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Showing posts with label YES Campaign. Show all posts
Showing posts with label YES Campaign. Show all posts

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Indy fundamentals – winning the debate

I received an invitation on Monday from a very distinguished journalist from outside the UK, one whose work I have long admired, to take part in a pre-recorded radio discussion later in April on what has been happening in Scotland since the referendum and analysis of the election.

I said I would be delighted to do so, providing I knew in advance the format and who else was taking part, and also that I was introduced as a supporter of SNP and independence, but simply as a voter and online activist without any official role in the party.

I received a reassurance on my status point, but when two of the other participants were named (with a fourth still to be selected) I declined to take part.

I offered the following reason for declining, without specifying any participant.

EMAIL EXTRACT

POSTSCRIPT. At this critical stage in Scotland's politics, SNP activists who are not politicians (who are constrained, as elected representative, by other expectations from media) have really only one criterion to satisfy - would my participation in this forum as structured offer useful debate and analysis valuable to the Scottish electorate? My judgement is no, but others will make their own decisions.

Perhaps this edit of a recent 'debate' will give you some idea of where I'm coming from -
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y9sNS3NouNs

I was deeply disappointed not to feel able to take part, given the reputation of the journalist and the country and media channel he represented. I feel that it may be worth explaining just a little further why I declined to take part in this one.

MEDIA DEBATES

I am as capable  of holding my own in debates and discussion as the next man. I prefer structured debate between rational men and women with some concept of how constructive debate is conducted, but I can play the noisy, talking-over, point-scoring, flyting, special pleading, heckling game with the best – and even enjoy it up to a point. No one with my background – both social and professional – could fail to play this game well. But what does ‘well’ mean in context?

The question is not can I hold my own in such debates, but whether I should enter them in the first place, without asking the question – what if anything will they contribute to my key medium-term political objective – the independence of Scotland – and my immediate objective, the success of the SNP in the pivotal and historic 2015 general election?

Like every other committed voter, I watched and listened to many debates and engaged in some, both live and online. Some made a valuable contribution to understanding, and forged the formidable Scottish independence electoral force – to all intents and purpose the SNP - that is now astonishing UK and world media.

But many were negative and counter-productive in my view, and the root was always the same – one or more participants who dragged the debate down to the lowest level and, in some cases, dragged more responsible debaters into their own gutter.

Such unedifying displays alienate many men - and most women. There are no winners and there are few positive outcomes. Their adversarial nature may satisfy certain journalistic objectives of providing ‘good’ radio or television in terms of liveliness and spectacle. I choose to avoid ones where the structure and participants seem to me to make such an outcome likely. Politicians can’t avoid them: some even seek them out as a vehicle for their particular repertoire of bluster and bludgeon.

They’re not for me anymore …

Saturday, 11 May 2013

YES campaign becalmed or going backwards? Angus Macleod and Gerry Hassan on Good Morning Scotland

Angus Macleod: "The SNP and the YES Campaign have been unable to answer the questions the electorate are asking."

The SNP and the YES Campaign ARE answering the questions the electorate are asking, Angus - in policy papers, online, on the media, on the doorsteps, in leaflets and information sheets.
What they are not doing is answering the Unionist press version of what the electorate are asking, or more accurately, what you would like them to ask - negative questions with a closed agenda. And of course, your paper, The Times, and the others have no interest in publishing the real answers and facts given.

We are in a war of facts and ideals - I know what side you are on and what side I am on, and I and thousands like me are working tirelessly to get the real answers and the true facts out to the Scottish electorate, who, as you rightly say, are intelligent - and will listen and evaluate.

Gerry Hassan: "Basically, I think the SNP are in the wrong strategy, wrong question, wrong timescale."

Angus Macleod: "Gerry's absolutely right .."

Well, that was really helpful, Gerry - advanced the cause of independence no end ... acting as straight man, feeding lines to The Unionist Times correspondent.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Yes facts on Twitter - @moridura

  •  

  • Peter Curran Peter Curran

    FACTS, FACTS: If you are undecided about Scotland's independence, or know someone who is, the answers can be found here

     

  • Peter Curran Peter Curran

    The Big Question; If Scotland is so wealthy, why aren’t YOU better off? I think Scots know the answer. Our wealth is being drained south.

