The Club had quite a festive air for this innovative event with a significant number of wives and guests present in the audience. A panel of four experts comprising Elspeth Attwooll, former MEP and Academic, Neil Rollings, Professor of Economic and Business History, Emmanuel Mourlon-Druol, Lord Kelvin Adam Smith Fellow, and our own Fred Hay, retired economist all contributed their brief perspective on the forthcoming Referendum. This was followed by a lively and robust question and answer session.
There was too much ground covered to replicate here. However, in terms of ‘facts’ not widely known, Dermot Kennedy managed to elicit from the panel that Scotland had been the biggest recipient of EU largesse of regional funding in the UK since the UK joined. In addition, despite the overall negative flow of money to EU Coffers, Scotland is a net recipient of EU monies. And, that the Highlands and Islands, a early beneficiary of EU Regional Funds was no longer eligible for support because of improvements to the region’s economy, demonstrating the positive benefits of EU regional policy. However, Neil Macintosh and Richard Mowbray added spice, a frisson even, to the discussion clearly nailing their Leave Flag to the mast. Richard’s brief litany of EU failures – single market ‘rubbish’, defense failures made good by non-EU forces, who knows the name of their MEP, etc – drew applause from the audience. Robin Leake had the challenging task of bringing the discussion to an end, it could have run on for some time.
So everyone got interesting new insights to the EU and Referendum. Will it make it any easier to cast our votes? Possibly not. Perhaps, as Fred Hay said at the end of his contribution, the issues take on a spiritual quality.