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Showing posts with label Trident in Scotland. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Trident in Scotland. Show all posts

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

NATO – a nuclear alliance: membership may lead to party fission

NATO is a defence alliance, controlled by the U.S.A. Its model of defence has invariably been attack on other nations. It is a nuclear alliance – the possession of weapons of mass destruction, with a first strike policy, is central to its ethos. Its raison d’etre, the Cold War between the Soviet Bloc and the West, symbolised by the Berlin Wall, ended when the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, a generation ago. Since then, it has been it search of a role.

NATO, a nuclear military alliance, is the lynchpin of the military/industrial complex  – the war corporation – the dangers of which were first articulated by an American President, Dwight D. Eisenhower. Every American President since then has been essentially powerless in the face of this amoral conspiracy of defence industry contractors and political parties, with the military and brave servicemen and women helpless pawns in a game that recklessly sacrifice their lives and the lives of millions of innocent civilians across the globe.

Among the highest levels of the military there is a dangerous blurring of the line between industry, politics and the honourable profession of defending a nation, with revolving doors between the military, the defence industry and politics – an immensely lucrative trough of money at which politicians and civil servants also feed.

NATO has - like any large amoral corporation - a powerful PR and propaganda machine, one that can dominate and in many case, intimidate even the largest media organisations.

NatoCommunity  -  NATO-OTAN

In my view, the Scottish National Party is composed of principled men and women with a commitment to the unilateral nuclear disarmament of an independent Scotland – a goal that can only be achieved by Scotland’s independence. In fact, in the modern world as currently structured politically, only Scotland can achieve that.

But I also believe that the leadership of the SNP has now started on a path – membership of NATO - based not on principle but on flawed, short term expediency and flawed judgements about electoral advantage and negotiating dynamic and strategy, relying on simplistic arguments – that will lead to one of three outcomes -

possible rejection of a YES to independence vote by the Scottish electorate.

(A minority of Scots voters appear to favour independence, a majority seem to favour more devolution within UK, and since apparently 75% of Scots voters want to remain in NATO, they may come to the conclusion that remaining in the UK is the best way to achieve that. Since every recent policy movement of the SNP is towards reducing the perceived difference between the UK and Scotland, and the vision of independence becomes ever more blurred, the NATO policy shift may clinch that decision to remain in the UK)

outright rejection by the UK of the SNP’s terms for NATO membership (influenced by the U.S.A. and NATO) – with serious damage to other aspects of negotiations on independence and to attempts to remove Trident

to being insidiously sucked into a gradual retreat from unilateral nuclear disarmament of an independent Scotland by a deal that will result in Trident and nuclear submarines still being at Faslane for twenty years or more.

I don’t want an independent Scotland to become such a country.

Saor Alba



Monday, 6 August 2012

The SNP’s dangerous nuclear nonsense

Wikipedia excerpt

The first fission ("atomic") bomb test released the same amount of energy as approximately 20,000 tons of TNT. The first thermonuclear ("hydrogen") bomb test released the same amount of energy as approximately 10,000,000 tons of TNT.[1]

A modern thermonuclear weapon weighing little more than 2,400 pounds (1,100 kg) can produce an explosive force comparable to the detonation of more than 1.2 million tons (1.1 million tonnes) of TNT.[2] Thus, even a small nuclear device no larger than traditional bombs can devastate an entire city by blast, fire and radiation. Nuclear weapons are considered weapons of mass destruction, and their use and control have been a major focus of international relations policy since their debut.

What is the destructive capacity of Trident missiles?

The Trident I warheads are 100 kilotons each, about six times the power of the Hiroshima atomic bomb dropped 67 years ago today. (RIP the 200,000 victims of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs)

Each Trident submarine with Trident I warheads therefore carried over 1,000 times the destructive power of the Hiroshima bomb.

Trident II replaces the 100 kiloton weapons with 475 kiloton weapons mounted on missiles with greater accuracy and longer range.

Each Trident submarine will therefore carry 4,750 time the destructive capacity of the Hiroshima bomb.

Four Trident submarines, each carrying 16 missiles - a total of 64 missiles - operate out of Faslane, Scotland, and represent the total UK nuclear deterrent.

After the launch order, the typical flight time of a missile is 25 minutes, depending on how close the submarine is to the target.

25 minutes after the US President, the UK Prime Minister and the French President activate the launch codes, unimaginable destructive power will be unleashed on millions of human beings, with consequences for the planet for centuries, perhaps millennia in terms of radiation pollution.

These decisions were in the hands of politicians of the calibre of Ronald Reagan, a George W. Bush, Tony Blair and in a very short time, could be in the hands of a Mitt Romney,  a David Cameron …

NATO

The Trident submarines operate under the auspices of NATO, a military alliance committed to their use in a first strike authorised by USA, France and Britain. The other 25 member countries of NATO have no say in this decision, and zero influence over NATO.