     

  • Peter Curran Peter Curran

    Scotland tops the UK charts for levels of inward investment by foreign companies.

     

  • Peter Curran Peter Curran

    Scotland's public finances are stronger than UK's. For each of the last 30 years Scotland has generated more tax revenue per head than UK.

     

  • Peter Curran Peter Curran

    Scotland has around 25% of Europe’s potential offshore wind and tidal energy and 10% of Europe’s wave power potential.

     

  • Peter Curran Peter Curran

    Scotland's universities compete at the very top of the world leagues for the quality of their research.

     

  • Peter Curran Peter Curran

    Scotland has highly successful food,drink, tourism, construction, agriculture sectors worth £39bn p.a. Three of world's top 100 universities

     

  • Peter Curran Peter Curran

    Independent Scotland will be the 8th wealthiest country in the world. Oil reserves up to £1.5 trillion = 10 our share of UK national debt.

    Expand

  • Peter Curran Peter Curran

    Even those who favour Westminster rule and say No to independence agree that an independent Scotland is viable and can prosper and thrive.

     

  • Peter Curran Peter Curran

    One in five children in Scotland are in poverty. One in five young Scots are unemployed. An independent Scotland will tackle these evils.

  • Peter Curran Peter Curran

    UK welfare cuts will take a further £210m out pockets of hard-working Scottish families. But Government cuts taxes for a few on top incomes.

     

  • Peter Curran Peter Curran

    UK - 4th most unequal country in developed world. Income inequality increased over decades, regardless of which UK party in power.

  • Tuesday, 30 April 2013

    The Currency – Jon Snow and Alex Salmond

    Not a very inspired or economically literate interview from Jon Snow, in my view. He trots out old quotes and BetterTogether simplistic soundbytes to the manner born.

    Once again - for Snow and other economic primitives - the options are these:-

    ONE: Adopt the euro. COMMENT: Nobody in their right mind would do that at the moment.

    TWO: Launch a new Scottish currency. COMMENT: As above - but after independence day and new Scottish Government in 2016, clearly an option, dependent on European situation.

    THREE: Decide to abandon the referendum and stay with the failing, incompetent, corrupt UK/Westminster regime. COMMENT: Scots would have to be nuts ...

    FOUR: Stay with sterling after a YES vote. COMMENT: No other choice till 2016 since we're not yet independent - re-evaluate sterling in the light of progress in negotiations with rUK over currency union - and the state of the eurozone ...

    Quod erat demonstrandum, Jon Snow.

    Friday, 28 September 2012

    ALEOs, externalisation and Glasgow City Council – a blog from 2010

    In all the hoo-ha about how hard up GCC is because of the council tax freeze, remember this – a blog from 2010. Since then, of course, we’ve had the scandal of the commonwealth Games development and the astronomical profits of property speculators while small businesses and house owners were crushed and evicted by GCC, and there have been some egregious final settlements made to former employees of GCC. That’s where at least some of the council tax went …

    EXTERNALISATION

    Economists use the concept of externalities to describe the impact organisations make upon the society that they operate within. An organisation’s responsibility is to itself and to its own objectives but in the process of discharging this responsibility, it creates an impact on others, positive or negative. If that impact and effect was part of the organisation’s intention – part of its business strategy – that’s fine, but if it was simply an unintended consequence of its pursuit of its objectives, then problems can arise.

    An externality is the effect of a transaction between two individuals and a third party who has not consented to, or played any role in the carrying out of that transaction. MILTON FRIEDMAN

    For example, a mining company has an environmental impact, a chemical company may pollute the rivers or the atmosphere, a growing company may force smaller companies out of business – the negative examples can be multiplied along familiar lines.

    The negative impact of organisations on people and communities can be considerable. A large company that becomes the dominant employer in an area can destroy the entire community if it pulls out. A dominant company can drive down the price of the goods and services it procures, forcing small suppliers into reducing their margins to dangerous levels.

