Comment: Independence is denting the SNP’s radicalism

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Since its establishment in 1934 the SNP has had as its raison d’etre the pursuit of an independent Scotland, a nation able to exercise self-determination free from the “dead hand of Westminster” which, ministers at Holyrood would argue, is stifling growth and holding Scotland back from fulfilling its potential.

Alex-SalmondBy anyone’s standards, it’s a radical vision.

Having done what no party was supposed to have done last year, namely win an outright majority of its own in elections to the Scottish Parliament, the SNP and Alex Salmond seemed invisible.

Against weak opposition and with the public having given him and his party a thumping mandate suddenly nothing seemed impossible. Indeed, as recently as the beginning of this year, polling suggested a majority of Scots favoured independence.

Fast forward to today and one wonders if the mounting reality of what independence would mean is starting to dampen the radical vision for independence so often espoused by senior SNP politicians.

Firstly, under plans drawn up by the SNP, an independent Scotland would retain the pound as its currency with the London based Bank of England remaining its central bank. Is this really “independence”?

Now we have the first minister and his allies scuttling around promoting the idea that the option known as “Devo Max” under which Scotland would gain control of everything apart from foreign, defence and certain limited tax and economic powers should also be on the ballot paper.

Putting aside the fact that being able to set your own foreign and defence policy is at the very heart of the notion of national sovereignty, the first minister is now striking a lonely figure in this regard, attacked as he has been in equal measure by pro-independence campaigners Margo MacDonald, Patrick Harvie, comedian Elanie Smith and former SNP leader Gordon Wilson, all of whom have recognised and argued forcefully that the inclusion of a second question would be a “co-op” and suggest Salmond is looking for a face-saving way out of a defeat of his long held dreams of independence.

And now, in the latest sign of the impact the prospect of independence is having on the SNP we hear the party is preparing to debate at its annual conference in October its historic opposition to NATO membership, an event likely to cause substantial ruptures within the party.


See also:

Salmond’s Yes to Independence campaign splits. Again 9 Jul 2012

Salmond must stop moving the goalposts on Scottish independence referendum 4 Jul 2012

Do the SNP see England as a foreign country already? 2 Jul 2012

Salmond’s independence campaign lurches from one problem to another 19 Jun 2012

Time for slippery Salmond to answer for his “toe-curling fawning over Rupert Murdoch” 11 Jun 2012


Emphasising the systemic shift this would be in SNP policy, the Herald’s editorial this morning concludes:

“A generation ago it would have been unthinkable for the fiercely anti-nuclear Scottish National Party to propose that an independent Scotland should join Nato.

“Yet, the party’s autumn conference will consider a motion that Scotland should remove nuclear weapons but join the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, whose ultimate deterrent in nuclear weaponry.

“Since it is to be put forward by Angus Robertson, the SNP’s Westminster leader and defence spokesman, this can be taken as the preferred policy option of the leadership. If it is agreed, it will breach a shibboleth for many of the party’s most faithful foot soldiers.

“For 30 years the SNP’s stance has been anti-Nato because the party is opposed to nuclear weapons and, as Nato is a nuclear alliance, an independent Scotland would not apply for membership. For many grassroots members and activists, especially on the left of the party, this was a point of principle and the reason for joining the SNP rather than Labour.

“Expelling Trident from Faslane and Coulport but remaining a member of Nato is a compromise solution that would leave the SNP vulnerable to charges of hypocrisy. While the party can claim it remains committed to the earliest possible withdrawal of Trident from Scotland, some experts say that removal could take up to 20 years.

“At the autumn conference, two years away from the referendum on independence, Alex Salmond and his key lieutenants will be looking beyond their membership to the wider electorate. Seeking Nato membership is a bold move on the part of Mr Salmond, in keeping with his reputation as a politician who likes to take risks. The aim will be to convince waverers that Scotland’s security will be guaranteed under independence.”

Meanwhile, comparing his situation with that of Neil Kinnock, Trevor Salmon, an emeritus professor at the University of Aberdeen, writes this morning in the Scotsman:

This will cause enormous ructions within the SNP, as there are people within the party who think that Nato is immoral in that it has a strategy that’s dependent on nuclear weapons.

“The situation facing Alex Salmond is the one that faced Neil Kinnock in the late 1980s. Labour realised two-thirds of UK voters quite liked the nuclear deterrent.

“Although it was very hard for Kinnock to change Labour’s policy of unilateral nuclear disarmament, he realised that if the bulk of the population disagreed with you, you either change that position or stay in opposition Alex Salmond may take a similar view on the SNP’s position, but he will face stiff opposition within his own party.”

