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Last Updated: Wednesday, 20 April 2005, 12:56 GMT 13:56 UK
UK voters' panel: Keith Brockie

MEET THE PANEL
Keith Brockie
Name: Keith Brockie
Age: 32
Lives: Falkirk, Scotland
Works: IT analyst
Current voting intention: SNP
In 10 words or less:
"Scottish, left wing, environmentally aware, altruistic, egalitarian, scientist, atheist, sceptical"

I care about Scotland's place in Europe.

Not being an independent state with full national member status of the EU has cost Scotland dearly - you only need ask our fishermen.

Scotland needs a place at the top table in Europe to negotiate for itself.

Our businesses lose out for not having the euro - they have to pay exchange rate costs when trading within the eurozone - putting them at an obvious competitive disadvantage.

The EU is the world's largest free trade area and yet Scotland's businesses - saddled with the pound and Scotland's "regional" status in Europe - pay huge sums to trade within the EU.

The smaller countries of Europe are its success stories. Look at the 'Celtic Tiger' economy of Ireland and the standard of living in Sweden, Denmark, and Holland.

VOTERS' PANEL: EUROPE
Norway, with a quarter of the oil reserves of Scotland, has a standard of living many times that of Scotland.

Scotland has some of the most deprived areas and worst housing in Europe. The poverty these people have to suffer proves there is nothing great about being British.

I want to see closer European integration and the introduction of the euro in the UK as soon as possible - for Scotland's sake.

Whilst the London parties have been quiet on it in this election, for fear of it being a vote loser, the SNP at least believes Scotland's place at the heart of Europe is a must.

To build the Scotland I want to live in - a fair, compassionate, socially just and inclusive Scotland - we need independence in Europe. We need to speak for ourselves and not have to go via London to get to Brussels.


Your comments:

Scotland as an independent country would be an equal with others within the European Union, something we have never been in the UK, this is all that we ask. English people only oppose independence as they see it as losing power. What we want and deserve is that power back for ourselves. And to Matthew Bennett, and others, I would say to consider the oil revenue which is stolen from our country to fund public services in your own.
Siobhan, Glasgow

Interesting that Mr Brockie encourages us to join the Euro by comparing Scotland not only to non-EU member Norway, but also to Sweden and Denmark, which have both voted in referendums not to join the Euro.
Jonathan Sargant, York

Scotland won't have a voice, it will be a very small country with very few MEPs in a very large European Union
Bruce V Fox, Bournemouth, UK
It's very strange to me that SNP supporters want independence, but also want to be part of Europe. Scotland won't have a voice, it will be a very small country with very few MEPs in a very large European Union. Dream on if you think you will be at the head of the table in Europe. Even Wales, Scotland and Ireland combined has a smaller economy than England! But then again as an Englishman I want to be separated from the Celtic Bloc and have our own English Parliament.
Bruce V Fox, Bournemouth, UK

Keith is living in the SNP dreamland of independence within Europe. An independent Scotland would have no chance of getting what it wants out of EU negotiations, simply because it would be just another small country fighting to get its face into the trough. I'm confused as to why Keith would want to swap the UK pound (with a central bank and government taking Scottish concerns into account when making interest rate decisions) for an entirely unaccountable European Central Bank making (mostly bad) decisions in the interests of the industrialised core of Europe (France, Germany, Italy) and ignoring everyone else.
Paul Eberlein, Ottawa, Canada

You forget about the fact that English taxpayers fund Scotland's hospitals, schools, and free care for the elderly. I wonder how Scotland would fare without that subsidy.
Matthew Bennett, Cambridge, UK

If the fish quotas were imposed to conserve stocks, why are our waters being fished by Spanish registered vessels? Sweden, Denmark and Holland have always had a higher standard of living than the UK, and in Holland in particular people are strongly opposed to the continued use of the euro and their continued membership of the EU. If the EU was any good, their economy would have outperformed ours consistently over the years, but the only par we are developing with them is the increase in corruption amongst those who hold public office. If Scotland wants improvement it is going to have to look to itself.
John Dickinson, Cheltenham, UK

The EU controls fishing. If you want to leave the UK, but remain in the EU, surely you'll be getting the exact same deal.
Chris Brooks, Doncaster, England

The EU would be far better for Scotland, Wales and NI than London has been
Richard Martin, Pentyrch, Wales
I think the comparison with Norway's a bit off the mark, but as someone who is going to vote for Welsh independence I feel totally in touch with Keith's comments. The EU is not the utopian, environmentally conscious government Keith suggests, but it'd be far better for Scotland, Wales and NI than London has been.
Richard Martin, Pentyrch, Wales

Does Keith Brockie not understand that the euro is one of the most useless currencies on earth. A one size fits all economy is useless for all the differing economies in Europe. It may well be the largest trading area but it also has the most red tape. There is mass unemployment all across Europe with many countries wishing they could get their old currencies back. The stability and growth pact, the agreement that underpins the euro, has also been ignored by many countries. Why anyone would want to leave sterling for this is beyond me. It is only a matter of time before the break up of the whole sorry European project.
Simon Frain, Stoke on Trent, England

I'd be more than happy to have an independent Scotland. This way it'd only receive a subsidy from Europe as opposed to from London and Europe. Goodbye and good luck!
Anon, London

If Keith imagines that Scotland will get a new deal on fisheries he's wrong. The EU Commission has already said that independent Scottish membership isn't automatic and no policies are open to renegotiation by an independent Scotland. As for his 'small state' examples, Ireland's economy has been heavily funded by the EU but this prop will disappear, as the funds are having to be spread more thinly, post enlargement. As for Norway, they've never been in the EU!
Peter Mason, Chelmsford, Essex, UK

To SNP supporters like Keith who quote Norway as being like what their independent Scotland would be: I would like to ask them to put a few more of the facts on the table to round off their comparison, such as tax (far higher than in the UK), much higher cost of living, conscripted military service, ID cards for everybody, far higher sense of social responsibility to the community in which you live, and most important of all - not a member of the EU (although all businesses have to comply with EU legislation). The 'Celtic Tiger' economy he speaks of was fuelled solely by EU handouts, nothing else. Maybe that's what Keith wants. If so, Scotland (if accepted for membership) would have to stand in line behind quite a few new member states.
Bill Woodcock, Stavanger, Norway

I work in the oil industry so I would just like to clarify that the UK (or Scotland if you like) does not have four times the oil reserves of Norway. Norwegian oil reserves (including those already produced) are roughly comparable with the UK.
Mark, London, UK

Keith Brockie says he would like Scotland to be a separate member of the EU and quotes fishermen's interests and the living standard of Norway as two examples. Yes, Norway flourishes and, as opposed to the EU, has not over fished its seas. Why? Many believe it is because Norway, in two referendums, has voted not to join the EU!
Paul Bellamy, Oslo, Norway

Why do you think that "full member status" will get your fishermen a better deal in Europe? The fisherman want to fish more than they are allowed at present. If they do, there will be less fish and the fishermen will lose out anyway. Europe is forced to make unpopular decisions about conserving stocks because no one else will. Then political opportunists try to exploit this with demands that are unrealistic and counter-productive.
Geoff Payne, London, England





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