Thursday, April 17, 2014

Scottish independence: when 12 people say you're drunk, it’s time to sit your ass down, Scotland’s ‘jolly fat man’ Alex Salmond decides to ignore expert advice and weaken the security of NATO if independent, inept First Minister is clueless on defence matters and protecting Scottish jobs

Dear All

Alex Salmond is good at one thing, deceit and deception, but this one on shipbuilding he cooked up is a corker, why, because of the historical context.

Military shipbuilding has been a lifeline in Scotland, and when we talk shipbuilding, were really talking about ships built on the Clyde.


Salmond has given a clear guarantee that the British Royal Navy would continue to build warships in an independent Scotland.

The trouble is that is a promise he can't keep because the military shipbuilding and where orders are placed are a matter for Westminster.

It is and always will be a political decision.

For over 50 years, no military warship has been built outside the UK.

The policy is built in Britain, not just for strategic concerns but economic and political.

It is a lie to say that the Royal Navy will build in a foreign country or that Alex Salmond can guarantee anything with regard to Westminster procurement, it is a stupid lie to be caught out on. 

His stance puts him at odds with Defence ­Secretary Philip Hammond.

When asked by shipbuilder Alex Logan from Port Glasgow, Inverclyde, if he could guarantee the shipbuilding industry would continue long-term in Scotland, Mr Salmond replied:

"Yes, it will. The Royal Navy will continue to order ships from Scottish yards based on (the fact) that these are the best places to produce these vessels."

An independent Scotland couldn't sustain military shipbuilding, both Govan and Scotstoun shipyards would go to the wall, be under no illusions about that fact. It doesn't matter a jot that Govan and Scotstoun are the best places to build. The driver of events is protection of jobs, and Portsmouth would be the first port of call for any new contracts, and let's be clear, you can import skilled labour.

The UK Government made Scotland a priority at the expense of Portsmouth, a political decision based on the referendum. If Scotland was independent that help and preference would dry up rather quickly.

Salmond is rattled, his 30 minute Conference speech is a sign of a man who doesn't have a vision, his speeches at the STUC in Dundee to hit back at the Westminster Government is another example of how he has been caught out.

He wants Scottish independence, but he never planned for Scottish independence.

The SNP made much of their 80 years, 80 years without a plan.


Interestingly Salmond also let slip that he would diversification to retain shipbuilding.

This is an admission that he doesn't have an order to sustain the Scottish yards, he is banking on a renewables revolution, a market heavily subsidised also from down south, that's English money to you and me.

In an independent Scotland, that money wouldn't be available either.

His line that because there won't be Trident, the Scottish Government "would be buying more in terms of procurement than we are presently" is risible.

Can you defend a country with half a type 26 warship?

Salmond added:

"It would, therefore, be ridiculous to try to put up a defence flow barrier and there would be no reason for it whatsoever as it would be cutting off noses to spite faces."

Building in Portsmouth isn't cutting off noses to spite faces, it is protecting UK jobs.

The Defence Secretary made his pitch at the French defence firm Thales in Glasgow.

Why are Thales in Glasgow?

They are in Glasgow because it ticks a lot of boxes such as being plugged into the UK defence procurement set up.

In Scotland there is said to be 12,600 people employed in various capacities in the defence sector that has lead to generated sales in excess of £1.8 billion.

In an independent Scotland, sales in excess of £1.8 billion wouldn't be possible, many firms would relocate in the wider market that is the UK. Scotland wouldn't have a defence force of note, and the budget is pegged by the SNP at around £2.5 billion, subtract that from £1.8 billion and that leaves £700 million, a fast jet costs about £100 million and upwards. Then you have all the additional costs of other items, and of course wages etc etc, the sums like other SNP policies appear to be lacking in substance. 

Hammond made the point that the Ministry of Defence bought much of its capability from within Britain, not for reasons of sentimentality, but for strategic control, security and resilience in times of conflict.

But the bottom line is always political.

