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Showing posts with label Scotland's defence. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Scotland's defence. Show all posts

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

A YouTube response to a Don’t Know’s questions “that haven’t been answered”

Djoly

Djoly (Please note the 'D' is silent, like the night)
I'm not so concerned about the impartiality of the different reporting bodies, (BBC and ITV) just their inability to get clear answers from our elected representatives. As the day's turned to weeks and the weeks to month, it is now clear that the explanation's I was hoping for, so I could make a balanced informed choice on: (security, borders, Europe, currency and how we elect our head of state, Queen? and so forth) are unclear.

Much of the major decisions will only become clear after the vote. (Europe and currency)

That is not satisfactory for the serious minded voters that want to make an informed decision. I asked my bank the other day what was to happen if the vote is Yes, they did not have a scooby. I've just bought a passport for £80, will it be valid for 10 years, and will I need it to travel down to London to visit my Brother. Will there be a General Election in 2015 if there is a Yes vote?

Being governed by parties we did not vote for, is a good enough reason for Independence, but why keep their head of state and currency.

People do not have long memories, a lot a people that have the vote will not remember the Second World War, and how Britain stood alone against an evil and powerful foe, together the United Kingdom managed to withstand the onslaught.

I'm a Democrat, so I believe the head of state should be elected. (sorry Queenie)

I have not yet decided my vote.

MY REPLY

I'm not surprised you're undecided if you think no one has offered answers to your questions, Djoly: they have ALL been answered - to the degree that they CAN be answered, given that we're remaking a country under intense hostility from UK parties and institutions - to my satisfaction and to that of around 1.5m "serious-minded" YES voters, based on polls (more to come).

It seems to me you are either afraid of change, and prefer to be locked in a dysfunctional and rapidly decaying UK status quo, or you are looking for a certainty that no one can give you in a rapidly changing world, least of all the present government and political parties.

But let me try to help -

Security: Scotland will be MORE secure, because we won't have a WMD base as a prime target in our country, making us a candidate for a first strike in a nuclear war - and nobody will have any reason to attack us since we won't be engaged in illegal wars and invading other countries. We will have our own defence force for domestic security, and will be a member, but not a nuclear member of NATO.

Borders/passports: There will be no border, no border posts, and no passport required to travel to England since we will be in the EU and covered by existing rules.

Europe: We are currently a member of the EU, and will still be one after a YES vote under UK till 2016. During the period Sept 2014 till March 2016 we will be negotiating a range of matters including our new status in Europe. No informed commentator or expert seriously believes we won't continue in membership.

Currency: Our currency will be the pound sterling, either in a currency union with rUK or under sterlingisation - i.e. we will carry on using the pound as a tradable currency and peg it on a fixed rate to sterling.

Head of state: Our Head of state will be the Queen - a commitment already given and one that cannot be changed without a referendum after independence - and there won't be one, because all opinion polls show about a two thirds majority in favour of monarchy across UK (that's why they don't hold a referendum on it!) I'm a republican, by the way - but I'm also a democrat and a realist.

2015 General election: The 2015 election will be held after a No vote - no one questions that, since there will still be a UK till 2016 and an rUK and a Westminster Parliament after 2016

(If your bank can't answer simple questions on currency, etc. I suggest you change your bank.)

Get your own copy of the White Paper, at least scan it, use it for reference and contact information sources who know what they're talking about, instead of listening to Better Together scare stories. Be part of the future, the new Scotland. Be on the right side of history - don't go down in history as a frightened Scot who voted No to his/her country's independence.

.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

A real Scottish soldier talks to someone who talks about Scottish soldiers …

Keith Brown, a Falklands veteran, trounces Ming Campbell in Daily Politics debate on Scotland's armed Forces after Philip Hammond's hit and run attack today on Scotland's capacity to defend itself.

(As far as I know, Ming never served in the armed forces, but  his connection to them - and to the British Establishment opposed to Scotland's independence - could lie in his marriage to Elspeth, Lady Grant-Suttie, daughter of Major General Roy Urquhart. )

His arguments, such as they were, seemed to rely on defence-as-job-creation scheme and his blind belief that young Scots wouldn't want to serve in a Scottish Regiment defending Scotland.