He continues:

“If there is a real prospect of Alex Salmond being defeated at this autumn’s party conference, then it is possible that he will withdraw the proposal. Of course, given this would be the second time he had done this, then that would be the end of any attempt to change the policy before the 2014 independence referendum.

“But it would be a very brave person who would attempt to take on Alex Salmond within the SNP. He is probably the only person who could bring about this change within the party.”

U-turn if you want to? The first minister is definitely for turning.


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36 Responses to “Comment: Independence is denting the SNP’s radicalism”

  1. Mehdi Hasan

    Comment: Independence is denting the SNP's radicalism, writes @EdJacobs1985:

  2. Extradition Game

    RT @leftfootfwd: Comment: Independence is denting the SNP's radicalism, writes @EdJacobs1985: #NewsClub

  3. Hitchin England

    RT @leftfootfwd: Comment: Independence is denting the SNP's radicalism, writes @EdJacobs1985: #NewsClub

  4. leftlinks

    Left Foot Forward – Comment: Independence is denting the SNP’s radicalism

  5. Political Planet

    Comment: Independence is denting the SNP’s radicalism:   . Since its establishment in 1934 the SNP has had as it…

  6. TristanPriceWilliams

    Could it be that the majority of people in Scotland, in poll after poll favour devo max. And that whilst the FM wants independence and independence only, he, unlike Cameron does actually listen to what the people are saying loud and clear. The son’t want the status quo and they don’t want complete independence.

    It’s a huge disappointment to me as British foreign affairs are conducted with one eye on the White House and the other eye on…erm, the White House. And the MoD must be the most inefficient organisation in the world after G4S.

    When Brits want something, Cameron seems to be prepared to give them a referendum , but exclude the option that the bulk of the population wants. Mr Salmond says that if that is what Scots want, they should probably get to vote on it.

    However, as it stands the FM has said there will be one question only.

    Likewise, one of the things that worried people about being independent was not being a part of NATO. Polls have shown that Scots want to be a part of Nato.

    So the SNP, no longer a pressure group for a small number of people, but a government with a majority in a system designed to have no majority, has taken what the people want into consideration.

    There is still however a ban on nuclear weaponry on our soil. Something that once upon a time Labour would have been overjoyed about. But as we have observed in both our parties, we must change or be lost. In your case, it was Mr Mandelson and Mr Blair who took you away from flat cap socialism into the reality of today’s Britain with an emphasis on the City and the south east of England, and which then won you 13 years of government.

    Along the way, you have to admit you ditched a lot of your policies, because the bulk of the population, at least in England, quite liked Thatcherism…so you offered it, with a human face.

    Surely a party that keeps its 1930s or 1950s policies or even now its 1980s policies will wither on the vine… Il faut changer pour vivre!

  7. Ed Jacobs

    RT @leftfootfwd: Comment: Independence is denting the SNP's radicalism

  8. Aberdonian Exile

    I think the real problem Scotland has is that there is now widespread support in England for pushing it into complete independence. Working in southern England I am all too aware of the antipathy towards Scotland and I doubt that devomax will be acceptable to English MPs. It will be a case of stick with what you have or go. You can forget about retaining the pound; the remainder of the UK will not take responsibility for potentially irresponsible spending by left wing governments in Scotland.

    In defence terms I very much doubt that much military equipment or personnel will be handed to Scotland (expect the Royal Regiment of Scotland to remain in the UK order of battle and to continue recruiting from Scotland, although I suspect it might be reduced to 2 or 3 battalions). After all there is still an Irish regiment in the British Army. Similarly, I cannot see major naval vessels being ceded and of course it will mark an end to shipbuilding orders on the Clyde. BAE is already planning on building future major vessels at Barrow or Portsmouth. With such a miniscule defence base I would expect hi-tech companies like Selex to move south of the border. Essentially Scotland will end up with small forces like Ireland and any Scots contribution to NATO is likely to be so minor as to make no real difference.

