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Friday, 20 January 2012

The UK’s nuclear panic - and devo max

To see oorsel’s as ithers see us - Al Jazeera - Breaking up Britain? 19th Jan 2012

Among the many perceptive insights in this article are these -

When independence comes “the UK will lose 90 per cent of its oil and gas reserves in the North Sea and almost half its land mass.”

Malcolm Rifkind (“who is himself a ScotAye, right) says "It would certainly open up the question of permanent membership of the Security Council in a way that would be quite awkward for the UK."

Professor Malcolm Chalmers, Research Director at the Royal United Strategic Institute, notes the central nature of the nuclear issue, and the desperation of the UK to force Scotland to retain the bases. The observation is made that if the bases go after independence, “it is a real possibility that the UK could be left with no operational nuclear deterrent because the submarines could not be safely berthed.”

The article also notes that “The ability to continue formulating its own policy is also a factor motivating Scotland's drive [towards] independence.”

And there you have it in a nutshell - defence, the nuclear bases and the UK’s status in world affairs hang on Scotland’s independence, and nothing else really matters as much to the Unionists.

I’ve said a lot about the nuclear and defence issues over the years, and you can find my views by looking down the right hand index of blog search terms.

But the essence is this, for me at least -

1. I want a nuclear-free Scotland, and the only way to achieve this is full independence. I am totally and utterly opposed to the concept of the nuclear deterrent and WMDs.

2. I do not want anyone other than the Scottish Government that I elected to commit my country to war and to foreign engagements.

3. I do not want anyone other than the Scottish Government that I elected to send our servicemen and women into harms way and to die.

4. I am not a pacifist, and believe in conventional defence forces, and in joining with other countries in international military operations, e.g. peacekeeping operations or strategic interventions that Scotland supports.

The only way to achieve these objectives is the full independence of Scotland as a nation, since all of the UK parties are committed to nuclear weapons and the ‘independent’ nuclear deterrent.

Independence delivers devo max, i.e full fiscal autonomy, by default. The price of devo max without independence exacted by the UK is -

1. Retention of Scottish nuclear bases.

2. Retention of the Trident weapons of mass destruction.

3. Retention of the concept of the nuclear deterrent.

4. Retention of the right of the Westminster Parliament to send Scottish servicemen and women to war, and to die.

If you want to retain the UK, by definition you are endorsing all of the above.

If you want devo max without independence, by definition you are endorsing all of the above.

If you want neither devo max nor independence, by definition you are endorsing all of the above.

The Labour Party, the Tory Party, the LibDems are committed to the UK, therefore they are committed to all of the above.


The media slide away from these issues whenever they can, and focus instead on the economy. The economy is important - defence issues are vital.

Unionist politicians slide away from these issues whenever they can, at least until they are driven into panic mode by being forced to face them, as  Jim Murphy has been today by  Alex Salmond’s position on Scotland defence forces and resources..

Last night on STV, a politician I have some respect for, Henry McLeish, slid away from these issues, because despite his realism on Scotland and Scottish politics, he is a Labour politician and shackled to nuclear weapons like the rest of them.

Until very recently, these issues, and therefore the lives of Scottish servicemen and women were in the hands of one Liam Fox, the then Defence Minister. The circumstances leading to his downfall - preceded by desperate attempts to defend him and prop him up by Tory politicians - told us all we need to know about the reality of defence matters, defence procurement and the M.O.D. when in such hands.

At the moment, more Scots seem to want devo max than want independence. If they reject independence, there is no guarantee they will get devo max, because it will then continue to be in the gift of the Westminster Parliament, and Scotland has no democratic way of securing it, nor any negotiating card to play.

If the Scottish voter in favour of independence cannot persuade those against it to change their minds, then we default to nuclear weapons, war and death.

It’s as simple as that, and nothing will ever compensate us for that fatal choice. Make it with care, Scottish voters.


  1. Peter

    McLeish on STV reminded me of "Boys from the black stuff" Gies a job.

    Was this the most subtle job application in history?

  2. If the DEVO MAX lot can muster a voice.

    I think a simple YES NO vote, then a second referendum on FFA if required.

    Mcleish - 1 of the 4 who were instrumental in giving away Scotland's sea territory to England.

  3. Interesting that the UK Government would be in full agreement with this article one hundred per cent. The last thing they want is devo max. Devo max is their worst nightmare. Independence isn't much of a nightmare becausde they know its highly unlickly Scotland will vote for such a massive change. Devo max is their biggest nightmare because they see it as the surest way of Scotland gaining independence, because whether they went along with it and introduced it or not it would still act as the necessary stepping stone to a successful independence vote.

  4. I don't see it that way as you know, Alex, but it is a point of view shared by many nationalists and maybe the FM? It is a scenario that appears to terrify some unionists.


  5. I think better of him than that, Dubbieside. He's an honpourable man, and has something to contribute Scotland. Scotland matters to him. But, like all Labour people, he has to make the painful leap of repudiating the UK.

  6. Devo max is a trap for the unionists as it is they who are required to research, collate and propose any content with the caveat of this non-devolved criteria remaining in the remit of Westminster - a significant trap for Scotland.
    I maintain that it will be what devo max leaves out that may be the decider for many more to vote Yes to Independence. Devo max cannot contain too little (why bother - may as well vote for Independence)or too much (may as well vote for Independence).
    It will be intriguing to see if devo max writers-in-waiting are anxious for the SNP paper next week to nick the best ideas and leave out the more complex and contentious?
    Perhaps I just haven't been listening - but so far I've heard nothing that resembles any devo max content - although some at Holyrood whose attitude was described as "anti-Scottish" missed a perfect opportunity to illustrate their alluded pro-Scottishness by availing us of a few of their devo max propositions? Like Goldilocks porridge, devo max will be tricky to get "just right".

  7. Devo max doesn't need defining - it is defined by the max bit - everything but foreign policy and defence. It's devo less-than-max that gives the problem.

    But the real issue, one that has at last come out in the open, is defence. I've been singing that song for years - now the media have caught up. When the chips are down - and they are,now - this is what really matters to the UK.

  8. You make an interesting point in that DevoMax, if it is total internal self government with defence and diplomatic functions out sourced is out by one little bit. The continuing presence of Trident and the propensity of the UK to be the US's bitch are anathema to most Scots.

    The SNP, if presented by a last throw the dice by the unionists, would then open the argument on that very point; just one more simple step beyond.

    That is why the unionist position will never be DevoMax and will hover around some variant, suitably Calmanised, of FFA.

  9. Thanks, Lupus Incomitatus