Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Scottish independence: the Royal United Services Institute criticises Alex Salmond’s plans to create a mini British security service as unaffordable and unrealistic, Salmond’s ‘Austin Powers’ spies will create a ‘world class’ security service, first case to tackle ‘Goldmember’?

Dear All

The Scottish National Party is going about the place saying that when they create a new Scotland, it will have ‘world class’ services.

Given they have made a pig’s ear of the three major briefs at Holyrood, Health, Education and law, how much weight can their opinion be given on what is ‘world class’?

We are told that Scotland would have a ‘world class’ security service, however, the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) has a different opinion.

They say that the SNP should abandon proposals to emulate the UK's security and intelligence services.

The Royal United Services Institute is highly regarded, when they talk governments pay attention.

SNP plan to replace MI5, MI6 and GCHQ with a new security agency, but the RUSI say the plans are unaffordable and unrealistic.

Instead they say that independent Scotland should follow Denmark's example and effectively do James Bond on the cheap using the police in charge of a limited intelligence-gathering operation.

Think CI5, the professionals, fast cars driven by ‘shoot to kill’ types!

They concluded:

"An independent Scotland is unlikely to face the severity of threats faced by the UK. Given this more benign threat picture, the creation of a Scottish Security and Intelligence Agency seems unnecessary, with more promising avenues including developing and expanding an intelligence division within Police Scotland."

Scotland won’t be a global power, it wouldn’t be a force in the same way as the UK on the world stage; it will be a backwater like Isle of Man. You won’t see Alex Salmond at meetings with Presidents of Russia or America solving world issues.

The ‘Skintland’ assessment of ‘cheap and cheerful’ has provoked angry clashes in the referendum battle.

Scots Tory leader Ruth Davidson claimed RUSI's report proved Scotland was safer within the UK.

Ex cop, Allan Burnett, a former senior police officer and Yes Scotland spokesman insists a new intelligence service would be a trusted ally of the UK and other countries.

Exactly how does he expect to accomplish that miracle?

Using the old boy network?

That door will be shut via the Official Secrets Act; any information if it was to come from the UK would certainly need Ministerial approval before being handed over to Scotland.

Burnett is an ex cop who now appears to be listed as a director of SecuriGroup, they do door security and football games stewarding, among other static security events for various organisations. He is listed as an operations director; fancy titles may impress some people but not me.

The report by Charlie Edwards who is RUSI's director of national security studies should be read cover to cover, it seems that the SNP seem to think that they can just make a mini British setup and jog on.

But the feasibility of the SNP's plans is said to be "problematic" and "raises serious concerns for Scottish national security". The ‘white paper’ launched last November was a rather underwhelming affair, sparse on details and substance lite.

Edwards makes a valid point by saying that the estimated £206 million annual running costs based on the country's share of UK intelligence spending is "entirely meaningless." This is because it is unrelated to an independent Scotland's security needs which like most things the SNP do haven’t been assessed properly, if at all.

Will Scotland have a GCHQ listening centre?

To listen to whom and for what purpose, will the bulk of their work be about spying on fellow Scots?

One thing is certain, one day one, if independent; they would still be carrying in the office furniture and getting the phones in.

It takes years to develop quality intelligence, and it takes years to develop assets.

As to the supposed co-operation that the Scottish Government thinks will be forthcoming, they should "not assume co-operation" from the UK at all.

Intelligence organisations operate in a bubble, like squirrels they hoard and guard their secrets jealously.

The idea that the UK intelligence will simply allow Salmond’s lot to get ‘access to the vault’ is risible and laughable.

One of the arrangements for sharing intel is the "Five Eyes Agreement" which is a long-established security pact comprising the UK, US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. It could be assumed by the Nationalists like other assumptions that they would just walk straight in and plant their arses down on the seats.

In 2012, I said that the SNP needed to adopt NATO, I got abuse for that statement, because I was publicly speaking on the BBC, also I said that Faslane needed to remain a base for nuclear submarines.

Salmond and Sturgeon adopted NATO not out of conviction but out of necessity, Faslane, they didn’t think they could win over at the conference so dropped the ball.
The bottom line and notice the use of the word ‘could’, the report said an independent Scotland "could have a first-class security service", but concluded that "economic, diplomatic and technical realities" would dictate a different course.

So, the Denmark model of a police-run security service with about 700 to 800 people in it is flagged up, in stage two of Police Scotland reform, I said that that customs and border security needed to be folded into Police Scotland as a separate division. That would make sense, however the issuing of visas would be done by a Scottish Immigration Service in a Home Office set up.

I suppose it is entirely possible that the SNP will opt for a Borgen style security service, purely on the basis of an episode in any possible future series of the hit TV show.

Ruth Davidson said:

"The experts at RUSI have confirmed what we already know: that Scotland is safer as part of the UK. Each of the four home nations would be less secure if there was to be an independent Scotland. The safety and security of a nation is the first responsibility of a government, but Alex Salmond is willing to risk that security for his obsession with independence."

Has Ms. Davidson done any security work?

I know she done some kickboxing, but that hardly qualifies.

Yes Scotland trotted out Allan Burnett, he said:

"An excellent Scottish intelligence organisation could be developed in an independent country. Based upon my experience, I simply do not accept these criticisms of Scotland's abilities to have effective security arrangements. Our friends, including those south of the Border, will want Scotland as allies as much as we want them. Our Scottish intelligence service will be welcomed as a professional, trusted ally."

That is riddled with so many assumptions that any person could have a field day just on what he said there. Given nothing exists, how does he come to the conclusion it will be excellent?

Anyone who is interested in being a Scottish James Bond should get an application is as soon as possible listing experiences of delivering SNP leaflets, in this instance, people with experience of working at Poundland will be advantageous, as well as anyone with exploding bazooka boots.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University  

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