    An organisations can engage in practices and processes that are actively dangerous to the health and safety of those it employs and to the external community. Such effects were common in the early stages of the industrial revolution, and they were still occurring in the late 20th century, and will still occur in the 21st century, especially in third world or economically vulnerable communities. (The disaster at the Union Carbide plant in Bhopal in India is still one of the worst examples, and of course, Chernobyl.)

    Entrepreneurs have two major concerns – one is to be able to take commercial risks without destroying entirely their own security and economic viability, and the other is to be allowed to focus on the central purpose of the venture without being deflected by external consequences that are not central to the business purpose, especially those that relate to morality, legal compliance and social values.

    Business is essentially amoral – morality and legality are constraints imposed on it by a society that it of necessity must operate within, and the dynamic balance of these forces is the essence of capitalism in a free society. Organised crime is simply a business that elects to ignore these constraints.

    That is not to say that entrepreneurs, business managers and directors of companies are amoral, or lack a moral compass, but that the very nature of business is without malice or pity, and the moral individual must operate within that context. All too often the individual moral conscience becomes subordinate to, or is crushed by the demands of the organisation.

    When businesses are small, and a sole proprietor or family dominates, the business activities can and usually will reflect their personal ethics and morality, and concepts of equity and justice can prevail. In rare cases, that ethical basis can survive the growth of the company if the values of the founder or founders – or indeed the founders themselves – are still present, and some great British companies managed to preserve such an ethos until comparatively recent times. Altruism has existed and does exist in business, but it often has a hard time …

    HOW BUSINESS PROTECTS ITSELF

    Entrepreneurs protected themselves against the first risk - destroying entirely their own security and economic viability in commercial ventures – by getting the concept of the limited company on to the statute books. The company or corporation became a legal person, distinct from its owners and directors, with almost all of the legal protections an individual person has under law, and a limit set to its liabilities – the limited liability corporation.

    Without that legal protection, there can be little doubt that we would not have had the industrialised world that we know today. An entrepreneur could set up a venture and take risks, supported by investors in the company - the shareholders and venture capitalists – and fail occasionally without destroying his or her own capital and financial security, going into personal bankruptcy and losing everything. Legal safeguards were set up to prevent abuse of this immunity by entrepreneurs.

    Entrepreneurs protected themselves against the second risk - being deflected by external consequences that were not central to the business purpose, especially those that relate to morality, legal compliance and social values, and not being allowed to focus on the central purpose of the venture – by insisting that it was the job of government and society to impose morality and social values upon them by legislation and regulation. This was the first externalisation, releasing the organisation from the need to establish its own morality and values and leaving them free, within the regulatory constraints, to pursue their business objectives. Thus was the balance to be maintained between the legal protection of the limited liability company and the needs of the society it operated within.

    The company, in essence, could be amoral but have its morality imposed by society and be constrained within limits acceptable to that society.

    But this ideal rested on an assumption that proved naive and false from the very start, namely that the limited liability company would not be able to influence the legislative constraints that they operated within. In fact, from the earliest days, companies have sought to influence, and in an increasing number of instances, subvert the very legislative process that was meant to constrain them.

    The most spectacular example of this has been the insidious, relentless and inexorable growth of the military/industrial complex, a threat defined and named by President Eisenhower in 1961.
    This has proved to be a cancerous growth that has perverted our values, our politicians, our democracy and our world.

    THE IMPACT OF EXTERNALISATION ON THE UNITED KINGDOM

    The results of externalisation in America have been evident for well over a century – explosive industrial and commercial expansion delivering enormous wealth and prosperity to some and utter misery, poverty, sickness and death to others. Initially, the exploited were the immigrant population and the ill-educated lower classes, but then, faced with the growth of organised labour and labour protection legislation at home, exploitation tended to shift to America’s colonies (which of course it always denies having) in Latin America, in its offshore islands, and in many other parts of the world. In this, they were simply following the brutally exploitative model of British imperialism, whilst coyly rejecting the idea of an American empire.

