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Showing posts with label NATO. Show all posts
Showing posts with label NATO. Show all posts

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

The Trident Renewal Debate – 20th Jan 2015

#Trident The moral and intellectual, not to mention the strategic and economic bankruptcy of the pro-nuclear case is staggeringly evident.

 #Trident Trident Debate 20 Jan 2015: Dame Joan Ruddock - Part 2  "Nuclear weapons have no utility..."

#Trident Trident Debate 20 Jan 2015: Dame Joan Ruddock - Part 1 “A unilateralist is a multilateralist who means it!"

#Trident #WMD God help us - look who's in the Deputy Speaker's chair - Eleanor Laing MP! -

#Trident #WMD Trident debate, 20 Jan 2015: Angus Robertson - Part Two

#Trident My least favourite Scottish MP, Rory Stewart (Jim Murphy close second) is on his feet

#Trident I take my hat off to Labour MPs attending who spoke for the motion. As for the Scottish ones who didn't attend - my utter contempt

#Trident Some of the arguments for retaining WMD sound like those that might be advanced by not very bright, morally deficient adolescents.

#Trident #indy #WMD Trident debate 20 Jan 2015: Angus Robertson - Part One. Angus Robertson on superb form ..

JOAN RUDDOCK: Nuclear weapons have no utility.They cannot be used to advance any cause or to secure any territory without devastating effects”

#Trident There's a grinning ghost missing from Labour benches - Jim Murphy, arch-Blairite, Henry Jackson nuclear hawk. Will he vote tonight?

#Trident I continue to marvel at what prats some English Tories are, e.g. Julian Fellows.

#indy George Osborne effectively confirmed today that he wants to see English Votes for English Laws (EVEL) applied to parts of the Budget

#Trident The argument for having nuclear weapons is identical to the NRA's case for every American family to keep an arsenal in their homes

#Trident Thanks God Labour has a tiny number of principled MPs left. Dame Joan Ruddock is one. Currently on her principled feet ...

#Trident Michael Fallon, in between defending WMD as a job creation scheme, attacks Labour's alleged equivalence on at sea nuclear deterrent

#Trident If ever we needed evidence that Labour and Tories are unfit to govern a civilised society, Trident debate offers it in abundance.

#indy Which is the more contemptible - Labour's loss of values and principles, or its attempt to hide the loss from the electorate by lies?

#indy Labour MPs absence from Trident debate says that they support WMD but are afraid to be seen to be doing so, afraid to debate. Feart.

#indy Survation poll this morning shows a majority of those who expressed a view are opposed to the renewal of the Trident nuclear weapons.

Monday, 12 January 2015

Tweets on Murphyism–a new New Labour sect

Peter Curran @moridura 

Murphy seems close to adopting a heretical YES creed. But NO voters wink and tap their noses: he's brought in the Witchfinder General!

Murphy says Scottish Labour is open to indy supporters. How exactly does he plan to deliver it? By referendum? By recanting? By Irn-Bru?

The Scotsman does its best to explain Murphyism with a straight face

Jim Murphy inspires me - to throw-up, then laugh. He reaches the depths of expediency other politicians cannot reach - not even Nigel!

Even non-believers in Henry Jackson may join Murphy's New Labour. Anti-NATO? We have a place for you too! George Robertson is a donor!

Murphyism - the new health food for disenchanted Labour YES supporters. It's bland, non-nutritious, cooked up by our new chef McTernan

Enough of politics - an indy crossword clue! Politician with no beliefs and forked tongue. No entries required - no prizes offered.

New Murphy Labour - open to all! We'll adjust to anybody's beliefs because our new party has only one - believe in Jim Murphy's career

Jim Murphy - why not invite unilateral WMD disarmers to join your new creed? And flat-earthers, creationists, perpetual motion fans?

To say that Murphyism is a confused, contradictory, opportunistic creed is not to do it full justice. Anyone who swallows this is nuts

SCOTSMAN on Murphyism: "referendum has resulted in the party being overwhelmingly characterised as unionist" Fancy that! 100 towns? Irn-Bru?

Murphy says Scottish Labour is open to indy supporters. How exactly does he plan to deliver it? By referendum? By recanting? By Irn-Bru?

Friday, 11 April 2014

The media discovers the nuclear negotiating issues at last - “It’s the nukes, stupid!”

The media, as ever well behind the curve on the essence of the independence debate, has suddenly discovered that defence, the nuclear deterrent and negotiation are the big issues, and that they had it wrong all along! Flushed with their new insight, they now claim that everybody else had it wrong too, and nobody else had considered the egregious fact of WMD as  important until they did.

Having spent a couple of weeks touting the risible idea that the Scottish Government would use the nuclear deterrent and the removal of Trident from Faslane “as a bargaining chip”, they are now lost in admiration at themselves for discovering that such a proposition is nonsense.

What brought them to such Damascean conclusions? Why, Lord George Robertson’s ravings at Brookings! The Wee Laird o’ Islay at least broke in to the somnolent consciousness of the media. Thanks for that, George.

Here’s the breathtaking conclusion of Kate Devlin in the Herald, based on, God help us, David Mundell’s realisation that negotiations on Trident – as touted by his colleagues and London press – is a non-starter with the SNP -

His comments are the first insight into how talks to break up the UK could progress.”

Is that a fact, Kate? The first insight only if you ignore the blindingly obvious, and the many detailed analyses, including my own of the issue, especially during the great SNP conference debate of 2012 on NATO.

But, hey, I’m only one old Scottish voter, without the massive research resources and expertise of a national news paper …

Monday, 15 July 2013

Would it really have been independence? Should we resign ourselves to less?

"Will it really be independence?" stuff still touted by those hostile to Scotland’s independence, by the fearful and confused – and by quite a few prominent journalists and pundits. (The latter group are either fearful and confused – or they’re being ingenuous…)

Clarity of thought is vital at this point for independence campaigners, so turn it around - anything that leaves ultimate control with Westminster won't be independence. (e.g. federalism or any one of the multiple variants of devolution being touted – devo max, devo plus, full fiscal autonomy.)

While the Scotland Act is in force, Scotland is not independent - everything is in the gift of Westminster, which electorally means England. And it can be modified or withdrawn at any time … The Union remains intact, dominant, with total control over Scotland.

If Scotland decides on its defence policy, its foreign policy - including when to engage in armed conflict - elects its own Parliament and Government and makes it own laws, it's independent. Anything less and it's NOT independent.

The core principle is fully independent within an interdependent world – independence that recognises the reality of interdependence in a rapidly changing and unstable world.

Independence is the freedom to choose, with no limits or constraints on those choices, except ones we freely make and enter into - and can freely unmake and exit from.

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Azeem Ibrahim, the Defence of Scotland – and the Scotland Institute. Part Three

PREAMBLE

I’ve taken two fairly long blogs to explain why I think the Scotland Institute is anything but “bi-partisan” (their description) and to speculate on what drives and influences Azeem Ibrahim.

Dr. Ibrahim has now responded to critics of his Defence and Security in an Independent Scotland paper by responding to six criticisms he says were made. These are not quite straw men set up to be knocked down – something like these points have been made by others, although the SNP response still remains – well, underwhelming. However, since I have not yet tackled the content of the paper itself, I now have the luxury of responding with the benefit of Azeem Ibrahim’s attempt at rebuttal.