He was also gratuitously offensive to Scots (not to mention other countries of equivalent size) in suggesting that a Scottish defence force would be no more than a militia. Tell that to the marines, Ming.

In fact, you just did - to a real soldier and a marine - Keith Brown MSP

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.

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.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

The panic over UK nuclear weapons turns to threats - the UK bombers are now in attack mode

I have complained for three years that defence was the elephant in the room in the great debate, with politicians and media sedulously avoiding the mention of the dread concept - Scotland’s defence position after independence.

But no more - the nukes have hit the fan, so to speak, and today it’s all over the media like a radiation burn, and a nuclear glow hangs over the news. Journalists and television commentators frantically try to get up to speed, and in the absence of any significant commentators within easily whistling distance of Pacific Quay or in Glasgow’s West End watering holes - some say the usual mode of selecting panellists - producers are having to cast their nets in wider and hopefully deeper waters. The usual suspect won’t do as studio guests for this one - it’s a job for the big boys and girls …

Thanks God, there are some big beasts in the press at least, and Ian Bell has weighed in with a classic 1200 words or so.

Read him at Will Salmond go to war in the battle for defence?

He says most of the things I have wanted to say and tried to say, but says them with superb professionalism and economy.

There are other beasts in the defence jungle, with less democratic intent than that of a fine journalist like Bell telling the truth to power, among them George Robertson, a former NATO General Secretary. Having come a long way from Port Ellen, Islay via the Ministry of Defence, NATO and all things bright and nuclear, the Wee Laird of Port Ellen is understandably a fan of NATO and the ‘independent’ nuclear deterrent, i.e the Trident WMD weapons system.

And so we get the unionist bombing litany, familiar from Liam Fox (who he?) and Jim Murphy, etc. There are “gigantic holes in the plan” - aye, a nuclear hole, George - and “The SNP intends to tear Scotland out of NATO”. The wee Laird’s language gets more colourful and violent, as befits a befits someone with a career based on weaponry - the SNP are proposing “surgically amputating” Scottish regiments from the British Army. The FM’s brief outline  of some defence aspects to a journalist are “half-baked proposals”, the SNP is “dogmatically demanding” - Lord Robertson is never dogmatic - and so it goes on.

The SNP is “stretching the tolerance of the Scottish people”. What the **** would you know about the Scottish people, Lord Robertson? It’s a helluva long time since you placed yourself before the will of the Scottish people in a democratic election, but the SNP did, less than a year ago, and got a formidable democratic mandate. What’s your mandate, Geordie boy?

Playing politics with defence is reckless.” Naw, what is reckless is playing career politics with obscene weapons of mass destruction that can kill millions, main millions more, and pollute the planet, Geordie.

The response to the Wee Laird’s excited language from the SNP comes in the calm, measured words of Angus Robertson, MP.

The SNP advocate exactly the same non-nuclear defence policy - including defence cooperation, and membership of  Partnership for Peace - as Sweden, Finland, Austria and Ireland, none of whom are members of NATO.”

Here’s what NATO itself says about Partnership for Peace

The Partnership for Peace (PfP) is a programme of practical bilateral cooperation between individual Euro-Atlantic partner countries and NATO. It allows partners to build up an individual relationship with NATO, choosing their own priorities for cooperation.

Based on a commitment to the democratic principles that underpin the Alliance itself, the purpose of the Partnership for Peace is to increase stability, diminish threats to peace and build strengthened security relationships between individual Euro-Atlantic partners and NATO, as well as among partner countries.

Perhaps you should have taken a look at the NATO website before launching your diatribe, Lord Robertson?