    (The continuing American hatred of Castro’s Cuba stems, not only from  real ideological or strategic beliefs, but also significantly from the burning resentment of American big business and American organised crime at losing a population that could be exploited with minimal risk and effort.)

    But closer to home, the events leading up to the financial meltdown that followed the near-collapse of Northern Rock had already signalled that all was not well with our notional democracy, and the regulation of big business.

    Maggie Thatcher began the process in the 1980s that involved widespread deregulation, externalisation and outsourcing of business, and we entered the era of the short-time temporary contract, of cleaning contractors who didn’t clean - killing hospital patients while their directors grew fat on the proceeds - of railways where the left hand didn’t know what the right hand was doing and trains crashed with alarming regularity, of an exploding housing market where essential workers couldn’t afford to live within commuting distance of their place of work, of the destruction of entire mining communities – the list goes on.

    Industry, notable the financial sector, were allowed to lobby, bribe and bully the Westminster government and our elected representatives, and to negate or at least emasculate the regulatory authorities designed to keep each industry in check. A government and the regulators turned a blind eye while the banks and the financial industry gambled with the security and the lives and hope of millions of ordinary citizens. The concentration of power – by acquisition – in the newspaper industry and the media also led to distortion of objective journalistic values and to the impotence of government in the face new Citizen Kane’s in their Xanadus.

    Revolving doors carried senior civil servants into top jobs in the industries they had been so recently responsible for controlling. Regulatory bodies were – and are - packed with industry representatives, neutering attempts to limit the worst excesses. Our own elected representative were either lobbying themselves or acting as pimps for the professional lobbyists. And of course they were also ripping off the taxpayer by inflating their expenses or actively falsifying them.

    A new generation of politicians, drawn at a much younger age from the offices of the party machines and from PR companies, or straight from university, saw politics as a career and a route to enrichment rather than a calling.

    They knew nothing, had done nothing, had achieved nothing  and were, figuratively speaking, nubile adolescents eagerly awaiting their imminent ravishment and reward by the hard-eyed men and women of big business.

    And so we come to Scotland, and to the great city of Glasgow

    EXTERNALISATION’S IMPACT ON SCOTLAND

    Scotland, a little nation of over five million people at the northern end of Europe, had nonetheless punched well above its weight for centuries, in culture, in learning, in innovation and invention and had made a crucial contribution to the industrial revolution. It was no stranger to the huge forces of industrial and commercial change that swept across the globe: it had experienced the cruel impact of the shift from the land to the city, from an agrarian society to a mechanised one, and its people had felt the iron hand of capitalism.

    The abandonment of personal responsibility by their leaders, in very early forms of externalisation – an externalisation of responsibility and values - driven as always by rampant greed, from the Highland clearances to the dispossession of the lowland cottars had brought misery to hundreds of thousands, and the great workshops of Empire in the ancient city of Glasgow exacted a terrible price from the ordinary people, producing amongst other evils disease, death and malnutrition in the worst slums in Europe.

    The clan chiefs unforgivably broke the bonds of faith, blood and absolute trust to enrich themselves (with a few honourable exceptions) and most of them reap the benefits of their ill-gotten gains to this day. The lowland landowners were little better, and both highland and lowlands leaders were prepared to ruthlessly suppress any attempts by the people they were exploiting and oppressing to obtain justice.

    (The ‘Big Factor’, John Campbell, Chamberlain of the Duke of Argyll’s estates in Mull and Tiree, was so hated by his former tenants that emigrant communities in America and Canada celebrated his death (1872) in ‘uninhibited style’ with singing, bonfires and drinking.)

    We must never forget that this, in the main, was done by Scots to Scots. There are those who are still doing it to this day, and their betrayal is all the greater because they know their history. They still see their noblest prospect as the high road to England, specifically Westminster, and once there, Scotland becomes almost an embarrassing memory.

    In our own time, Scotland was devastated by Maggie Thatcher’s destruction of large parts of our industrial heritage. Her cynical and ill-judged attempt to pilot the hated poll tax in Scotland cost her party dear, and ultimately brought her down as Prime Minister. The Tory Party has been a negligible force in Scotland since that time.

