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Showing posts with label Professor William Walker. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Professor William Walker. Show all posts

Saturday, 4 August 2012

The SNP and NATO – an internal party matter or a question for Scotland?

Here is a little problem for a class of undergraduates studying politics and international affairs, majoring in defence matters -


A political party within a democratic nation state has a long-standing policy relating to a defence alliance, of fundamental relevance to the relationship that state has with other states. The political party is in a highly unusual situation - probably unique in world affairs - for the following reasons -

1. It is currently the party in a devolved government for one of the four component countries of that nation state.

2. It only exists as a party in that country and its raison d'être is to secure its independence from that nation state.

3. The long-standing defence alliance policy is not within its devolved powers, and is reserved to the nation state, which is a member of that defence alliance.

4. The political party forming the government of the component country of the nation state has scheduled a referendum in two years time to seek a mandate from that country’s electorate to negotiate with the nation state for its independence. The nation state is totally opposed to the independence of the component devolved country, but accepts that the referendum will determine the will of its people.

5. A general election for the government of the nation state will take place in May of the year following the referendum, a period of around six months. A devolved Parliamentary election for the country seeking independence will take place one year after that, a period of around 18 months from the referendum.

6. If the result of the referendum is a YES vote for the independence of the devolved country, complex negotiations will follow and are likely to last at least two years, and will therefore cover a period embracing two critical elections, either of which could result in a change of government.

7. The crucial issue, and potentially the most complex issue in these negotiations will be the defence issue. Central to that is the issue of nuclear weapons, and a policy to possess and use these weapons.

8. The nation state is a member of a defence alliance that includes in total 28 member countries, the dominant country in that alliance being one of the most powerful countries in the world, arguably the most powerful, although that dominance is being challenged.

9. The party that forms the government of the devolved country seeking independence from the nation state has a non-nuclear policy that it will implement if it secures its independence. The devolved country hosts the entire nuclear capacity of the nation state of which it is a component part and it is virtually certain that if it refuses to host that nuclear capacity - if and after it secures its independence - the nation state will lose its nuclear status, since it has no suitable place to host the nuclear weapons systems. It will therefore lose its place among the top three countries in the defence alliance who effectively control that alliance, and it is likely also to lose its place on the Security Council of the global body that has a major impact on world affairs, especially military affairs.

10. The party that forms the government of the devolved country – with an unchallengeable Parliamentary majority – has now proposed to its membership, through its strategic leadership with the de facto endorsement of its party leader, who is also First Minister of the government, a defence policy that reiterates its non-nuclear stance but intends to reverse its long-standing policy of opposition to membership of the nuclear alliance committed to the possession and use of nuclear weapons.

It now wishes to remain in – or join – that nuclear alliance, with the pre-condition that the nuclear weapons crucial to the nation state and significant to the defence alliance be removed from its country. It proposes to debate that policy change, together with its total defence policy, at its annual conference with delegates to that conference, and if the policy is endorsed, it will then constitute the entry position to the negotiations that will follow a YES vote in the referendum two years later.

The defence policy (already extant as a party conference paper) will be presented to the country’s electorate about a year later, together with comprehensive statements about every aspect of the position of the devolved government, as part of the campaign for a YES vote to independence a year after that.


Discuss the following in group session, then reach your conclusions and recommendations -

Consider the above scenario and the following facts -

the party of government of the devolved country will not face the electorate until after the referendum on independence

such a policy change is therefore unchallengeable by the electorate until after the referendum

it will therefore form the entry position on defence matters in the negotiation that follow a YES vote

the negotiations will have been underway for some 18 months – and may well be close to completion - before the devolved government faces the electorate

a general election will take place some six months after the referendum result and the start of the negotiations that could result in a change of government of the nation state and therefore the composition of the other side of the negotiating table


i) Is the defence alliance question a routine party policy matter, one only for delegates of that party to decide on?

ii) Is the defence policy a major or a minor matter in terms of significance to the electorate of the devolved country, or does it also have significance to the nation state, the members of the defence alliance and to world affairs?

iii) Is it it reasonable or democratic that such a crucial policy change be debated by a small number of delegates from one political party only, or should there be a wider consultation among the total electorate of the devolved country and in its devolved Parliament?

Friday, 3 August 2012

My Twitter lead-up to the NATO U-turn

After the denial period by SNP supporters in the Spring of this year, when a NATO U-turn was something being got up by the wicked media – encouraged by me, apparently – and no senior party person was even considering it – so said the true believers - there was a period of quiet.

Then a press release from the SNP on the cost of Trident, emphasising the Party’s non-nuclear stance came out, and I loyally tweeted various facts from it. Maybe I should have recognised the danger signs – fifteen days later, the press began to speculate authoritatively about a U-turn on NATO, and on the 16th came the Angus Robertson/Angus MacNeill defence paper.