    Of course joining the EU has its own issues. Entering the Schengen area will inevitably lead to border posts and passport controls between England and Scotland, and the EU is now making membership of new states conditional on acceptance of the Euro as national currency. But I guess the SNP would rather be run by the Germans and French (just like the Irish) rather than share a parliament in Westminster. where they have some influence

    As far as nuclear weapons are concerned the SNP seems to think it has trump card with Faslane. I doubt it. There is room for the Trident boats at Devonport, plus local weapons storage there. There is a sizeable nuclear weapons storage location at Burghfield in Berkshire and also at various airbase since the RAF lost its tactical nuclear weapons. Devonport has a nuclear submarine repair and maintenance facility. And the French have intimated they would share their facilities if necessary, as a move towards a joint EU deterrent. So joining NATO but refusing to have nuclear weapons on Scots territory is actually largely irrelevant. In fact you have to wonder if the UK will even particularly welcome Scotland within the alliance since it just adds another member to what is now largely a talking shop. If the EU deterrent takes off then Scotland will be seen by many as failing to contribute (its base) despite benefitting from the nuclear force. Free riders are not always well liked.

    What Scotland needs to accept is that outside the UK it will be a very minor player on the European and international stage, in fact little more than a backwater like New Zealand or Ecuador, with minute influence and potentially vulnerable to commercial and economic pressure from the big boys. The loss of Scotland will make little difference to the rest of the UK and will clearly be welcome in many quarters, not least by the Conservatives who will be delighted at the loss of 40+ Labour seats. By all means leave, but don’t expect an easy ride.

  9. Mr. Sensible

    Reality is catching up with Salmond.

  10. Anonymous

    DevoMax is a question for the Union as a whole, though, unlike independence. And I don’t support it. A properly Federal UK, yes, but not “DevoMax” – it’s cherry picking advantages.

    Also, I have to disagree on the timing issue… The 1950’s was Labour’s peak time for a reason. Modern Labour is…very different.

  11. TristanPriceWilliams

    Yes. I know that the English largely dislike Scotland. They have been taught that we are a nation of scroungers, who flit from pub to betting shop. The right wing press and Boris Johnston are largely at fault here.

    The figures are always skewed in the unionist press. All the problems, and of course the problems are going to be there, are discussed, but World Bank Figures that show that Scotland would be around 7th richest country per capita in the world are missed. Comparisons with Iceland at the height of its crisis are cited, but no one in the main stream ever talks about another small country with the same population, less oil, yet a massively higher standard of living and a £500 billion dollar oil fund….Norway.

    Some say that if Scotland left the UK and the pound, the pound would founder, because Scotland would take most of the Oil. That is economists, not me. I can’t argue. But it seems that the idea of the pound staying may well have been from London, rather than Edinburgh.

    It is only war ships that are built on the Clyde. most other stuff is built in the far East, where it can be sourced far more cheaply. The state of the British economy suggests that there will be no more war ships built in the foreseeable future. So I wouldn’t anticipate much if I were in one of the towns you mention.

    Of course, it seems that everyone thinks that ordinary people just love the fact that the British Prime Minister is one of the most important people on the planet, and what he says counts. Most of us don’t give a stuff. Britain continues to play a role because to most intents they do everything that America tells them to do.

    Mr Osborne’s own words …we are broke. How can Britain really play a part? even the WMDs that Britain houses on the Clyde are not an independent deterrent like those of the French. They are controlled by America.

    Of course Scotland would play a tiny part in NATO, in Europe, in the world… Just like Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Greenland, Iceland… If you have travelled to any or some of these countries you will know that the standard of living is high, the difference between rich and poor is small, the place is clean, the roads are good, where there are trains they are modern and well run…. The people polite and multi-lingual… and no one thinks it is important to run the world. They think it more important to concentrate on their own country…and run it.

    Who benefits from Britain being in every war America decides to have, legal or not? Us? No. The prime minister? Yes.

    He gets dinner at the White House. He is allowed to feel immensely important. That’s nice for him. It doesn’t stop pensions in the UK being the lowest in the developed world when compared with wages, the railways being a disaster, roads falling to pieces, and half the army awaiting an attempt form one of many terrorist organisations to further disrupt their Olympics.

    Being small gives you real pride in your country. not something that has to be enforced with the waving of flags, expensive jubilees, rich people getting married and having children, which will undoubtedly happen close to the referendum. Loyalty to a totally distant parliament where our members are outweighed 10-1 by others and where despite voting Labour, we got a Tory government, is not terribly evident.

    We shall see what we shall see.

    I don’t want devo max at any cost.

  12. TristanPriceWilliams

    Yes, it probably should be…although devolution was not, strangely.

    My problem with it is that we would end up paying for WMDs, with no vote on getting rid of them, and we would continue to send people to die in illegal wars, killing hundreds of thousands of innocent people on the whim of a mad American neo-con Vice president.