    But of course Scotland had been, for over half a century, a Labour fiefdom, nowhere more powerful than in Glasgow, one that was propped up by the ineffectual Scottish Liberal Democrats, whose utter betrayal of the ideals and principles of liberalism continues under Tavish Scott, in the name of unionism.

    The  revelations followed Steven Purcell’s tragic collapse and resignation show something deeply suspect in the heart of the administration of Gleschu - the dear green place - by the Labour-dominated City Council.

    ALEOs and Glasgow City Council

    The responsibilities of Glasgow City Council are as extensive and complex as one would expect from the requirements of governance of one of the major cities of the United Kingdom, a city of 620,000 souls. The governance of this great city is entrusted by its electorate to elected councillors, and they represent the democratic will and control of the people of Glasgow over how their city is run.

    Ideally, those running for office would see the role of councillor as a vocation, not as a career ladders nor as a route to personal wealth. Power would be sought unselfishly to serve the people.

    But life – and politicians – ain’t always like that …

    An elected councillor can expect to earn a minimum of £16,234 per annum, and has pension rights in addition to this. This is about two thirds of the average wage and in itself is unlikely to attract an ambitious and able person who is not driven by an altruistic wish to serve his or her fellow citizens, and is even less likely to persuade someone to give up a higher rate of remuneration to seek election.

    However, anyone who was driven by money and career considerations would already be highly aware that the potential earnings are very much higher. The great British public were duly shocked when the Telegraph exposed the true level of earnings of honourable and right honourable members of Parliament, made up of expenses, expenses fiddles and extra-curricular activities of various kinds, including directorships, consulting, and other nice little earners too numerous to name.

    The Glasgow electorate – not easily shockable after generations of corrupt administration – might just be beginning to see what is going on by the light that the Herald (belatedly, but God bless them for doing it now!) has been mercilessly shining into the earnings activities of their councillors.

    And they may be coming to grips with the acronym that represents a nice little earner – the ALEO, or Arms Length External Organisation, which should really be ALEGO, Arms Length Governance External Organisation. I suppose ALEGO was too close to A LEG OVER, with its related concept of screwing the electorate. Or is it related to that old Glasgow chant about the Eely Aleo?

    So what are the ALEOs? They are external organisations set up by Glasgow City Council to run departments and functions and deliver services to the people of Glasgow that were formerly run by Glasgow City Council. They are given a considerable degree of freedom of decision and action, but have at least one board member who is also a councillor, to ensure that they remember to whom they are ultimately accountable – the people of Glasgow.

    Here’s what Glasgow City Council says about the principles of governance in a paper relating to ALEOs by its External Governance Committee on 26th May 2009.

    EXTRACT

    1.1

    Governance has been defined as the means by which an organisation ensures that the level of direction and management of the affairs of the organisation are satisfactory, aligns corporate behaviour with the expectations of  the public and maintains accountability. The process of governance therefore involves the clear identification of responsibilities, accountabilities and adequate systems of supervision, control and communication. Fundamentally, governance is about how the organisation ensures that it is doing the right things, in the right way, for the right people, in a timely, inclusive, open, honest and accountable manner.  

    1.2

    The Council has statutory responsibility for the delivery of a range of services and it meets
    this through its operating structures and its governance arrangements.

    END OF EXTRACT

    ALEOs are therefore a manifestation of externalisation – outsourcing – and of shuffling off the inconvenient need to run departments, deal with real people and with trades unions - in other words, of reducing, if not avoiding real responsibility for doing what Glasgow City Council is elected to do. A fig-leaf of residual control and accountability is provided by the external director or directors appointed from the ranks of councillors – and perhaps friends of the Labour Party.

    It goes without saying that the above is not the rationale used by Glasgow City Council to justify the helter-skelter multiplication of ALEOs.