1 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

Labour claims a social conscience, yet squanders billions on WMDs, claims to be internationalist, yet makes war on other nations. Johann?

1 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

Scotland’s share of WMD costs, £215m could have funded 11 Community Hospitals (at £20,000,000 per hospital). Your turn, Johann Lamont? ...

1 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

Scotland’s share of WMD costs, £215m could have funded 5,972 teachers or 27 single stream Primary Schools or 11 Secondary Schools. Johann?

1 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

Scotland’s share of WMD costs = £215m - could have funded up to 430 doctors (at £500,000 per doctor) or 5,119 nurses (at £42,000 per nurse)

1 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

£2.54bn was spent on running costs of WMDs in Labour’s last 3 years in office. Labour says Yes to WMDs, but NO to Scotland's independence.

1 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

Angus Robertson: "The social cost of the UK's nuclear obsession. ...warped priority of investing in WMDs before better local services"

1Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

Over next 6 yrs Scottish taxpayers will spend £83m a year on nuclear warheads that can't be used. Enough for another 1500 service personnel.

Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

When Scotland goes, UK lose its WMDs, its oil and whisky revenues, its raison d'etre. Scotland, England, Wales recover their

2 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

The negotiations on the terms of Scotland's independence will be dominated by the defence debate, Everyone is commenting on it - except ..?

2 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

RUSI: "..were Scotland to dissolve the Union, then the question of the UK's nuclear deterrent may be the most serious and difficult of all"

2 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

RUSI: "the future of UK nuclear deterrent should Scotland go it alone, an issue likely to dominate security agenda in event of a Yes vote."

2 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

NATO, dominated by the US, says it would never use Trident in a first strike attack. The US is the only nation that has used nuclear weapons

2 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

The two events of August 1945 - Hiroshima and Nagasaki - are the only use of nuclear weapons in war to date. A first strike attack by the US

4 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

Defence and an independent Scotland - Sitting on de fence on defence … via @moridura

4 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

UK Committees with no SNP voice - Sitting on de fence on defence - … via @moridura

4 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

Defence - a big yawn for the Scottish electorate? Will they still be yawning at ground zero when the WMDs rain down? …

4 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

Labour AM Mark Drakeford opposes Trident fleet in Wales …

5 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

Defence is lynchpin issue for independence negotiations. Most of my blog readers must be indy supporters, yet they don't read defence blogs?

7 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

Dean Acheson, Kennedy's NATO advisor in 1962 "Britain's role as an independent power is about played out." 50yrs on, fiction kept up by UK

8 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

Will an Independent Scotland Throw Out UK Nukes? … Aye, but how long after independence before it's done? Say no to NATO

9 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

Back devomax and you back WMDs - the continuation of Trident in Scotland and more misguided foreign wars. I say NO to devomax, YES to indy.

9 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

Two news discussion tonight on indy and devo max. Both managed to avoid the nuclear/WMD aspect. BE CLEAR - Yes to devomax means Yes to WMDs.

10 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

Only independence will deliver a WMD-free Scotland. Devo max advocates are lethally compromising this key objective

10 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

Devo max = Trident stays = foreign wars = zero international influence for Scotland. So does devo-anything else. Say YES to independence

10 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

We are told there is a majority in Scotland opposed to nuclear weapons, but also that a majority that favours devo-max. Does not compute ...


10 Jul  Gregor Murray@grogipher

@moridura People said that about Devolution (not in favour of devo-max, but neither do I buy your argument!)

10 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

@grogipher You think a vote for devo max will remove nuclear

11 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

Why do the nuclear bombers love devo max? Why do politicians slide away from defence matters? The UK’s nuclear panic …

11 Jul  Hugh Hunter@Gabicabi

@moridura Absolutely. I feel everyone is hedging their bets until someone throws their hat into the ring with a definitive position.

11 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

@Gabicabi I wish I could escape the gnawing suspicion that a nuclear fudge is being contemplated. October SNP Nato vote will be litmus paper

11 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

@Gabicabi Should qualify my last tweet - non-SNP party activists don't give a damn about Trident or WMDs. The activists most certainly do.

11 Jul  Hugh Hunter@Gabicabi

@moridura Yet again I agree. I believe SNP may sacrifice their position on Trident as a concession to appease scared/undecided voters.

11 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

@Gabicabi Voters don't give a damn about Trident, defence. If they did that, it would be as a negotiating bargaining chip after a YES vote

The Watershed: 16th July 2010 - Angus Robertson’s media announcement on the NATO U-turn

16 Jul  NConway@NConway2

@moridura SNP could drop opposition to Nato if Trident is removed from Scotland - Politics - -

16 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

@NConway2 I saw it - something I've blogged on and expressed concern about for some time now.

16 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

Who now doubts that the SNP leadership and Angus Robertson want to join NATO? What the Party will say in October is another matter.