    Clearly a federal set up is one that I would object to for the same reason. if the UK could be like a federal Germany or Switzerland and be low key in nose poking I might not mind it. But the amount of money the UK spends on “defence” is eye watering, and so badly spent when one considers the poverty in the UK.

    (If we spent the money that they will spend renewing Trident on getting people off drugs and tightening how drugs get in here, just imagine how much misery could be avoided, particulate among the under privileged.)

    Not sure what you meant by the timing issue. Would you not agree that Labour has changed its values greatly over the years… I think it reasonable that it should. Just as I think it reasonable that the SNP would.

    As you say, modern Labour is…different.

  13. Anonymous

    Taking the points made in turn:

    English views of “Put up with crap – or shove off” is excellent. It will stiffen the backbone of nervous nellies favoring Devolution. Come a hard choice between more Toryism from UK Labour or UK Conservatives, self government will increasingly be seen as the safe, sane option.

    Again all this emotional blackmail about: “England will be vindictive and uncooperative” on negotiations, asset and debt split, sharing a currency, social union or whatever is a) scaremongering b) setting up a ‘tough’ negotiating stance to hang on to us much ill-gotten goods as possible and c) hot air argument that will dissipate when the Yes vote comes in and the campaign rhetoric disappears faster than snow off a dyke. All of a sudden it will be all charm and smarm from Cameron and crew, to try and weasel the best deal they can. UK is in dire financial straits and needs Scottish foreign currency earnings from higher per capita exports, oil, reserves underwriting sterling, etc etc. Current discussion ignores realities like the US, IMF and EU leaning on the UK to avoid crisis and sort out a fair deal.

    What you doubt and what is international precedent on asset and liability sharing and therefore defence resource split are poles apart. On a per capita basis Scotland will take a slice of each and all categories of defence resources, including IT, intelligence and communications systems. Read The Scotsman yesterday for the text of the SNP conference resolution setting out the resources, costs and basic deployment details of the Scottish Defence Force.

    The issues you raise about the EU do not arise. Scotland is already in the UK. Both countries will be successor states. The EU does not expel members, it recruits them. The obstacles you cite are theoretical and not real. In any case the better solution may be for Scotland to go for EFTA links as do Norway and Switzerland. It will be up to the Scottish electorate to decide in the referendum folowing the return to self government.

    Faslane is not a trump card ( In any case you are talking about Faslane and Coulport)
    it is an obscenity – to be removed. Glad to hear that there are alternatives that can speed departure. We need the facilities and the construction capabilities for building quality naval vessels and maintaining them.

    The NATO ‘talking shop’ launched international mini-wars in recent years. Not keeping up with current affairs are we? The UK will welcome Scotland being in NATO, if that is the wish and decision of the Scottish Parliament. A choice we do not have at present. The reason being that the UK at present is woefully inadequate in failing to guard the north right now. Big hole where maritime reconnaissance used to be. Scotland asset stripped of bases and personnel. Sending a naval vessel a day’s journey away (twice) to see what the Russian Navy was doing off the Moray Firth by the oilfields; aircraft carriers without planes, billions in waste and incompetence – leaving an army at Crimean War size – oh yes, the UK needs a neighboring NATO ally with clean, lean, mean and efficient fighting forces in an integrated Scottish Defence Force. (Not three warring tribes of wasteful competitors as in the RAF, RN and Brit Army)

    Scotland is sick of the farcical, costly and ridiculous UK pretendy “major world force, striding the world stage” posturing and sycophancy as a very third rate hanger on to the USA. The world has grown up and moved on. The UK is now a bit player and a third string in Europe to France and Germany. But the UK is unable and unwilling to get real and adapt. Unlike southern frantic efforts to cling to the shreds of past imperial glory, the Scottish electorate are realists. They know there are no current or likely major defence threats, other than a risk of terrorism (exacerbated by UK imperialist adventures) They also, increasingly see the Scandinavian model of having your own strong defence forces, industries and employment as preferential to paying a high tax contribution to see it squandered by Westminster and Whitehall.

    Scotland leaving will cost Labour seats, but only at Westminster. The track record since the war is that UK governments are always of the party chosen by English electors. Scotland rarely gets the government it supported in a given GE. Yet another democratic deficit of the Union. But you assume that all those seats would be held if Scotland stayed in the Union. Last time they got voted in as a tactical vote to try to prevent a Tory Government. Did not work. Next time, the SNP would be the recipient of a much larger vote share if still in the Union. There is a persistent Unionist delusion that somehow, if they can only defeat the SNP, it will just evaporate. as if!! What Unionists fail to see is that the forces creating the SNP will just go right on demanding more power and the SNP are the credible organisation that is to hand to harvest those votes. Win or lose the 2014 vote (and my prediction is another ‘ surprise’ vote like 2011) the SNP will be there fighting Scotland’s corner and gaining and exercising more power and control to banish the poverty, social problems and misery that are the legacy of a sick Union. We may go straight to self government, or waste time detouring via DevoMax, but self government is the launch pad for renewal for Scotland and get there we will.