    It was, of course, no part of justification for the setting up of the ALEOs to provide a nice little earner for councillors or others, nor to regard the ability of the new external directors, in the City Council’s own words (from the extract above) to

    … ensure that the level of direction and management of the affairs of the organisation are satisfactory

    … align corporate behaviour with the expectations of  the public and maintains accountability

    (provide) … clear identification of responsibilities, accountabilities and adequate systems of supervision, control and communication

    … ensure that it (the ALEO) is doing the right things, in the right way, for the right people, in a timely, inclusive, open, honest and accountable manner

    as rather likely to be compromised by their need to protect a healthy supplement to their council salaries and to stay on the right side of their new board members. The eternal question cui bono? always has a familiar answer in Glasgow – Who dae ye think, Jimmy?

    The potential of corruption in government is ever-present, and it is not McCarthyite to say that the facts revealed by the Herald give grounds for grave disquiet.

    Whit’s goin’ on Jimmy, eh? There’s somethin’ no’ right here, ah can smell it fae here …

    Wednesday, 18 July 2012

    Scotland’s NATO membership – a deeply flawed concept and a retreat from principle

    Five key facts -

    1. NATO is firmly committed to nuclear weapons and the concept of nuclear deterrence, and only a unanimous vote by all 28 member states can change that policy (29 member states if rUK remains a member and Scotland becomes a member after independence.) In other words, the three nuclear member states can veto any attempt to abandon nuclear weapons.

    2. From NATO site: "Whilst the North Atlantic Council (NAC) is the ultimate authority within NATO, the Nuclear Planning Group (NPG) which meets annually in Defence Ministers format is the ultimate authority within NATO with regard to nuclear policy issues."

    3. A democratic vote or consent to use nuclear weapons by the member states is not required to launch a nuclear strike. (The authorisation of the Kosovo bombing provides a salutary example of how things might work. Effectively, the USA military decides, supported by UK and France)

    4. The situation of Scotland is fundamentally different from that of any other member state - it hosts the UK nuclear deterrent, and if it insists on the removal of nuclear weapons from Scotland, rUK cannot host them and will cease to be a nuclear power. This poses a threat to NATO's nuclear stance that is posed by no other member state.

    Although Scotland will reiterate its non-nuclear policy after independence, it must negotiate the manner and timescale of the removal of Trident and nuclear-armed submarines from Scottish waters.

    5. The 25 non-nuclear member states are members of a defence alliance that can - and would - launch a nuclear strike in their name without their authority.  The 25 non-nuclear states cannot vote to remove nuclear weapons from NATO or make any changes to its policy because of the veto power of the three nuclear states.

    What is the SNP proposing on NATO membership and why?

    I posted the full Newsnight Scotland interview between Angus Robertson MP and Isabel Fraser, incl. the short but useful analysis that preceded it. In total it lasted 6m 40 secs, with the interview section being only 5m 10 secs. (For that edition of Newsnight Scotland, the producers clearly though same sex marriage was a much bigger topic than membership of a nuclear alliance that has the capacity to exterminate millions. But I believe they have a longer, more in-depth analysis planned of the SNP’s defence policy. God knows, such a programme is overdue – and vital.)

    However, I have split the vital content up in edits to point up the individual contribution. Nothing has been edited out of these sections. Here is Angus Robertson’s full contribution – 3m 45 secs -  minus Isabel Fraser.

    Here is Isabel Fraser asking all of her five questions -

    Here are the five questions individually -





    Angus Robertson answered none of them to my satisfaction. His approach was what I call the torrent of words approach – a kind of mini-filibuster style adopted by politicians when they don’t want to be pinned down. It was partially effective, and perhaps understandable, given the ridiculously short time available, but to me it was consistent with the half-truths and evasions that have characterised the lead-up to this revelation of the SNP leadership’s real intentions on NATO membership.

    But the questions still hang there, waiting for an answer.

    Since Angus Robertson’s contribution did not fully answer my question above - What is the SNP proposing on NATO membership and why?I must try to fill the gaps myself.

    WHAT IS THE SNP PROPOSING?

    “Scotland will inherit its international treaty obligations including those with the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and will remain a member, subject to agreement on withdrawal of Trident from Scotland.”

    “With agreement on the withdrawal of Trident and retaining the important role of the UN, Scotland can continue working with neighbours and allies within NATO.”

