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Showing posts with label Trident bases. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Trident bases. Show all posts

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Truth and transparency in politics – unrealisable ideals or practical necessities?

JESUS: To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.

PONTIUS PILATE: What is truth?

I am an atheist, and do not recognise the Bible as the word of God, nor as an objective historical account, but I do recognise it, in its many translations, especially the King James version, as a great work of literature, of poetry, one containing deep insights into human nature and behaviour.

Like most men, I lost my idealised view of  politics and politicians early in life, recognising that the ‘art of the possible’ involved compromise, and compromise sometimes involves avoiding tight definitions if the agreement is to hold across divergent viewpoints.

For example, in diplomacy and in negotiation, ambiguity is sometimes necessary; indeed on occasion – say, in collective agreements between management and union - it is the essence of an agreement clause that it be subject to more than one interpretation, which is the antithesis of legally drafted agreements. This is sometime called the “agree fuzzy now, fight detail later if necessary …” approach. So like Pontius Pilate, politicians only ask the question What is Truth? rhetorically, and don’t expect an answer.

The first duty of a politician is to gain power, the pre-requisite of any political programme, however high-minded. But in a democracy, a politician with any real values must constantly test expedient actions against two fundamental questions -

Does the greatest good for the greatest number outweigh the rights of the few or the individual?

Does the end justify the means?

Professors of ethics will tease you with many ethical dilemmas relating to these questions. Suffice to say, there is no absolute answer to either of them. To both, I say sometimes the answer is yes, dependent on circumstances and sometime the answer is an absolute no – for me, anyway.

The possession and use of nuclear weapons of mass destruction provides my absolutes and I say that to possess them is absolutely wrong and to contemplate their use or to use them is absolutely wrong. I also say that it is at best naive, and at worst hypocritical to suggest that they can be possessed with no intent to use them, and without taking appalling, unacceptable risks.

There are sharply divided views on whether the United States of America and Harry Truman were right in their decision to bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, or whether it was a crime against humanity, indefensible against any ethical standards. (I say ethical and not religious standards, because many ministers of religion then and now have defended the use of nuclear weapons.)

Their use then was justified by America by saying YES to both of the questions above. The only mitigation I can suggest for Truman is that it was the first use of nuclear weapons, no one knew for certain what their destructive power really was until that moment, no other country had them, so a nuclear exchange leading to Armageddon could not have resulted, and the destructive power, awesome and terrible though it was, was as nothing to what can be delivered today by a single Trident submarine.

Scotland will soon be facing great choices in its march towards what I hope will be its independence as a nation – a non-nuclear nation. If that great goal is achieved, the credit will be substantially the SNP’s – the great progress towards it could not have been achieved achieved without them, and without the belief, commitment and unremitting hard work over decades of many people with a great ideal. The campaign for independence is now being led by the SNP but with the involvement of  many other groups and parties, and groupings within the three major parties.

But there is now a worm in the SNP apple and that worm is NATO. NATO is a nuclear alliance, committed to the possession and use of nuclear weapons of mass destruction, and the dominant countries within it will brook no interference from the member countries within NATO with non-nuclear policies.

When the critical decision must be made on the first use of nuclear weapons since 1945, NATO will not seek the permission of the member countries in a democratic vote, nor will they seek the endorsement of the people or the UN. The dominant nuclear powers in NATO will act militarily and unilaterally to unleash the whirlwind – that is the stark, realpolitik.

If a nuclear strike is launched, every member of NATO will be culpable, whether they endorsed it or not.

For an independent Scotland to seek membership – or a continuation of present UK membership – of NATO is wrong and dangerous. Attempting to hide behind Norway’s stance and that of other non-nuclear NATO members is wrong because they are wrong to be members, and because membership of a nuclear alliance is incompatible, any way you slice it, with a non-nuclear stance. The current status of Scotland as the home of the UK’s nuclear deterrent is also fundamentally different from any other NATO member country.

In recent months, the SNP has failed in transparency over their defence policy and failed in transparency over the intentions of the leadership in relation to NATO. They have allowed speculation to rage unchecked from their opponents, and they have not only failed to inform their supporters of their true intentions, they have actively misled them by pretending that no game was afoot, leaving many members – not me – defending the indefensible.