Faced with Dr. Ibrahim’s degrees, intelligence, high-level contacts and friends, not to mention his stellar (which universe?) array of academics, titled personages, former defence secretaries and academics, do I feel inadequate in addressing this task?

Not a bit of it, because I come to it as a Scottish voter, a proud member of a unique group, the Scottish electorate, which at the end of the day – which will be September 18th 2014 – will evaluate all the stuff that has been thrown at them by polarised, and possibly well-remunerated(?) experts, then will decide the future of Scotland for generations, perhaps centuries. They are the jury who will listen to the witnesses and the competing ‘expert's’ from both sides, then will decide. And no judge can direct their verdict or overrule their decision.

This is democracy – the power of the people – something that Scotland and France virtually invented between them, and it scares the powerful shitless when it operates unintimidated and unencumbered. The UK’s flawed and partial democracy can’t blur the line and frustrate or fudge this one. If they try to, they will reap the whirlwind, and not just from Scotland.

THE PAPER AND ITS CLAIMS

I had always planned to start with Major-General Andrew Douglas Mackay CBE, Chair of the Panel of Experts, but on looking closely at his foreword, there is no real need to go further. (I have read the full paper several times very closely indeed.) Others better qualified than I can pick away at the detail, but since almost all of the flawed assumptions they rest on are contained in the General’s foreword, I see no need, as a voter, to go beyond them.

As can be seen from his Wikipedia entry, the General is a brave, capable, widely-experienced Scot, and deserves to be honoured for what he has done and achieved. (I just wish it had not been by the British Establishment, but that’s how the system works.)

He is also, de facto, a loyal member of that British Establishment and one major purpose of such honours is to cement him into that establishment and its values, which do not include the independence of Scotland.

Let me pick quotes from his foreword to the Scotland Institute report.

I approached this task with a full understanding of how political, public and emotive an issue this might be and sought to ensure that the report’s analysis would be bi-partisan.”

Even I would have expected to get well into the report before finding evidence that the General’s aim had not been achieved. But consider this from the foreword itself.

“… the evidence and conclusions weigh heavily on retaining the Union to safeguard our collective security.”

There’s nothing like cutting to the chase, General, as a no-nonsense military man should! We’re only in the third paragraph of the foreword and already we know the purpose and the desired outcome.  It’s not about defence and security in an independent Scotland, it’s about the collective security of the UK as an entity and whether or not the Union should be retained to serve that purpose.

The Scottish electorate don’t really need to actually read the report – the message, decoded,  is here, in para 3 of the foreword – don’t vote for independence, it threatens the UK’s defence and security policy!

Now we’ve got that sorted out, we can forget all the constitutional, economic and social aspects of Scotland’s independence, not mention the historical and cultural aspects, and we can forget any question of the morality of nuclear weapons of mass destruction or criticisms or the shackling of UK defence policy to right-wing neocon US foreign policy that led to the 12-year folly of Afghanistan (and its current ignominious approaching end) and the crime of Iraq, the death, destruction and destabilisation of the entire Middle East.

Just don’t vote for independence, Scotland,  because a group of politicians old and new, academics and military men, embedded in the system, feel you must “to safeguard our collective security.” Note that use of “our” – it does not refer to Scotland, it refers to the Union that has rewarded many of them so handsomely.

After a paragraph celebrating his Scottishness, the Scots as a “warrior race” and a recognition of the disproportionate contribution to the UK armed forces – but not of their disproportionate sacrifice in blood and death to the Union (it could have been written by Sir Walter Scott in his most fawning-to-King-and-empire style) - the General goes on for another few paragraphs with some history and some current harsh realities, namely that the UK sadly can no longer afford its pretensions as a global power and its ridiculously inflated defence budget (4th largest in the world).

Then he comes to this …

“It is of course highly unlikely that Scotland will ever come under existential threat of invasion or subjection.”

Given that guarding against “existential threat of invasion or subjection” is the primary purpose of the defence forces and defence policy of any nation, the General has to move swiftly to qualify this frank, factual admission which, if left to stand, would lead inevitably to the conclusion that an independent Scotland would be more than capable of discharging that primary responsibility to its citizens.

He does this by trotting out “the list of tasks in a world of hybrid conflict and multiple threats”, i.e. the list of either deeply wrongheaded or blatantly imperialistic involvements that got the US under Bush and his subservient partner, the UK under Blair and Brown into such deep doo-doo – the USA’s idea of itself as global policeman (which Obama is trying to distance himself from in face of screams of pain and outrage from the Republican right and military/industrial complex who profit handsomely from it) and Britain’s attempts to pretend it is still a global Empire, masking naked greed and exploitation of other nations and peoples as noblesse oblige.

In a nutshell, the General is acknowledging that Scotland could perfectly well defend itself – and do more – but he wants to keep it shackled to this failed and destructive global role and policy under the Union.

There is also the little matter that virtually all of the terror threats were brought to Britain by US/UK foreign policy and Iraq and Afghanistan – as acknowledged by a former UK Intelligence High Heid Yin.

Of course, in his penultimate paragraph, the General trots out the familiar defence-as-job-creation-scheme arguments that UK uses to blackmail Scotland’s voters, and the report later uses the grossly inflated estimates that usually accompany such nonsense. Perhaps he wants us to emulate Pakistan’s grossly inflated military and defence budget? (Azeem Ibrahim is especially well-placed to comments on that, as policy advisor to Pakistan’s Prime Minister in waiting, Imran Khan.)

The Generals’ last two sentences sum it all up -

It is easy to argue from within the comfort of a nearly 300 year-old union that an independent Scotland would only require a small fighting force. It is not likely to be so comfortable after you have jettisoned your allies and you are on your own.”

The “nearly 300 year –old union” is a 306 year-old union, General, and it is anything but comfortable for a very large number of less privileged Scots than you, Azeem Ibrahim or your mainly rich contributors, who have profited nicely from it.

Independent Scotland has no intention of “jettisoning its allies” and it hopes to retain rUK as an ally, while remaining in the EU and exploring development of new alliances with the Northern countries. But it does not intend to be dragged along behind a failed and incompetent MOD and Foreign Office and an endless succession of Governments it didn’t vote for, financing their follies past and to come with, to use your favourite phrase, its “blood and treasure” – the blood and treasure of the Scottish people.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Azeem Ibrahim, the Defence of Scotland – and the Scotland Institute

Azeem Ibrahim should – and in most respects does - represent just about everything I most admire in a Scot, in a Glaswegian and in a Scottish Muslim.

Why then do I profoundly distrust his creation, The Scotland Institute and much that emanates from it?

The answer to that is complex, and I’m not sure I’m capable of giving it adequately, but since he invited me to the media launch of his defence and security report and I responded to his courtesy by frontally attacking his claims of bi-partisanship and objectivity in the independence campaign, I feel that I owe him an explanation.

This will be Part One of a two-part blog on this subject – Part Two late tomorrow or Saturday – with luck …

But first, let’s look at the man himself ---

AZEEM IBRAHIM

The first thing to say is that Azeem Ibrahim’s achievements are formidable and beyond question. He has both a national and international profile, and is enormously influential. He is a Scot who is recognised at the highest levels of global politics and academia.