  14. Anonymous

    Okay, several separate issues there.

    1. Defence. I’m no dove, and we’re not going to agree, so let’s move on.
    2. Drugs War. Er, what? No, a common sense approach would be instead of throwing billions at a neoprohibitionist approach which demonstrably doesn’t work would to adopt a far, far cheaper and more sensible harm-minimisation approach such as Portugal’s.
    3. Labour. Well sure, they’re centralist paternalists and can’t credibly be claimed to be of the left anymore

  15. 45 Apples

    RT @leftfootfwd: Comment: Independence is denting the SNP's radicalism, writes @EdJacobs1985: #NewsClub

  16. BevR

    RT @leftfootfwd: Comment: Independence is denting the SNP's radicalism

  17. Aberdonian Exile

    You clearly don’t know much about the world of defence. The defence assets will not be split because they can’t be. It is a bit like asking for 10% of a car. The UK government will keep the structure and all the best equipment and give the dregs to Scotland which will in any case be unable to operate advanced materiel. Have you noticed how many jet fighters, submarines or electronic intelligence listening posts are operated by the Irish? Zero. How do you think Edinburgh will force the English to hand over valuable equipment when the tiny Scots forces will clearly be unable to operate them? The UK remains a major, albeit reduced military power, despite your childish assertions to the contrary. Scotland will have nothing to offer beyond a few pipe bands and a small coastguard and you are simply naive or over-romantic if you believe otherwise. An independent Scotland will have no automatic right to enter the EU and countries such as Spain with their own national problems may be adverse to entry. And you must be off your head to think that the London government will bankroll the Edinburgh pound. It won’t. As oil production diminishes it will become clear that the Scots economy is unable to support the lavish spending plans of the SNP and you will see a steady outflow of people, just like Ireland, as they seek their fortune elsewhere. Try a visit to Dublin or Cork airports at a weekend if you want to see all the young professional people heading for England and the continent. What you will end with is a minor country capable of running its own internal affairs to a point, pushed around by England (as all small countries are when they have much bigger neighbours) and in thrall to France and Germany of they do manage to enter the EU. And one whose professional population will up sticks to seek better career opportunities

    What I don’t understand is how people with your clearly limited knowledge of international relations and security affairs think Scotland will somehow become a significant player if it becomes independent. Wishing does not make it so and Ii clearly won’t. You need to open your eyes to that fact. If you want to live in a backwater that is fine, but I suggest you buy a remote cottage in the highlands, not inflict such inane views on a voting public. My guess is that at a referendum the Scots population will clearly see through the pile of dross you are advocating.

  18. Frankly

    There is something to be said for gradualism, particularly in financial and economic matters, not only where canny folk such as the Scots are concerned but generally:

    “Perhaps when all is said and done on the consultation around Scots independence the lesson from Ireland that could be probably best given was by John Maynard Keynes to Eamonn De Valera at the Finlay Lecture at University College Dublin on April 19, 1933: ‘ … those who seek to disembarrass a country of its entanglements should be very slow and wary. It should not be a matter of tearing up roots, but of slowly training a plant to grow in a different direction’.” (Belfast Telegraph, January 24th 2012)

    As for defence:

  19. Frankly

    On the subject of reality:

  20. Shamik Das

    Comment: Independence is denting the SNP's radicalism, writes @EdJacobs1985:

  21. Anonymous

    Repeating the hackneyed old “Scotland too wee, too poor, too incompetent” rubbish above is way out of date. no one buys that line any more.

    In full: SNP resolution on Nato The Scotsman
    Published on Monday 16 July 2012 16:55
    “Scotland is maritime nation with more than 11,000 miles of coastline, including nearly 800 islands, critical under-sea and offshore infrastructure and an area of responsibility extending far into the North Sea and Atlantic Ocean.The SNP recognises our national responsibilities as a northern European nation to work with our neighbours to fulfil current defence and security responsibilities and improve collective regional arrangements. Environmental changes to the High North and Arctic Region raise major regional challenges and responsibilities which Scotland shares.