EXTRACT FROM 24th September 2011 BLOG: LORD ROBERTSON et all

But of course, the high road to England has been the glittering prize for ambitious Scottish Labour Party politicians, and indeed all Scottish politicians with the exception of the SNP – a route to Westminster, ministerial office and ultimately the Lords, the final escape from democracy and the tedious need to get elected to make money. They have the shining Labour examples from the past to inspire them – Lord George Foulkes, Lord Martin, the disgraced former Speaker, Lord McConnell, Lord Watson, convicted of fire-raising in a Scottish hotel, Baroness Adams, once distinguished as having the highest expenses of any member of the Lords, despite having spoken in the Upper chamber only once (2009), Lord Reid, Lord Robertson – the list goes on.

However, the last two are interesting, since they were both Scottish Labour MPs who became UK Secretaries of State for Defence, and in Lord Robertson’s case, grasped the even more glittering prize of Secretary General of NATO.

George Islay MacNeill Robertson left Islay as fast as possible, and despite being elected six times as MP for either Hamilton or Hamilton South, moved swiftly to more exalted UK posts, and ultimately to NATO. He now bristles with directorships and consultancies.


Friday, 20 January 2012

The UK’s nuclear panic - and devo max

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

Among the many perceptive insights in this article are these -

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

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

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

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

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

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

But the essence is this, for me at least -

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

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

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

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

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

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

1. Retention of Scottish nuclear bases.

2. Retention of the Trident weapons of mass destruction.

3. Retention of the concept of the nuclear deterrent.

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

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

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

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

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

THAT IS THE STARK REALITY OF REJECTING SCOTLAND’S INDEPENDENCE - THERE IS NO OTHER POSSIBLE INTERPRETATION.

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Moridura’s contribution to the Ipsos Mori debate


YOUR QUOTE: "Other polls have shown higher levels of support for ‘independence’; crucially however, respondents in these polls are not presented with a definition of what independence means, possibly because such a definition has yet to be fully articulated."

I would suggest that Scottish voters have a very clear and straightforward idea of what independence means, in a definition that has repeatedly and clearly been articulated by the First Minister and others, e.g. Stewart Hosie MP.

Independence is the full autonomy of Scotland as a nation, with control of foreign policy, defence, taxation, resources, all revenue and expenditure, membership of the EU and membership of the UN. In other words, what every independent nation in Europe defines as independence. Scotland will be a sovereign state, but it will retain the Queen - and her rightful heirs - as constitutional monarch.



Simple!

What flows naturally from that, as any school child can understand, never mind adult voters, is that Scotland, as an independent state in the modern world will also be interdependent with other nations, and will enter freely into treaties and agreements, and will freely incur obligations and responsibilities and other arrangements that are in Scotland's interests and yield corresponding benefits.

Such agreement will naturally focus on mutual cooperation with our near neighbours and long-time friends in these Islands - England, Wales, Northern, Ireland and the Republic of Ireland - and with the European Union. They will also include the obligations of membership of the United Nations.

Such treaties and agreements will be freely entered into, and crucially, freely terminated under the terms of the agreement when they no longer meet Scotland's interests. They will include matters relating to defence and the armed forces, and any other matter where cooperation and sharing of resources is in  Scotland's interests.

There will be one over-riding proviso in any defence agreements - that Scotland will not be a party to the use of nuclear weapons, and will reject absolutely any basing of nuclear weapons or nuclear delivery weapons systems within the boundaries of Scotland. That resolutely non-nuclear position will be a deal-breaker in any defence-related agreements or treaties.

Any other options such as the so-called devo-max option, i.e. full fiscal autonomy, are not independence options - and they do not represent the core objective of The Scottish National Party. While the UK exists, and is the sovereign state, the Scottish government will continue to press for the maximum autonomy within the devolved settlement, and progressive extension of its fiscal powers and control of resources.

However, what the SNP and supporters of independence want is not necessarily what all of the Scottish people want - determining that is the intent and purpose of the referendum. What questions will be posed and what options offered in the referendum ballot remain to be determined, and will be determined - by the Scottish Government and the Scottish Parliament alone - before the ballot.

What the opponents of the independence of Scotland appear to be doing is making the patently ridiculous demand that the Scottish government should present to the people the full complex detail of the negotiations that will follow the independence referendum, not precede it. Leaving aside the fact that doing this would prejudice the Scottish governments negotiating position, it would be totally and utterly impracticable. No other nation seeking its independence has ever proceeded in such a fashion, Nor will Scotland.