I intend to blog in detail on this, with facts and detail, but today, I had to say this to get it off my chest. But maybe all is not lost …

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Sense on Scotland's defence from Lieut.Col. Stuart Crawford

Among all the hysteria from sundry Westminster politicians, Lords, admirals et al, it is a breath of fresh air to hear some calm commentary from a former senior soldier, now in business in Scotland - Stuart Crawford of Stuart Crawford Associates - a former Lieutenant Colonel in the British Army. From a recent BBC radio interview -

I’ve always been a believer that an independent Scotland could run its own defence forces, and I don’t think there’s any doubt that if the political will is there, then the circumstance would allow it to happen.

“I think the big question is not  -- whether Scotland could have its own armed services - I think the question is whether it should.”

I think that gets to the nub of it, and had some of the defenders of the Union approached it with this level of objectivity, instead of attacking the feasibility of a Scottish defence force, some real dialogue might have been established in the great debate over Scotland’s future.

Stuart Crawford readily accepted the interviewer’s suggestion that if Scotland voted Yes in the referendum, the realpolitik would require negotiations, and Scotland could negotiate for part of what the MOD currently owns.

Yes, I think that would be part of the process. I think if we can can go through that process, you’ve actually got to ask yourself what an independent Scotland might want its armed forces to do: and that, together with a look at likely foreign policy - and security policy - would give you an indication of what size and shape the forces would be, and that would be a good springboard to start negotiations with the rest of the UK for the allocation of assets.

“I think Angus Robertson’s got a very valid point - Scotland has contributed, and therefore Scotland is entitled to a share of MOD assets. But it’s not just a numerical 10% thing - we have to really ask ourselves what we want them to do.”

The interviewer referred to the First Minister’s recently expressed view of the ‘blueprint’ (actually ‘template’) of Scottish armed forces as containing an RAF base, a naval base (without nuclear submarines) and a mobile armed brigade, and asked if this sounded right, compared to other countries.

(BBC report: “Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond has said the UK defence review has produced a template of how armed forces would look in an independent Scotland. He said the setup of one naval base, one air base and one mobile armed brigade was “exactly the configuration” required for a Scottish Defence Force.)

Stuart Crawford said there had been “lot’s of guesses” that it would be about 10% of the UK’s defence resource, and Norway had been cited as a comparator.

Bu again we come back to my point - what do we want them to do? The armed forces exists for a number of reasons, but mainly they are to maintain the territorial integrity and safety of the nation and the people. And we have to ask ourselves - what are the risks? Who is going to attack an independent Scotland? And what is it they might want to capture from us?

Thanks God such vital logical concepts and principles are now being discussed objectively, and such eminently pragmatic questions being asked by a professional soldier, and a Scottish businessman, free of the usual fog of negativity. I ask why such ideas and such capable professionals are not appearing in properly structured television debates, and yet again and again, radio can offer such clarity?

The interviewer asks if a defence review by the Scottish Government is necessary before conclusion are reached on the makeup of the Scottish Defence Force?

Stuart Crawford’s answer in an unequivocal yes.

It needs to go through what I would regard as some sort of intellectually rigorous process whereby it asks itself what they are for. That may go through several iterations -“

Intellectual rigour and logical iterations clearly have a place on radio, and radio is not afraid of them, but television journalism may take fright at such terminology, preferring all too often Strictly Come Defence Chatter, or maybe Scotland’s Got Defence Forces? type programme structuring, terrified of intellectual and professional depth.

“ - because cost obviously is an important aspect, and when one comes up with some sort of design of an armed service - of all three services, I would assume -we have to put some sort of costing on it, and defence economists are the people who would do that sort of thing, not ex-military people like me. But it may be that the budget allocation that the original plan called for is too large, and therefore you have to go through the whole thing again and say - where can we compromise on it, and what can we do with that?”

The interviewer raises the question of whether an independent Scotland’s membership of NATO has a bearing on all this.

“Well, the SNP - assuming that it is the SNP that takes Scotland to independence, if that is the case - has long had the policy of negotiating its way out of NATO. I think that is a question for them to answer, not for me. The elephant in the room on all of this is Trident on the Clyde, and I think that the negotiations on the removal of Trident from Scotland are going to be absolutely central to any defence debate in the future.”

The interview referred to the previous day’s suggestion from some UK government quarters that an independent Scotland would have to contribute to the clean-up costs of the Trident bases.

Well, I mean - gosh, who knows? All I know is - and I think rightly so - that an independent Scottish Government would not want to have the so-called independent nuclear deterrent based in Scotland, and therefore it would be very keen that it should leave Scotland. I can’t see Scotland achieving independence one day, and Trident sailing out of the Clyde for ever the following day …”

Despite the fact that it is my fantasy, and that of many nationalist to see just that, I ruefully have to accept the reality of Stuart Crawford’s last statement.