Alex and Azeem

The following YouTube clip of Azeem Ibrahim receiving his honorary doctorate from Professor Sue Scott of Glasgow Caledonian University contains an excellent summary of his background and achievements -

So what’s my problem with Azeem Ibrahim and his Scotland Institute?

THE SCOTLAND INSTITUTE

The Scotland Institute is a think tank, set up and funded by Azeem Ibrahim last June (2012). Before this one came along, we had – still have – a couple of others with Scotland in their title – Think Scotland, a right-wing pressure group set up and funded by an individual, and  Reform Scotland, advocates of so-called devo plus.  Both are against Scotland’s full independence, Think Scotland rather more obviously than Reform Scotland.

(I have blogged previously on think tanks like these)

Despite an honourable historical tradition of rich philanthropists (Andrew Carnegie jumps to mind) I am instinctively wary of rich individuals who fund anything political, and last June, all I knew about Azeem Ibrahim was that he founded a global macro hedge fund, which I understood to be part of the shadow banking system, outside of state regulation. I therefore pigeonholed him unfairly as just another rich banker in a sector – hedge funds – that had been at the root of the global banking collapse. I was unaware of his background and wider academic, cultural and business activities.

I therefore challenged the bi-partisanship of the Scotland Institute on Twitter, and Dr. Ibrahim responded courteously reiterating that it was, in fact, bi-partisan, and took no position on Scotland’s independence. This rang rather hollow to me when the keynote speaker at the launch proved to be Alistair Darling. I was invited to the launch, but tweeted as follows on 25th June 2012 -

Peter Curran Peter Curran@moridura

@scotinstitute I'm being cautious and with very good reason, given the timing and the people involved. I can't come, but will listen closely

Nothing the Scotland Institute said or did since then caused me to revise my initial judgement, but any lingering doubts were dispelled totally by the pre-launch to the press of the Institute’s paper Defence and Security in an Independent Scotland this week.

Here are some samples of how it was received by press and media -

Yes vote 'disadvantage' highlighted

Think tank says post-independent army would struggle (BBC News Scotland politics  24th June 2013)

Scottish independence: defence report released (Scotsman 25 June 2013)

Report: indy Scotland defence force would be less effective (Herald 24th June 2013)

Azeem Ibrahim: How safe would independent Scotland be? (Scotsman 22nd June 2013)

Comment: Risking our security too high price to pay  (Scotland on Sunday 22nd June 2013)

SNP defence plans for independent Scotland 'don't add up' (Telegraph 14th June 2013)

Unionist politicians raise fears about the future of the defence industry in an independent Scotland (Record 13th June 2013)

SNP defence plans ‘would leave forces ineffectual’ (TIMES 24th June 2013)

Former general says independence will raise threat of terrorism Express 23rd June 2013)

And the SNP’s response to this barrage of panic-inducing, superficial headlines, which was in the main a product of lazy, press release journalism?

SNP comment on Scotland Institute Defence report (SNP MEDIA CENTRE 24th June 2013)

I restrict myself to saying that this was underwhelming. It referred to “experts such as Stuart Crawford and Dr Phillips O’Brien”, neither of whom are to my knowledge advisers to the Scottish Government.

Lieut.Colonel Stuart Crawford was in fact a contributor to the Scotland Institute’s paper, and his highly relevant paper on a Scottish defence force was initiated by him and his colleague some time ago at their own initiative to fill the vacuum created by any real statement of SNP or Scottish Government defence policy at the time it was written. (Stuart Crawford was not present at the Scotland Institute launch on Monday. He has previously given evidence to the Scottish Affairs Committee under Ian Davidson’s chairmanship.).

Dr. Phillip’s O’Brien’s article appeared in the Herald on 9th of June.

My view of the press and media reports is that they achieved exactly the effect – or a least one effect - that the Scotland Institute hoped for – to trigger a series of scare headlines about the awful fate that awaited Scots if they voted for independence.

The SNP and the Scottish Government’s response to this is to more or less dismiss it as not warranting any real response – just another manifestation of a hostile press and media. Well, independence supporters may shrug it off, but I don’t. My litmus paper test is the very limited sample of the reaction of reasonably well-informed friends and neighbours who are either uncommitted or NO voters. It worried the uncommitted and reinforced the Nos.  Committed YES campaigners on the doorsteps, with a much more extended sample base, may however say it is not a concern of the people they speak to.

The Defence and Security report and Dr. Ibrahim

It is worth reminding oneself at this juncture what game is being played out here – the Great Game of Scotland securing its independence from what is left of the British Empire, which technically started with the conquest of Wales, but in reality truly began with the 1707 Union. Scotland, an ancient nation of five and a quarter million souls is democratically confronting a dysfunctional dynastic conglomerate, now the rump of a once great Empire, comprised of Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland with a total population of about sixty three and a quarter million, i.e. Scotland is about 8.3% of the total UK population, or a ratio of 1:11.

These would be unequal odds even if no confrontation was involved, so the fiction is sedulously maintained by the UK - and the fantasy maintained on occasion by some independence supporters - that this gross inequality doesn’t really matter, because Scotland - and Scotland alone - will be allowed to vote, and that free democratic procedures will determine the outcome.

Without going over ground I’ve covered at length before, the prospect of the independence of Scotland is perceived as a profound threat to the undemocratic power groups that control the UK’s partial and deeply flawed democracy – the monarchy and all that flows from it, the military/industrial complex and its lynchpin, the nuclear deterrent, the nuclear industry, the House of Lords, the Established Church of England and the entire London-based financial establishment, to mention but a few.

Great Britain, which lost an empire and never found a role, will find its increasingly shaky position in the global corridors of power on an even shakier nail if its nuclear power status vanishes or is diminished. And the ramification go far beyond Scotland, into NATO (which lost a Cold War enemy and is now adopting the doctrine of a perpetual war on terror to replace it) and across the Atlantic.

The very institutions of the British State have been corroding for some time without Scotland’s help, with Lords, governmental, Metropolitan police and press corruption, an incompetent MOD, the revolving door practices of senior MOD officials, civil servants and former ministers, cash for questions and influence, an over-extended military, and serious questions raised over some aspects of the judiciary, stretching from the Bloody Sunday inquiry through to the Hillsborough inquiry and beyond.

The combined forces of this British Establishment and its puppets in Westminster, while paying lip service to a democratic Scottish referendum and the will of the Scottish people, are going to use every weapon in their formidable armoury to secure a NO vote in September 2014, and in the event of a YES vote, to frustrate and delay the successful expression of that free choice.

The long arm of the British Establishment reaches deep into Scottish society at every level, in every institution, in every class of that society, through patronage, the honours system, through appointments to high office, and significantly through control and/or influence exercised over key sections of the media. It is no exaggeration to say that Establishment Scots constitute the hidden force within the belly of the British State’s Trojan horse in Scotland.

To see how this works, at least in part, we can look at Azeem Ibrahim’s list of experts, researchers, academic reviewers, other contributors and organisations who contributed. Let’s start with the panel of experts who were present at the launch in the Macdonald Holyrood Hotel.

