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Showing posts with label Faslane. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Faslane. Show all posts

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

The Trident Renewal Debate – 20th Jan 2015

#Trident The moral and intellectual, not to mention the strategic and economic bankruptcy of the pro-nuclear case is staggeringly evident.

 #Trident Trident Debate 20 Jan 2015: Dame Joan Ruddock - Part 2  "Nuclear weapons have no utility..."

#Trident Trident Debate 20 Jan 2015: Dame Joan Ruddock - Part 1 “A unilateralist is a multilateralist who means it!"

#Trident #WMD God help us - look who's in the Deputy Speaker's chair - Eleanor Laing MP! -

#Trident #WMD Trident debate, 20 Jan 2015: Angus Robertson - Part Two

#Trident My least favourite Scottish MP, Rory Stewart (Jim Murphy close second) is on his feet

#Trident I take my hat off to Labour MPs attending who spoke for the motion. As for the Scottish ones who didn't attend - my utter contempt

#Trident Some of the arguments for retaining WMD sound like those that might be advanced by not very bright, morally deficient adolescents.

#Trident #indy #WMD Trident debate 20 Jan 2015: Angus Robertson - Part One. Angus Robertson on superb form ..

JOAN RUDDOCK: Nuclear weapons have no utility.They cannot be used to advance any cause or to secure any territory without devastating effects”

#Trident There's a grinning ghost missing from Labour benches - Jim Murphy, arch-Blairite, Henry Jackson nuclear hawk. Will he vote tonight?

#Trident I continue to marvel at what prats some English Tories are, e.g. Julian Fellows.

#indy George Osborne effectively confirmed today that he wants to see English Votes for English Laws (EVEL) applied to parts of the Budget

#Trident The argument for having nuclear weapons is identical to the NRA's case for every American family to keep an arsenal in their homes

#Trident Thanks God Labour has a tiny number of principled MPs left. Dame Joan Ruddock is one. Currently on her principled feet ...

#Trident Michael Fallon, in between defending WMD as a job creation scheme, attacks Labour's alleged equivalence on at sea nuclear deterrent

#Trident If ever we needed evidence that Labour and Tories are unfit to govern a civilised society, Trident debate offers it in abundance.

#indy Which is the more contemptible - Labour's loss of values and principles, or its attempt to hide the loss from the electorate by lies?

#indy Labour MPs absence from Trident debate says that they support WMD but are afraid to be seen to be doing so, afraid to debate. Feart.

#indy Survation poll this morning shows a majority of those who expressed a view are opposed to the renewal of the Trident nuclear weapons.

Friday, 11 April 2014

The media discovers the nuclear negotiating issues at last - “It’s the nukes, stupid!”

The media, as ever well behind the curve on the essence of the independence debate, has suddenly discovered that defence, the nuclear deterrent and negotiation are the big issues, and that they had it wrong all along! Flushed with their new insight, they now claim that everybody else had it wrong too, and nobody else had considered the egregious fact of WMD as  important until they did.

Having spent a couple of weeks touting the risible idea that the Scottish Government would use the nuclear deterrent and the removal of Trident from Faslane “as a bargaining chip”, they are now lost in admiration at themselves for discovering that such a proposition is nonsense.

What brought them to such Damascean conclusions? Why, Lord George Robertson’s ravings at Brookings! The Wee Laird o’ Islay at least broke in to the somnolent consciousness of the media. Thanks for that, George.

Here’s the breathtaking conclusion of Kate Devlin in the Herald, based on, God help us, David Mundell’s realisation that negotiations on Trident – as touted by his colleagues and London press – is a non-starter with the SNP -

His comments are the first insight into how talks to break up the UK could progress.”

Is that a fact, Kate? The first insight only if you ignore the blindingly obvious, and the many detailed analyses, including my own of the issue, especially during the great SNP conference debate of 2012 on NATO.

But, hey, I’m only one old Scottish voter, without the massive research resources and expertise of a national news paper …

Monday, 13 January 2014

Scottish Defenders of the Union – complex and varied in motivation and belief

Over the last month, I have been exposed directly to a fair sample of the infinite variety of the Scottish (defined as resident in and committed to Scotland, regardless of country of origin) defenders of the Union and advocates of a No vote, through a more or less random series of contacts.

As our intrepid YES doorstep campaigners and politicians know far better than I, direct contact yields insights and perceptions that can seem more profound than print and media exposure to more structured arguments. But they can be dangerously misleading on occasion – so I proceed here tentatively, and with many reservations and qualifications. I make no general claims – what I have to say is subjective and reflects only one - and perhaps unduly narrow – perspective. Here are the variants I have encountered, in some cases dominant and seeming to almost define the position of the individual displaying them, in other case simply one aspect of a complex and often conflicting mix. The list of course is not, and never can be comprehensive.

SOME ANTI-INDEPENDENCE  VOTER TYPES

The Patroniser: Independence? It will never happen – it’s Salmond and the SNP’s obsession – has always been a minority sport, as shown again and again by the polls. Two-term SNP Government elected? Simply a local reaction to last days of UK Labour, incompetence of Scottish Labour, the Crash and the Coalition – slap on the wrist for UK – will return to normal UK voting at referendum and in 2015. Give it up, mate – it’s a lost cause …”

A brief discussion with Patronisers quickly reveals that they have little conception of the arguments for and against independence and are sadly deficient in facts and key dates. Overall mode – complacency and reluctance to be confused by argument or hard information.

The Cringer: “Do you think Scotland’s big enough to run its own affairs? We haven’t got the people – just look at Holyrood – they’re all mediocrities in a wee, pretendy Parliament.  It would be all kilts and heather, Braveheart and tartan dolls. And the oil’s running out, there’s no real industry. All the real talent has left long ago – anybody with any sense heads south or emigrates. We couldn’t even run the Bank of Scotland – it caused the UK crash and we had to be bailed out by England. “

As in all classic Orwellian-doublethink, the Cringers don’t see themselves as inferior - or ready to head south or emigrate - and any current examples of Scottish success in running things can be dismissed by either claiming it’s an aberration – or down to UK involvement and help. Pointing to Scottish success in the past is either put down to Braveheartism or to the benefits of the Union. Overall mode – embarrassment at Scotland and Scottishness, complacency that their personal repudiation of Scottish competence somehow explains them being exempted from the criticisms, and the belief that it ingratiates them with UK power and influence.

The I’m Alright Jocks:I’ve got no complaints about the UK – it’s done alright by me. I bet it’s done alright by you too! What have we got to complain about? Yes, there’s been a bad patch since 2008 crash, and difficult things have had to be done, but we’re on the way back up. The poor? Hungry children? Pressures on the sick and vulnerable, the NHS, unemployment? There are no poor people! Have you seen any?

Growth in food banks? All exaggerated, and what do you expect – some people will always turn out for a freebie! I don’t see any deprivation or poverty near me. Most of those in trouble are in that state because of their fecklessness – they can all afford phones and iPads and holidays abroad on benefit. Too many scroungers, too many immigrants abusing NHS and benefits. My parents didn’t have much, but they scrimped and scraped to educate me, and I’ve done all right.”

There’s an element of the I’m Alright Jock callousness and denial of reality in all unionist types, but the above summarises the core ‘arguments’ in their most basic version. Overall mode: Denial of deprivation or blaming of the poor, belief in urban myths, blame, and utter callousness about the less-fortunate.