    Scotland will require military capabilities to fulfil these responsibilities. These will be provided by the Scottish defence and peacekeeping services which will be answerable to the Scottish Government and Scottish Parliament. An independent Scottish government led by the SNP will commit to an annual defence and security budget of £2.5bn, an annual increase of more than £500m on recent UK levels of defence spending in Scotland but nearly £1bn less than Scottish taxpayers currently contribute to UK defence spending.

    The Scottish armed forces will comprise 15,000 regular and 5,000 reserve personnel, operating under Joint Forces Headquarters based at Faslane, which will be Scotland’s main conventional naval facility. All current bases will be retained to accommodate units, which will be organised into one regular and one reserve Multi Role Brigade (MRB). The air force will operate from Lossiemouth and Leuchars.

    Regular ground forces will include current Scottish raised and restored UK regiments, support units as well as Special Forces and Royal Marines, who will retain responsibility for offshore protection”

    Your stance is that: the UK and joint assets = England and English assets. Joint property of the Union will be jointly divided on a per capita basis as per international precedent. Some physically, some in financial settlement. Actually better for Scotland. It can buy modern fit for purpose, instead of dated and substandard current UK issue.

    Implicit in your argument is the “might is right, we can rip you off and you just have to take it” attitude that has wrecked the Union and will go on to wreck EWNI, once everyone outside the SE wakes up with Scotland’s departure and starts demanding reform.

    What is it with Unionists and their doom and gloom predictions? Perhaps extrapolating from their own track record of appalling incompetence ending in the current trillion pound debts? Scottish Social Attitudes survey recent results show 71% of Scots have no trust in Westminster ability to manage Scottish Affairs, but the reverse applies to the SNP Government. Scotland will be well governed, it is small, compact and can adapt faster. The Union is a stuffed duck. Once trust and confidence in your institutions is gone, the institution is dead meat walking. Just look at Libor, the budget stuff up, the Olympics incompetent scandals surfacing. HSBC laundering drug money. UK institutions are now incompetent, criminal, corrupt and falling apart. Who in their right mind wants to be part of a disintegrating state, failing economy and stuffed political system.

    You still don’t get it. Scandinavian countries have no obsessions with being a ‘significant player. but do vastly better than the UK. They too have large neighbors – Germany and Russia. Don’t see any ‘getting pushed around” going on. Advancing that drivel as argument insults both our intellegences.

    I have ignored the would be patronage, attempted talking down to someone you do not know, the silly jibes and the peurility of the rest of your attempt at a reply.

    Try again. You are losing.

  22. Forward

    Comment: Independence denting the SNP's radicalism?

  23. G.M.

    Think the spell-check results should have been checked on this one: Independence is denting the SNP's radicalism

  24. Elbapo

    eds- invisible- invincible?

  25. TristanPriceWilliams

    I accept that you are no “dove” and I am no ‘war monger’. Frankly I object to my money being wasted for the greater glory of Cameron …or Brown …or Blair… or Thatcher. And for no other good. I also object to being very much more at risk of terrorist attack because these people wanted to please the American president. I accept you feel differently.

    I didn’t say ‘drugs war’. Working with young unemployed people has given me an insight into the need for a programme to get people off heroin and crack. The programme exists, but is woefully inadequate, sometimes taking people 9 months before they an be placed on a programme. I’m not talking here about light drugs. I too would legalise them in the same way that alcohol and tobacco are legalised.

    Fair enough. We agree on Labour and it’s position, although Scottish Labour does like to give the impression of being farther to the left than Labour in England. The trouble is that that makes for a credibility gap when the two meet, particularly when Scottish Labour MPs are taking their orders from Ed and MSPs from Ms Lamont.

  26. Munguin

    I don’t think there is any danger of the English and in particular the south east telling us to “take it or leave it” otherwise that is surely what the Tories would have done by now. David Cameron has lots to gain politically from losing Scotland as someone said the loss of 40 labour seats and the chance to rule without the Lib Dems in the land of never ending conservatism, no need to worry about the awkward squad. But he does not do that. Instead he is desperate to get the Scots to vote “No” on the promise of something undefined later on down the line (but vote no first). That does not sound like “take it or leave it” to me.

    So what are the ties that bind? Do DC and his chums get all dewy eyed at night fretting about the loss of the dear Scots and an end to the most successful union in history bar none? Nobody is so stupid as to believe that. The elephant in the room is all that lovely oil that they keep finding off Scotland’s coast. Another hundred years worth at last count wasn’t it? And the revenue from which they most certainly do not want to see not going into HM Treasury to pay for M25s, channel tunnels, Welfare budgets while they implement their loony agendas, illegal wars, nuclear weapons and so on. If the oil were off England the Scots would have been dumped as a bunch of moaning subsidy junkies long ago.