Since many of the contributors have letters after their name representing, not qualification, but honours awarded, it’s perhaps worth reminding ourselves what these mean. (For a more in-depth look, see my 2010 blog The Establishment versus Scotland’s Independence)

These awards are made by the reigning monarch on recommendations from political parties and others, and are conferred for various reasons. They are part of a huge pyramid of precedence with the Queen (who has publicly stated her opposition to Scotland’s independence in the Queens’s Speech) at the apex.

Despite Britain’s claim to be a democracy, this pyramid of power and inherited privilege is inherently undemocratic.

The Lords, for example, way up the pyramid, are unelected by any democratic process, yet constitute a fundamental part of the government and the legislative process. No other country in the world claiming to be a democracy has anything remotely similar. In a very real sense,  the House of Lords epitomises the British Establishment, which at one and the same time stands outside of democratic government and accountability to the electorate, but is yet deeply embedded in it.

Back to Azeem’s list ---

Major General Andrew Douglas Mackay CBE (Chair of the panel of experts)

The military and political figures from the 25 listed contributors -

The Rt. Hon. Lord Browne of Ladyton – a former Labour Sec. of State for Defence

The Rt. Hon Lord Reid of Cardowan – former Labour Sec. of State for Defence

The Rt. Hon Sir Malcolm Rifkind KCMG, QC, Tory MP – Maggie’s right hand man in Scotland for many years

The Rt. Hon. Lord Robertson of Port Ellen, KT, GCMG, FRSA, FRSE, PC – former Labour Defence Secretary, former Sec. General of NATO – perhaps the most extreme of all the critics of Scottish Independence, totally hostile to an independent, non-nuclear Scotland in NATO, to  the point of deriding the SNP’s aspirations.

General Sir John George Reith KCB CBE – former NATO Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe

Air Commodore Gordon Moulds, CBE – former Commander Kandahar Airfield and former Commander British Forces South Atlantic

General (retd) Professor Sir Paul Newton KBE – a former military Commander and Intelligence chief, now Director – Strategy and Security Institute, Exeter University.

Lieutenant General Sir Alistair Stuart Hastings Irwin, KCB, CBE – former Adjutant-General to the Forces – former GOC Northern Ireland

Major Sir Edward Mountain – former Adjutant Career Planning UK Armed Forces, former Commander Reconnaissance Squadron

To put it bluntly, the above list represents a roll call of the British military and defence Establishment, deeply embedded in the system, handsomely rewarded and honoured by the system, steeped in its values and assumptions, committed to its global strategic views and to a flawed and destructive transatlantic foreign policy and NATO world view that has led it into two destructive and futile wars since the millennium.

The idea that this group could offer any objective view of an independent Scotland and its defence and intelligence structures – an independent Scotland that threatens all they stand for, especially the nuclear lynchpin of their status – is risible.

They see Scotland’s independence as a threat to their flawed and outmoded global narrative, their world view, and indeed their role and status in that world.

Of course, Azeem Ibrahim and the Scotland Institute are not so naive as to fail to include token voices and contributions representing the other viewpoint, so we have Angus Robertson MP and Luke Skipper of the SNP listed as contributors, and Lieut.Col. Stuart Crawford as an independent expert who has offered an objective blueprint of how a Scottish Defence Force could be structured.

And Azeem Ibrahim has made much of the fact that some of the British Establishment figures, especially the former Defence Secretaries are Scots. But as noted above, they are Scots embedded in the British State, owing all that they are - and all they have - to that state, committed to its continuance in its present form, politically and personally totally opposed to Scotland’s independence and the removal of the Trident nuclear WMD from Scottish soil.

Other contributing individuals/organisations

Senior Level Officials at NATO Office of Policy Planning

Officials from UK and Scottish Governments

Specialists on European Security Issues at RMA Sandhurst

Officials at NATO HQ/SHAPE

In the right context, this dialogue between NATO, UK, the RMA and the Scottish Government could have been helpful. I take leave to doubt that there was any such real dialogue.

CONCLUSION of PART ONE

In the second part of this blog (Friday/Sat) I will look at what I believe to be Azeem Ibrahim’s motivation and objectives in founding the Scotland Institute and in commissioning this report – and I will address the report itself, and the academic/expert contributors to it, not as a defence expert but as an informed layman and Scottish voter.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

The Foreign Affair Committee Report – Scotland’s nuclear disarmament, NATO and EU

The M.O.D. having been in denial over the imminence of Scotland's independence, is now panicking, as is the Westminster Establishment - they're going to lose their WMDs, their seat on the UN Security Council, and as a nukeless rUK, Britain's last claim to be a world power, a global player. The final end of Empire ..

Summarised briefly, they're scared shitless, and desperate to kick the unilateral disarmament of Scotland into the long. long grass. They'll argue, then bully and intimidate - and there's little the shadowy vested interests and dirty money behind nuclear weapons and nuclear power won't do to avoid this outcome.

Sunday, 3 February 2013

That Question Time ‘joke’ – an alternative view – and a YouTube exchange …

Hits are approaching the 10,000 mark on my QT clip of a couple of days ago. Overwhelmingly, they are critical of the remark, but some, including from SNP members, take a different view.

Here is a little exchange of views from yesterday and today that is fairly representative of the other viewpoint -

YouTube: QT Lancaster audience suggest dumping English nuclear waste in Scotland - and laugh

  • John Dryburgh

    John Dryburgh 18 hours ago

    I've never heard such moaning about what was clearly a joke. When did so many Scots lose their SOH? Over the years we've all probably laughed are far worse jokes about England than that. Get over it and yourselves.

    ·

  • TAofMoridura

    TAofMoridura 16 hours ago

    Have a laugh in China, John. We'll have a laugh in 2014.

    · in reply to John Dryburgh (Show the comment)

  • John Dryburgh

    John Dryburgh 3 hours ago

    That was a very well thought out and mature response - what's 2014 got to do with this thread. I'm also back living in Scotland now for a few years, just haven't updated my YT profile. I'm also a member of the SNP so I'll be laughing in 2014 as well, just like I'm laughing now.

    · in reply to TAofMoridura (Show the comment)

  • TAofMoridura

    TAofMoridura 1 hour ago

    Not a lot to respond to, John, hence the brevity. If you didn't update your location, don't blame me. What's 2014 got to do with it? Well, there's a referendum on Scotland's independence scheduled for then, hence the high interest in this clip. Hits for it are now approaching 10,000. Since the 'joke' wasn't that good, something else has motivated viewers. We don't have to guess what it was - read the comments. Said what I had to say about such 'jokes' on my blog. I'm former SNP member - NATO!

    · in reply to John Dryburgh (Show the comment)

  • John Dryburgh

    John Dryburgh 18 minutes ago

    Oh, you're THAT Moridura. Enough said then, don't want you throwing your teddy out again.

    · in reply to TAofMoridura (Show the comment)

  • TAofMoridura

    TAofMoridura 7 minutes ago

    Thanks for posting, John. I decided many decades ago that I could never be, or remain in a party that supported nuclear weapons or NATO. It was a view held by a couple of MSPs with a much longer party contribution and membership than mine, but clearly not one held by a large number.

  • Tuesday, 8 January 2013

    Nuclear issues – will we reach critical mass in 2014/2016?