If I may mix a Scottish saying with an American one - the Scottish voter didnae come up the Clyde/Forth/Tay on a bike, and he or she can tell **** from Shinola when it comes to evaluating the case for their country's independence.

Saor Alba!


Saturday, 24 September 2011

The speed of light, variations on equations – and the High Road to England

The speed of light is big news, thanks to the particle physicists at CERN and the Large Hadron Collider. I had a bit of fun with the LHC way back, before it was switched on - large hadron collider – and now jokey variations on equations based on Einstein’s E = mc2 abound online.

A little know fact is that the Large Hadron Collider was responsible for the SNP’s landslide victory in May of this year.  A new particle – the Unionist Bullshit Killer particle – was inadvertently created and, escaping from the tunnel of the Collider, it arrived in Scotland at just over the speed of light, just in time for the Holyrood election campaign. Lethal to some parties, it disabled the Tory Party, already severely wounded by the Thatcher Particle, almost destroyed the LibDems, and attacked what was left of the brain cells of the Labour Party.

The effect of the Unionist Bullshit Killer particle was wholly beneficial to the SNP, which most scientists attribute to the SNP’s relative autonomy and independence, and a quality known as Scottishness, which is a sort of Britishness anti-matter. However, some who belong to the New Labour school believe that an effective antidote to the particle is endless renaming of the Labour Party, in the hope that the particle – and the electorate – will be fooled into not recognising the party of Iraq, WMDs, economic incompetence and greed.

So far, this strategy has not worked, but many live in hope. A small, but significant minority believe that the new data on the speed of light mean that the May 2011 election can actually be re-run, thus relieving them from feeling that they are living in a parallel universe where Scotland’s independence is assured and the UK’s days are numbered.

THE HIGH ROAD TO ENGLAND

The Scotsman has been in hysterical headline mode since John Swinney’s budget, and the casual reader who thinks the Scotsman is still a quality daily reflecting the real world faithfully might be forgiven for believing that the world has risen up with a great cry of indignation and horror at the Finance Secretary’s budget, when in fact a number of vested interests have squealed, and the usual suspects have appeared with dreary predictability, e.g. Iain MacMillan of the CBI, crying woe. The Scottish Unions cannot be dismissed in this way, however, and we must remember that they are only doing what unions do, making a pre-emptive threat to protect their membership, something I have applauded them for doing in England against the Coalition.

But the problem with the Scottish trades unions has always been that many of their full-time officers are often more representative of Labour Party politics than they are of their membership, for the simple reason that the Party offers career progression and the high road to England for those who toe the party line. For many trade union officials, the Party and the union are a seamless whole, and they find it difficult to separate the two. While the unions, in the main, are affiliated to the Labour Party, this will continue to be true.

But of course, the high road to England has been the glittering prize for ambitious Scottish Labour Party politicians, and indeed all Scottish politicians with the exception of the SNP – a route to Westminster, ministerial office and ultimately the Lords, the final escape from democracy and the tedious need to get elected to make money. They have the shining Labour examples from the past to inspire them – Lord George Foulkes, Lord Martin, the disgraced former Speaker, Lord McConnell, Lord Watson, convicted of fire-raising in a Scottish hotel, Baroness Adams, once distinguished as having the highest expenses of any member of the Lords, despite having spoken in the Upper chamber only once (2009), Lord Reid, Lord Robertson – the list goes on.

However, the last two are interesting, since they were both Scottish Labour MPs who became UK Secretaries of State for Defence, and in Lord Robertson’s case, grasped the even more glittering prize of Secretary General of NATO. It is fair to say that no such exalted – and highly lucrative – posts would ever be open to a Scottish MP who decided to devote himself or herself solely to the interests of the people who elected them to Westminster, and are certainly not open to those who decided to become MSPS and serve the Scottish people in Scotland.

