Scottish Nationalists spooked by the spooks

A former deputy leader of the Scottish Nationalist Party has called on the spooks to stay out of the debate on Scotland’s constitutional future.

A former deputy leader of the Scottish National Party has called on the spooks to stay out of the debate on Scotland’s constitutional future.

Margo MacDonald, now an independent MSP, has argued that she believes MI5 agents are already operating undercover within the SNP as part of the security service’s remit to protect the UK “against threats to national security”.

In 2007 Scotland on Sunday revealed that classified government documents showed that secret service and special branch agents and officers infiltrated the SNP in the 1950s in an attempt to undermine efforts and support for independence.

Many nationalists believe the same occurred in the 1970s when Scotland’s oil boom raised fears in the heart of Whitehall that it could revive calls and support for independence.

The Sunday Herald has quoted MacDonald’s letter to Andrew Parker, director general of MI5, as saying:

“I will be obliged if you can give me an assurance that UK Security Services will not be used in any respect in the lead-up to the Scottish referendum on sovereignty, unless, of course, the Scottish police have sufficient evidence to justify normal responses to potentially overtly criminal acts.

“I do understand that the Security Services are vital to all the countries and regions of the British Isles and the potential for law-breaking may be heightened during the forthcoming campaign.

“As action on the Security Services’ part is calculated to keep communities safe and aid cohesion, I would welcome an assurance from you that this will continue, and that no other consideration will inform your Department’s work.”

Fuelling the suspensions likely to be felt by many in the nationalist movement, Crispin Black, a former intelligence adviser to Tony Blair and the Joint Intelligence Committee, has argued that MI5 will in all likelihood have the referendum debate and campaign on its radar.

Arguing that the vote next year is likely to have a knock on effect in Northern Ireland, Black was quoted in the Sunday Herald as saying:

“My guess is that MI5 would have the referendum on its radar, primarily to ensure its fairness. There’s definitely a national security angle to Scottish independence that the security services would be aware of, but my sense is that they would be stopping dirty tricks, rather than trying to initiate them.”

A spokesperson for Better Together told Left Foot Forward:

“The idea of MI5 getting involved in the referendum is pretty fanciful.

The real issue is what happens to our security and intelligence services if we separate from the UK. The nationalists need to bring forward credible answers to this important question, not more bluff and assertion.”

Both the Scottish government and Home Office declined to comment.

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24 Responses to “Scottish Nationalists spooked by the spooks”

  1. Peter A Bell

    There is no “Scottish Nationalist Party”. You probably mean the Scottish National Party.

  2. Alec

    There’ll be a reason Margo Macdonald’s evidence-free ‘speculation’ is hosted on PressTV. Doesn’t mean you have to link to it.


  3. Andy Pearson

    “Speculation” I wish.

    Perhaps the greatest enduring mystery involving the SNP and the British Security Services was the unexplained death in 1985 of the senior SNP activist and prominent Scottish lawyer Willie McRae, who died after being shot in the head on an isolated spot on the A87.

    It subsequently emerged that McRae, who was a well-known anti-nuclear campaigner, was being monitored by MI5 and was regularly tailed by the security services. No inquiry was ever held into McRae’s death and his post-mortem notes are covered by the Official Secrets Act to this day.

  4. uglyfatbloke

    MI5 won’t be interested …and Heath, Wilson and Callaghan did n’t suppress the McCrone report and the secrecy over McRae’s murder is purely coincidental and the electoral system for Holyrood was not carefully and specifically designed to prevent the gnats from ever becoming the largest party at Holyrood and the BBC is not biased in favour of Unionism and the Sun revolves around the Earth.

  5. uglyfatbloke

    Oh…and the reason that the documentary Domhair was not transmitted in English and on BBC Scotland is that there was no air time to be had in among all the high-quality stuff like Eastenders, River City, the One Show and – of course – ‘Strictly Cleaning Gypsy Builders on Holiday’.

  6. Jeanne Tomlin

    “The idea of MI5 getting involved in the referendum is pretty fanciful.” Oh, very. Just like they wouldn’t use fibre-optic cables for secret access to spy on communications. They carefully screen the SNP OUT of all of the millions of communications they spy on. SUUUURE they do.

  7. Jeanne Tomlin

    Sorry dearie. There is plenty of evidence they’re spying on everyone and no reason to think the SNP isn’t included.

  8. Alec

    If the only evidence is PressTV and some question begging made under parliamentary privilege, then no there is not a lot of evidence.

