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.
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.