    A reprise, with stuff published before, but updated for recent events, e.g. NATO vote at SNP conference.

    FACTS – NATO and TRIDENT

    1. The entire UK nuclear deterrent - the Trident weapons system, and the nuclear submarines that carry it, together with nuclear-powered submarines that don’t carry it – is based in Scotland.

    2. The permission of the Scottish people was never sought for this, but it is supported by all three major London-based unionist parties – Labour, Tory and LibDems. It is opposed by the SNP, the Greens and by the Scottish socialist parties.

    3. The SNP has a non-nuclear policy, and is opposed to nuclear weapons. It was also opposed to an independent Scotland being a member of the NATO alliance because NATO is committed to the possession and use of nuclear weapons, and committed to  an independent Scotland seeking membership of Partnership for Peace (PfP),  a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) program aimed at creating trust between NATO and other states in Europe and the former Soviet Union; 22 states are members.

    PfP members in the EU include Austria, Finland, Ireland, Malta and Sweden. Other members are Switzerland, Russia, former Eastern bloc countries and former Yugoslavian states.

    This policy was changed at Conference last year by a close-run vote after passionate debate. Two members of the Party resigned after the vote.

    THE SNP and NATO: SOME FACTS - and MY PERSPECTIVE

    Comparison of Scotland with Norway – a non-nuclear policy country in NATO (as are another 24) are repeatedly made by the SNP and by proponents of nuclear deterrence, but such comparisons are flawed and invalid because Scotland’s situation is unique within NATO, and infinitely more complex in its ramifications. (see blogs passim and further analysis in this blog.)

    FACTS – THE REMOVAL OF THE DETERRENT

    Step ONE: Deactivation of Trident weapons system – remove triggers and keys, remove certain components of missiles, and take submarines off patrol. Timescale: a few days.

    Step TWO: Remove all weapons and store at Coulport. Timescale: approximately eight weeks.

    Step THREE: Physically remove weapons from Scotland.   Timescale: two years approximately.

    Step FOUR: Dismantle weapons at Burghfield Timescale: four years approximately.

    N.B. A key international principle of disarmament is the principle of irreversibility. (For example, steps one and two are relatively easily reversible in a short timescale unless special actions are taken to ensure irreversibility.)

    These are the necessary immediate steps – the full decommissioning and cleanup of the nuclear facilities of the base are complex, as is the question of the continued use of the base by submarines, both the former missile carrying subs and the nuclear-powered non-missile carrying subs.

    SNP, NUCLEAR WEAPONS and NATO ANALYSIS

    Most of what I wanted to say – and was able to say, given that I am neither an academic  nor a military expert nor a politicians – I have said in these blogs and, vitally, in my replies to comments (which were predominantly in favour of the SNP’s position on NATO). These blogs were mainly in the second half of 2012 – I have blogged many times at earlier dates on NATO.

    Alex Salmond, the SNP and NATO - a Faustian bargain?
    The SNP, NATO and the end of a dream of a nuclear-free Scotland
    Scotland as NATO’s aircraft carrier–Jim Sillar’s shining vision for independence
    Nicola Sturgeon on Trident on Question Time, 7th May 2009
    More on Scotland and NATO–the Vienna Convention
    Scotland’s NATO membership – a deeply flawed concept and a retreat from principle
    Truth and transparency in politics – unrealisable ideals or practical necessities?
    Sitting on de fence on defence
    A nuclear letter over three years ago …

    A NEGOTIATOR’S PERSPECTIVE

    The Scottish Government’s policy on NATO membership of the Robertson/MacNeil motion was carried and the stated policy of the SNP is now as follow -

    “Scotland will inherit its international treaty obligations including those with the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and will remain a member, subject to agreement on withdrawal of Trident from Scotland.”

    “With agreement on the withdrawal of Trident and retaining the important role of the UN, Scotland can continue working with neighbours and allies within NATO.”

    “ … An SNP Government will maintain NATO membership subject to an agreement that Scotland will not host nuclear weapons and NATO continues to respect the right of members only to take part in UN-sanctioned operations. In the absence of such an agreement, Scotland will work with NATO as a member of the Partnership for Peace programme, like Sweden, Finland, Austria and Ireland. …”

    Let’s take the first part of that -

    Negotiation on the removal of Trident will take place with the UK Government after YES vote in 2014 and before independence day – not with NATO.

    So membership of NATO is contingent on two things – prior agreement with UK negotiators on “the withdrawal of Trident” and then a subsequent agreement with NATO “that Scotland will not host nuclear weapons and NATO continues to respect the right of members only to take part in UN-sanctioned operations”.

    In other words, after agreement with the UK negotiators on the ‘withdrawal’ of Trident, the SNP Government will graciously ‘maintain NATO membership’, subject to – etc.

    As a negotiating position this is on the face of it, naive. It raised horse laughs from the Wee Lord of Islay, George Robertson and the SNP’s political  enemies last year, despite the fact that their defence thinking is at least as naive, and compounded by the MOD’s monumental incompetence and corruption, allied to NATO’s deep confusion and uncertainty about their role in the modern world.

    In point of fact, any defence-related negotiation on the deterrent will take place with one party on the other side of the table - the UK – but two heavyweights in the backroom, the United States Defence Department and NATO, and no deal will be done that does not have the broad consent of this nuclear trio. The prospect of Philip Hammond, David Cameron and William Hague, three politicians of limited political experience and worse judgement, trying to deal with the hard-eyed men of America and NATO is not one to inspire confidence, especially since a UK general election will take place in May 2015, only six to eight months after the Scottish referendum.

    In effect, Scotland’s hopes of getting rid of Trident are inextricably linked to NATO and the United States, and therefore the second part – membership of NATO, etc. must of necessity be a part of the negotiations with the UK. What the SNP objective means in effect is

    We will attempt to destroy NATO UK nuclear capacity, remove its Northern European aircraft carrier, Scotland, then tell NATO the conditions on which we will join, then be welcomed with open arms.”

    This entirely begs the question of why the hell NATO would want us in membership under these circumstances. To become the 26th member country, with no power or capacity to influence the NATO Big Three’s nuclear policy or the decision to initiate a nuclear strike without political approval?

    (At the moment NATO effectively has been given a political blank cheque by the USA, France and the UK to launch a nuclear strike instantly on the strategic judgement of its command structure, without reference to any of their three elected decision-making bodies – e.g. the House of Commons -  but with the token endorsement of their heads – the President of the United States, the Prime Minister of France and the Prime Minister of the UK.)

    What will actually happen when the SNP negotiating team, flushed with the success of the 2014 YES vote, actually sits down to prepare its opening position on the nuclear issues?

    I can’t answer that, since I have no idea how their team will be structured and how it will be advised, nor how they will define their range of negotiating objectives.  So I can only say what could happen, and, tentatively, what should happen from the standpoint of good diplomatic and negotiating practice.

    The pre-negotiations analysis is a critical phase in any negotiation. Under certain circumstances, especially if it is done badly, it can become the critical phase.

    Over-simplifying, the first steps are to determine negotiating objectives, i.e. the desired outcomes of the negotiation, to prioritise them, to quantify the range of acceptability within the objectives, and to determine which objectives are linked, and how. Clearly defence related matters are interlinked, but defence as a total issue may have critical linkage to other issues, e.g. jobs, environmental matters, investment.