  27. Anonymous

    Well, Portugal’s results are solid enough when it comes to drugs I really do strongly advocate using their model wholesale.

  28. Aberdonian Exile

    I can criticise your naivety on these issues because I have spent over 40 years working in this particular field and you clearly have little real understanding of the wider implications of the policies you so carelessly advocate. You are making a lot of assumptions about what you would like to happen without any certainty they actually will, which is at best a serious gamble. For example you are clearly assuming that all Scots currently serving in HM Forces will happily transfer to serve in a minor defence force in a very minor country. Some will, many won’t because they don’t want to spend their career on guard duty in Fort George and peacekeeping in Lebanon. They joined because they wanted to belong to serious armed forces. Why should they curtail their careers to keep you happy? There is no way that an independent Scotland can ensure they transfer back home and a great may simply will not. If the UK retains the Royal Regiment of Scotland where does that leave you? So the reality will be one of generating new forces from scratch.

    The future Scottish defence budget at just 1/16th of the UK budget (for about 1/11th of the total population) will just not allow the operation of aircraft like Typhoon or the acquisition of advanced equipment like submarines. In real terms a lot more will be needed to match the SNP blurb you have cut and pasted above. What are you expecting – that the UK will hand over 1 nuclear sub, 1.5 frigates, 30 tanks, 10 Typhoons etc (that is about the correct ratio)? Given the small size of the UK armed forces Scotland would not actually receive a lot even if it were divied up and that would imply some serious capital spending by the newly independent country. The Scandinavia countries typically spend about 50-60% more in real terms than the experts in the SNP are advocating. Even with that their military clout is very limited and despite your view to the contrary it is clear they count for little in serious international negotiations. Big boys’ game, big boys’ rules.

    I haven’t lost any argument – you have simply failed to make a serious and realistic case because you are pandering to your emotional prejudices instead of conducting a serious analysis of the realities of the national security. Sure Scotland can have its own armed forces but they will be a pretty Mickey Mouse affair, just like the Irish Defence Force. Never mind, if it all goes wrong the UK will still be there to rescue you.

  29. Aberdonian Exile

    Yes, a very interesting link. So Scotland wants to be protected by the US, UK and French nuclear deterrents in NATO, but is not prepared to accept nuclear weapons on its territory… free riding? Hypocrisy? Self delusion? Why join a nuclear alliance and then start imposing conditions? This means for example that no US Navy ship will ever dock in Scotland, because the Americans as policy always refuse to confirm or deny the carriage of nuclear weapons aboard. And what is the SNP policy on nuclear powered vessels incidentally?

    Just why do the SNP think the rest of the UK will be prepared to accept joint procurement, training, etc? There is nothing in this for the UK, so why bother to assist the needy Scots?

    This proposal has all the signs of a political fudge, but desperately lacks any semblance of reality. Sad and a bit pathetic.

    Thank you for drawing attention to the link.

  30. Anonymous

    All the wrong assumptions are in your comments above.

    you assume the UK continues. It does not. Two successor states emerge from the de-merged Union. Scotland and EWNI. Look up Lord Tebbitt in The Telegraph on the subject.

    No asset split – reality – an asset split matching a debts split – no share of assets equals no share of debts. Assets still out-value debts, though the current incompetents are rapidly narrowing the gap.

    No division of military assets – reality – division of physical assets where appropriate to Scotland and financial compensation for the ones EWNI can keep eg Scottish share of nukes.

    No return of military personnel. The forced transfer from the former UK for service personnel to EWNI personnel is just as problematic as the transfer from UK to Scotland. It will come down to individual choice to transfer or not. The assumption that all Scots will stay in what becomes the English, Welsh and NI Army /AF/Navy is absurd. Some will transfer, some will not. It will help with further EWNI downsizing. The more ambitious and competent will transfer, better career prospects. The hidden discrimination ‘the chief always has to be English’ will hurry the process.

    The assumption that recruits will continue to flow south from Scotland is also wrong. The flow is already drying up. The ‘Scots’ regiment remnants in the current services are under-recruited from Scotland.

    Your assumption that there will be no ‘action’ to attract recruits is equally wrong. The SNP policy is participation in UN backed NATO actions. Note the conditional – not achievable for Scotland within a UK straitjacket.