The Fearful: “The risks of dismantling a 300-year-old union are too great. These are dangerous times – we need the security of belonging to a larger, more powerful grouping. On defence, security, international clout, trade with other nations, we need the backing of UK. Duplication of services, inevitable in a newly-independent nation add extra cost and the risks of settling-in problems.”

Often mainly rational, albeit with an element of irrational fear, the Fearful will listen to argument and can be persuaded, providing their logic-based posture isn’t simply a rationalisation for deep-rooted, emotional opposition. A simple test is whether or not they’ve at least looked at the White Paper and/or are amenable to examining its argument. If they’re totally dismissive and contemptuous of it, they are probably a lost cause in the immediate term. Overall mode: The status quo of UK may not be perfect, but it’s the devil we know. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

The Emotional Scot/Brit: “We have over three centuries of co-operation, a shared cultural and commercial heritage, we have fought and died together in wars for freedom, and justice. The links of family – kith and kin – cross all national boundaries. I don’t want my children and grandchildren to be foreigners, to have to stop at border points. We will lose a fundamental part of our identity – not to mention our shared institutions, e.g. BBC - if we rip the union apart.”

This category exists with subtle but important variations, e.g. are they Scot/Brits or Brit/Scots – which identity is regarded as more significant? The Emotional Scot/Brit mindset can also be part of other dominant modes, indeed it can represent a residual, buried emotional mindset in some marginal independence supporters! Some are actually seeking reassurance on these points. Their fears can either be factually removed by the truth - e.g. on boundaries, border posts – or are logically inconsistent – e.g. pointing out that we fought and died together with other independent nations in wars for freedom and justice, and the majority of wars were imperialist, unjust, and in some cases, illegal. (The Emotional Scot/Brit is often present in Don’t knows.) Overall mode: There are important, unquantifiable family and emotional ties that bind us, and it is a huge risk for the stability of the British Isles to sever them.

The Internationalist Multilateralists:

“Nationalism is inherently divisive – bigger is better, economically, socially and for powerful defence. Ultimately, I favour world co-operation across boundaries, and I believe all men and women are brothers and sisters, and are equal, regardless of social class, economic or ethnic background, but meanwhile I support the UK, despite its appalling imperial record of exploiting other nations and ethnic groups for centuries, and its current record of Parliamentary, police and press corruption, its gross inequality and staggering gap between rich and poor, its inherent distrust of and opposition to trades unions, its House of Lord comprising over eight hundred unelected peers, ennobled variously because of birth, being bishops on one church, large donors to political parties or being failed, but loyal politicians.

I am morally opposed to nuclear weapons of mass destruction, and would never be the first to use them – however … (and here comes the buts and the caveats) … but in a still unstable world, with unpredictable rogue regimes, I believe it is vital to hold on to our nuclear weapons and to our nuclear alliance with those countries – our allies - who got them first, resisting any attempts by other countries to get them (that’s called nuclear proliferation, by the way!) because we can be trusted with them but they can’t.  Of course, I’m committed to nuclear disarmament for the whole world, but only if every other country goes first – that’s called multilateralism.

As I said, I would advocate only using them as a deterrent and would never use them first, if at all, but I see no contradiction on being part of a nuclear alliance, NATO, that has a first-strike policy, and is dominated by the only country in history to have used nuclear weapons twice against cities in a non-nuclear country, Japan, and in a then non-nuclear world.

The various close misses of nuclear Armageddon over the last sixty years or so I dismiss as unfortunate aberrations caused by periodic gross incompetence of military or civil authorities, greedy and amoral industrialist or lunatic politicians – including at least one President of the USA

I suppose in summation, I regard it as deeply unpatriotic of Scottish independence supporters to want to be rid of weapons of mass destruction located without their consent near to their largest centre of population, posing an ever-present threat of nuclear accident, pollution, and of Scotland being a first-strike target by the lunatic foreign dictators our whole case for WMD is predicated on.

Overall mode: Utter idiocy, moral bankruptcy, venal hopes of profit, career and preferment – almost certainly a Scottish Labour politician in UK power structure. With a tiny number, a faint hope that the corrosive effect of their amoral sophistry is beginning to weaken the rotten foundations of their strategically and morally untenable position.

Monday, 29 July 2013

Kings and queens – 2016 and all that: the Monarchy, YES and the SNP

Dennis Canavan makes a remark about the monarchy and the media are on to it like flies on to shit - “splits in YES campaign” etc.

Let me try to help our feeble media, assuming that they are not just shills for Better Togethera big assumption admittedly – and are simply badly informed and not actively hostile to independence.

1. YES Scotland is a loose coalition of all parties committed to an independent Scotland – SNP, Greens, SSP etc. – and individuals and groups committed to independence, including those who are committed despite the policy of their main party or organisation, e.g. Labour for Independence, trades unionists for independence, union branches who have come out for indy, e.g. CWU and those of no party affiliation whatsoever. It includes artists, Women for Independence and many other ad hoc groups formed to support YES.

2. By definition, such a disparate grouping can have no manifesto for government in an independent Scotland. 

Its members and groups have different visions for indy Scotland in every aspect of government policy, economic, social, cultural etc. This reflects the same range of opinions on almost every topic as those held by the wider electorate.

Their only unifying beliefs are that Scotland is capable of running its own affairs, has the natural resources, talents and economic competence to run its own affairs, and should run its own affairs. They therefore believe that Scots should vote YES in 2014 to independence. 

3. Across the United Kingdom, opinion on the monarchy is divided in every sector of society and within sectors, and that includes significant numbers of voters within the three major Unionist parties and the trade union movement. It should be no surprise to anyone that such differing views exist within the YES campaign.

Nonetheless, the media give every appearance of being astonished by such a revelation – or maintain the pretence that they are.

WHAT’S THE PROBLEM?

In one sense, there is no problem. For example, I am an SNP supporter (not a party member), committed to independence, and I am a republican. I believe the monarchy is the heart of the British Establishment, that both are inherently undemocratic and that they are inimical to the welfare of the people in a democracy.

But the SNP is committed to a constitutional monarchy, to retaining the Queen as constitutional monarch – and her lawful successors – in an independent Scotland.  How do I know this? Because Alex Salmond has said so repeatedly, and also states that this has been SNP policy since 1934. (There seems to be some division of opinion on just when and how this came to be SNP policy right now, and some voices have challenged it.)

So what, say some strident republicans – the SNP may not form the government of an independent Scotland – there’s an election in May 2016, and if another party, or coalition of parties is in government, then things may change.

But there’s an inconvenient additional fact to be considered – the SNP are the current government of Scotland, the SNP delivered a legal referendum, and the SNP Government has a full range of policies for independent Scotland.

And crucially, the SNP Government will negotiate with the UK Government the terms of the independent Scotland that will be born in 2016 if there is a YES vote in 2014. They will doubtless consult fully – including with YES Scotland - and respect the rights and privileges of the Holyrood Parliament but they – and no one else - will ultimately decide the content of the negotiating agenda, the composition of the Scottish negotiating team, and the entry and exits point on every substantive issue - and the deal breakers.

(The autumn White Paper due in a few weeks will set down fundamental policies and principles that will underpin that negotiation.)