16 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

NATO - SNP preparing to join? If the Party votes to remain in NATO after independence, I will resign my membership. …

16 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

The SNP leadership wants to join an alliance- NATO - committed to the use of nuclear weapons so they will remove nuclear weapons. Aye, right

16 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

Trident poisons Scotland: Nuclear leaks, Faslane - a 2009 clip … This is what we will STILL have if we join NATO. Say NO!

16 Jul  Stuart Crawford@509298

@moridura Peter, I did say this would happen. Where now for people like you? #Labour is pro nuke, so only the #Greens seem to fit the bill?

16 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

@509298 Resign from the party, campaign for independence, vote SNP in by-elections, re-assess Scottish parties policies after independence.

16 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

@509298 The $64 question is - will Labour be pro-nuclear in an independent Scotland. I say NO, with a reasonable amount of

16 Jul  Paul Clarkson@Clarkson77

@509298 @moridura If you read @thesnp defence proposals you'll see the provision for joining #NATO is removal of Trident anf Nukes #yesscot

16 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

@Clarkson77 @509298 @thesnp I know that - and they're nuts if they think they can negotiate any such thing - it will go into very long grass

16 Jul  Paul Clarkson@Clarkson77

@509298 @moridura If you read @thesnp defence proposals you'll see the provision for joining #NATO is removal of Trident anf Nukes #yesscot

16 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

@Clarkson77 @509298 @thesnp NATO is going to surrender Trident and the UK nuclear deterrent of we join NATO? Dream on: the idea is ludicrous

16 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

@Clarkson77 @moraymp @509298 @thesnp He'll have answers. It will depend on the interviewer whether they cut any ice. I'm not sure at all.

16 Jul  Paul Clarkson@Clarkson77

@moridura Then an Independent Scotland won't be joining #NATO , the conditions are clear. Non-negotiable. @509298 @thesnp @yesscotland

16 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

@Clarkson77 @509298 @thesnp @yesscotland They're calling spirits from the vasty deep - it is not that simple, but it's beyond Twitter scope.

16 Jul  Paul Clarkson@Clarkson77

@moridura Angus Robertson ( @moraymp )is on #scotnight as he helped write the proposal I'm sure he'll have answers. @509298 @thesnp

16 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

@Clarkson77 @moraymp @509298 @thesnp He'll have answers. It will depend on the interviewer whether they cut any ice. I'm not sure at all.

16 Jul  Paul Clarkson@Clarkson77

@moridura It is simple, no nukes or no NATO. Clear as day @509298 @thesnp @yesscotland

16 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

@Clarkson77 @509298 @thesnp @yesscotland I wish I had a pound for everyone who said that before getting monumentally screwed in negotiation.

16 Jul  Paul Clarkson@Clarkson77

@moridura It is simple, no nukes or no NATO. Clear as day @509298 @thesnp @yesscotland

16 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

@Clarkson77 @509298 @thesnp @yesscotland You could try finishing your tweets with END OF - you're headed that way ...

16 Jul  Paul Clarkson@Clarkson77

@moridura It's clear to me, if @thesnp can't deliver, we'll just have to vote someone else in 2016 who can. @509298 @yesscotland

16 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

@Clarkson77 @thesnp @509298 @yesscotland If we join NATO, we'll either be locked into an unbreakable deal or be in open-ended negotiation.

16 Jul  Jim @jafurn50

@moridura @Clarkson77 @thesnp @509298 @yesscotland Serious question Peter. how do the other non-nuclear countries in NATO do it?

16 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

@jafurn50 @Clarkson77 @thesnp @509298 @yesscotland They don't have the UK's nuclear fleet in their waters - read my blogs.

16 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

To save trying to answer endless queries on complex arguments, please go to my blog, check the index for NATO. Complex arguments need space

16 Jul  Jim @jafurn50

@moridura @Clarkson77 @thesnp @509298 @yesscotland I do read ur blogs The point is with #indy WE decide. Do you not trust SNP (if elected) ?

16 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

@jafurn50 @Clarkson77 @thesnp @509298 @yesscotland If you've read, you haven't understood. I have no more to say that would be helpful.

16 Jul  Isobel Waller@IsobelWaller

@moridura @Clarkson77 @509298 @thesnp But surely that is a given with SNP? no trident?

16 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

@IsobelWaller @Clarkson77 @509298 @thesnp I'm beginning to wonder just what can be taken as a given with the SNP at the moment.

17 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

@ElaineKY2 Of course I'm not against the YES vote. Try reading my tweets of yesterday and my blog. And see today's tweet re Norway.

17 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

#NATO Norway parallel is false as is that with other non-nuclear NATO members. None of them have the UK's nuclear arsenal on their doorstep.

16 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

NATO, the SNP, Angus Robertson, Isabel Fraser … This was effectively a filibuster by Angus to stop awkward questions.

17 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

The idea that UK/NATO will give up Scottish nuclear base for Trident as quid pro quo for an independent Scotland joining NATO is ludicrous.

