This is a short article on Independence and Defence based on one which I was asked to write for the Lanark Gazette. Apologies if it’s a bit short on radicalism – Lanark can only cope with a limited amount of rad!
Independence will give Scotland the opportunity to review what it is defending itself from and how best to do this. UK defence policy is still wedded to outmoded views of Britain as a world power defending an empire where the sun never sets. Defence policy in an independent Scotland will be about defending Scotland.
It is hard to see any scenario in which a foreign power would attempt to invade Scotland. Who would do this? England? Ireland? Norway? North Korea? However, we will need to be able to defend our land and offshore resources, so an independent Scotland will need sufficient naval and air force capability for this. This will not include expensive, unusable and immoral nuclear weapons. Trident makes Scotland a target, and scrapping it will save Scotland £100 bn over its lifetime and put an end to nuclear warheads routinely being transported through the streets of Lanarkshire. Faslane will become a base for Scotland’s conventional forces, and the money which would have been wasted on Trident will be spend on creating socially useful jobs.
As well as scrapping Trident, an independent Scotland will not need to be involved in other defence vanity projects such as aircraft carriers for which we cannot afford aircraft! Some will argue that UK defensive work keeps Clydeside’s ship yards in business, but recent orders have only been placed as a sop to the independence movement. Given how this has been received in Portsmouth and Devonport it’s unlikely that any more UK defence orders will be coming to Clydeside any time soon!
We will need some ground forces to protect our own territory and to help in global peacekeeping, but we will no longer put our men and women in harm’s way fighting illegal wars in other people’s countries. Our huge energy reserves mean that we have more than enough secure supplies to meet our needs without fighting over oil elsewhere.
As sign-up to the military is often high in areas of high unemployment we will make sure that peaceful jobs are available to everyone, and that military service is not seen as the only way of getting a job.
Instead of vainglorious ambitions of being a global power, Scotland will be able to invest in ensuring fuel and food security and defending our country against real threats such as cyberattack and terrorism. We will also work to address the global imbalance of power which is the root cause of many conflicts.
Finally an independent Scotland will have its own voice in Europe, the Commonwealth and other peaceful international alliances. These will not include nuclear military alliances such as NATO. Scotland will use its international influence to promote tolerance, understanding and peace.