These political realities are all too easily forgotten in the heady atmosphere of the YES campaign, but there is no easy way round them. The strength of the campaign lies in the fact that it is a very broad church and can embrace just about any political belief and none, providing its members subscribe to the two core beliefs – Scotland can be fully independent and will be fully independent. But let me leave the monarchy for a moment and look at another reality – the nuclear issue

Most commentators accept as a fact that an independent Scotland will reject nuclear weapons and ensure that they are decommissioned speedily and removed from Scotland as soon after independence as possible. But this is not a YES policy, it is an SNP party policy. There is nothing that debars a pro-nuclear individual or group  from affiliating to YES (as far as I know) since YES has no such policy or indeed any policy. They would probably feel more than a little uncomfortable in the near consensus of anti-nuclear views in YES, and might well be regarded as flat-earthers by their colleagues, but if they are prepared to knock on doors, canvass, stuff leaflets and generally contribute to a YES vote, who is going to say nay to them?

And they would have to accept the reality of the SNP Government incorporating its anti-nuclear policy as a prime, deal breaking objective in the negotiations. And so it is with the monarchy, although for me - and I would hope for most - the monarchy is by no means as fundamental a position as the No to Nuclear policy.

However, if social media and traditional media are any guide to YES opinions, there is more than a little ‘magical’ thinking going on – a kind of “with one bound we’ll be free and can do anything” mindset over what happens after indy.

I am of the left in politics, a lifelong Labour supporter and voter up to the 2007 Holyrood election, and for much of my life I would have - perhaps a little reluctantly latterly - have acknowledged that I was a socialist. But these days I would describe myself as a social democrat loosely on the Scandinavian model, and I don’t expect the old ideal of a socialist state ever to be realised, nor do I expect renationalisation of the commanding heights of the economy or a total abandonment of the concept of the market, although I would like to see a radical change in the way we structure our economy, our banks, our health service, our public services, our society and the values we live by. 

But we have more than enough to do to first win the referendum, then negotiate our exit from UK, hold an election and begin the complex process of wriggling out of an old, stale chrysalis of the Union and tentatively flexing our new wings.

So, on the monarchy and on a vast range of issues, I accept that the SNP Government will determine the shape of the new Scotland by negotiation, by reaching agreement on the mind-boggling range of things that come with un-entangling Scotland from a three centuries- long union. That will involve making legally-binding commitments with long-term ramifications, not just for Scotland and rUK, but for our relationships with Europe, America and indeed the entire world community.

If we are to have any credibility as a new state, we cannot be seen to enter this new era in a mood of “well, we can renege on any deal we make or agreement we reach after independence” – one, because such a position would be contemptible, and two, because it just ain’t practicable …

Of course, no government can bind its successors politically, but there are practical realities that mean that, on the very big issues, there is little likelihood of short to medium term change. We can’t go holding referendums every other quarter to determine the will of the Scottish electorate.

However, we are already committed to one post-independence referendum, on adoption of the euro - if that ever becomes an option again - so perhaps it is feasible to commit to one on retention of the monarchy. If we are going to go down that route, we had better announce it pretty damn quick, since the Scottish electorate has a right to know before the vote on September 18th 2014.

Saor Alba, but maybe not Vivat Regina?

Monday, 15 July 2013

Scrap Trident before it scraps humanity!

 Scarp Trident

The only sure way to get rid of the obscenity of the Trident weapons system – a system of mass destruction on a scale the planet has never experienced – is to secure the independence of Scotland and give a moral lead to the world.

Scots – young and old, old and new! You can do it, we can do it - and will do it, by voting YES on September 18th 2014

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

The Foreign Affair Committee Report – Scotland’s nuclear disarmament, NATO and EU

The M.O.D. having been in denial over the imminence of Scotland's independence, is now panicking, as is the Westminster Establishment - they're going to lose their WMDs, their seat on the UN Security Council, and as a nukeless rUK, Britain's last claim to be a world power, a global player. The final end of Empire ..

Summarised briefly, they're scared shitless, and desperate to kick the unilateral disarmament of Scotland into the long. long grass. They'll argue, then bully and intimidate - and there's little the shadowy vested interests and dirty money behind nuclear weapons and nuclear power won't do to avoid this outcome.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Summer Cabinet in Renfrewshire – and NO to NATO representatives of demonstrators

 

Summer Cabinet in Renfrewshire

First Minister Alex Salmond and Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon meet with representatives of the anti-nuclear demonstration group. The meeting was held in the wake of the public discussion event at Renfrew Town Hall.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Scotland and NATO–the arguments

It is always vital in debate – and  in negotiation - to be able to state the position and arguments of the other party as objectively as possible. If the other party’s position and arguments are not clearly understood, it is difficult, if not impossible to combat them effectively.

THE SNP POSITION AND ARGUMENTS ON NATO

The defence paper and resolution of mid-July from co-signatories Angus Robertson MP and Angus MacNeil MP contains the key statement.

A long-standing national consensus has existed that Scotland should not host nuclear weapons and a sovereign SNP government will negotiate the speediest safe transition of the nuclear fleet from Faslane which will be replaced by conventional naval forces. Security cooperation in our region functions primarily through NATO, which is regarded as the keystone defence organisation by Denmark, Norway, Iceland and the United Kingdom.

The SNP wishes Scotland to fulfil its responsibilities to neighbours and allies. On independence Scotland will inherit its treaty obligations with 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 to only 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. Scotland will be a full member of the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) of the European Union and the Organisation for Cooperation and Security in Europe (OSCE).

Angus Robertson MP Elected Member

Angus MacNeil MP Elected Member

The above statement has the virtue of clarity and will be presented to Conference as a simple statement of claimed facts, statements of intent and negotiating deal-breakers. I use the following abbreviations to classify –

claimed fact CF

statement of intent SoI

negotiating deal-breaker NDB

conditional negotiating proposal CNP

ANALYSIS

Scotland won’t host nuclear weapons under any circumstance SoI

Scotland will inherit its treaty obligations with NATO CF

NATO is the primary defence security coordinating force in the region, the region being defined as Scotland/UK/Scandinavia CF

The SNP wants an independent Scotland to be a good neighbour to Denmark, Norway, Iceland and rUK SoI

A sovereign SNP government will negotiate the speediest safe transition of the nuclear fleet from Faslane SoI

The nuclear fleet at Faslane will be replaced by conventional naval forces. SoI

The SNP Government will stay in NATO CNP if UK accepts the removal of nuclear weapons from an independent Scotland CNDB1 and NATO continues to respect the right of members to only take part in UN sanctioned operations. CNDB2

If agreement can’t be reached, an independent Scotland will join Partnership for Peace SoI

TIMEFRAME

The timeframe over which this will take place, important dates within it, and the possible context at different points in that timeframe are crucial to possible outcomes.

26th August – 18th October 2012 – the period from now until the SNP Party Conference at Perth.

This period is significant because the debate that the SNP wanted to keep in house and on hold until the conference is now in full voice, with a cross-party, cross-interest coalition of opposition, the NO to NATO Coalition set up, the SNP CND group active and vocal, the dissident MSPs openly stating their positions and wide debate and coverage in the media.