THE SNP leadership and Alex Salmond, Angus Robertson and Angus MacNeil want Scotland to remain/become a member of the NATO alliance after independence.

They intend to try to persuade the SNP delegates to the October Party Conference in Perth to vote in favour of a defence policy that includes NATO membership.

They will try to square the manifest inconsistency of seeking membership of a first strike nuclear alliance, one that they will have zero influence and control over, with the Party’s anti-nuclear policy by telling the members that they will ‘negotiate’ the removal of Trident from Scotland by offering the UK, as a quid pro quo, Scotland’s willingness to join the NATO nuclear alliance.

In other words, an independent Scotland will graciously deign to join NATO if the UK promptly removes Trident, and, since the UK has nowhere else to put it, UK ceases to be a nuclear power, it removes from NATO a substantial part of its European-based nuclear capacity, and almost certainly loses the UK's Security Council seat in the United Nations. Aye, right …

The UK, NATO, former Secretary General of NATO Lord Robertson and a legion of unionist politicians and commentators have treated this proposal with derision and contempt.

As a bargaining chip, the only possible validity it could have would be to give the UK government (controlled on this matter by NATO and the USA) an opportunity to offer a quick disarming of the Trident warheads (two days to do, reversible about as quickly) while retaining Faslane under UK (i.e. NATO) control (maintenance of the base is being outsourced to private contractors!) retaining the full infrastructure, allowing ‘safe haven’ to nuclear-armed submarines for other NATO countries, while going through a token – and endlessly delayed – decommissioning process that would take a minimum of ten years, almost certainly extended to 20 years, with the high likelihood of never – or until NATO and the world abandoned the lunacy of the nuclear deterrent.

The other negotiating option is that the Faslane base and related sites would be leased to rUK as rUK sovereign territory, thus allowing the SNP to claim that they had achieved a non-nuclear Scotland, since “Faslane has nothing to do with us, it’s rUK territory”.

All of these option have been explored by the Scottish Affairs Committee on the Referendum for the Separation of Scotland, acting as thinly-disguised proxies for their UK masters, but, frustratingly, unable to question representatives of the Scottish Government directly, since the SNP is boycotting the committee.

Pronouncements are issued daily by former senior military men who, however brave, capable and distinguished in action, have political views of the level of  a Boy’s Own Paper reader of the 1930s. The apologists among SNP party activists supporting the NATO initiative have even more simplistic arguments to offer, with cries of “What about Norway?” and “If they don’t remove Trident, we won’t join!” etcetera, with much use of the phrases END OF, and “It’s simple!”

Meanwhile, our bishops and religious leaders are obsessed by same sex marriage, and our elected MSPs and MPs spend their summer vacation eagerly tweeting about the Olympics, and congratulating the latest sporting hero …


Sunday, 5 August 2012

My reasons for cancelling my SNP party membership

I have decided to cancel my SNP party membership, effective immediately. This will come as no surprise to readers of this blog, nor to Twitter followers.

A few words of background -

I have only been an SNP member for about four years, and an SNP supporter and voter since Iraq, so I have a very short history with the party. During my party membership, I have not been a very active branch member, but in the contacts and the meetings I have attended I developed the highest respect and regard for the branch members I met, and especially for the elected officials. I have some idea of how they have worked over decades of loyal party support, especially in the active campaigning, leafleting and door-knocking that led to the election of Colin Keir, MSP in 2011 as part of the new intake in the party landslide victory. (I played little or no active part in all that hard work for personal reasons.) I am sad to longer be a part of such a committed and loyal group of political activists.

MY REASONS FOR RESIGNING

I have been a Labour voter for most of my life, but never a party member. I had a brief membership (a few weeks) of the SDP when they broke away from Labour in 1981. It lasted until I met David Owen at a Durham branch meeting and realised what an awful mistake I had made!

In joining a political party, however briefly, I had broken a vow I made in the early 1950s that I would never be a member of a party that supported nuclear weapons. None of the parties that opposed nuclear weapons seemed to me to have any chance of being elected to government. But I had – and have – a democratic commitment to voting, but qualified by the criterion of electability, so I voted for what I saw as the least worse option among the major parties – i.e. Labour – on that basis. This included the awful mistake of voting for Tony Blair and New Labour, until 2003 and Iraq.

Watershed moments that took me gradually to the belief that the SNP was electable included hearing Alex Salmond speak at the New Club in Edinburgh in the late nineties and hearing John Swinney speak at a regional Question Time in Meadowbank at which I was an audience member. I also had the privilege of working briefly with the late Douglas Henderson of the SNP as a colleague on negotiating skills courses for Professor Gavin Kennedy’s company Negotiate Ltd for a period in 1990.