17 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

I feel utterly deceived by the SNP's posture on NATO up to yesterday's news - smoke and mirrors over whether such a thing was contemplated.

17 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

@bordersbankie May 2016 SNP will still be negotiating terms. If they're voted out, incoming Labour-controlled coalition won't reverse indy.

17 Jul  David Munro@bordersbankie

@moridura Not sure but presumably then we would say bye bye to Nato. Bigger worry is if pro-Union parties comprise first Government imo.

17 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

@bordersbankie The NATO 'offer' is a way for SNP to get an empty promise to disarm/remove nukes, then have the issue shelved for i20 years.

17 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

NATO resolution seems clear-cut - but is it?

17 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

SNP will maintain Nato membership subject to agreement that Scotland will not host nuclear weapons and will only take part in UN operations.

17 Jul  Pat Kane@thoughtland

@moridura: SNP NATO resolution seems clear-cut - is it?” Seems 2 b. Vote should b on B-plan tho. A-plan pines unnecessarily 2 b "credible"

17 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

@thoughtland I'll need to anwer in full in blogs, Pat. Meanwhile, this will have to do for the moment.

17 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

NATO is a nuclear alliance: it will brook no interference on its WMDs from member countries with non-nuclear policies e.g. Norway, Scotland.

17 Jul  David S. Berry@DavidSBerry

@thoughtland @moridura May not legitimise but are examples to follow. A non-nuclear world needs us "inside the tent" of NATO to change it.

17 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

@DavidSBerry @thoughtland The utter folly of that argument is Labour, inside the UK tent since 1945 - zero influence on nuclear policy.

17 Jul  NConway@NConway2

@moridura Peter that would be a shame are you not better inside the tent arguing ur case than outside

9:28 PM - 17 Jul 12 via TweetCaster for Android · Details

17 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

@NConway2 I'm not outside it till the vote in October. But I don't believe in staying inside wrong tents - it never works. Look at LibDems.

17 Jul  Lilly Hunter@LillyLyle

Those of you complaining about @thesnp tonight, have a look south of the border & count your blessings

17 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

@LillyLyle Those of you afraid to confront your party when they're fundamentally wrong - remember Robin Cook, the last decent Lab MP

17 Jul  NConway@NConway2

@moridura @LillyLyle nato is a non issue who says SNP will ever form the 1st or 2nd government or any government of an independent Scotland

17 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

@NConway2 I heard the non-issue argument months ago when naive SNP supporters were denying that the SNP had any such plans. It's an issue.

17 Jul  NConway@NConway2

@moridura Thanks Peter...please stay in the tent :-)

17 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

@NConway2 Until - and if ...

18 Jul  David S. Berry@DavidSBerry

@moridura @thoughtland Perhaps that's more down to Labour's folly and not my arguments: they sold out any principle on this in the 1980's.

18 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

@DavidSBerry @thoughtland Long before that, David - it started with Aneurin Bevan's "going naked into the conference chamber" remark.

18 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

SNP leadership want to maintain nuclear virginity by getting rid of Trident yet join a nuclear alliance committed to retaining and using it.

20 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

Jim Sillars view of Scotland:"NATO's aircraft carrier" If this remotely reflects the SNP view what's the point of indy? …

20 Jul  NConway@NConway2

Jim Sillars: Scotland is bound to stay in the club - Comment - -

20 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

@NConway2 A club I won't want to be in - Scotland as NATO's aircraft carrier. What point to independence if this view holds sway?

20 Jul  David Robertson@Daveinmaryburgh

@moridura what would your thoughts be on membership on same basis as Iceland ?

20 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

@Daveinmaryburgh NATO exists as a reality that we must interact with, David. The only interaction I support is through Partnership for Peace

20 Jul  Ron Wilson@TartanSeer

@moridura @NConway2 The point being the people can vote for parties opposed to NATO & if given demo assent remove Scotland from alliance

20 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

@TartanSeer @NConway2 If that means "join and we can get out later" Ron, I say no - it means "go along with anything till indy then get out"

20 Jul  Ron Wilson@TartanSeer

@moridura It means playing hardball 4 the prize, NATO a Unionist fox shot by Robertson, real choices after indy when you & the people decide

20 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

@TartanSeer I disagree fundamentally with that, Ron. I'll have a blog up on Sillars later today.

20 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

Twitter is not exactly awash with tweets from our fearless, outspoken MSPs about how they feel about NATO. How do whips work in Holyrood?

21 Jul Stewart McDonald@StewartMcDonald

@freescotlandnow like the UN?

21 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

@StewartMcDonald @freescotlandnow UN does not endorse the use of nuclear weapons, nor the policies of member countries. …

21 july Peter Curran@moridura

If SNP votes to join NATO they will move from being the best option for a nuclear-free Scotland to least worst option. I'll still vote SNP.