    The ludicrous comments on the size of the Scottish Forces and budget is another assumption of false ‘superiority’. Internet search will show that like Denmark and Norway, the 5m Scottish population can get much higher defence value for their money than in the bloated over-bureaucratised incompetent UK. Scottish Forces will be in proportion to population and needs.

    Take a Finnish comparison the military in Scotland has been cut by some 60% in the last decade and given that the MOD has had an underspend of 5 billion in the last 4-5 alone in Scotland. Finland currently spends around 3.5 -3.7 billion dollars on defence.

    Finland’s navy has eight offshore patrol vessels, seven hovercraft and 81 coastal patrol boats (coast guard) along with a ASW craft and minehunters and layers with 3,000 people.

    We do not need 81 coastal patrol ships, Finland has a much bigger coast. We will need as minimum around 6 corvettes 2-3 ASW/GP frigates around 8-10 patrol ships with some logistic/replenishment ships as well as mine sweepers and such and some small inshore craft a good balanced fleet that packs a punch when armed properly unlike the RN with its ‘fitted for but not with’ stupidity where the RN ships are dangerously under armed. Who won the Cod Wars is a useful sobering thought for you re appropriate vessels for purpose.

    Finland’s army has 27.000 people with 109 MBTs, 392 IFVs ,417 APCs (tracked) ,424 APCs (wheeled 2,058 mortars , 684 artillery pieces (towed), 90 artillery pieces (self-propelled),58 artillery pieces (rocket)
    28 Helicopters & 11 UAVs

    Scotland will be perfectly adequately defensively provided, with capability to play a commensurate role in UN/NATO interventions. No less, no more.

    You assume the ‘superiority’ of UK defence provision. In reality it is woeful. Scotland would also be able to equip the SDF without having to enter into decades-long deals with UK arms and military equipment manufacturers – deals that result in inflexibility and ultimately – deaths and injuries.

    Scotland could buy the best from Europe and the world, suitable for it’s needs – the Panhard (French) VBL Series of light vehicles, LAV25’s from Canada, the Fuchs APC/AIFV and Fennek MPC Recce vehicles from Germany …..

    Unlike vehicles supplied by UK providers, the above and many others are flexible, multi-purpose/multi role vehicles that will suit an integrated single Defence Force, and that’s something the MOD doesn’t really like for some reason. They usually go for a single vehicle for a single purpose (the UK could have had HMS Ocean, and similar, decades ago). Silo thinking from an organisation riddled with and paralysed by internal politics.

    Certain aspects of sharing come with the NATO membership territory. Your assumption that the EWNI would cut off its nose to spite its face and not share future arrangements with Scotland, would seriously weaken defence of the whole island – for both parties. Total stupidity. Not even I think they are that daft.

    Norway is a staunch NATO member and has no nukes. Scotland can and will agree to NATO on similar terms. You shoot down your would-be stance of self-proclaimed ‘expert’ when you talk about changing NATO conditions after the event. Scotland will agree on entry – not later.

    Come off the high horse stance, face reality. You have been looking at the issues through the wrong end of the telescope. The view from Whitehall is narrow, limited and blinded by mental attitudes from the late 1940’s. No wonder the current UK defence farce has come about.

  31. Alex Salmond blames Westminster for double-dip recession | Left Foot Forward

    […] Comment: Independence is denting the SNP’s radicalism 17 Jul […]

  32. Look Left – IMF warnings, economic non-solutions and Romney’s financial skeletons | Left Foot Forward

    […] pledging a vote at the party’s conference in October over u-turning on their anti-NATO stance, questions began to be asked about whether the SNP’s radical edge was being dented, Allan Massie observing […]

  33. Uglyfatbloke

    A modest historical observation…As the BBC ‘s Brian Taylor remarked at the time it was announced, the Holyrood electoral system was designed specifically to prevent the SNP from becoming the largest party, let alone winning an overall majority. There was no thought of it preventing Labour from winning an outright majority. The De Hondt system was chosen because it was the easiest form of PR to manipulate and because the Council of Europe was not prepared to accept FPTP sine the UK already has a special dispensation from the EU; it is the only EU country that is allowed to have a non-democratic electoral system

  34. Charles O'Brien

    Comment: Independence is denting the SNP's radicalism | Left Foot Forward

  35. Charles O'Brien

    Comment: Independence is denting the SNP's radicalism | Left Foot Forward

  36. Charles Patrick O'Brien

    I trust Alex and the rest of my representatives who we voted for to make these decisions,

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