Of course, devolution was a key moment of realisation that the SNP was not only potentially electable as the Government, but that they could actually deliver Scotland’s independence and a nuclear-free Scotland, as the government of an independent Scotland. For the first time in my political life, there was an electable party that met my key requirements of being anti-nuclear and a social democratic party of the Left, and that they were not a least-worse option, they were the best option. Party membership was the next logical step.

My reasons for leaving – which must be self-evident to anyone who has read my NATO blog – are as follow -

1. I believe NATO membership is inextricably bound up with nuclear weapons, and that an independent Scotland must not be a member.

2. I believe the SNP leadership has behaved disingenuously at best in the way they have approached this issue, and at worst have deliberately manipulated their supporters in order to push through a volte face in NATO policy under the disguise of open debate.

3. I believe that their stated negotiating position is either ludicrously simplistic over NATO (unlikely) or is a deliberate attempt to conceal a planned retreat from any early removal of Trident and nuclear submarines from Scotland within a ten to twenty year period, regrettably highly likely.

I won’t rehearse yet again my detailed arguments on why I find this unacceptable.

THE FUTURE FOR ME

I am one voter, one voice and I claim to speak only for myself.  What I had to offer the party from 2008 on was not what they wanted from me, and I am unable to offer what they rightly value highly – active doorstop campaigning and leafleting. They have every right to take such a view.

I will continue to campaign for YES in any way I can be useful.

I will not join any other political party ever again.

I will continue to support the SNP with my vote in any local or by-elections before 2016, and I will continue to support the SNP’s policies across their range of policies, since I agree with most of them.

At the 2016 Holyrood election, I will judge against the deal breaker criteria that any other party that supports independence, is anti-nuclear and anti-NATO, and is broadly social democratic in philosophy will be a candidate for my vote, with electability as an important criterion, but not a deal breaker.

COMMENTS

A secondary consideration in reaching my decision to leave the SNP was the increasing volume of abusive, obscene and sometimes threatening emails, blog comments and YouTube comments received. All comments are pre-moderated by me, and all such comments were deleted without being published. 90% of these were anonymous and claimed to be from SNP supporters. 100% of them supported NATO and that told me a lot.

Any comments that I have published on this blog or on YouTube were within my range of acceptability – some totally acceptable expressions of disagreement, couched in rational, civilised arguments, some less so (see yesterday’s comments). Again, a majority  - but not all - were in support of the SNP’s NATO U-turn.

I have received direct contacts – email and Twitter direct message – from MPs and MSPs, all in confidence, which I have respected. All were pro-NATO – I have received no direct contact from any anti-NATO MPs or MSPs.

If my critics regard this as evidence that my viewpoint is a minority one within the party, I readily accept that, indeed Professor Mitchell’s report appears to confirm this.

I will not be publishing any comments on this blog post – there is little point, so please don’t offer comment or advice. (I will be happy to receive emails.)

Normal blogging service will be resumed tomorrow, but perhaps with a change of emphasis, since the only party line I must now respect is that of independence and the anti-nuclear voice.

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Scotland’s defence–Angus Robertson’s response to the leaping Lords on Today

Naughtie:On the defence question – do you accept that it’s going to be a very, very costly business if Scotland does go independent? And not only costly to Scots, but costly to people elsewhere in the United Kingdom?”

Angus Robertson:That’s not the way I see it, Jim. Firstly, the prospect of people in Scotland being able to determine their own future is extremely exciting and historic. We look forward to the referendum as a real opportunity for the country, and it is true to say that it will impact on all policy areas of life, and we think it will bring tremendous advantages - and it’s important to understand what those are in defence and security terms.

“We’re in a slightly odd position in Scotland at the present time, where we’re already responsible in Scotland for veterans, but we’re not for defence and security policy, So, the point that we believe is that Scotland, Scotland’s Parliament – the government here – should be able to decide whether our servicemen and women go to war or not, how we defend our regiments, how we retain our bases, what posture we should take – whether Scotland should be a home to Trident nuclear weapons.

“All of these are the decisions that normal countries make, and we want Scotland to be a normal, successful country.”

Naughtie:Yes – but in the event of independence, there would be a very simple decision to be made, because the entire UK nuclear submarine fleet is in Scotland. Now that would still be  -em – the defence equipment used by the government of Westminster: in the event of an independent Scotland, it would leave Scotland – right? At a cost of many, many tens of millions of pounds?”

I held my breath at this point, because the nuclear issue is at the very heart of my wish to see an independent Scotland. I regard most things as negotiable, and politics and diplomacy are the art of the possible, but for me, the objective of Scotland as a non-nuclear nation is not negotiable – it is a deal breaker – a sine qua non – as the Romans said, “a condition without which there is nothing.”