    Two key aspects exist in relation to prioritisation of issues – significance and urgency. Issues may be of high significance but low urgency in terms of when the objective or at the other extreme may have high urgency but low significance. As in project planning, sequencing of issues is necessary – achievement of one may be contingent on prior achievement of another.

    Let’s try to look at the removal of Trident and NATO membership from a simple perspective -

    The achievement of the removal of Trident objective, in the SNP defence paper, must be negotiated with the UK before membership of NATO can be negotiated – that is, if one accepts that it must, or even can be negotiated with NATO.

    Both are presented to the SNP membership as deal breakers, i.e. crucial objectives that must be achieved. A nuclear Scotland is a totally unacceptable outcome in the negotiations with the UK. Membership of NATO is unacceptable if, after negotiating a nuclear-free Scotland with the UK, NATO requires Scotland to host nuclear weapons or participate in non-UN sanctioned operations. But all objective, even crucial objectives, have measurable elements defining how acceptable the agreement is on a spectrum of acceptability.

    If it is essential, say for example, that I buy a car, there is almost certainly a minimum and maximum price that I will pay. If I must have the car by the end of the month, I may take delivery today or on the last day of the month. I therefore have entry and exit points on price and time.

    And so it is with the crucial objective of the removal of Trident after independence – in an ideal world, Trident would vanish the day after independence, painlessly and without any cost to the Scottish people. The reality is more complex, and the SNP’s ‘withdrawal of Trident’ will have to be defined on a spectrum of acceptability on a number of measurable criteria, with an ideal position as entry point and a deal-breaker definition on the same measures as an exit point.

    Theoretically the entry point is immediately and the exit point is at some point on a loosely-defined or undefined timescale – a case of now or sometime …

    In the magical thinking of many SNP supporters, independence is a magic wand that will conjure away all difficulties, as my correspondents are regular witness to, but realpolitik – and life – just ain’t like that.

    The dangers of the spectrum between entry and exit point on the removal of Trident are more or less signalled – defined almost – by the stage shown above -

    Step ONE: Deactivation of Trident weapons system – remove triggers and keys, remove certain components of missiles, and take submarines off patrol. Timescale: a few days.

    Step TWO: Remove all weapons and store at Coulport. Timescale: approximately eight weeks.

    Step THREE: Physically remove weapons from Scotland. Timescale: two years approximately.

    Step FOUR: Dismantle weapons at Burghfield Timescale: four years approximately.

    Bear in mind these are John Ainslie’s and CND’s estimates (supported by some experts) – but the UK side of the negotiation has very different views, as the loaded questions of the Select Committee MPs demonstrated very clearly. (Whether they actually believe their estimates or not is immaterial – they have a vested interest in inflating them, and in inflating costs and exaggerating difficulties.)

    Wednesday, 17 October 2012

    Unhappy NATO tweeting time–the NATO U-turn and the Perth Conference

    There are a dozen more personally rewarding and pleasant things I could have been doing with my day than this. But none more important.

    Have a good Conference, delegates! I wish you all well.

     Peter Curran Peter Curran@moridura

    SNP is willing to protect vulnerable species - sharks and pandas - but not protect the vulnerable peoples of the world from NATO and WMDs.

     Peter Curran Peter Curran@moridura

    SNP press release:"SNP MEP Alyn Smith swims with sharks .." SNP must not swim with NATO sharks and be complicit in nuclear warfare and WMDs.

     Peter Curran Peter Curran@moridura

    Only time in NATO's history that Article 5 of North Atlantic treaty has been invoked as an attack on all NATO members. It led to Afghanistan

     Peter Curran Peter Curran@moridura

    @AlynSmithMEP Why swim with the NATO sharks, Alyn - no tank safely contains them. Say NO to NATO at Conference!

     Peter Curran Peter Curran@moridura

    Perth delegates: tell your leaders you love them and trust them but that they are wrong on NATO. Say NO and move on to the independence YES!

    Peter Curran Peter Curran@moridura

    Better Together will smile and crack a bottle of champagne if SNP Conference says yes to NATO U-Turn. Liam Fox and arms dealers will rejoice

     Peter Curran Peter Curran@moridura

    Perth delegates: at Conference you will hear from committed SNP CND brothers and sisters asking you to say NO to NATO. Trust them and say NO

     Peter Curran Peter Curran@moridura

    SNP Perth delegates - on arrival you will see committed veterans of the Faslane Peace Camp asking you to say NO to NATO. Don't betray them!

     Peter Curran Peter Curran@moridura

    Perth delegates: the NATO U-turn presents a tactical, strategic and moral challenge. Doing the right thing is the right thing to do - say NO

    Peter Curran Peter Curran@moridura

    Most flawed pro-NATO U-turn argument of all - "It's disloyal to SNP to oppose the motion and support the amendment." Be loyal to Scotland!

     Peter Curran Peter Curran@moridura

    Flawed NATO arguments:

    1:"We need it" We don't!

    2:"Influence from within" You can't!

    3:"We need it to get a YES" You don't - risks a NO

     Peter Curran Peter Curran@moridura

    Pressures on delegates at Perth to close ranks on NATO U-turn will be formidable. Resist them - NATO is bad for SNP and for Scotland. Say NO

     Peter Curran Peter Curran@moridura

    An independent Scotland will present a moral example to a troubled world, one however that will be seriously compromised by joining NATO.

     Peter Curran Peter Curran@moridura

    I feel strongly about NATO (you noticed?) - I speak only for myself, from a deep concern for the Scottish people http://moridura.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/my-reasons-for-cancelling-my-snp-party.html …

     Peter Curran Peter Curran@moridura

    While the SNP MPs pursue their 'Ladybird Book of Nuclear WMDs', one ordinary Scottish voter tries for detailed argument http://moridura.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/the-snps-dangerous-nuclear-nonsense.html …

     Peter Curran Peter Curran@moridura

    NATO – a nuclear alliance: membership may lead to party fission http://moridura.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/nato-nuclear-alliance-membership-may.html …

    5h Peter Curran Peter Curran@moridura

    SNP keep invoking the non-nuclear NATO members as a kind of desperate mantra. Contrast this simplistic approach with > http://moridura.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/scotland-in-nato-core-arguments-against.html …

    Peter Curran Peter Curran@moridura

    @AngusMacNeilMP None of them remotely compare with Scotland's situation as the base for the UK's WMD's crucial to NATO strategy. You know it

     Peter Curran Peter Curran@moridura

    Influence NATO from inside the tent? Enter this tent and be silenced and suffocated by money, influence and pressure. NATO=WMDs=WAR Say NO!

     Peter Curran Peter Curran@moridura

    The SNP playing with NATO membership is like a child playing with a hair-trigger revolver. Don't do it, SNP. Vote NO to NATO at Perth.

     Peter Curran Peter Curran@moridura

    @theSNP @AlexSalmondMSP Then abandon the NATO folly, First Minister. You are creating a potential San Andreas fault line in the party.

     Peter Curran Peter Curran@moridura

    @Tarzan123 NATO is dangerous, lethal. I turn away from the US military/industrial complex and an rUK that support WMDs and foreign wars.