Peter Curran@moridura

NATO Kosovo campaign 2001 failed to avert a humanitarian disaster - a questionable model of humanitarian intervention. …

21 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

Kosovo - NATO's shining hour? Absolutely not. Review of NATO’s War over Kosovo Noam Chomsky …

Peter Curran@moridura

What NATO says about its nuclear policy. Support NATO membership and you support this …

21 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

Presence of US nuclear forces in Europe committed to NATO provides essential political/military link between European and N.American members

21 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

Alex Salmond - against NATO intervention in Kosovo …

Peter Curran@moridura

Public support for NATO won't translate into YES votes for indy, but "Why leave UK if in NATO?" Most NATO supporters support the deterrent.

Peter Curran@moridura

Whatever most Scots think, Scots won't be allowed to determine nuclear status. If we join NATO, indy Scotland won't get rid of Trident.

22 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

Poll shows majority of Scots in favour of Scot.Govn. making decision on nuclear weapons. Most of them mean a devolved government, not indy

22 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

Pro-NATO nats rejoice in poll showing majority of Scots in favour. Hardly surprising - most want to stay in the UK if other polls accurate


Independence for Scotland contains all the Devo Max you could ask for- free!

23 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

@AngusMacNeilMP And we won't get it if the party goes down the NATO route you favour, Angus - a golden gift to the devo/status quo brigade.

24 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

@AngusMacNeilMP If you haven't read my blogs on this, I don't plan to repeat it all here. You'd better get beyond such simplistic thinking.

24 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

@AngusMacNeilMP @bordersbankie Powers? What 'powers'? NATO = 3 nuclear states with a veto dominating 25 non-nuclear. Scotland's 'powers' = 0


@moridura so long as u move powers from.Westminster to Scotland ..Scots can decide what forums they are in. I'd choose NATO :-)

23 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

@AngusMacNeilMP I know you would, Angus - you've put your name to the motion. You're giving up on independence with this one

SNP party supporters and the NATO question – the comment themes

One recent comment perhaps sums up the nature of the opposition to my arguments against NATO membership and the SNP’s handling of it.

“Peter it is becoming increasingly clear that you would like to see a public debate with the SNP exercising no control or management of this issue - just as any organisation never mind a political party would do and has done throughout history?”

That captures almost exactly what I would like to see, and what the SNP and my critics seem determined not to have – an open debate involving the people of Scotland, as the SNP has been having with the big conversation, the referendum consultation, the same sex marriage consultation, etc. all in the name of open and transparent government.

But in the SNP’s scale of priorities, it matters more to find out what the people think about same sex marriage than whether a party that presents itself as a party of principle and adamantly anti-nuclear should do a volte face on its long-standing opposition to membership of a nuclear alliance, totally committed to the principle of nuclear deterrence and the possession and use of WMDs.

Why is this? Simply because the SNP, with entirely honourable motives, recognised that same sex marriage was a political hot potato, and if they intended to pursue legislation (as to their credit they have committed to do) they had to get a real idea of the view of the people.

But this clear and principled vision deserts them when it comes to something infinitely more important, the membership of a nuclear alliance in which an independent Scotland will be utterly powerless but jointly culpable when nuclear Armageddon is triggered by the big Three.

Instead, they try to stay low key on their true intentions for an extended period, stonewall the media, then slip out an announcement at the tail end of the Parliamentary term, with the firm intention of keeping the whole thing in house and under wraps until Conference in October.

Was there anything signalled in advance of the media statement to SNP branches and party members about the Robertson/MacNeil paper? Was there any suggestion to branches that they should make a point of debating this important question? Were the arguments for and against made available so that members could reached a balanced conclusion?

Any objective observer considering how these events have unfolded would come to the conclusion that the Party leadership and party managers want this paper to come to conference with the minimum of publicity, with the minimum of open debate, to then have a ‘debate’ in which the party leaders will throw their weight decisively behind the proposal - accompanied by ringing reaffirmation of the anti-nuclear policy - then secure a ratification of the U-turn. Cynicism? No, realism

But let’s hear more of the pro-party position and pro-NATO comments – and they are not always the same the same group. Some who are opposed to NATO membership nonetheless defend the Party managers’ approach to the management of the issue and the vote.


“I know you are pissed off that conference will probably endorse a policy with which you disagree but with which I suspect the majority of Scots will agree but you cannot seriously suggest that telling the members not to give succour to the enemy prematurely is undemocratic?”

“… it looks like the matter will be decided at the conference. … But that's the disadvantage of democracy. Sometimes the other side wins. And we do believe in democracy, right?”

“I am fairly rabidly anti-WMD, but I suppose I disagree with you in this. This IS something that should be debated and debated before the referendum campaign. It is the SNP's strength, not its weakness, that it can look at policies and bring them before their conference for open debate.”

“Peter, can you tell me why we can't be in NATO and still get rid of nuclear weapons? …. As far as I am concerned the vote at conference will be support NATO and ban nuclear weapons.”