  9. Alec

    Even that contorted scenario – based on something you just read on BBC News – doesn’t say there’s a plot to subvert the scenario. It says that the spooks are looking at vast amounts of data, which potentially include contemporary (i.e. not from 30 years ago) SNP commutations.
    Of course, the data dump is so large that even the Chinese spooks wouldn’t be able to field enough analysts to monitor each and every banal comment. What’s looked for is traffic analysis, not your asking your partner if you need anything from the store.

  10. Jeanne Tomlin

    Well, of course they did it 30 years ago but they would NEVER do it now. *snort* SURE they wouldn’t. And I have this nice bridge for sale.

  11. Jeanne Tomlin

    From The Guardian yesterday: “It’s not just a US problem. The UK has a huge dog in this fight,” Snowden told the Guardian. “They [GCHQ] are worse than the US.”

    Also from The Guardian: “Britain’s technical capacity to tap into the cables that carry the world’s communications – referred to in the documents as special source exploitation – has made GCHQ an intelligence superpower.”

    Also from The Guardian: “The Guardian understands that a total of 850,000 NSA employees and US private contractors with top secret clearance had access to GCHQ databases.”

    But I’m glad to know that you have such absolute trust in the government not to interfere in the electoral process.

  12. Jeanne Tomlin

    Even worse, there was at least one witness who said they saw he was being tailed by SOMEONE that night. And the issue of how the gun got outside the car if he shot himself in the head.

  13. Alec

    Sounds terrible. What does it have to do with some nobody getting hosted on the state television state of the Khomenists?

  14. Alec

    Drop the sarcastic teenager act. You’re constructing your own fantasies… which is especially rich from someone claiming to oppose the totalitarian approach of spooks.

  15. Alec

    If there were state collusion in his death, blathering about it on the Internet is one of the most bone-headed approaches I can think of.

    The crime scene was contaminated from the start given the presumption he’d been involved in an RTA, and lackadaisal police procedures as per the day.

    Here is what tends to happen to your adducing murderous nefarious conspiracies (which, for whatever reason, is letting you reveal it on the Internet).

  16. Jeanne Tomlin

    Don’t be silly. Everyone and their brother in Scotland knows about the McRae case. They don’t care that people talk about it since any evidence is covered by the Official Secrets Act and no one can do anything about it.

  17. Jeanne Tomlin

    If MSP Margo MacDonald is a nobody why are you bothering to post about her letter?

  18. Alec

    Everyone and their brother in Scotland knows about the McRae case.

    ~*leans out window*~
    “Ere, boy, d’ye ken aboot the McRae case?”
    “Whit ‘e fook you oan aboot?”
    Well, that’s a pointless fabrication. What’s the point of making these easily refutable lies?

  19. Alec

    I’m not posting about it, you numpty. I’m responding to a post about it on a blog I follow.


  20. Jeanne Tomlin

    You seem pretty obsessed with this topic for something that is supposedly delusional brought up by someone you say is a nobody. Why is that?

  21. Alec

    No, chum. You’re the one who’s invaded a dead post on an ill-read blog.
    I would have forgotten about it had you not erupted on it.

  22. Jeanne Tomlin

    And yet you are the one who said she was a nobody and not worth discussing, but here you are. I never said that. As for the McRae case try doing as search on Willie McRae assassination.

  23. Alec

    You really are a bit of a thicko. You’ve done the rhetorical equivalent of running up to someone in the street asking for a fight, and when they walk towards you, you’ve walked backwards at a rate of knots waving your hands about shouting “why are you picking on me?”
    This is the chronology of events:
    i. Some blog Alec reads gave credence to Macdonald’s question begging which seems to be only hosted on the revolting PressTV.
    ii. Alec said, “this is a non-story, why are you giving this nobody credence?”
    iii. Alec forgot about it. Everyone forgot about it.
    iv. A fortnight later, some e-alert was sent around and a brace of Cybernats appeared saying “please, please, please let us go on about McRae and Snowden!”
    v. Alec said, “why are you still commenting on this non-story?”
    vi. You mistook Alec’s disdain for your infantile behaviour for actual interest in the topic you’re frantic to be given air-time, and tried to impute disreputableness in Alec for doing precisely what you wanted.
    vii. Alec said “I’m not doing that, and I think you have low-personal ethics not to mention the emotional maturity of a 12 year old”.

  24. Alec

    Now, I know it’s an inherent mistake to reward question begging like yours, but d’you have any evidence that McRae’s post mortem is covered by the OSA? And, by evidence, I don’t mean the standard procedure for Procurators Fiscal to sign and be bound by it (which is where the claim comes from).
    You also would do well to consider the fact that the OSA is not universal… that is, only people who sign it – through whatever job or professional position they are in – are bound by it. You or some intrepid journalist could get hold of details, and there’d be nothing the authorities could do about it.

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