    5 Peter Curran Peter Curran@moridura

    @AngusMacNeilMP Don't be foxed by NATO, Angus. You're aligned with some very dubious people and organisations. Naivety is not in my nature..

    Peter Curran Peter Curran@moridura

    #NATO There's something nasty in the woodshed in the SNP's NATO/nuclear position. There's a distinct aroma of NATO influence in all they say

     Peter Curran Peter Curran@moridura

    SNP support unilateral nuclear disarmament. Why then are they quoting organisations and think tanks who support multi-lateral disarmament?

     Peter Curran Peter Curran@moridura

    Look hard at organisations who support NATO while arguing for multi-lateral disarmament. There's nice consulting, travel and lectures perks!

     Peter Curran Peter Curran@moridura

    NATO 'influences' a number of organisations with 'PEACE' in their title. They argue for multi-lateral disarmament while arguing for NATO.

     Peter Curran Peter Curran@moridura

    @PeterMurrell @theSNP Why not add a couple of replica Trident warheads for delegates to admire? They go with NATO - or rather, they don't go

     Peter Curran Peter Curran@moridura

    LIAM FOX says "I support your NATO membership, Alex but warn you to keep Trident on the Clyde for as long as it takes" http://www.scotsman.com/news/scottish-independence-alex-salmond-s-nato-u-turn-is-right-but-trident-must-stay-says-liam-fox-1-2583433 …

     Peter Curran Peter Curran@moridura

    #NOtoNATO NATO membership will keep Trident on the Clyde "for as long as it takes" Who says so? Liam Fox, Alex Salmond's new supporter.

     Peter Curran Peter Curran@moridura

    A wee reminder of what Liam Fox (new supporter of SNP's U-turn on Trident) was and is. He "warns" FM to keep Trident! http://moridura.blogspot.co.uk/2012/01/uks-nuclear-panic-and-devo-max.html …

     Peter Curran Peter Curran@moridura

    #NATO Liam Fox supports Alex Salmond's NATO U-turn but "warns" him to keep Trident. What more does the Party need to know to say NO to NATO?

     Peter Curran Peter Curran@moridura

    Disgraced former Tory defence secretary Liam Fox backs SNP's Nato U-turn but warns Trident must be kept on Clyde “for as long as it takes ..

    Expand

    Peter Curran Peter Curran@moridura

    Reid Foundation on security threats:".subject has been treated not as real issue of national significance but in terms of political sloganeering"

     Peter Curran Peter Curran@moridura

    Security threats to Scotland:"has failed to give any consideration whatsoever to security responses other than military ones"Reid Foundation

     Peter Curran Peter Curran@moridura

    Security threats to Scotland:"failed to consider the most pressing security threats Scotland faces" REID FOUNDATION

     Peter Curran Peter Curran@moridura

    Security threats to Scotland:"been based on no credible assessment of the form of or response to security threats Scotland might face" REIDF

     Peter Curran Peter Curran@moridura

    @NConway2 That is unquestionably true. NATO membership will make it infinitely more difficult to do so, and presents major ethical

    Tuesday, 9 October 2012

    NATO, NATS and the Cui bono? question

    All political parties are good at finding proxies to reflect their opinions on sensitive matters where ministers want to slide quietly away from the firing line until the barrage settles down. The SNP has been no exception.

    I don’t believe that Andrew Wilson is such a proxy, mainly because I hear the ring of truth in his personal antipathy to nuclear weapons, and I therefore treat his views as expressed in the Scotland on Sunday article on NATO as entirely his own. Since they very closely match the core arguments of Angus Robertson and Angus MacNeil on NATO membership – and that of the bulk of my correspondents who support the U-turn – I will address them in that context.  Having done that, however, I will sound a cautionary note to politicians and commentators at the end.

    Andrew Wilson is at pains early in his opinion piece to establish his anti-nuclear, CND pedigree, as indeed are most (not all) of those who support the U-turn. I don’t doubt for a moment his total commitment to a nuclear-free Scotland. I do believe, however, that some other senior figures in the SNP are, at best, disingenuous when they say the same, that the party contains some who are closet nuclear deterrent protagonists, and that their closet is not very deep. I hope I am wrong, but it would be surprising in a large, broad-based independence party if this were not so. Membership of NATO would, sooner or later, make it respectable to emerge from that closet.

    ANDREW’S ARGUMENTS

    The inherited treaty obligations argument. There is no hard evidence that such obligations exist under NATO for an independent Scotland.

    AW: “..its 22 member states see it as critical to their defence ..” There are 28 member states, Andrew. If we excludes the three dominant nuclear states (US, UK and France) there are 25. Perhaps you are confusing NATO with Partnership for Peace, which has 22?

    The 25 have clearly opted to be members. None of them are in the unique situation of Scotland – not a member in its own right, resolutely opposed to nuclear weapons, yet hosting the UK’s nuclear deterrent and vitally important to the NATO strategy – “NATO’s aircraft carrier” as astonishingly characterised by Jim Sillars whilst still arguing that Scotland should remain a member.

    The Angus Robertson argument - we should remain in, subject to an agreement that Scotland can become free of nuclear weapons in the same way as Nato members Canada and Greece.

    Andrew Wilson characterises this as “a no-brainer”. It clearly is not a no-brainer (a contemptuous way to dismiss counter arguments) for a significant number of SNP members, for a helluva lot of Scots of other parties, and for the European nations including the Republic of Ireland who have chosen to stay out of the clammy and potentially lethal embrace of NATO. Perhaps he could look at my many blogs on the subject, e.g. 18th July 2012, and review his no-brainer assessment, or the  briefing and fact papers put out by CND, including their recent response to AR’s latest missive, CORRECTING THE NATO BRIEFING. You say you “admire, respect and love many of the people who will be arguing against from a principled position”, Don’t then patronise them with phrases such as no-brainer.

    AW:if the SNP votes to keep a position on withdrawal this month, its chances of ever actually leading the country out will have diminished because the chances of a Yes vote will have, too.”

    A number of the people you “admire, respect and love” don’t agree with that assessment, Andrew, and think, as I do, that exactly the reverse may be true. The firm commitment of the SNP leadership to ‘Britishness’ and to a NATO U-turn has been followed by a decline in support for independence in the last poll. I will draw a veil over who supported what – or not – on the devo-max fiasco, now hopefully stone dead.

    I don’t want to fall into the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy – there are many complex reasons for poll shifts – by claiming that these twin policies plus the devo-max confusion and fog of obfuscation, all once favoured by you, have contributed to that decline, but equally I think that both you and the SNP should be more than a little cautious about drawing simplistic conclusions from polls claiming the a majority of the Scottish electorate fear withdrawal from NATO.

    THE Cui bono? QUESTION

    Before offering this analysis and general cautionary note, I repeat what I said about Andrew Wilson at the start of this blog -

    “I don’t believe that Andrew Wilson is such a proxy, mainly because I hear the ring of truth in his personal antipathy to nuclear weapons, and I therefore treat his views as expressed in the Scotland on Sunday article on NATO as entirely his own.”

    Andrew has also a long, honourable record of service to the SNP and to the cause of independence.