    “ … An SNP Government will maintain NATO membership subject to an agreement that Scotland will not host nuclear weapons and NATO continues to respect the right of members only to take part in UN-sanctioned operations. In the absence of such an agreement, Scotland will work with NATO as a member of the Partnership for Peace programme, like Sweden, Finland, Austria and Ireland. …”

    The Faslane base will remain, as Joint Forces Headquarters, and will be central to the SNP’s defence structure.

    I believe that summarises the essence of the SNP’s NATO position – the full defence paper contains a great deal more than this about other aspect of Scotland’s defence plans.

    Before looking at why the SNP are doing this (and I believe that they are being disingenuous about at least some of their reasons for abandoning a long-held anti-NATO policy) let’s examine the feasibility of them achieving membership of NATO while removing Trident and maintaining a non-nuclear policy.

    “Scotland will inherit its international treaty obligations including those with the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO)”

    Well, will it? On what is this assumption based? One would assume that it is legal advice based on examination of international law on newly independent countries.

    I’m no lawyer, but the Vienna Convention on Succession of States in respect of Treaties must be relevant here, however it is a deeply controversial document in its relevant clauses. (I am indebted to a Danish contact, Troels, for much information. Troels is interested in Scottish affairs but does not take a position on them, feeling that it is Scotland’s business.)

    Article 16 states that newly independent states receive a "clean slate", whereas article 34(1) states that all other new states remain bound by the treaty obligations of the state from which they separated. Moreover, article 17 states that newly independent states may join multilateral treaties to which their former colonizers were a party without the consent of the other parties in most circumstances, whereas article 9 states that all other new states may only join multilateral treaties to which their predecessor states were a part with the consent of the other parties.

    Scotland, in separating from the UK, would seem to come under article 34(1) and article 9. Among the many perceptions of this must be the possibility that Scotland would be bound to NATO obligations under article 34(1) but could be turfed out under article 9. If so, they presumably cease to be bound by NATO obligations.

    Let’s look at what Lord (George) Robertson, a former general secretary of NATO says in today’s Herald. Under the headline Nationalists’ Nato policy shift branded a ‘cynical’ ploy the noble Lord of Islay is quoted as follows -

    Lord Robertson, former secretary-general of Nato, was contemptuous of the SNP leadership's planned policy shift, saying: "This is a cynical exercise to get rid of another electoral albatross. Membership of Nato involves accepting its Strategic Concept, which clearly sets out a position and policy on nuclear defence, so countries in Nato will greet the Nationalist approach with derision."

    Angus MacNeil, the co-signatory of the SNP NATO proposal has today reminded George Robertson of his  remarks during a speech to the Moscow State Institute of Foreign Relations in 2001 - "In the Founding Act, NATO committed itself to the famous three nuclear "no's" - no intention, no plan and no reason to establish nuclear weapon storage sites on the territory of the new members - a commitment still valid."

    I think, Angus, that the wee Lord of Islay will speedily invoke the Vienna convention relevant articles (above) to refute that one – but we’ll see

    NATO’s strategic concept includes the possession and use of nuclear weapons of mass destruction, and any member state signs up to that, even if they are non-nuclear. They cannot amend that, nor can they veto their use. NATO is not a democracy – it is  a military alliance dominated by three nuclear states.

    A real question exists over whether NATO could demand that Scotland honour aspect of  its treaty obligations, e.g. provision of safe havens to nuclear-armed NATO submarines, while refusing to allow an independent Scotland to join or remain in  NATO. (Angus Robertson conspicuously avoided answering Isabel Fraser’s question on that topic.)

    “An SNP Government will maintain NATO membership subject to an agreement that Scotland will not host nuclear weapons and NATO continues to respect the right of members only to take part in UN-sanctioned operations.”

    I can see no problem with the second half of that, the right of Scotland to refuse to take part in non UN-sanctioned operations, but the first part – the key part – sure as hell does pose problems. The difficult question to address is the negotiating dynamics of such a negotiating objective – for that is what it is.