Instead of a conference where the First Minister, Alex Salmond and the party’s chief strategist, defence spokesman and party leader at Westminster threw their considerable weight behind the proposal to the delegates, in the normally disciplined, consensual and amicable atmosphere of Conference to a group with only the leadership's paper to consider, they will now face a highly informed group of delegates, many mandated by branch resolutions on NATO membership. What was intended to be one topic among many will now undoubtedly be a principal topic, if not the principal one.

There can be little doubt that at this moment the party leaders in favour of the NATO U-turn are working hard to try to shape attitudes, to persuade, to cajole, to appeal to loyalty, in short, to use all the levers that a dominant leadership can to avoid this resolution being defeated. And as always in such situations, a danger exists that the very techniques of persuasion used, if ill-judged, will be counter-productive. Media scrutiny will be intense, not only in Scotland but beyond. This debates matters in fundamental ways to a wide spectrum of interest groups and individuals.

This was not how it was intended to be in the spring of this year, when the party spokespersons were playing the whole issue down, e.g. from the Scotsman on 16th April 2012 – ‘An official SNP spokesman dismissed as “mere speculation” reports that its leadership was considering proposing a change to the party’s policy on Nato.’

(If one took that statement at face value, the leadership didn’t start considering any change till 17th April at the earliest, but managed to produce a policy paper including one by mid-July!)

The other dates in the timeframe are as follows -

Late 2013 – launch of detailed policy papers on the shape of an independent Scotland by the Scottish Government

In effect, this will embrace the key negotiating objectives for the Scottish Government across a wide range of issues if they win a YES vote in 2014.

Autumn 2014 – the independence referendum

Following a YES vote, negotiations will commence almost immediately on the terms of independence, including the crucial defence issues. If the outcome is NO, or on a two-question referendum, a devo-max outcome, what follows is anybody’s guess …

May 2015 – latest date for UK general election

A change of government at this point early in the negotiations over independence would have major significance for the negotiating agenda: the idea that there would be a seamless continuation is untenable, and a new government could repudiate provisional agreements already reached and introduce new items to a still live negotiating agenda. It is highly unlikely that they would repudiate a fully-completed and signed agreement, however.

May 2016 – Scottish Parliamentary election

At this point, negotiations on the independence of Scotland could be complete (unlikely, in my view), near-complete (a possibility) or have a long way to go, especially on the defence-related issues (highly likely).

The implications of a change in the power balance at Holyrood or even  a change of government are enormous and far-reaching.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Scotland in NATO - the core arguments against

1. NATO is a nuclear organisation, committed to the possession and first-strike use of Trident nuclear missiles.

2. NATO is comprised of 28 members countries, but controlled by three of them - the U.S.A, France and the UK. Of the three, the U.S.A. is the dominant controlling entity.

3. Any proposal to NATO by the 25 non-nuclear states can be vetoed by the Big Three - the U.S.A, France and the UK. (This is my practical interpretation of the complexities of the NATO consensual decision making structure where each member country remain sovereign and has right of veto - other interpretations are possible. Please advance them if you have them)

4. Neither the consent nor the involvement of the 25 non-nuclear members is required - nor would it or could it be sought - to authorise a nuclear strike launch. Only the President of the United States, the President of France and the Prime Minister of the UK have the launch codes. No prior approval by the democratically elected bodies in these three countries would be sought prior to launch. (This is my practical interpretation of the complexities of the NATO nuclear command structure - other interpretations are possible. Please advance them if you have them)

5. The time elapsed from launch order to the missile striking its target is dependent on the location of the nuclear submarine at the time the launch order is given, but it is typically 25 minutes.

6. Any member country of NATO by definition is approving the possession and use of nuclear weapons of mass destruction by being a member of NATO, regardless of their stated non-nuclear policy. Any member country is therefore responsible for the consequences of such an act, even though they play no part in the launch decision process.

7. The Scottish National Party's policy proposal - which is effectively the Scottish Government's proposal - to seek membership of NATO for an independent Scotland on the condition that the UK (rUK) accepts the removal of Trident is simplistic and unrealistic, and is recognised as such by any objective and informed political commentator.

It is being presented to the SNP membership as a deal breaker, i.e. no Trident removal, no Scotland in NATO. If presented as such in the negotiations after an independence YES vote, it will be rejected out of hand by the UK (significantly influenced if not controlled by NATO and America). 

But despite the manner of its presentation to the SNP membership, it will not be a deal breaker - it will simply be an opening position in negotiation. The scope for movement by the UK(rUK) is to negotiate -

i) an immediate disarming of Trident warheads (approx. 2 days) which could be reversed in as short a time.

ii) an extend timescale for removal of Trident submarines and decommissioning of the nuclear aspects of the Faslane base - a minimum of 10 years, probably extending to 20 years - effectively never.

iii) the acceptance that an independent Scotland will provide 'safe havens' for any NATO nuclear-armed submarines and nuclear-powered submarines in perpetuity.

It is conceivable that rUK would seek a long-term lease of the Faslane base, or even seek to negotiate the base and relevant area as rUK sovereign territory, thus allowing the Government of an independent Scotland to claim that Scotland is a non-nuclear nation.

ANALYSIS AND COMMENT

The implications of this dangerous and far reaching proposal (Scotland's NATO membership) are of such significance that it is unacceptable that it should only be discussed and voted on by a few hundred  delegates from one political party. Once adopted by the SNP as policy, it will then be the official negotiating entry position in 2014 after a YES vote. It will not be submitted to the Scottish Parliament for approval - if it were, it would be carried by the SNP majority.

The Scottish electorate could not question it until May 2016 at the Scottish Parliamentary elections, by which time the negotiations on this item might either be concluded or at a crucial stage. A change of the power balance in Holyrood or a change of government could result in a chaotic situation under such circumstances, dependent on the voice of the electorate.

The electorate should at least be consulted now. Relying on university polls some years old (The Mitchell Report) or ephemeral opinion polls conducted with an under-informed electorate on this crucial topic is democratically unacceptable.

Friday, 3 August 2012

My Twitter lead-up to the NATO U-turn

After the denial period by SNP supporters in the Spring of this year, when a NATO U-turn was something being got up by the wicked media – encouraged by me, apparently – and no senior party person was even considering it – so said the true believers - there was a period of quiet.

Then a press release from the SNP on the cost of Trident, emphasising the Party’s non-nuclear stance came out, and I loyally tweeted various facts from it. Maybe I should have recognised the danger signs – fifteen days later, the press began to speculate authoritatively about a U-turn on NATO, and on the 16th came the Angus Robertson/Angus MacNeill defence paper.

1 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

Labour claims a social conscience, yet squanders billions on WMDs, claims to be internationalist, yet makes war on other nations. Johann?

1 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

Scotland’s share of WMD costs, £215m could have funded 11 Community Hospitals (at £20,000,000 per hospital). Your turn, Johann Lamont? ...

1 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

Scotland’s share of WMD costs, £215m could have funded 5,972 teachers or 27 single stream Primary Schools or 11 Secondary Schools. Johann?

1 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

Scotland’s share of WMD costs = £215m - could have funded up to 430 doctors (at £500,000 per doctor) or 5,119 nurses (at £42,000 per nurse)

1 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

£2.54bn was spent on running costs of WMDs in Labour’s last 3 years in office. Labour says Yes to WMDs, but NO to Scotland's independence.

