"I can't believe you can have so many comments on this. The NATO issue does not, in itself, matter. It is one of the things that will be negotiated and decided on at the time.
What matters is the way it is spun in the here and now in the run up to the election.
That's the politics of it which you guys don't seem to understand."
Hmm. Let's see, shall we?
"Re the spending issue - this is a totally dead duck for you unionists. Scotland does not benefit from UK defence spending. There is in fact a massive underspend. You can bet the SNP will go large with that one."
(Metaphorically rolling up sleeves while trying to stifle a snigger and conceal a feral grin.)
First of all, this is a total misconception of the notion of defence spending. It's supposed to buy you defence and security - it's not supposed to be pork-barrelled up into spending in particular bits of the country for political reasons. The spending happens where the defences need to be for strategic reasons.
We don't need naval bases at Scapa Flow, Invergordon, Tobermory and Rosyth - or for that matter Harwich or Chatham - any more, so we don't have them. Similarly, East Anglia is no longer full of bomber bases sited for maximum proximity to the Soviet Union (or Germany, for that matter).
But even if you wish to pursue the "underspend" argument, it's so wrong it's comical. On this of all days. (Cough. Splutter. Hee!)
Defend And Destroy: Navy's Latest Ship Launched on Clyde
"Thousands turned out on the banks of the Clyde today to cheer on the latest ship to make up the Royal Navy’s formidable new Type 45 destroyer class. Defender sailed for the first time today.
Chief in Command Fleet Admiral Trevor Soar said:
“The thousands gathered here today to witness the launch of Defender is testament to the pride Scotland rightly takes in its shipbuilding industry which has seen a resurgence in recent times with the Type 45 build programme and the manufacture of the Aircraft Carriers that they will defend.
“Defender’s affiliation with her ‘home town’ of Glasgow will ensure these strong links live on and gives the Royal Navy the chance to give something back to the community that worked so hard to deliver her and her sister ships.
“The launch of the fifth ship is an exciting milestone as we draw nearer to the first of class HMS Daring entering into service in the New Year to begin her duties with the Royal Navy.”
Defender was launched amid a cloud of balloons and fireworks by Lady Julie Massey, wife of the Deputy Head of the Navy Second Sea Lord Sir Alan Massey, to the fanfare of the Band of the Royal Marines.
Chief of Materiel Fleet Vice Admiral Andrew Mathews said:
“The Type 45 class is a most formidable ship. Her world-class Sea Viper missile system which can defend against multiple attacks by the most sophisticated anti-ship missiles bears out the title ‘destroyer’, while Defender’s name hints to her main future role in providing air defence to the Navy’s new aircraft carriers.
"Defender will be capable of carrying out a wide range of operations, including anti-piracy and anti-smuggling activities, disaster-relief work and surveillance operations as well as high intensity warfighting.”
As versatile as they are powerful, the Type 45s will have a range of capabilities. They will be able to carry up to 60 Royal Marines Commandos and their equipment, and operate a Chinook-sized helicopter from the flight deck. The standards of accommodation are also able to exceed previous classes thanks to the ships’ size.
Defender is the fifth ship of six in the Type 45 destroyer class. Good progress is being made on the programme: HMS Daring (ship one) has been commissioned into the Royal Navy and is on her final trials prior to her entering service, planned for February 2010.
Dauntless (ship two) has recently completed two very successful sets of sea trials while Diamond (ship three) has just begun her sea trials. Dragon (ship four) was launched in Scotland at the end of 2008 and Duncan (ship six) is under construction in Govan."
Sorry Indy, you were saying?
Possibly you also missed the announcement that the Navy is moving all its submarines from Devonport to Faslane.
That's Faslane, the rather large naval base which really does employ 6500 people directly and another 3000 indirectly:
"The Base is the largest single site employer in Scotland with an integrated workforce of around 6,500 personnel – drawn from the Royal Navy, Ministry of Defence civilians, Babcock Marine (the MOD's industrial partner at the Base) and external contractors. A further 3,000 Scottish jobs are supported indirectly by HM Naval Base Clyde and more than £250 million is spent in Scotland on wages and contracts awarded each year, directly related to the Base."
Where do you think those 6500 people live and spend their wages, Indy? What do they eat and drink?
I apologise for having to mention the construction plans for the new Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers.
"The ACA has approved the following decisions under the developing build strategy:
- Lower Block 1 (the bow section) will be built by Babcock’s yards at Appledore and Rosyth;
- Lower Block 2 will be built by BVT Surface Fleet in Portsmouth;
- Lower Blocks 3 and 4 (the stern section) will be built by BVT on the Clyde;
- The sponsons (the overhanging upper hull structure) will be manufactured by Babcock Marine;
- and the two superstructure Islands will be built by BVT in Portsmouth.
Final assembly and integration of the two warships will be undertaken by the Aircraft Carrier Alliance partners at Rosyth."
I believe someone was saying something about "underspend in Scotland".
Let's look at the RAF at Kinloss, Lossiemouth and Leuchars. According to the RAF squadron list, we currently have 55 operational squadrons. A quick look at the station list shows that something like 9.5 of them are based at the three Scottish stations, going up to 10.5 next year as the Typhoons come into Leuchars.
9.5 / 55 = 17%. Got a problem with that?
I can't even be bothered to look at the Army's basing. It will be the same story.
So please, please, please let it be true that the Nats are planning to "go large" on the issue of defence spending in Scotland.
It will only prove the existence of a substantial Union benefit for Scotland from UK defence spending, and utterly discredit the idea that an "independent" Scotland could somehow sustain anything like it.
We were promised a "defence policy paper" from the Nats. Where is it?
Surely not delayed because they realise it will be a disaster?