Why am I holding my breath, I asked myself? I have heard Angus Robertson confirm this very point a few weeks ago to a large and enthusiastic audience at Drummond Community School in Edinburgh, flanked by Derek Mackay. But Naughtie formulated his question as a double-header question – a very dangerous form to respond to. He asked for a single YES/NO answer to what in effect was two questions – nukes leaving Scotland and the cost. YES or NO confirms or denies both possibilities. The question must not therefore be given an unqualified YEs or NO if one answer is YES and the other is not.

Angus Robertson:Well, first off, let’s deal with the financial basis of the defence in Scotland and the UK, before …

That’s my boy, Angus!

Naughtie: “No, no, but hang on .. we’re talking about.” (Naughtie doesn’t like his double header being rejected.)

Angus Robertson:It’s important for listeners in England, who’ve never heard this, to understand the way that defence is currently organised and paid for in the UK, and at the present time, there’s a massive defence underspend in Scotland – incidentally, also in many English regions.

“But in Scotland, £5.6 billion less has been spent here than taxpayers have contributed to the M.O.D. In manpower terms, we’ve seen disproportionate cuts – 10,500 jobs lost – and in the recent strategic defence and basing review, we’ve seen two out of three air bases closed, the total withdrawal of the Royal Marines, and the closure of Army Command in Scotland. That is happening within the United Kingdom …”

Naughtie:Yes, and a couple of billion quid in defence order, which would go down the drain if Scotland were independent, because you wouldn’t be building stuff for UK defence.”

Angus Robertson: “I’m happy to move on to that in a second, Jim – it’s not true – but if I can just finish the point that I’m trying to make. It’s really important for people to understand that the UK Government does not look after defence well in Scotland, and I would argue in other parts of the UK, particularly the North of England either. And one of the advantages of being able to make defence decisions in Scotland is that we would utilise all of our resources – and Scottish taxpayers contribute about £3 billion a year towards UK defence, adequately just for Scotland.

“Now, you talked about procurement there. Let’s move on to procurement.  58% of the defence industry in Scotland in procurement is for export beyond the United Kingdom. Point two – where we have have an excellent domestic producing defence sector - excellent in shipbuilding, excellent in radar, excellent in optronics – I have no reason to believe the decision makers, either in Edinburgh or in London, will not continue to resource the best equipment wherever its made. And at the present time, the UK Government won’t spend 4.4% of its equipment and non-equipment spending in Scotland. That means that Scottish taxpayers are paying for considerable investment in the defence sector in England.”

Naughtie: “Well, the defence sector of the UK – these are matters that we  are going to – well, we will return to often and at length between now and the date of the promised referendum – but for now, Angus Robertson, SNP defence spokesman – thank you.”

MY SUMMARY

I was disappointed that Angus didn’t get round to answering the first part of Naughtie’s question on the “the entire UK nuclear submarine fleet ..“ … in the event of an independent Scotland, it would leave Scotland – right?

But he was right to concentrate on the threat/bribe aspect of Lord West’s nonsense on defence procurement in Scotland and its impact on jobs, especially in shipbuilding. Angus Robertson demonstrated a superb grasp of the real issues, and the figures, unlike the two fumbling, bumbling peers who preceded him, and he did an effective demolition job on their feeble scaremongering tactics.

To Angus’ own question in his opening response – “… whether Scotland should be a home to Trident nuclear weapons.” We already know the FM’s answer, Angus’ answer, the SNP’s answer and the Scottish Government’s answer – it is a resounding, decisive, unequivocal NO and it has been given in many forums. For the SNP to renege on that posture would be an inconceivable betrayal of trust, and they will never do it.

As for the question “the entire UK nuclear submarine fleet … in the event of an independent Scotland, it would leave Scotland – right?”, I think know your answer, Angus, because you have already given it many times in the context of Scotland being non-nuclear, opposed to WMDs, whether carried on nuclear submarines, or by other delivery systems.

Or do I? Is it more complex? Perhaps … A nuclear submarine is a submarine powered by a nuclear reactor, whether or not it carries nuclear weapons. No nuclear weapons could be allowed to remain in Scotland under clearly and repeatedly stated SNP policy, i.e Trident, but nuclear subs and their bases without a nuclear payload?

I know there are existing treaty obligations about Scotland providing safe havens in Scottish waters to our allies – and we will continue to have allies, and will be part of non-nuclear defence groupings. Clearly, there are complex questions to be considered and discussed there with the UK and European allies. Angus Robertson is well equipped to discuss them rationally, objectively, and without rancour. But are the representatives of the UK anti-unionist parties and Establishment?

Not on Friday’s today showing, they’re not … The doughty Baroness was right about one thing – they had better get their act together, and field some politicians or diplomats who know what they’re talking about, unlike the ones we’ve just heard. The Scottish Government – and the SNP – have got their act together, and a superb one it is.

Ah, 2012- what will you bring?

Saor Alba!