1 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

Angus Robertson: "The social cost of the UK's nuclear obsession. ...warped priority of investing in WMDs before better local services"

1Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

Over next 6 yrs Scottish taxpayers will spend £83m a year on nuclear warheads that can't be used. Enough for another 1500 service personnel.

Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

When Scotland goes, UK lose its WMDs, its oil and whisky revenues, its raison d'etre. Scotland, England, Wales recover their

2 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

The negotiations on the terms of Scotland's independence will be dominated by the defence debate, Everyone is commenting on it - except ..?

2 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

RUSI: "..were Scotland to dissolve the Union, then the question of the UK's nuclear deterrent may be the most serious and difficult of all"

2 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

RUSI: "the future of UK nuclear deterrent should Scotland go it alone, an issue likely to dominate security agenda in event of a Yes vote."

2 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

NATO, dominated by the US, says it would never use Trident in a first strike attack. The US is the only nation that has used nuclear weapons

2 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

The two events of August 1945 - Hiroshima and Nagasaki - are the only use of nuclear weapons in war to date. A first strike attack by the US

4 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

Defence and an independent Scotland - Sitting on de fence on defence http://moridura.blogspot.com/2012/07/sitting-on-de-fence-on-defence.html … via @moridura

4 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

UK Committees with no SNP voice - Sitting on de fence on defence - http://moridura.blogspot.com/2012/07/sitting-on-de-fence-on-defence.html … via @moridura

4 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

Defence - a big yawn for the Scottish electorate? Will they still be yawning at ground zero when the WMDs rain down? http://moridura.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07/sitting-on-de-fence-on-defence.html …

4 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

Labour AM Mark Drakeford opposes Trident fleet in Wales http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-politics-18707465 …

5 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

Defence is lynchpin issue for independence negotiations. Most of my blog readers must be indy supporters, yet they don't read defence blogs?

7 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

Dean Acheson, Kennedy's NATO advisor in 1962 "Britain's role as an independent power is about played out." 50yrs on, fiction kept up by UK

8 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

Will an Independent Scotland Throw Out UK Nukes? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z-T2iFNpG6A … Aye, but how long after independence before it's done? Say no to NATO

9 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

Back devomax and you back WMDs - the continuation of Trident in Scotland and more misguided foreign wars. I say NO to devomax, YES to indy.

9 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

Two news discussion tonight on indy and devo max. Both managed to avoid the nuclear/WMD aspect. BE CLEAR - Yes to devomax means Yes to WMDs.

10 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

Only independence will deliver a WMD-free Scotland. Devo max advocates are lethally compromising this key objective

10 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

Devo max = Trident stays = foreign wars = zero international influence for Scotland. So does devo-anything else. Say YES to independence

10 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

We are told there is a majority in Scotland opposed to nuclear weapons, but also that a majority that favours devo-max. Does not compute ...

 

10 Jul  Gregor Murray@grogipher

@moridura People said that about Devolution (not in favour of devo-max, but neither do I buy your argument!)

10 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

@grogipher You think a vote for devo max will remove nuclear

11 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

Why do the nuclear bombers love devo max? Why do politicians slide away from defence matters? The UK’s nuclear panic http://moridura.blogspot.co.uk/2012/01/uks-nuclear-panic-and-devo-max.html …

11 Jul  Hugh Hunter@Gabicabi

@moridura Absolutely. I feel everyone is hedging their bets until someone throws their hat into the ring with a definitive position.

11 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

@Gabicabi I wish I could escape the gnawing suspicion that a nuclear fudge is being contemplated. October SNP Nato vote will be litmus paper

11 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

@Gabicabi Should qualify my last tweet - non-SNP party activists don't give a damn about Trident or WMDs. The activists most certainly do.

11 Jul  Hugh Hunter@Gabicabi

@moridura Yet again I agree. I believe SNP may sacrifice their position on Trident as a concession to appease scared/undecided voters.

11 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

@Gabicabi Voters don't give a damn about Trident, defence. If they did that, it would be as a negotiating bargaining chip after a YES vote

The Watershed: 16th July 2010 - Angus Robertson’s media announcement on the NATO U-turn

16 Jul  NConway@NConway2

@moridura SNP could drop opposition to Nato if Trident is removed from Scotland - Politics - http://Scotsman.com - http://po.st/K9PjwU

16 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

@NConway2 I saw it - something I've blogged on and expressed concern about for some time now.

16 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

Who now doubts that the SNP leadership and Angus Robertson want to join NATO? What the Party will say in October is another matter.

16 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

NATO - SNP preparing to join? If the Party votes to remain in NATO after independence, I will resign my membership. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4It72lFwzR8 …

16 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

The SNP leadership wants to join an alliance- NATO - committed to the use of nuclear weapons so they will remove nuclear weapons. Aye, right

16 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

Trident poisons Scotland: Nuclear leaks, Faslane - a 2009 clip http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VQhGJushOEc … This is what we will STILL have if we join NATO. Say NO!

16 Jul  Stuart Crawford@509298

@moridura Peter, I did say this would happen. Where now for people like you? #Labour is pro nuke, so only the #Greens seem to fit the bill?

16 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

@509298 Resign from the party, campaign for independence, vote SNP in by-elections, re-assess Scottish parties policies after independence.

16 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

@509298 The $64 question is - will Labour be pro-nuclear in an independent Scotland. I say NO, with a reasonable amount of

16 Jul  Paul Clarkson@Clarkson77

@509298 @moridura If you read @thesnp defence proposals you'll see the provision for joining #NATO is removal of Trident anf Nukes #yesscot

16 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

@Clarkson77 @509298 @thesnp I know that - and they're nuts if they think they can negotiate any such thing - it will go into very long grass

16 Jul  Paul Clarkson@Clarkson77

@509298 @moridura If you read @thesnp defence proposals you'll see the provision for joining #NATO is removal of Trident anf Nukes #yesscot

16 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

@Clarkson77 @509298 @thesnp NATO is going to surrender Trident and the UK nuclear deterrent of we join NATO? Dream on: the idea is ludicrous

16 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

@Clarkson77 @moraymp @509298 @thesnp He'll have answers. It will depend on the interviewer whether they cut any ice. I'm not sure at all.

16 Jul  Paul Clarkson@Clarkson77

@moridura Then an Independent Scotland won't be joining #NATO , the conditions are clear. Non-negotiable. @509298 @thesnp @yesscotland

16 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

@Clarkson77 @509298 @thesnp @yesscotland They're calling spirits from the vasty deep - it is not that simple, but it's beyond Twitter scope.

16 Jul  Paul Clarkson@Clarkson77

@moridura Angus Robertson ( @moraymp )is on #scotnight as he helped write the proposal I'm sure he'll have answers. @509298 @thesnp

16 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

@Clarkson77 @moraymp @509298 @thesnp He'll have answers. It will depend on the interviewer whether they cut any ice. I'm not sure at all.

16 Jul  Paul Clarkson@Clarkson77

@moridura It is simple, no nukes or no NATO. Clear as day @509298 @thesnp @yesscotland

16 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

@Clarkson77 @509298 @thesnp @yesscotland I wish I had a pound for everyone who said that before getting monumentally screwed in negotiation.

