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

Dear All

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.

He said:

"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 It is high time the SNP leadership rethought this outdated and oddball policy."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.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University


cynicalHighlander said...

Scotland's defence 21st Jan 2012 - an expert view on BBC radio

Nato is an open ended argument at the moment but the rest is logical and plausible.

Anonymous said...

Ah Robertson, the snivelling little rat who gave up representing his constituents and took a seat in the House of the Living Dead to get a massive paying job in Brussels.

Sorry I've no time for people like him.

He let his constituents down because he wanted a high paid job with a title and of course now that he has retired a collection on honorary doctorates and DIRECTORSHIPS.

They all seem to forget that Scotland isn't like the UK. We don't want to be poking our noses into other people's business and spending money we don't have on weapons we don't need; not to mention sending our young lads out to get killed in the name of some fat cat's oil.

We need a small defence force.

Edinburgh Flats said...

Brilliant post

George Laird said...

Dear Tris

I recall Alex Salmond saying some considerable time ago that Scotland may take part in UN peacekeeping.

That means the current debate has to be changed.

As to Robertson, he took other opportunities, I can't fault him for that when the same mentality exists in the SNP.

David Kerr and Osama Saeed are two who spring to mind.

I don't think the work has been done, rather other people's ideas have just been copied.

That is my concern, no thought has gone into this aspect, post independence.

If the SNP hasn't done the work on this, what else haven't they done the work on?

There appears to be 'gaps', the size of the Forth road bridge.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

Anonymous said...

Robertson is deplorable and a core Unionist. We DONT need nuclear submarines. London needs them for it's imperial clap-trap.

As for a defense force. It can be like Norway's.

George Laird said...

Dear Anon

“Robertson is deplorable and a core Unionist”.

I am an SNP Member, but regardless of that, Robertson has a point of view that cannot be ignored, any future Scottish defence force will have to be based on factual evidence and analysis.

“We DONT need nuclear submarines”.

We live in a nuclear world and have done every since the first atom bomb was dropped on Japan.

Should an independent Scotland have its own nuclear defence programme?

No, that wouldn’t be realistic or necessary, but our objection should prevent us being a full and valuable member of NATO.

I have no objection to the US or indeed the British continuing to use our facilities for their nuclear submarine fleet.

The SNP must try and evolve from domestic politics to international politics, 2010 was a wake up call to the SNP again, that on international matters, it isn’t seen as credible by voters.

“London needs them for it's imperial clap-trap”.

The balance of power is maintained by having a balance of power.

“As for a defense force. It can be like Norway's”.

Defence is like a carton of milk that you can pick off the supermarket shelf, by simply saying ‘we will have what they have got’, it is a bit more sophisticated than that. You have to carry out assessments and analysis as part of an ongoing review.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

throbber said...

"The regiment’s personnel may not wish to transfer to a Scottish Army; such a move limits opportunities for them from educational to promotion."

Was it not voluntary George ? Regulars can either stay where they are or transfer across. There's never been any recruitment problems for Scottish infantry regiments.
There are thousand of ex regulars (moi) who would love the chance to train up the future regiments or engineers etc.
Plus the recent redundancies of soldiers, sailors and airmen would provide a ready trained force ready to go.
I don't like your idea of keeping the radioactive penis extensions on the Clyde. They're not independent as they're controlled by the US and the old hulks are leaking into our waters.