Monday, January 23, 2012
George Robertson criticises future Scottish Government defence plan, SNP need NATO and major changes to ‘defence lite’ policies to be trusted
After the Holyrood election, Alex Salmond stood up and said that the SNP didn’t have a monopoly on wisdom.
It is true, the SNP don’t get everything right, they do make mistakes, but no one gets everything right all the time.
Former Nato Secretary General George Robertson has said Alex Salmond's defence plans for an independent Scotland are "half-baked", "reckless" and have a "gigantic hole" in them.
Robertson was also a former Defence Secretary back in the day.
His approach to the independence debate is to criticise the SNP's plans regarding defence, by saying they lacked coherence.
"This is not a serious plan for the defence of a separate Scottish state."
Like other SNP Members, I am only getting to hear what the vision that Mr. Salmond and his team think is appropriate.
Lord Robertson attacked Mr Salmond for arguing that there was an "overwhelming case" to retain three airbases in Scotland when he is now arguing an independent Scotland would only need one.
I have for sometime saying and blogging that the SNP need to stop this populist thinking, jumping on a bandwagon to get votes.
So, we have the First Minister arguing for 3 as “overwhelming” then doing a complete about face, how can this be credible?
Defence isn’t an SNP strong point, recently, Alex Salmond said; an independent Scotland would have one airbase, one naval base and a mobile armed brigade as exactly the right mix.
I would like to see the paperwork on how someone came to this conclusion, when it is so blatantly ‘defence lite’.
Lord Robertson said:
"There is a gigantic hole in the plan and that is the fact that the SNP intend to tear Scotland out of Nato, the first time any country would contemplate this irresponsible course of action.
"Outside of Nato, the world's most successful defence alliance, it is difficult to see what the proposed force structure would be about." He said the SNP was the only mainstream political party in all of the 27 Nato nations which suggested withdrawal. The SNP's only compatriots are the extremist and fringe parties in Europe – and not even all of them. It is high time the SNP leadership rethought this outdated and oddball policy."
An independent Scotland outside NATO is an ill conceived position to take at many levels from universal security to getting soldiers valuable experience of NATO missions.
The SNP has come along way; unfortunately they still have a long way to go when it comes to defence and other reserved matters.
2010, Scotland spoke on reserved matters by returning only six SNP MPs to Westminster that should have sent alarm bells ringing.
But let us stick to defence, one airbase and one naval base, leaves Scotland vulnerable.
Lord Robertson isn’t a fan of the return of Scottish regiments from the British Army either which in itself isn’t as straightforward as everyone in the SNP seems to think it is.
The regiment’s personnel may not wish to transfer to a Scottish Army; such a move limits opportunities for them from educational to promotion.
There is no SNP fix for those issues.
Lord Robertson added:
"For example, the Scots Guards are a key part of the UK Brigade of Guards and cannot simply be cut out of the Brigade on a political whim. And what about logistic troops, or combat support and combat service support? Engineers, medics, communicators, and reconnaissance, surveillance and intelligence forces – all are essential to all armed forces. Nothing is said about how this gap is to be filled or afforded. The other missing link in these half-baked proposals is the cost and huge job losses to a separate Scotland of relocating the Faslane submarine base. None of the small countries constantly quoted by the SNP need such a base for conventional submarines. If the SNP dogmatically demand the withdrawal of Trident it will have to pay multibillion-pound compensation for it to be relocated."
The SNP policy on NATO isn’t credible, neither is the removal of nuclear submarines from Faslane, our alliances must be strong within NATO, we sit at a key strategic position, we should be open to the US using our facilities for their nuclear submarine fleet.
The SNP must commit to NATO, the SNP must commit to allowing nuclear submarines to be retained; the SNP must commit to a better Scottish defence policy than is currently proposed.
Either that or Alex Salmond should just ringing up John Smeaton and ask is he available on call to kick foreign invaders 'in the balls' as a ‘Plan McB’.
Defence isn’t cheap and it isn’t something to be taken lightly.
If Scotland wants to be taken seriously as a member of the world community, then a shitty airbase, naval base beside a big puddle and a group of guys travelling about on a 'battle bus' screaming ‘Scotland’ isn’t going to cut it.
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University