    Put bluntly, the SNP leadership want to maintain their nuclear virginity by getting rid of Trident while joining a nuclear alliance committed to retaining and using it without Scotland’s permission, or that of the other 25 non-nuclear member countries. Bear in mind that if Scotland is successful in removing Trident, the high probability is that the rUK would cease to be a nuclear power. Angus Robertson stated on Newsnight Scotland, “nuclear weapons being stationed in another country is a matter of bi-lateral arrangements between the two countries concerned – it doesn’t involve NATO at all, and in this case, that would be the relationship between Scotland and the United Kingdom – it’s not a matter for NATO at all …”

    That is either naive or disingenuous. The idea that NATO would not have a significant influence on the rUK Ministry of Defence, and on any negotiations over Scotland’s NATO membership and Trident doesn’t stand up for a moment – in my view.

    In essence, if we take the SNP’s negotiating stance at face value (I don’t) they will be saying to NATO – “Let us remain under the NATO defence umbrella and in return we will destroy rUK’s status as a nuclear power and remove at a stroke a major part of NATO European nuclear strike capacity.”

    That is how it is being presented to the membership – it is how it will be presented at conference on October – a nice, clean-cut offer – or take-it-or-leave-it ultimatum, depending on your viewpoint. And from my Twitter exchanges, that is exactly the simplistic interpretation placed on it by many SNP supporters – Trident out and we’re in NATO – say no, and Trident goes anyway and Scotland joins Partnership for Peace (an organisation founded by NATO, incidentally).

    My belief is that the SNP strategists’ position is far more complex than that – if it was not, they would be eaten alive in the negotiations. What I believe it really is disturbs me deeply, but whether it is or isn’t right now, here is my scenario of where we will wind up if we do go down this deeply misconceived route.

    We will wind up in NATO, with at best, a token disarming of Trident warheads - something that can happen quickly and be reversed just as quickly – a commitment to a long period of theoretical decommissioning of ten to twenty years, and will be committed provide ‘safe haven’ to NATO nuclear-armed submarines. The high likelihood is that if a deeply unstable world survives 10/20 years without a nuclear war,  the vaporisation of Faslane and a large part of the West of Scotland and permanent pollution of the rest of it, the decommissioning will never happen, and Scotland will remain home to WMDs and Trident.

    It is believed by many commentators that the SNP is going down this route solely because they believe that it will play well with a sector of the electorate for a YES vote in the referendum, and those opposed to NATO membership but supporting independence (like me) will still vote yes. They are right on the second assumption but perhaps not on the first. While I believe the referendum vote is part of the SNP’s rationale, I don’t believe it is anything like the prime reason. If I did, I would resign right now at such cynical expediency.

    There is a lot more I could do – and may well do – on examining the negotiating strategy on defence, but for the moment I’ll wind up.

    Here is the total Angus Robertson/Isabel Fraser interview -

    Saturday, 7 July 2012

    Better Together in the rotten UK? Naw …

    Is Scotland really Better Together in the UK?

    In a country where the criminal powerful are rarely called to account? "Once you've broken through a certain membrane of power, whether in politics or in business, you are untouchable ..."

    Where politicians condone and facilitate corporate irresponsibility?

    Where 'double messages' are given out by senior politicians? "Every government, whichever colour the government is, tries to play a double game" by fund raising from rich bankers while giving out  critical moral messages?

    Where there is a 'crisis of legitimacy' in institutions?

    Where 'an extraordinarily rich class' avoids its responsibilities?

    Where a million children don't have enough to eat, and are malnourished?

    The UK is a state in 'a big malaise'. In fact it's rotten to the core of its failing institutions, a conspiracy of wealth and power moving ever further away from the people.

    Better Together? With this? Scotland must say YES to its independence in 2014

    Is Scotland really Better Together in the UK for defence?

    The critical issue is defence - the nuclear 'deterrent', Trident, and the UK's outdated concept of itself as a world power.

    Devomax, devoplus, devo-whatever - nothing short of full independence will deliver Scotland from the obscenity - and utter irrelevance - of nuclear weapons - of their fundamental immorality and inhumanity.

    Say YES to Scotland's independence, and let our defence forces be truly for defence, not for brutal aggression against other nations.