    American lawyers, and for all I know, British lawyers, when challenged on introducing a topic in court by opposing counsel, reply “You opened the door …” Andrew Wilson has offered his personal background in support of his case, so I will feel free to explore it further. (My door is similarly wide open after five years of blogging!).

    Drawing – with caution – from Wikipedia, it can be seen that Andrew has a considerable political pedigree in the SNP. An economics and politics graduate, he was viewed by the media as “a rising star of the SNP, an iconoclast and pro-market economist”. He was an early proponent of the full fiscal autonomy idea (devo-max). He lectured the party on ‘Britishness’ after independence as early as 1999. He wrote a column for the Sunday Mail asking Scots to support the English football team. After his active political career, he joined the Royal Bank of Scotland as a business economist in 1997 and became Deputy Chief Economist, then after the 2008 crisis became Head of Group Communications. He joined WPP in 2012, a company which describes itself as “a world leader in advertising and marketing services” in what such companies in quaint management-speak call “a client-facing role”.  (Presumably the rest face away from the client?)

    By any standards, WPP is big (its billing for the six months ending June 2011 were over £21 billion) and significant, with over 153,00 full-time employees in 2400 offices over 107 countries, with a large, diverse client base across the world.

    Given its formidable client base (over 300 of Fortune Global 500 companies, 29 of Dow Jones 30, 60 of  NASDAQ 100, 32 of Fortune e-50, etc.) it would be impossible for it not to have major clients in the defence and/or closely related industries (see Dow Jones 30, for example).

    Such an analysis could be offered for any multi-national or transnational company, and similar conclusions could be reached for many of them, and such companies are vital to Scotland now and will be even more so in an independent Scotland. I offer the analysis to demonstrate the formidable difficulties faced by politicians - and their key supporters employed by such companies - when faced by the complex questions raised by the interface between politicians and the military'/industrial complex especially when it touches on nuclear matters.

    For example, when I lasted worked full-time in industry, I was an HR director in a drinks company. What if I currently held that post in the present minimum pricing context? When I was running my own consulting business, I had a number of major clients in the alcohol industry and early on, worked through a sub-contract for Vickers  in their Leeds and Newcastle factories. Other clients had links to the nuclear industry. I had no easy answers then to moral and political dilemmas posed by such situations and I have none now.

    What I can say is that I would have been fair game for scrutiny if I had been as politically vocal as I am now, and could not have quarrelled with cui bono? questions when I sounded off.

    At this time of potential constitutional change for Scotland and the UK, of a magnitude that cannot be understated, with complex ramifications for European and indeed global defence strategies, an increasingly polarised debate, with Scotland’s nuclear and NATO position central to that debate, all politicians and all commentators may expect scrutiny about how they link into the fiendishly complex network of profit, patronage and politics of international defence, and Eisenhower’s nightmare of the military/industrial complex and its insidious influence on democratic processes. Worse still, this inevitably can create a poisonous McCarthyite atmosphere, contributed to by both sides of the debate, as manifested particularly in the ill-advised comment on the impartiality of BBC presenters, one that extended in many cases to their partners, spouses and relatives.

    But it is not simply an ad hominem argument to say that it is entirely reasonable for voters to look at the business and commercial affiliations of those who are not politicians but choose to offer political arguments. They have a perfect right to do so, and the voters have a perfect right to ask Cui bono?

    I think that for many commentator working for major companies in the private sector, especially international ones, that it would be prudent to consider the likelihood of that question being asked before offering political views, however objective and altruistic their viewpoint.

    Wednesday, 15 August 2012

    Words that inspire a nation … update for NATO

    I first put this piece up about a year ago. It seems it needs updating -

    THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE – SCOTTISH VERSION

    When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation. But then again, perhaps they would prefer full fiscal autonomy rather than dissolve the political bands, and let’s face it, we’ll still be British – Long Live Queen Elizabeth and her successors in perpetuity, of course

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness – but sometimes they’d rather have devo max, and a kind of independence lite – and we know that Civic Scotland and a whole host of organisations who are essentially undemocratic and don’t like the sound of the voice of the electorate also like that kind of thing …

    Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security – or if that seems too extreme, perhaps we should go for full fiscal autonomy and leave them in charge of the vital things, like nuclear weapons, and the God-given right of the British empire (sorry, UK) to rain destruction on foreign countries to protect them –well us – well, really the United States from – er, well you know the kind of thing – terrorists, that sort of thing

    My apologies to the Founding Fathers of a great independent nation, the United States of America and their unanimous declaration of independence, July 4th, 1776

     

    BRUCE’S ADDRESS TO HIS CAPTAIN’S BEFORE BANNOCKBURN – 2014 VERSION

    And certis me think well that ye
    Forout abasing aucht to be
    Worthy and of gret vasselagis
    For we haff thre gret avantagis
    The fyrst is that we haf the rycht
    And for the rycht ay God will fycht.
    The tother is that thai cummyn ar
    For lyppynyng off thar gret powar
    To sek us in our awne land,
    And has brocht her rycht till our hand

    but then again, maybe we should settle for full fiscal autonomy, sterling, the Bank of England, the English monarchy, Britishness – and we’ll be a member of NATO, a nuclear defence alliance, but only if they disarm

     

    LIBERATION ARMY LEADER,  IN THE LAST STAGES OF THE LIBYAN OR SYRIAN FIGHT FOR FREEDOM (SCOTTISH VERSION)

    Maybe we should settle for full fiscal autonomy, guys – a kind of freedom-lite. Let’s see what the freedom fighters think, shall we? Maybe Gadaffi and Assad will be OK with it … We can have a constitutional dictator and a central bank – and after all, we all still feel Arab don’t we?

     

    WILLIAM WALLACE, HANGED, CUT DOWN AND BEING DISEMBOWELLED, 2014

    “Full fiscal autonomy, the Queen – and NATO!”

    SUMMARY

    I offer these alternatives to great historical events in the birth of nations as inspirational slogans to nationalist Scots, young and old, as they fight for hearts and minds of their fellow Scots in the lead-up to the Referendum on their freedom  and independence – well, maybe not quite freedom, perhaps full fiscal autonomy. (What’s the Gaelic for full fiscal autonomy?)

    Yes, yes, I know Westminster would still be in charge, still sovereign, still free to **** up the economy, engage in foreign wars, kill our young servicemen and women, keep obscene weapons of mass destruction in our country, enrich the South East of England, etc.

    For God’s sake, what’s your problem? Politics is the art of the possible! Look at the polls – the Scottish people are feart – let’s reassure them that nothing is really going to change. What’s wrong with going into battle with a banner that says Independence Lite – it has a kind of resonance, don’t you think? Devo Max? How about that, then?

    But anyway we might actually win and get a YES, and then we can change anything, repudiate all treaties, renege on all promises – we can have referendums on everything. Just you tell me what you want a referendum on and you can have it – the currency, the monarchy, NATO, Britishness, the BBC, the Beano, the Dandy, The Sunday Post ... Look, see my magic wand – it’s got independence written on it. But I’ve still got the devo max one, not quite in the Harry Potter league.

    A vision for Scottish society? Ah, well, that’s a hard one – maybe we should have a free and open debate on that at the next party conference – I’ll listen to all you have to say, then tell you where you’re wrong.