“Nuclear weapons are of course an abomination but they are not going to go away. How can we as a small nation influence the defence(?) policy of such great powers as the USA, China, etc.? Let's face it, CND has lost the war.

Unfortunately, an independent Scotland will require military treaties. As a start, I believe a pragmatic alliance with NATO, within definitions that we, as far as possible, have determined to represent the view of the Scottish people is a good start. ….. If Scotland were to decide not to join NATO and go it alone, I wonder how long the removal and decommissioning of these foreign powers' weapons would take, if ever."

I've kept more or less silent on the SNP policies that I have disagreed with Peter, just to avoid this kind of thing; the Judean Popular Front meltdown that will be leapt upon by the unionists.”

“I think Salmond was between a rock and a hard place on this one. Can he really afford to have the US actively fighting against Scottish independence? And the US has a long history of interfering in situations like this. Do you think they wouldn't if US interest are at risk? I think there is a substantial possibility that there is good reason for this decision. You get where I'm going with that, I am sure.

I don't like this and I don't like WMD in Scotland but as has been pointed out many times, Norway is in NATO and still remains nuclear-free. I see no reason why Scotland couldn't do the same.”

“I don't care much for NATO either way but sympathise with the SNP's Realpolitik situation. For independence to stand a chance, the SNP has to signal to the International Community, i.e. America that they can be relied upon as an ally. Otherwise independence would not happen due to tacit disapproval.”

“I hate saying this stuff because it sounds paranoid but the history of the CIA and the US government interfering in the internal affairs of foreign nations, including independence campaigns, is public record. … There is a clear history of US government interference to protect US interests. I am not at all sure this may not have influenced the SNP position.

I won't mention Norway after this, Peter, but I am not at all sure you have made your case that Scotland would be totally difference post-independence. …”

“I must say I'm completely at the other end of the spectrum on this. Although I'm a SNP member (a quite recent one in fact) I've always been a little cagey on their defence policy, and to me this is a welcome dose of pragmatism, or realism or whatever one wants to call it. Although I wouldn't want Scotland to be a holder of nuclear weapons - I think we should take our lead from a country like Norway (to use a well worn comparison) I've never been in favour of unilateral disarmament either. Honouring our treaty obligations whilst remaining a member of NATO, at least for the present, poses no difficulties for me.”


In the above, and many other comments, including on YouTube and in private correspondence that I cannot quote, I tease out the following common points -

Don’t rock the independence boat by making your policy disagreement public.

Accept the result of the democratic vote of Conference – don’t resign because a policy you disagree with is passed.

The SNP is adamantly anti-nuclear therefore it can safely be a member of NATO without compromising that principle.

An independent Scotland must be a member of a defensive alliance.

As a member, Scotland can positively influence NATO.

If we don’t join, America and NATO will intimidate us and threaten independence and the anti-nuclear policy.

We can be anti-nuclear and still be against unilateral nuclear disarmament and in favour of the deterrent until multi-lateral disarmament happens.

A majority of the Scottish electorate favour NATO membership, so joining will help a YES vote to independence.

Norway can manage to be anti-nuclear and yet be a NATO member – so can an independent Scotland.

This policy change is a matter for SNP internal party democracy and no one else.


Since I have set out my arguments against an independent Scotland being a NATO member at considerable length - more than most media and online commentators - I really must rest my case unless new evidence or events lead me to add to it. I do reserve to right to revisit it and reiterate it constantly in the lead-up to the Perth October debate and vote. All of the above points I believe I have rebutted by argument, but them I would say that, wouldn’t I?

I have no evidence that I have changed a single opinion by my arguments, but I have evidence that I have offered a useful structuring of the arguments against NATO - and reference point to them - to those who were already against it – Professor Mitchell’s 22% of the SNP by 2007 sample. I hope that number has grown, but it may well have shrunk in the five years since the sample.

However, in my replies to various correspondents recently I made some new responses which I think might be relevant -

“There is a democratic world out there beyond the SNP called the Scottish electorate, or if you like, the people of Scotland, which the SNP Government says they want a dialogue with in the spirit of open government - except when it is a hot potato like this one.

This vital issue is not one to have kept within the confines of the party, and the party has not behaved well over this. So far there has been no debate of any kind on this at my branch, nor has there been any level or forum SNP forum in which I (also an SNP member - for the moment) have been able to debate it so far. However, there is a forum, the NO to NATO Coalition, and I will be saying my piece there.”

The Party brought this on themselves - they were less than honest in their lead up to this, they have tried to avoid discussing it, and have displayed a lack of openness and transparency on the issue in the hope of sliding it through painlessly at conference, which has been self-defeating, as it inevitably was going to be. I cannot accept that issues of this importance should be suppressed in the interests of closing ranks. The responsibility for 'playing into the hands of the unionists' lies squarely with the party managers.