Now the most ambitious Labour MPs – and MSPs - grasp these essential facts very rapidly indeed, and at the earliest opportunity get the hell out of Scotland and as far away from the realities of the day-to-day lives of their constituents as possible. While Springburn crumbled into even greater dereliction and poverty than that which had been the legacy of decades as a Labour fiefdom, Michael Martin was siting in the Speaker’s chair, acting as shop steward for the MPs who were ripping off the taxpayer through the expenses system. George Islay MacNeill Robertson left Islay as fast as possible, and despite being elected six times as MP for either Hamilton or Hamilton South, moved swiftly to more exalted UK posts, and ultimately to NATO. He now bristles with directorships and consultancies.

John Reid, MP of Motherwell North and then Airdrie and Shotts soon saw the attractions of the classic route to power – Secretary of State for Scotland and Secretary of State for Defence, and held numerous other Cabinet posts besides. A former Communist and a product of a very rough realpolitik Labour environment, he once described the Labour Party in 1983 as "Leaderless, unpatriotic, dominated by demagogues, policies 15 years out of date". Twenty eight years on, his description still more or less fits. But he saw the light and the road to power, prestige, wealth and a Lordship very clearly indeed, and the rewards have been substantial indeed for the Baron of Cardowan.

 

JIM MURPHY

These lesson have not been lost on another ambitious Scot, Jim Murphy, and he was well on the road while the Brown Government was still in power, and had climbed on to the first plateau, Secretary of State for Scotland, courtesy of the voters of East Renfrewshire. But this happy progress was rudely interrupted by the May 2010 General Election, when Labour got thrown out of office, the realistic chance of the Rainbow Coalition of Labour, LibDems and nationalists that Gordon Brown hoped for being killed stone dead by John Reid in a television interview.



Jim has not given up, however, and clings on to the path as Shadow Secretary of State for Defence. Despite his acknowledged Southern Irish antecedents, James Francis Murphy is viscerally opposed to his native country, Scotland, achieving its independence, and is a stout defender of WMDs and the nuclear deterrent. In that, he echoes John, the Lord Reid, who according to George Galloway can sing - and play on guitar - an entire Irish songbook of republican ballads, something that must come in handy in the boardroom of Celtic Football Club, but is less acceptable on the terracing, courtesy of the SNP Government. John Reid is committed to multilateral nuclear disarmament, which means he is committed to hanging on to British WMDs till the tooth fairy appears on the international scene. He is of course, despite the Irish revolutionary songbook, totally committed to the Union, Trident, etcetera, etcetera …

Jim Murphy stars in a double page spread in today’s Scotsman, beaming from his office in Westminster, with Big Ben just across the road. The headline – My biggest regret: being sidelined by a tribal party – is intriguing. Who is this tribal party? Why, Scottish Labour, of course!

In case anyone is any doubt of where Jim’s priorities lies, here is what the boy from Arden has to say for himself -

He has ‘admitted’ that his greatest regret was to allow himself to be excluded from Labour’s Holyrood election campaign. Why? Because they might have won had he been involved. You’re too modest by far, Jim …

Labour failed to be one team, and the culture of tribalism between MSPs and MPs has to end.

He modestly insists that he will not consider being Scottish Leader for 20 years. (That relieves me of one worry for my declining years!)

He agrees reluctantly (David Maddox of the Scotsman says he grimaced) that it was “mutually agreed” that he stay out of the Holyrood election campaign.

But here are his killer-diller comments -

He insists that there is no problem with the ambitious and more talented members of the party in Scotland wanting to come down to Westminster.

In other words, the more ambitious and talented members of the party – among whose ranks he clearly numbers himself – will take the high road to England, and the rest, the MSPS who are the elected representatives of a devolved, soon to be independent Scotland, are the less ambitious and talented and should stay behind. Nice one, Jim – tell it like it is

And on his own future?

Well, he might consider being Scottish Leader in 20 years time (once he’s rich, and assuming he’s not a Lord) but now now. “I’ve got a job to do, I want to be Defence Secretary.”

I’ll bet you do, Jim – think of the perks!