16 Jul  Paul Clarkson@Clarkson77

@moridura It is simple, no nukes or no NATO. Clear as day @509298 @thesnp @yesscotland

16 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

@Clarkson77 @509298 @thesnp @yesscotland You could try finishing your tweets with END OF - you're headed that way ...

16 Jul  Paul Clarkson@Clarkson77

@moridura It's clear to me, if @thesnp can't deliver, we'll just have to vote someone else in 2016 who can. @509298 @yesscotland

16 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

@Clarkson77 @thesnp @509298 @yesscotland If we join NATO, we'll either be locked into an unbreakable deal or be in open-ended negotiation.

16 Jul  Jim @jafurn50

@moridura @Clarkson77 @thesnp @509298 @yesscotland Serious question Peter. how do the other non-nuclear countries in NATO do it?

16 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

@jafurn50 @Clarkson77 @thesnp @509298 @yesscotland They don't have the UK's nuclear fleet in their waters - read my blogs.

16 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

To save trying to answer endless queries on complex arguments, please go to my blog, check the index for NATO. Complex arguments need space

16 Jul  Jim @jafurn50

@moridura @Clarkson77 @thesnp @509298 @yesscotland I do read ur blogs The point is with #indy WE decide. Do you not trust SNP (if elected) ?

16 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

@jafurn50 @Clarkson77 @thesnp @509298 @yesscotland If you've read, you haven't understood. I have no more to say that would be helpful.

16 Jul  Isobel Waller@IsobelWaller

@moridura @Clarkson77 @509298 @thesnp But surely that is a given with SNP? no trident?

16 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

@IsobelWaller @Clarkson77 @509298 @thesnp I'm beginning to wonder just what can be taken as a given with the SNP at the moment.

17 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

@ElaineKY2 Of course I'm not against the YES vote. Try reading my tweets of yesterday and my blog. And see today's tweet re Norway.

17 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

#NATO Norway parallel is false as is that with other non-nuclear NATO members. None of them have the UK's nuclear arsenal on their doorstep.

16 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

NATO, the SNP, Angus Robertson, Isabel Fraser http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bbI6jn2p0HU … This was effectively a filibuster by Angus to stop awkward questions.

17 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

The idea that UK/NATO will give up Scottish nuclear base for Trident as quid pro quo for an independent Scotland joining NATO is ludicrous.

17 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

I feel utterly deceived by the SNP's posture on NATO up to yesterday's news - smoke and mirrors over whether such a thing was contemplated.

17 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

@bordersbankie May 2016 SNP will still be negotiating terms. If they're voted out, incoming Labour-controlled coalition won't reverse indy.

17 Jul  David Munro@bordersbankie

@moridura Not sure but presumably then we would say bye bye to Nato. Bigger worry is if pro-Union parties comprise first Government imo.

17 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

@bordersbankie The NATO 'offer' is a way for SNP to get an empty promise to disarm/remove nukes, then have the issue shelved for i20 years.

17 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

NATO resolution seems clear-cut - but is it?

17 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

SNP will maintain Nato membership subject to agreement that Scotland will not host nuclear weapons and will only take part in UN operations.

17 Jul  Pat Kane@thoughtland

@moridura: SNP NATO resolution seems clear-cut - is it?” Seems 2 b. Vote should b on B-plan tho. A-plan pines unnecessarily 2 b "credible"

17 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

@thoughtland I'll need to anwer in full in blogs, Pat. Meanwhile, this will have to do for the moment. http://moridura.blogspot.co.uk/2012/07

17 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

NATO is a nuclear alliance: it will brook no interference on its WMDs from member countries with non-nuclear policies e.g. Norway, Scotland.

17 Jul  David S. Berry@DavidSBerry

@thoughtland @moridura May not legitimise but are examples to follow. A non-nuclear world needs us "inside the tent" of NATO to change it.

17 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

@DavidSBerry @thoughtland The utter folly of that argument is Labour, inside the UK tent since 1945 - zero influence on nuclear policy.

17 Jul  NConway@NConway2

@moridura Peter that would be a shame are you not better inside the tent arguing ur case than outside

9:28 PM - 17 Jul 12 via TweetCaster for Android · Details

17 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

@NConway2 I'm not outside it till the vote in October. But I don't believe in staying inside wrong tents - it never works. Look at LibDems.

17 Jul  Lilly Hunter@LillyLyle

Those of you complaining about @thesnp tonight, have a look south of the border & count your blessings

17 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

@LillyLyle Those of you afraid to confront your party when they're fundamentally wrong - remember Robin Cook, the last decent Lab MP

17 Jul  NConway@NConway2

@moridura @LillyLyle nato is a non issue who says SNP will ever form the 1st or 2nd government or any government of an independent Scotland

17 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

@NConway2 I heard the non-issue argument months ago when naive SNP supporters were denying that the SNP had any such plans. It's an issue.

17 Jul  NConway@NConway2

@moridura Thanks Peter...please stay in the tent :-)

17 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

@NConway2 Until - and if ...

18 Jul  David S. Berry@DavidSBerry

@moridura @thoughtland Perhaps that's more down to Labour's folly and not my arguments: they sold out any principle on this in the 1980's.

18 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

@DavidSBerry @thoughtland Long before that, David - it started with Aneurin Bevan's "going naked into the conference chamber" remark.

18 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

SNP leadership want to maintain nuclear virginity by getting rid of Trident yet join a nuclear alliance committed to retaining and using it.

20 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

Jim Sillars view of Scotland:"NATO's aircraft carrier" If this remotely reflects the SNP view what's the point of indy? http://www.scotsman.com/the-scotsman/opinion/comment/jim-sillars-scotland-is-bound-to-stay-in-the-club-1-2422109 …

20 Jul  NConway@NConway2

Jim Sillars: Scotland is bound to stay in the club - Comment - http://Scotsman.com - http://po.st/xzVbK6

20 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

@NConway2 A club I won't want to be in - Scotland as NATO's aircraft carrier. What point to independence if this view holds sway?

20 Jul  David Robertson@Daveinmaryburgh

@moridura what would your thoughts be on membership on same basis as Iceland ?

20 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

@Daveinmaryburgh NATO exists as a reality that we must interact with, David. The only interaction I support is through Partnership for Peace

20 Jul  Ron Wilson@TartanSeer

@moridura @NConway2 The point being the people can vote for parties opposed to NATO & if given demo assent remove Scotland from alliance

20 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

@TartanSeer @NConway2 If that means "join and we can get out later" Ron, I say no - it means "go along with anything till indy then get out"

20 Jul  Ron Wilson@TartanSeer

@moridura It means playing hardball 4 the prize, NATO a Unionist fox shot by Robertson, real choices after indy when you & the people decide

20 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

@TartanSeer I disagree fundamentally with that, Ron. I'll have a blog up on Sillars later today.

20 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

Twitter is not exactly awash with tweets from our fearless, outspoken MSPs about how they feel about NATO. How do whips work in Holyrood?

21 Jul Stewart McDonald@StewartMcDonald

@freescotlandnow like the UN?

21 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

@StewartMcDonald @freescotlandnow UN does not endorse the use of nuclear weapons, nor the policies of member countries. http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID=32223&Cr=disarmament&Cr1 …

21 july Peter Curran@moridura

If SNP votes to join NATO they will move from being the best option for a nuclear-free Scotland to least worst option. I'll still vote SNP.