There is something called democratic accountability to the electorate. The SNP governs for all the people of Scotland, not just SNP party members, who are a tiny proportion, and party delegates, who are a tinier proportion.

This is not open government as I understand it, it is rather sordid and manipulative party politics of a type I had hoped the SNP was above, and on a fundamental issue. The fact that most party members don't seem to regard NATO membership as a fundamental issue I find deeply depressing.

In the event of a YES vote in 2014  - if we now get one after this misconceived initiative - negotiations will be either completed or close to completion before the 2016 Holyrood election. What the present devolved SNP Government wants is endorsement of their negotiating position for those negotiations intended to lead to full independence. The idea that any non-SNP government or SNP/Labour Coalition after 2016 can unwind such a key concession is naive.”

“The matter will be decided at the October conference. There is little reason to think that the majority are opposed - all the polls and my own, albeit limited range of respondees would indicate the reverse.

There are those in the Parliamentary Party who are opposed, but some of them have effectively been muted, and are strangely - and perhaps contemptibly - silent.

I believe in democracy. I also believe that I have a perfect right not to belong to a political party that espouses something that I believe to be fundamentally wrong - and dangerous. Being a party member and supporting a party electorally and financially on a least worst option at the ballot box are very different things, however.

Since I believe that citizens must vote, I have throughout my life supported parties that I was not fully in tune with as the least worst option, e.g. the Labour Party.

For five years I have supported the SNP as a best option, a party that fulfilled all my fundamental beliefs. I regret that is no longer true (short of a miraculous revolt against NATO policy in October!)

But I will still vote SNP at by-elections until the referendum outcome is known. Come 2015 general election (UK) and 2016 (Holyrood election), perhaps for a newly independent Scotland - who knows?”

“Undoubtedly it should be debated - and it will be. Whether it can be categorised as open is another matter. It's backed by the party's strategist and defence spokesman, Angus Robertson. It's backed by Alex Salmond, the party's Superman. Dissenting voices are few, and muted (or being muted!) The party leadership simply can't afford to lose this vote, and they won't.

The party is in "Let's avoid dissent on everything until after independence - then everything will be alright" mood. But it won't be. There is a growing blandness in the party's approach and what they risk is not the loss of core activists campaigning and voting for YES (like me, in or out of party), but the increasing body of the uncommitted saying "So if so little will be different after independence, why not stay in the UK?" Without their votes, there will be no independence.

If the party votes to join/stay in NATO, I might see independence in my lifetime, but I will never see a nuclear-free Scotland. Trident decommissioning and removal will be at least 10 years away, perhaps 20 - and that means never – it will disappear into very long, polluted NATO/rUK grass.

I will be looking for a realignment on the Scottish Left (there is no such party - yet ...)”

The SNP is a democratic party, with a branch structure and nomination and voting procedures. I have little doubt that the majority of active members, including apparently most MSPs and ministers, are either in support of their NATO posture, or apathetic. For those who oppose it and are silent, I have only contempt to offer.

I am one voter, one party member and one voice, nothing more. I am against NATO membership, and I can never be a member of a political party that supports membership, however tortuous and self-serving - and maybe self-deluding - the justifications offered.

Come a YES vote to NATO in October and I'm out.”

“Trying to curry favour by offering to stay in NATO if the UK removes Trident is hardly going to work. Offering to stay in NATO then delaying the decommissioning of Trident indefinitely might work, but then the SNP would be as bad as what Scots are trying to rid themselves of.

I have never tried to make a case that Scotland would be totally different after independence. Most Scots want to preserve its traditions, its values, its relationship with the other nations that currently comprise the UK, its unique culture, its tolerance and the proud traditions of its regiments and fighting forces.”

Will the devo max option cause those who would vote indy on single question to bottle it and settle for devo max and those who would reject indy vote devo max.?

It all depends on how the questions and the ballot paper(s) are structured. I've been over this in depth in blogs, but nobody seems to want to do the hard thinking, and much utter nonsense has been talked about the questions, the voting outcomes, etc.

The critical element will be the likely high turnout vs normal election - anywhere from an 80-90% turnout with more than 50% of the total turnout being people who don't usually vote - the silent group that everyone wants to claim as their own.”

Thursday, 2 August 2012

The lead-up to the NATO debacle ...

When I launched my little lonely boat under the name Anti-NATO, it was a comparatively calm sea. Since then it has become a turbulent one. I had been uneasy for some time about just how firm the SNP’s anti-NATO stance was. Professor William Walker, in an article in the Scotsman early in January of this year, fanned my little flame of doubt into something more alarming by this statement -

Desiring to appear reasonable, the SNP might adopt a stance that would allow the present Trident system to operate out of Scotland during its remaining lifetime but refuse to house its replacement. It would commit Scotland to a phase-out rather than sudden closure. This would provide England with ample time, the argument might go, to develop other sites and systems and would give fair notice to Nato member states. But such a stance would not change the fundamentals. Without alternative sites, phasing out the current system would entail phasing out the UK’s deterrent. As the first boat is expected to retire in the late 2020s, it also implies that Trident would remain in Scotland for decades rather than years to come. This would be a hard sell, especially within the SNP.

