Following the pompous Angus Roberton making an erse of himself and his party over their non-defence non-policy, I was impressed by the thoughts of the Times' Angus Mcleod:
SNP blueprint for English military bases to stay in independent Scotland ‘a fantasy’
"Defence has always been the SNP’s Achilles’ heel. The party has never been able to square the desire to leave the United Kingdom with the expense of providing an independent Scotland’s defence requirements.
Even then, they have tied themselves in knots explaining why an independent Scotland would need an Army, Navy and Air Force in any case and how exactly these soldiers, sailors and airmen would be equipped.
Neither has the party ever adequately explained how they would meet the social and employment cost of closing these bases they do not want to see in Scotland. It is an inescapable fact that the Trident nuclear submarine base on the Clyde employs, directly and indirectly, thousands of people and provides a key part of the economic backbone of a good part of West-Central Scotland.
Now, we learn from Angus Robertson, the party’s defence spokesman, that while Trident would go, the SNP’s latest thinking on defence would see other UK military bases in stay. So an independent Scotland which, according to the SNP, would not be a member of Nato would play host to the forces of a country which would very much be a part of Nato. It is a strange ambition to want to see your newly independent country reduced to the status of a base for another country’s forces. Not exactly Braveheart.
But the Robertson doctrine should not be seen in isolation. It comes after recent SNP policy documents that have envisaged Scots in an independent Scotland having shared citizenship with, we presume, what what is left of Britain: shared Scottish/British embassies abroad; a Scottish Broadcasting Corporation which would access programmes from what is left of the BBC at no extra cost; even a shared monarchy. The only thing this financially independent Scotland would not share would be the revenues from North Sea oil.
It’s all to do with the SNP’s new mantra of a “social union” between Scotland and England. The old notion of independence where brave little Scotland would go its own way and for which generations of nationalists campaigned is dead. Long Live the Social Union is the new cry.
In all this no one in the SNP has shown the English the courtesy of asking their opinion. Why would the rest of the UK, free of turbulent Scots, want to share anything with a country that had turned its back on them. Perhaps the SNP know that they wouldn’t like the answer."
And then we turn to the inestimable Alan Cochrane in the Telegraph:
With military thinkers like Angus Robertson, who needs enemies?
"Arguably the daftest aspect of the SNP’s policy portfolio has always been its attitude to defence. How to disentangle an independent Scotland, which they say should be non-nuclear and non-Nato, from one of the world’s leading military powers — which in spite of everything is what the UK still is — has always been a huge imponderable for the Nats.
However, as we head for their annual conference in Inverness, they have tried to find a way out of this difficulty. In doing so, they have come up with an even bigger load of nonsense. It should come as no surprise that they have managed to make things worse — the man they charged with finding a way out of this particular hole has been happily digging them deeper into the mire for years.
I refer, of course, to Angus Robertson, the MP for Moray, who rejoices in the twin titles of SNP defence spokesman and leader of the party’s seven Westminster MPs. Given that he has the major UK airbases of Kinloss and Lossiemouth in his constituency, Mr Robertson prides himself on his expertise in all matters pertaining to the defence of the realm, even if this interest is conditioned by his desire to hold the seat.
We are well used to Mr Robertson’s pompous declarations on military matters, but he has excelled himself with his latest pronouncements. I have often asked the Nats what they would do with those bases — Kinloss and “Lossie” included — currently dotted all over Scotland. They are home to elements of the Armed Forces of the United Kingdom, almost all of which the SNP says it would retain.
What would an independent Scotland do with all that military hardware? Were they planning to wage war against someone? For several years, there has come no answer. Until yesterday … Mr Robertson says the bases can indeed stay and the English can continue to use them, presumably on a rental basis. Only the Trident submarine base at Faslane on the Clyde would be booted out. An accommodating SNP government in an independent Scotland would allow its English, warmonger, next-door neighbours to continue to use their current homes.
There is no reason, says this latter-day Clausewitz, why Scotland and England couldn’t remain as “friends and allies”. No reason? I can think of lots. For one — why would the rest of the UK wish to reward Scotland, which wanted nothing to do with Nato and a united defence posture and wanted to pick and choose which bases it would allow on its soil, by stationing its servicemen and women here?
Mr Roberston added that it would be “perfectly possible” for the two countries to “share basing, procurement and training facilities”. He is clutching desperately — and ludicrously — at straws because he knows full well the effect losing all UK bases would have on Scotland’s economy, never mind its defence. If we are to have bases such as RAF Leuchars, as well as Kinloss and “Lossie”, won’t they remain targets for potential enemies, just as they are now?
Des Browne, the former Labour defence secretary, delivered a withering analysis of Lance Corporal Robertson’s plans last night, suggesting that they must have been drawn up on the back of an envelope. He added that the Nats “seem to want Scotland to be just a big military base for the remainder of the UK”, adding that in the absence of any idea of how to defend Scotland, “they simply want the rest of the UK to do it for them”.
They may have convinced the voters that they can govern reasonably competently but can only watch in despair as support for independence remains resolutely stuck at about one third or less. As a result, they try every trick to win the rest of us around.
They have accepted that they must keep the Queen. They have now agreed that we can individually choose which nationality we will be after independence — Scottish or British. And now they are admitting that they need the bulk of the bases. Why don’t they just admit defeat and say we might as well stay as we are? Better that, surely, than any more of this hokum from Angus Robertson."