east, west and across the central belt. We won the popular vote in 22 of Scotlandʼs 32 Local Authority areas on June 4th.
This historic result was a massive vote of confidence in the successful SNP Government, two years into its first four-year term, and an endorsement of the SNPʼs unrivalled record in standing up for Scotland in the EU. More people than ever before have confidence in the SNP and believe that Scotland has what it takes to prosper as an independent nation.
The Euro election campaign inevitably focused on the contrast between two governments. In Scotland the SNP government is demonstrating competence, credibility and success, while Gordon Brown's Westminster government dithers its way from crisis to crisis as the Labour Party's vote disintegrates. The result was Labourʼs lowest share of the vote in Scotland since before World War 1 and it was a poor result for both the Tories and the Lib Dems too, who have also gone into reverse since the last European election!
SNP Euro candidates, Westminster candidates and campaign teams across the country took our campaign to the doorsteps and deserve to feel very satisfied with the results of their efforts. With a Westminster general election in the not too distant future, and possible by-election contests looming, we must all keep up the momentum of campaigning through the next few months and onward to independence.
Within a week of the result being declared your SNP MEPs were back in Brussels to start the complicated process of re-establishing political groupings and negotiating for places on the various committees and delegations which will be convened. Along with European Free Alliance colleagues who were elected in Wales, Catalonia, Corsica, Latvia and Flanders, the SNP are working towards renewing our working arrangement with the European Greens.
In June the heads of government of the 27 EU member states met in Brussels at a summit meeting to consider a number of important issues, including the nomination of the President of the new European Commission, the effects of the current recession, climate change and sustainable development and the prospect of a second referendum in Ireland on the Treaty of Lisbon.
The Irish government have successfully negotiated a set of guarantees which were unanimously approved by the summit, in the hope that Irish voters would be reassured that the Lisbon Treaty will not undermine key areas of importance to Ireland.
On the EUʼs common security and defence policy, the new protocol states "It does not prejudice the security and defence policy of each Member State including Ireland". The EU 27 also state "The Treaty of Lisbon does not provide for the creation of a European army or for conscription to any military formation". On Taxation, Ireland has won an assurance that "Nothing in the Treaty of Lisbon makes any change of any kind, for any Member State, to the extent or operation of the competence of the European Union in relation to taxation."
Once again our neighbours across the Irish Sea demonstrate how much influence can be brought to bear by an independent Member State government within the European Union. Scotland too could have this kind of power and influence. The results of the European election provide an impetus for the SNP to advance towards winning normal independent status for Scotland. Let us make it happen!