(The highlighting and emphasis is mine.)

Then we had another Professor on the scene, James Mitchell of Strathclyde University who, with his co-authors, published the first full results of a survey originally conducted in 2007/2008 of 7,112 SNP members which revealed that 52.7% believed Nato membership was in Scotland's strategic interests, compared with only 22% who still believed in an independent Scotland the alliance, with the remainder being more or less apathetic.

Various sectors of the media then began to speculate, putting flesh on rumours that the SNP strategic leaders were actively considering a U-turn on NATO membership. and perhaps worse, while continuing to issue robust statements of a totally anti-nuclear, anti-Trident policy to reassure the faithful, who are not given to thinking very deeply on such matters. And of course, the Mitchell finding emboldened the pro-NATO group.

I began to tweet cautiously, hoping to tease out a clear-cut statement, only to be the object of a barrage of tweets from SNP supporters and bloggers indignantly claiming that no such thing was contemplated, it was all being got up by the villainous unionist media, led by the arch-villain, BBC Scotland. It was suggested bluntly that I was giving aid and comfort to an unsubstantiated rumour. This metamorphosed gradually into a “Well, yes, some misguided party member might just submit a resolution to Conference, and there will be a token debate, and it will be voted down”.

At no point in this phoney war period did the SNP communications department or any senior figure make a clear-cut statement of intent, but the language very tentatively began to firm up. There probably would be a resolution – originator unspecified – and it would be debated, the new theme being “Well, after all, we are a democratic party, and we periodically review policy” etcetera, etcetera.

One blogger/tweeter still pursued the “It’s all a unionist lie, being promulgated by the wicked media” with me, in such aggressive style that I reluctantly had to block them on Twitter. But something was clearly at work, since quite a number of correspondents (blog comment, Twitter, YouTube comments) now felt emboldened enough to defend a “possible NATO policy change”, moving gradually from “it might not be a bad thing, really” to enthusiastic statements of support, confirming Professor Mitchell’s survey findings.

The tone and style of comments directed at me changed to “This is entirely a matter for the Party’s internal democracy, not for the general public, and you are harming the cause of independence and nuclear disarmament by your position.” I had rather brought this on myself by making it clear that if the Party approved a policy change on NATO, I would resign.

But then the nuclear NATO cat jumped out of the bag. all aglow, with the release of the defence paper by its co-signatories, Angus Robertson MP and Angus MacNeil MP, and at last the party was prepared to speak openly about its position. Even after this, some of my correspondents were trying to maintain the risible position that there was no evidence that the First Minister endorsed the recommendation, despite the spectacularly obvious point that it would never have seen the light of day without his prior approval and support.

Parliament went on its summer vacation shortly afterwards. The timing is of course entirely coincidental. My long series of blogs on NATO more or less track these events, as do my YouTube videos. Meanwhile, the Scottish Affairs Select Committee inquiry into the minutiae of independence – uncontroversially titled The Referendum on Separation for Scotland went merrily on with its McCarthyite attempts to get sundry witnesses, expert and otherwise, to say what an expensive, job-destroying, incompetent disaster it would all be, threatening not only national security and world order, but also the jobs and pension of Scottish soldiers.

Despite the absence of any SNP representative on this Labour-dominated committee (the SNP official reasons being the alleged insult to Eilidh Whiteford and the use of the word Separation in the title: real reason probably that they would have had nothing of substance to say at that point) the Committee were unsuccessful in many instances in getting the M.O.D. representatives and other experts to respond appropriately to their negative and increasingly desperate prompts, feeds and leading questions.

I’ll try to cover the comment themes tomorrow sometime.


In a recent blog I wrote on how NATO would launch a nuclear strike, and on what authority -

(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.)

Once again, I am indebted to my invaluable Danish contact for correcting me on this, as follows -

In the case of France, it is not the prime minister who has power over the military, it is the President of the Republic who is commander-in-chief in a literal sense, in particular in regard to nuclear weapons; it is only the President who can order a nuclear strike, specifically because only he/she has the launch codes for them.

When France elected a new president in May, you might have seen the hand-over ceremony reported on. While that had a lot of ritual and formality to it, there was one rather practical bit. When Hollande talked with Sarkozy in private, that was when he was given the launch codes for France's nuclear weapons.

Of course, NATO and Hollande won’t launch a nuclear war without the permission of Alex Salmond and Angus Robertson - not to mention Angus MacNeil - when we’re happily members of this nuclear alliance, and have a promise that Trident will be gone some time in the next 20 years or so.. After all, the SNP is anti-nuclear – and there’s the Auld Alliance and a’ that …