The interviewer referred to the suggestion, again yesterday, that the removal of Trident could take decades.

That is not an inaccurate assessment. I think if we look at when the current Trident fleet is due to bec0me obsolete and out of service might give the sort of timeframe when Trident might come out of the Clyde. The real problem, as everybody has said - there’s nowhere else for it to go, except probably France or the eastern coast of the US: there’s no suitable base for the boat and the weapons south of the border.”

The interviewer closed by thanking Lieut. Col. Stuart Crawford for his comments and insight, and so do I - and so should every Scot, whether nationalist or unionist or undecided, because he spoke more hard sense in a five minute interview that all the unionist Lords and politicians have uttered to date.

With one fact alone, Stuart Crawford gave us the heart of the UK’s - and NATO’s - problem with Scotland’s independence - they have nowhere else to put their weapons of mass destruction, and may have to abandon them.

That fact alone makes Scotland’s independence worthwhile, not just for Scotland, but for the peoples of these islands, for Europe, for the world, and for generations as yet unborn.

And we can’t wait decades for the WMDs to be neutralised …

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.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Independence - the Bruce, The Scotsman - and Jim Sillars

My spell of woodshedding has been cut short. Far from being able to relax and take stock  after the election result, events have propelled me out of the hut prematurely, especially today’s Scotsman headline - SNP lowers sights to ‘independence-lite’.

This made me choke on my breakfast cereal, inducing my normal reaction to events, which is to rush to judgement and shoot from the hip - the ready-fire-aim approach. But I have learned to deal with it these days, remembering the wise words of an old boss - “Peter, your second idea is always better than your first - draw breath and wait for it.” So I did …

So let me move back to Thursday and to Politics Now on STV. The vital message at the start of the programme came from Gordon Wilson, a true elder statesman of the SNP (unlike Jim Sillars, who often puts his mouth in gear while his brain remains in neutral).

The thrust of what Gordon Wilson said was that the momentum gained by the election result had to be harnessed.

“With this majority, Alex should, in my opinion, unleash the SNP as a political party … to go out and campaign for independence. That means that he should … persuade the campaign team who ran this brilliant election to turn their talents into organising now - not  in two or three years time - for the referendum. You’ve got to do it now, if you’re going to persuade people to vote YES for independence.”

Hear, hear! Those are my feelings exactly, and I hope that Gordon is preaching to the converted in Alex Salmond. But then again, since this most considered of men felt it necessary to say it makes me think that the point needs underlining.

We got a replay of Tam Dalziel forecasting the doom and disaster, in plummy Establishment tones, that would result from the devolution process - the motorway without exit “to a separate state, separate from England”. Another of yesterday’s men, Brian Wilson, felt that the election result should be “a wake up call for Labour”.

Really, Brian? What a penetrating insight! Who would have thought of that until you said it!.

But it has been more like a jangling fire alarm intruding into the deep sleep of morality, of values, of common humanity into which the thing that is now the Labour Party has sunk.

Where next for Unionism is the question the programme poses, and Lord Forsyth, the Laird o’ Drumlean has the answer - a referendum sooner rather than later, a theme taken up by various panic-stricken unionists, including Iain Martin in The Spectator.

The British Lord, Forsyth, ennobled for services to Maggie Thatcher in the destruction of Scotland’s infrastructure and industry, latches on to Alex Salmond’s wish to have the referendum coincide with the anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn, and draws the lesson from this is that “Bruce won it, fair and square, hands down, because he chose the ground to fight on - chose the best ground and he struck the first blow. That is the lesson for David Cameron.”

This is chutzpah indeed, a quality once defined as the ability of a man on trial for murdering both his parents to plead for clemency on the grounds that he is an orphan. It has now become the theme of the unionist fight-back, and has been picked up by the Spectator, Fraser Nelson and other Scots of that peculiar unionist type, Scots with a deep vested interest in the Union - the high-road-to-England Scots, worried that their ‘noblest prospect’ now seems like damaged goods. Samuel Johnson had a keen eye …

Let’s look hard at this adoption of the Bruce and Bannockburn as a guide to action by the unionists. They select the man who unified the nation of Scotland for the first time, who defeated England’s attempts to subordinate it to English rule in a great, decisive engagement, and what they are saying is this -

Bruce, a champion of an independent Scotland, got it right and beat us, the Unionists. Let’s learn from our mistakes in that far off battle, adopt this Scottish hero’s strategy and tactics, this time to defeat the rebellious Scots, led by their elected government and First Minister, and ensure the continuing dominance of England and the British empire.