Hammond added:

"If we were to separate, then the future of the defence industry in Scotland that depends on MoD orders will be put at risk. The future of sites such as this would be clearly ­jeopardised and the assertion by the nationalists that they would generate in Scotland's own defence forces the orders that would keep our shipyards going, that would sustain plants like this, is simply not credible when you look at the numbers."

But to show that the defence secretary didn't have smooth sailing, one Thales staff member, Daniel McGee said:

"I feel aggrieved that you've come up here and seem to be quite threatening; that our jobs will go."

This is a market economy; Thales would go south, because it is better being in a 90% UK budget procurement market than a 100% Scottish market.

Mr. McGee may not like reality, but reality dictates that defence is better under the UK system than any proposed Scottish one.

How much more unhappy would he be if Thales up sticks and left?

You might not like the message, but it is dressed up as fantasy.

In a week which saw the miltary speak out, First Sea Lord Admiral Sir George Zambellas became the first senior serving officer to voice grave concerns about independence.

He warned that a Yes vote would damage Britain's maritime defence capability.

We are talking Trident here, and the SNP's failed anti Nuclear policy of removal, Faslane isn't just a place to tie up the nuclear subs to support the local economy with servicemen and women using the shops as the SNP would have you believe that is what defence is about.

Faslane sits in a key area, the SNP misjudged the situation, going pro Nato for a vote cache and bottling it on nuclear. Everyone doesn't want nuclear war, everyone is against it, but in the war, there are people who have nuclear weapons who cannot be trusted.

We cannot give up nuclear weapons and we cannot un-invent them.

The SNP ran with their failed anti nuclear policy for 30 years at every Westminster election and got humped senseless.

So far about a dozen high-ranking former military chiefs have said removing Trident from Scotland would cast a "dark shadow" over an independent Scotland's reception on the world stage.

They are probably right; Nato isn't interested in having a member state ignore Nato protocols on nuclear weapons.

If there was a time to bite the bullet, then Alex Salmond missed his chance.

Angus Robertson, the SNP's defence spokesman has been running long running grievance campaign as he claimed Scotland had "already been stripped bare of conventional naval capability by Westminster's cuts".

This about service people living in Scotland putting money into the local economy, in his mind, our forces couldn't go to war because they are needed to support 'wee jimmy's' pie shop!

UK defence isn't based on that model, it has to be based on security concerns, something that appears to escape Angus Robertson.

In fact the SNP cares so much about Scottish soldiers, that Scotland's 'jolly fat man' doesn't visit servicemen overseas in operational areas.

No, he is a £2,900 a night hotels nearby with Egyptian cotton sheets kinda guy.

Colonel Stuart ­Crawford advises the SNP on defence matters, said an independent Scotland would be more than capable of running its own armed forces.

What does he base that on?

Not ever going operational?

A Scottish defence force would need military experience at an operational level, that mean putting people in harm's way whether it is using Nato or UN peacekeeping duties. Operational experience costs money, would this be available in the Scottish Government defence budget?

Who knows the answers to that question, not Alex Salmond and we can safely leave Englishman Angus Robertson out of big thinking.

Where is the expertise in the Scottish Government?

John Lamont for the Scottish Conservatives said it was stretching credibility for Salmond to suggest Royal Navy warships would continue to be built on the Clyde.

He added:

"The First Minister would rather rely on bluster and assertion than be straight with the people of Scotland."

Sir Menzies ­Campbell, for the Scottish Liberal Democrats used a standard line that all the evidence showed Scotland was "safer and more secure as part of the UK family."

If Alex Salmond wishes to continue making false promises that he cannot deliver, he is not only lying to the people of Scotland but he is lying to his own supporters. After the independence defeat in September, people should speak out and demanded his resignation and that of unpopular Nicola Sturgeon as leaders.

Salmond will have his day in the Sun, but after that night will fall for him and his miserable little clique. 18th September is the Death of Nationalism Day in Scotland, Alex Salmond had his chance.

He chose lies and deceit, a remarkable stupid little man who killed his own independence campaign.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University


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