The UK Government and the Ministry of Defence have no contingency plans for the loss of their Scottish nuclear bases after independence because they don’t believe it’s going to happen – they don’t believe there will be a YES vote in the autumn of 2014. This has been stated by UK government ministers, including Nick Harvey. They have no contingency plan for a possibility that could rock the very foundations of UK defence policy, calling the very existence of a UK nuclear deterrent into question, not to mention the entire defence budget.
This extraordinary posture can only have been arrived at by believing opinion polls, which indicate many things to many people, most of them flatly contradictory of each other. Have worked for and with global companies for a large part of my life, I can confidently say that any CEO, Board or senior management group that considered evidence showing that it would only require a change of around 15 to 20 per cent in the probabilities to bring about a radical change that would nullify current key plans, budgets and strategic objectives, and did not have a contingency plan to deal with it would be regarded as incompetent, if not deluded.
Can I gently remind them that in late 2010, opinion polls showed that Labour was comfortably ahead and set to win the Scottish Parliamentary elections, and the odds being offered by major bookmakers reflected this. A few months later, the Scottish National Party, the party of independence for Scotland, was re-elected for a second term with a massive, unprecedented majority, something regard as impossible under the d’Hondt system of proportional representation.
The referendum that the UK Government and the MOD are so blithely confident will result in a NO vote to independence is more than two years away, in a time of major financial uncertainty and global confusion, with a decidedly shaky Coalition Government reeling from crisis to crisis day after day.
In the midst of this, unionist politicians and, it has to be said, profoundly misguided media commentators and pundits are criticising the Scottish Government and the SNP for not attempting to “seek clarification” from the UK Government, the Treasury, the MOD, the Scottish Office and Old Uncle Tom Cobleigh and all on matters such as the currency, a sterling zone, the status of an independent Scotland on the Monetary Policy Committee, the share of the national debt, the disposition of the armed forces, the sharing of assets, etc. Indeed, commentators with furrowed brows, not to mention opposition leaders in Holyrood are asking why Alex Salmond and his ministers have not entered into negotiations over these matters with these various UK bodies.
How in God’s name do they expect negotiations to commence with a government that is
in denial over the very possibility of Scottish independence
is implacably hostile to the very idea of Scottish independence
is actively campaigning against it?
Real negotiations can only commence against a mandate, and that mandate will come only after the 2014 referendum. Until then, the Scottish Government can only set out, in as much detail as it can access, what its objectives, plans and policies are. By definition, it will not have all the facts, because objective facts are being denied to it, or are being politicised and wilfully distorted.
It can reach no agreements, not even provisional ones, on any matter that involves acceptance by the UK Government of the possibility of Scottish independence and a YES vote.
Some measure of objectivity is being achieved by the Lords Committee under Lord McGregor. The Scottish Affairs Select Committee under Ian Davidson is a stale joke, reflected in its use of the word Separation in the title of its current enquiry. It is in fact the front end of the Coalition of Scottish Labour, Tories and LibDems against the Independence of Scotland, a body that will live for ever in the the annals of contempt in Scottish history.
The idea that we must know everything, every last detail, about Scotland after independence is unionist nonsense. We're recreating a nation!