Sunday, 11 March 2012
Friday, 20 January 2012
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 Scot” Aye, 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.
Monday, 22 August 2011
The independence referendum is now the defining issue in virtually all Scottish political discussion, and a significant one in UK politics. Political points are made on a range of issues, but with the independence question always explicit or implicit. UK politicians and media commentators have been wrenched on to the Scottish narrative, whether they like it or not – and they clearly don’t.
Michael Moore is reported today as demanding that Holyrood stop being negative about issues and cheer up. While the office of Secretary of State for Scotland still exists, we have something to be negative about, and as for cheering up – why not resign, Michael, and give us all an excuse for a party?
Tuition fees rears its head again as the reality bites for England. Sir Malcolm Rifkind, KCMG says the Scottish Government’s position is unfair. This archetypal Scottish Tory, who served as a minister under Major and Thatcher, a former Secretary of State for Scotland, and a failed Scottish politician - dumped twice by the Scottish voters - found a safe haven as MP for Kensington and Chelsea, which is about as far from the realities of Scotland as one can get. He has nothing of value to say to Scotland. He is exactly the kind of Scottish product of the Union and the British Establishment that Scotland can do without – a decision that Scots have already made, about him and his party.
John Redwood, the man who had trouble with the words of the Welsh national anthem, thinks that the Scottish Government is using the tuition fees issue “to radicalise the English”. They are not, John – they are living up to their manifesto commitment to maintain a key Scottish value – free education for all – and they have used their powers legally and properly in a devolved Parliament to do so. Dare I suggest that, on this issue and many others, it appears to be the Coalition Government – and before them the Labour Government – who are trying to radicalise the English by their disastrous policies, greed, and venality.
But let me comfort you, John, by saying that I am trying to radicalise the English, at every opportunity I get, to recognise that the root of their problems is not the Scots or the Welsh but the Union – a failed, corrupt political system. I plead guilty as charged.
Radicalise, England – regain your country and your self respect – dump the Union, and with it the Lords, the knights, the barons and the whole corrupt mechanism of patronage, wealth and undemocratic institutions. You have nothing to lose but your Garters!
DEFINING SCOTLAND’S INDEPENDENCE - THE REFERENDUM AND DEBATE
I have requested many times that the Scottish National Party, the Government of Scotland, clarify their position on, what for me, are the fundamental issues on Scotland’s independence – nuclear weapons, nuclear bases, foreign policy and fiscal control. To try and focus the debate on these fundamentals, I wrote my own little credo of two key principles and three core objectives, and offered it for consideration and downloading where appropriate.
I have no idea how many people share these views, inside or outside the Scottish National Party. I do know that if you are a supporter of the Labour Party, the Tory Party or the Liberal Democrat party that, either you do not support these views – since all three are opposed to Scotland independence, committed to the Union and to the nuclear deterrent – or you are in a state of doublethink, entertaining two or more contradictory beliefs at the same time.
So I feel it is reasonable to ask the Scottish Government to be clear on its stance on these vital issues. But I do not believe that the Scottish Government must – or should – respond to clamorous demands from those diametrically opposed to independence to spell out every detail of policy and procedure and the exact structure of the independence agreement before the referendum and before the detailed negotiations on the terms – assuming a YES vote to independence.
The demand for more detail comes also from other voices and groups, who range from those fully committed in Scotland’s independence, through those as yet undecided trying to evaluate the pros and cons, to business, financial and commercial groups, and the main religious groups. I accept fully the rights of these groups to express their views on what kind of independence they want to see, and to use the media and whatever direct lobbying clout they may have to influence the Scottish Government.
But I do not accept their right to try to force the Scottish Government, a government with a secure and decisive mandate from the Scottish people, to give a blow-by-blow account of their policy debates and the minutiae of policy in every area that could possibly arise, at a time when the date for a referendum has not been set, and may be two or even three years away.
No country seeking its independence has ever behaved in this way. They have either seized their independence by revolution or by velvet means, e.g. America, by a war of independence and Slovenia, by a non-violent secession – a velvet revolution, by a long period of passive resistance – India – or by a longer process of gradualism and evolution.
I reiterate two of the paragraphs from my little downloadable credo -
I am prepared to trust the elected government of Scotland and the team it selects to negotiate all matters relating to these principles and objectives. I expect them to consult with the Scottish people on detailed measures only to the degree that it does not prematurely show their negotiating hand or constrain the necessary flexibility that all negotiators must have.
I do not require a second referendum to ratify the agreement reached on the detailed terms of the independence agreement, providing none of the deal breakers above are compromised.
The reality is that the outcome of the referendum, one that will fundamentally affect Scotland’s future for many years, perhaps decades, and which will have a significant influence on UK and European politics and Western alliances, will be determined, not by politicised interest groups, nor by the chattering classes (of whom I am one) but by ordinary Scottish voters, at all levels of Scottish society, voters who have little knowledge of the detail, but a good grasp of the main arguments and issues. Their decisions, like all decisions, will be influenced in part rationally, to the degree that the media, politicians and commentators give them accurate, unbiased facts, but also by emotional factors.
In a democracy, the people decide, as the Scottish people did on May 5th 2011, in defiance of the distorted information being pumped relentlessly at them by unionist politicians and their media and celebrity mouthpieces. The new media played a vital role in this, as they will in the referendum lead-up. Those in favour of Scotland’s independence need to exercise caution in how they discharge this vital duty and beware of being sucked into the agenda of those diametrically opposed to independence.
And the objective of their communications should be to persuade the voters, and to counter the torrent of misinformation, distortions and just plain lies that emanate from the unionist camp. Trying to influence politicians in the Scottish unionist parties is at best a marginal and probably fruitless endeavour, in my view, especially under the mistaken belief that bridges can be built across party lines. Bridges can be built with ordinary people – the electorate – but the only bridge that unionist politicians can cross is the one that leads from their own failed parties to one that unequivocally supports the independence of Scotland – and there is more than one – e.g. the Green Party - although only one that can deliver independence.
Any attempt to secure a common agenda with unionist politicians runs the obvious risk of a dilution of the very heart of the concept of independence, e.g. Independence Lite, fatal compromises that would keep Scotland in thrall to the UK. Bloodied and confused by their election rout, the unionist parties are making conciliatory noise about independence.
Be careful – I hear the creaking of a large Trojan horse entering the gate in these initiatives.
Sunday, 15 May 2011
The London media village, Westminster-obsessed, has abruptly discovered Scotland.
Alex Salmond tells Jon Sopel patiently how many beans make five.
Scotland watches proudly - and affectionately - as their First Minister courteously answers questions drawn from The Ladybird Book of Politics, which is as far as most UK media interviewers have got so far.
NUCLEAR BASES – TRIDENT
The First Minister says clearly that an independent Scotland would have the ultimate decision on when to go to war, i.e sacrifice the lives of Scottish servicemen and women – and would not, for example, have supported the invasion of Iraq.
He also says there could be some sensible sharing of military bases. But if that were to extend, for example, to leasing the Trident nuclear bases to UK Minus (The United Kingdom of England, Wales and Northern Ireland) after Scotland has achieved independence, then the Scottish Government would have to have a veto on when nuclear weapons were used from its waters, or from a submarine in international waters that was based in Scottish waters.
Since Scotland does not support the use of nuclear weapons or WMDs in any circumstances, UK Minus (effectively the US) would be leasing bases and owning weapons of mass destruction, e.g. Trident submarines that could never be used.
This would be untenable, therefore Scotland can never lease the nuclear bases to UK Minus.
Or that’s my logic. It’s also the deal breaker that I’ll go the barricades on, if needs must. And I’ll have company …