In other words, let’s reverse the Bannockburn result.

This begins to look more like folly than chutzpah - hijack an iconic Scottish hero, Bruce, and his greatest victory, Bannockburn, to resist and reverse the very thing he fought for.

Now we come to the Union’s representative on Earth - the colonial governor, Michael Moore, the third incumbent of this benighted post in just over a year, the previous incumbents Danny Alexander and Jim Murphy now feeding from the Union trough that is Westminster. Moore has quickly acquired the vacuous pomposity that this role requires. Denied a plumed hat and a white horse, he has instead deepened his voice and become skilled in the meaningless platitudes demanded by the job.

I’m opposed to Scotland becoming independent but I do want to see the Parliament have substantial powers.”

Aye, right …

Nicola Sturgeon promptly puts the SNP’s objectives for Scotland’s independence clearly.

Bernard Ponsonby:But it will be a separate state?”

Nicola Sturgeon:Yes, of course.”

Then we come to the panel, and we have Jim Sillars. Why the media want Jim Sillars as a commentator is never entirely clear. He occupies no significant place in Scottish politics anymore, and he cannot be exactly described as a powerful independent voice on Scottish affairs, but I suppose to a programme producer, he fills that strange specification of someone who was once strongly associated with a specific party viewpoint, but is now reinvented as a political commentator. Think of Lorraine Davidson, for example. In other words, he is expected to be objective, but not quite. Sillars offers the additional attraction of being someone who consistently sounded sour notes on the SNP.

However on this programme, he was all sunshine and light, to the amazement of many, including me. But he presumably had his Scotsman piece of today’s date drafted, or at least in his head …


Tom Perkin’s story open with the following paragraph -

Senior figures within the SNP now believe a full breakaway from the rest of the United Kingdom is no longer the best short-term option for Scotland.”

Closer examination of the story shows this to be a conflations of a number of statement from SNP senior figures, most of which say no such thing, but are a reiteration of common sense observations on how the mechanics of independence would operate. The conflation essentially relies on taking Jim Sillars’ views in his article on pages 6 and 7 as the centre point of SNP thinking. Sillars is described in the sub-header to the article as “the figurehead of fundamentalism” within the SNP. (They also describe him as THE MAN WHO STOOD UP TO SALMOND.)

A more accurate description might have been the figurehead who has long since fallen off the prow, and now floats sadly in the wake of the ship. But this article may signal the final waterlogged submersion of the object.

Before analysing the front page claim in detail, it may be worth speculating on what The Scotsman’s motives are in running this story and making this claim. Some may think that the paper has undergone a sea change in its attitude to independence and the SNP over the last year. After all, they did run a leader backing Alex Salmond and the SNP to run Scotland. But in my view that was an expedient recognition of an inevitable power shift in Scottish politics - not wanting to be left off the bandwagon or out of tune with the zeitgeist, a motivation much in evidence among many people of late.

But the Scotsman is not in favour of independence - it is unionist to its core. It now has to find a way to get behind the NO campaign for the referendum without being too obvious about it. So it presents its ‘landmark opinion piece’ by Jim Sillars.

He relies on the 80 interviews conducted by Professor James Mitchell on the concept of independence, plus his poll of 1000 party members. Professor Mitchell found a lot of consensus and pragmatism among these groups, characteristics that I personally would say more or less define the party. If I may be so bold as to attempt to respectfully summarise Professor Mitchell’s analysis on page 5 - summarise his summary, so to speak -

1. The SNP has moved on from a black and white institutional view of independence to a view that a variety of ‘unions’ - with a small U - will continue to exist, and this involves a Union of the Crowns concept quite explicitly.

2. The SNP understands very clearly the concept of a de facto social union of familial and personal links.

(One which only a fool would deny, but a defender of the Union opposed to independence bent on mischief might well do. Professor Mitchell notes that Calman confused and conflated this union with something else - common expectations about social welfare.)

3. The SNP clearly understands the knowledge union, i.e. that professional, educational and scientific sharing of knowledge and expertise crosses boundaries of nation and ideology, as it does and always has done throughout the civilised world.