Peter Curran@moridura

NATO Kosovo campaign 2001 failed to avert a humanitarian disaster - a questionable model of humanitarian intervention. http://ics-www.leeds.ac.uk/papers/vp01.cfm?outfit=pmt&folder=4&paper=816 …

21 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

Kosovo - NATO's shining hour? Absolutely not. Review of NATO’s War over Kosovo Noam Chomsky http://www.chomsky.info/articles/200005--.htm …

Peter Curran@moridura

What NATO says about its nuclear policy. Support NATO membership and you support this http://www.nato.int/nato_static/assets/pdf/pdf_topics/20091022_Nuclear_Forces_in_the_New_Security_Environment-eng.pdf …

21 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

Presence of US nuclear forces in Europe committed to NATO provides essential political/military link between European and N.American members

21 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

Alex Salmond - against NATO intervention in Kosovo http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/scottish-news/2008/02/19/demand-for-alex-salmond-apology-over-kosovo-86908-20324118/ …

Peter Curran@moridura

Public support for NATO won't translate into YES votes for indy, but "Why leave UK if in NATO?" Most NATO supporters support the deterrent.

Peter Curran@moridura

Whatever most Scots think, Scots won't be allowed to determine nuclear status. If we join NATO, indy Scotland won't get rid of Trident.

22 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

Poll shows majority of Scots in favour of Scot.Govn. making decision on nuclear weapons. Most of them mean a devolved government, not indy

22 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

Pro-NATO nats rejoice in poll showing majority of Scots in favour. Hardly surprising - most want to stay in the UK if other polls accurate

AngusBMacNeilMP@AngusMacNeilMP

Independence for Scotland contains all the Devo Max you could ask for- free!

23 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

@AngusMacNeilMP And we won't get it if the party goes down the NATO route you favour, Angus - a golden gift to the devo/status quo brigade.

24 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

@AngusMacNeilMP If you haven't read my blogs on this, I don't plan to repeat it all here. You'd better get beyond such simplistic thinking.

24 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

@AngusMacNeilMP @bordersbankie Powers? What 'powers'? NATO = 3 nuclear states with a veto dominating 25 non-nuclear. Scotland's 'powers' = 0

AngusBMacNeilMP@AngusMacNeilMP

@moridura so long as u move powers from.Westminster to Scotland ..Scots can decide what forums they are in. I'd choose NATO :-)

23 Jul  Peter Curran@moridura

@AngusMacNeilMP I know you would, Angus - you've put your name to the motion. You're giving up on independence with this one

SNP party supporters and the NATO question – the comment themes

One recent comment perhaps sums up the nature of the opposition to my arguments against NATO membership and the SNP’s handling of it.

“Peter it is becoming increasingly clear that you would like to see a public debate with the SNP exercising no control or management of this issue - just as any organisation never mind a political party would do and has done throughout history?”

That captures almost exactly what I would like to see, and what the SNP and my critics seem determined not to have – an open debate involving the people of Scotland, as the SNP has been having with the big conversation, the referendum consultation, the same sex marriage consultation, etc. all in the name of open and transparent government.

But in the SNP’s scale of priorities, it matters more to find out what the people think about same sex marriage than whether a party that presents itself as a party of principle and adamantly anti-nuclear should do a volte face on its long-standing opposition to membership of a nuclear alliance, totally committed to the principle of nuclear deterrence and the possession and use of WMDs.

Why is this? Simply because the SNP, with entirely honourable motives, recognised that same sex marriage was a political hot potato, and if they intended to pursue legislation (as to their credit they have committed to do) they had to get a real idea of the view of the people.

But this clear and principled vision deserts them when it comes to something infinitely more important, the membership of a nuclear alliance in which an independent Scotland will be utterly powerless but jointly culpable when nuclear Armageddon is triggered by the big Three.

Instead, they try to stay low key on their true intentions for an extended period, stonewall the media, then slip out an announcement at the tail end of the Parliamentary term, with the firm intention of keeping the whole thing in house and under wraps until Conference in October.

Was there anything signalled in advance of the media statement to SNP branches and party members about the Robertson/MacNeil paper? Was there any suggestion to branches that they should make a point of debating this important question? Were the arguments for and against made available so that members could reached a balanced conclusion?

Any objective observer considering how these events have unfolded would come to the conclusion that the Party leadership and party managers want this paper to come to conference with the minimum of publicity, with the minimum of open debate, to then have a ‘debate’ in which the party leaders will throw their weight decisively behind the proposal - accompanied by ringing reaffirmation of the anti-nuclear policy - then secure a ratification of the U-turn. Cynicism? No, realism

But let’s hear more of the pro-party position and pro-NATO comments – and they are not always the same the same group. Some who are opposed to NATO membership nonetheless defend the Party managers’ approach to the management of the issue and the vote.

THE COMMENTS

“I know you are pissed off that conference will probably endorse a policy with which you disagree but with which I suspect the majority of Scots will agree but you cannot seriously suggest that telling the members not to give succour to the enemy prematurely is undemocratic?”

“… it looks like the matter will be decided at the conference. … But that's the disadvantage of democracy. Sometimes the other side wins. And we do believe in democracy, right?”

“I am fairly rabidly anti-WMD, but I suppose I disagree with you in this. This IS something that should be debated and debated before the referendum campaign. It is the SNP's strength, not its weakness, that it can look at policies and bring them before their conference for open debate.”

“Peter, can you tell me why we can't be in NATO and still get rid of nuclear weapons? …. As far as I am concerned the vote at conference will be support NATO and ban nuclear weapons.”

“Nuclear weapons are of course an abomination but they are not going to go away. How can we as a small nation influence the defence(?) policy of such great powers as the USA, China, etc.? Let's face it, CND has lost the war.

Unfortunately, an independent Scotland will require military treaties. As a start, I believe a pragmatic alliance with NATO, within definitions that we, as far as possible, have determined to represent the view of the Scottish people is a good start. ….. If Scotland were to decide not to join NATO and go it alone, I wonder how long the removal and decommissioning of these foreign powers' weapons would take, if ever."

I've kept more or less silent on the SNP policies that I have disagreed with Peter, just to avoid this kind of thing; the Judean Popular Front meltdown that will be leapt upon by the unionists.”

“I think Salmond was between a rock and a hard place on this one. Can he really afford to have the US actively fighting against Scottish independence? And the US has a long history of interfering in situations like this. Do you think they wouldn't if US interest are at risk? I think there is a substantial possibility that there is good reason for this decision. You get where I'm going with that, I am sure.

I don't like this and I don't like WMD in Scotland but as has been pointed out many times, Norway is in NATO and still remains nuclear-free. I see no reason why Scotland couldn't do the same.”

“I don't care much for NATO either way but sympathise with the SNP's Realpolitik situation. For independence to stand a chance, the SNP has to signal to the International Community, i.e. America that they can be relied upon as an ally. Otherwise independence would not happen due to tacit disapproval.”

“I hate saying this stuff because it sounds paranoid but the history of the CIA and the US government interfering in the internal affairs of foreign nations, including independence campaigns, is public record. … There is a clear history of US government interference to protect US interests. I am not at all sure this may not have influenced the SNP position.

