The best recruiting serjeants for Scottish Independence appear to be two Westminster government departments, reported by today’s edition of The Herald as clearing their chests of barking threats.
According to The Herald, the Foreign Office – an astonishingly erratic department under William Hague, is saying that an independent Scotland would not necessarily be welcome in NATO, even if the government of the day applied for membership. The problem is said to be the SNPs opposition to Trident.
It can hardly be said, on the evidence, that the Foreign Office is unfamiliar with the preference of keeping difficult regimes of any kind ‘inside the tent’.
The MoD, in a submission to MPs on the consequences of Scottish independence, is reported as saying that, following a hypothetical independence, an intelligence capability ‘would need to be built up almost from nothing with considerable start up costs’.
This can only mean one of two things:
- Scotland is already seen as subversive and treacherous, contaminating UK security which would have to be steam cleaned and begun again from scratch lest a newly independent Scotland used what it knew;
- or Scotland is so important to the intelligence capability that, without it, the UK will have little left and will have to begin again on its own account.
We are, remember, talking about the ‘intelligence capability’ that did not see Argentina’s invasion of the Falklands coming, even though the scrap metal merchants’ occupation of South Georgia could hardly have been a flashier maroon.
We are also, remember, talking about the ‘intelligence capability’ that sexed up and supported the infamous dodgy dossier on Iraq’s possession of weapons of mass destruction.
Given the breathtaking altitude of such ‘intelligence capability’, the prospect of beginning again ‘almost from nothing’ can hardly be awfully daunting – or expensive. If Alastair Campbell pressed a free ten year old university thesis into service for the substance of the joke dossier, the expense of rebuilding such a ‘capability’ would be no more than paying to copy a newer thesis.
Then the MoD also delivered itself of the singularly discriminatory judgment that defence sector businesses based in Scotland would be barred from bidding for major UK defence contracts on the grounds of national security. Yet other countries with whom the UK has a lot less in common and an equally troubled history feel the warm embrace and the open wallet of UK defence procurement.
Scotland and England have been in a union for three hundred years. It is only two and a quarter centuries since the United States of America took itself out of colonial status in the British Empire through the unforgettable Declaration of Independence.
More recently the French President, Charles De Gaulle, for years denied the British entry into the then European Common Market – and the French armed the Argentine airforce with the terrifying Exocet missiles used against the British in the Falklands.
And very recently the USA left the UK open to being an enhanced target for terrorism by using this country as a transit for those undergoing ‘extraordinary rendition’. That is the ‘extraordinary rendition’ of which then Home Secretary, Jack Straw, formally denied all knowledge – until recently when he admitted he may have known a thing or two.
Scotland’s irritating tendency to whinge, its addiction to a blame culture and its overt negotiation for a legal referendum on independence seem almost suburban by comparison but are evidently enough to make the country, were it independent, an outcast state?
How much of the UK’s defence procurement – including the toxic, militarily impotent and insanely expensive Trident – comes from the USA; and how much from France?
Yet Scottish based defence firms would be precluded from bidding ‘on grounds of national security ‘ – even though, by Alex Salmond’s own word, the Bank of England would dictate the fiscal policy of an ‘independent’ Scotland through joint use of the GBP? Hardly the destiny of choice of a newly rogue state?
We are talking of the ‘national security’ that didn’t stop the July 2007 London bombings; and didn’t spot the coming attack on Glasgow Airport in the same year for which Bilal Abdullah, a British-born, Muslim doctor of Iraqi descent working at the Royal Alexandra Hospital, was eventually sentenced to 32 years in jail.
This incident raises the issue of who was harming whose national security?
There are very good arguments in defence of the union. Using vacuous but blatantly bullying blackmail to frighten folk from leaving is about as counterproductive as it gets.