4. The SNP, on the question of the European Union, reflects within it a minority (around 20%) who oppose EU membership, but the party “is at ease with EU membership” but has problems with some EU policies.

(In this, the SNP probably reflects every political party and grouping in the UK, although the deep fault line over the EU in the Tory party on this issue is infinitely deeper than anything displayed by the other parties - a veritable San Andreas Fault, liable to bounce off the Richter Scale at any time and fragment the Tories.)

On defence, the SNP has referred to shared bases, for reasons that must be evident to all but the most obtuse, e.g. RAF bases, etc. But opposition to nuclear weapons “remains rock solid”.

There is nothing in any of the above conclusion that would surprise anyone in the SNP, and it probably would not cause any raised eyebrows among the vast majority of those who voted so decisively for the SNP to govern their country for a second term. But from the standpoint of a diehard Unionist, it either comes as a shock or a blow to their attempts to portray independence as a terrifying spectre, both before the election (with humiliating results) or now that it seems infinitely more likely within the term of the Parliament.

Like The Wizard of Oz, they are embarrassed when the curtain is pulled aside from their terrifying projections and thundering cries of Beware of Independence! to reveal a frightened little Unionist Lord and his ilk manipulating the levers, in terror lest their power and influence slip away from them, together with the UK baubles, titles and sinecures they have accumulated along the way.

But what does Jim Sillars, ‘long-time fundamentalist’ and ‘THE MAN WHO STOOD UP TO SALMOND’ make of all this?

Firstly, he makes it clear that, in his anxiety to be part of the success of the SNP and get into the big tent fast, he and Margo MacDonald are no longer fundamentalists, nor opponents of ‘the Salmond leadership group’ - an odd choice of words, to say the least.

He would ‘prefer to have the full enchilada’ (so would I!) but is now anxious to demonstrate that he has always been pragmatism personified - he could have fooled me - by citing old pamphlets and making a series of observations that verge on the banal.

As he develops his argument, it becomes evident that his pragmatic conversion to Salmondism may be only skin deep. After quoting  his admirable wife, Margo MacDonald’s observations ‘back in the 1970s’ about a social union existing after independence, the following phrase emerges -

You will have heard that idea fall from the lips of present SNP leaders, but it isn’t sufficient to soothe peoples’ anxieties.”

What people, Jim? The huge majority that voted for those same SNP leaders?

But then comes the statement that the Scotsman  doubtless seized upon, in common with unionists opposed to a referendum or a YES vote if there has to be one.

On his idea of ‘a new concept’ that of ‘a kind of confederal relationship with England’ (sic) - ignoring Wales and Northern Ireland - Sillars sees ‘a quasi-Nato relationship on shared defence and security against terrorism, with Scotland paying its share of those functions, plus our share of UK debt, from its sovereignty over all taxation, including oil, and perhaps offsetting some of those costs by leasing the Trident base for a long period.’

Sillars then accurately predicts the reaction of party members - including mine - to this astonishing suggestion. Never! Let me say it again - Never! If the Scottish Government and the SNP were to show any signs of going down such a route, they would invite the immediate formation of a campaign against it, and risk a split in the Party.

I’m all for pragmatism, for gradualism, for reluctantly accepting a Union of the Crowns and a constitutional monarch, for extending devolved powers, etc. as a route to full independence - but retention of Trident in our waters after independence?

Never, never, never!

Sillars then goes on to say -

“We must,  if we are serious, look through the English (sic) end of the telescope. Scottish independence, in the old model and the old policies, threatens English (sic) state interests, and if so threatened they will fight to keep us in the Union because they must do so.”

“There is a vital link between Trident and London’s veto seat on the UN Security Council, because shorn of it, it becomes more difficult to justify retention at a time when India, Japan and Brazil are pressing their case.”

This is the old Aneurin Bevan argument against sending a British Foreign Secretary “naked into the conference chamber”.

Jim Sillars - if this is your idea of pragmatism, give me fundamentalism. If this is your idea of Scottish independence, then bluntly, either you are in the wrong party or I am. I am forced to say that given the old Lyndon Johnson choice, of having you inside the tent pissing out or outside pissing in, I prefer the latter.

I am a nationalist of only four years standing, and therefore must give due regard to the fact that you have given a large part of your life to it, and achieved in the past a significant role within the Party. But I must also say that, as at one and the same time a relatively new party member and an old Scot, I am part of the new Scotland, and if you want to be part of it too, you had better rethink your ideas fast.