I won't mention Norway after this, Peter, but I am not at all sure you have made your case that Scotland would be totally difference post-independence. …”

“I must say I'm completely at the other end of the spectrum on this. Although I'm a SNP member (a quite recent one in fact) I've always been a little cagey on their defence policy, and to me this is a welcome dose of pragmatism, or realism or whatever one wants to call it. Although I wouldn't want Scotland to be a holder of nuclear weapons - I think we should take our lead from a country like Norway (to use a well worn comparison) I've never been in favour of unilateral disarmament either. Honouring our treaty obligations whilst remaining a member of NATO, at least for the present, poses no difficulties for me.”

THE THREADS IN THE COMMENTS

In the above, and many other comments, including on YouTube and in private correspondence that I cannot quote, I tease out the following common points -

Don’t rock the independence boat by making your policy disagreement public.

Accept the result of the democratic vote of Conference – don’t resign because a policy you disagree with is passed.

The SNP is adamantly anti-nuclear therefore it can safely be a member of NATO without compromising that principle.

An independent Scotland must be a member of a defensive alliance.

As a member, Scotland can positively influence NATO.

If we don’t join, America and NATO will intimidate us and threaten independence and the anti-nuclear policy.

We can be anti-nuclear and still be against unilateral nuclear disarmament and in favour of the deterrent until multi-lateral disarmament happens.

A majority of the Scottish electorate favour NATO membership, so joining will help a YES vote to independence.

Norway can manage to be anti-nuclear and yet be a NATO member – so can an independent Scotland.

This policy change is a matter for SNP internal party democracy and no one else.

RESPONSE

Since I have set out my arguments against an independent Scotland being a NATO member at considerable length - more than most media and online commentators - I really must rest my case unless new evidence or events lead me to add to it. I do reserve to right to revisit it and reiterate it constantly in the lead-up to the Perth October debate and vote. All of the above points I believe I have rebutted by argument, but them I would say that, wouldn’t I?

I have no evidence that I have changed a single opinion by my arguments, but I have evidence that I have offered a useful structuring of the arguments against NATO - and reference point to them - to those who were already against it – Professor Mitchell’s 22% of the SNP by 2007 sample. I hope that number has grown, but it may well have shrunk in the five years since the sample.

However, in my replies to various correspondents recently I made some new responses which I think might be relevant -

“There is a democratic world out there beyond the SNP called the Scottish electorate, or if you like, the people of Scotland, which the SNP Government says they want a dialogue with in the spirit of open government - except when it is a hot potato like this one.

This vital issue is not one to have kept within the confines of the party, and the party has not behaved well over this. So far there has been no debate of any kind on this at my branch, nor has there been any level or forum SNP forum in which I (also an SNP member - for the moment) have been able to debate it so far. However, there is a forum, the NO to NATO Coalition, and I will be saying my piece there.”

The Party brought this on themselves - they were less than honest in their lead up to this, they have tried to avoid discussing it, and have displayed a lack of openness and transparency on the issue in the hope of sliding it through painlessly at conference, which has been self-defeating, as it inevitably was going to be. I cannot accept that issues of this importance should be suppressed in the interests of closing ranks. The responsibility for 'playing into the hands of the unionists' lies squarely with the party managers.

There is something called democratic accountability to the electorate. The SNP governs for all the people of Scotland, not just SNP party members, who are a tiny proportion, and party delegates, who are a tinier proportion.

This is not open government as I understand it, it is rather sordid and manipulative party politics of a type I had hoped the SNP was above, and on a fundamental issue. The fact that most party members don't seem to regard NATO membership as a fundamental issue I find deeply depressing.

In the event of a YES vote in 2014  - if we now get one after this misconceived initiative - negotiations will be either completed or close to completion before the 2016 Holyrood election. What the present devolved SNP Government wants is endorsement of their negotiating position for those negotiations intended to lead to full independence. The idea that any non-SNP government or SNP/Labour Coalition after 2016 can unwind such a key concession is naive.”

“The matter will be decided at the October conference. There is little reason to think that the majority are opposed - all the polls and my own, albeit limited range of respondees would indicate the reverse.

There are those in the Parliamentary Party who are opposed, but some of them have effectively been muted, and are strangely - and perhaps contemptibly - silent.

I believe in democracy. I also believe that I have a perfect right not to belong to a political party that espouses something that I believe to be fundamentally wrong - and dangerous. Being a party member and supporting a party electorally and financially on a least worst option at the ballot box are very different things, however.

Since I believe that citizens must vote, I have throughout my life supported parties that I was not fully in tune with as the least worst option, e.g. the Labour Party.

For five years I have supported the SNP as a best option, a party that fulfilled all my fundamental beliefs. I regret that is no longer true (short of a miraculous revolt against NATO policy in October!)

But I will still vote SNP at by-elections until the referendum outcome is known. Come 2015 general election (UK) and 2016 (Holyrood election), perhaps for a newly independent Scotland - who knows?”

“Undoubtedly it should be debated - and it will be. Whether it can be categorised as open is another matter. It's backed by the party's strategist and defence spokesman, Angus Robertson. It's backed by Alex Salmond, the party's Superman. Dissenting voices are few, and muted (or being muted!) The party leadership simply can't afford to lose this vote, and they won't.

The party is in "Let's avoid dissent on everything until after independence - then everything will be alright" mood. But it won't be. There is a growing blandness in the party's approach and what they risk is not the loss of core activists campaigning and voting for YES (like me, in or out of party), but the increasing body of the uncommitted saying "So if so little will be different after independence, why not stay in the UK?" Without their votes, there will be no independence.

If the party votes to join/stay in NATO, I might see independence in my lifetime, but I will never see a nuclear-free Scotland. Trident decommissioning and removal will be at least 10 years away, perhaps 20 - and that means never – it will disappear into very long, polluted NATO/rUK grass.

I will be looking for a realignment on the Scottish Left (there is no such party - yet ...)”

The SNP is a democratic party, with a branch structure and nomination and voting procedures. I have little doubt that the majority of active members, including apparently most MSPs and ministers, are either in support of their NATO posture, or apathetic. For those who oppose it and are silent, I have only contempt to offer.

I am one voter, one party member and one voice, nothing more. I am against NATO membership, and I can never be a member of a political party that supports membership, however tortuous and self-serving - and maybe self-deluding - the justifications offered.

Come a YES vote to NATO in October and I'm out.”

“Trying to curry favour by offering to stay in NATO if the UK removes Trident is hardly going to work. Offering to stay in NATO then delaying the decommissioning of Trident indefinitely might work, but then the SNP would be as bad as what Scots are trying to rid themselves of.

I have never tried to make a case that Scotland would be totally different after independence. Most Scots want to preserve its traditions, its values, its relationship with the other nations that currently comprise the UK, its unique culture, its tolerance and the proud traditions of its regiments and fighting forces.”

Will the devo max option cause those who would vote indy on single question to bottle it and settle for devo max and those who would reject indy vote devo max.?

It all depends on how the questions and the ballot paper(s) are structured. I've been over this in depth in blogs, but nobody seems to want to do the hard thinking, and much utter nonsense has been talked about the questions, the voting outcomes, etc.

The critical element will be the likely high turnout vs normal election - anywhere from an 80-90% turnout with more than 50% of the total turnout being people who don't usually vote - the silent group that everyone wants to claim as their own.”