Margo MacDonald: MI5 must stay out of this democratic vote

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To pick up from where I left off last week, in case you thought I was going a bit funny . . . just because I am paranoid doesn’t mean MI5 spooks aren’t doing their very worst to get the ‘right’ result in the referendum for “Better Together”.

Scotland’s Justice Minister Kenny MacAskill, using the full status of his office, has followed where the answers to my parliamentary questions on the spooks has led. I am happy to say Mr MacAskill got it right this time.

He wrote to the Home Secretary Theresa May for an assurance that the unknown number of men and women answerable to her through the MI5 security service would take no part in the Scottish referendum campaign.

After all both sides in the Scottish referendum have equal rights as British citizens for the moment anyway.

I don’t imagine any of us are naive enough to believe that there should be no such thing as a secret security service like MI5. Every country has to protect its own interests, part of this task requires knowledge or ­intelligence on how a state’s ­opponents are organizing against it. Therefore I have no quibble about there being an MI5, but I do ­question its role in a referendum contested by democrats, all of whom have ­contributed towards its upkeep and should expect to have an equal ­consideration of their point of view.

Why was I so sure that London- based spooks are here? Well, I went to the history book rather than the crystal ball. To be forewarned on the likely pattern of events in the Scottish independence referendum is to be forearmed. In the 1979 referendum it’s fair to say the good guys, that is the Yes side, experienced the juggernaut effect of the entire British state mobilised against them. Even Her Majesty added her weight and status to the No side. Unsurprisingly she chose a well-publicised speech to both Houses of Parliament to remind us that she had been crowned Queen of a United Kingdom. It would have been useless then, and out of date now, to ask what difference that made to anything? Had the Scots wanted her and her successors then, as it would appear they do now, there is nothing in the rule books to prevent her being crowned Queen of both Kingdoms and taking as a title QE1 that reflected her status in Scotland.

But back to the history book – “The Defence Of The Realm: the Authorized History of MI5,” by Professor Christopher Andrew. This learned gentlemen, commissioned by MI5 to tell the truth, and if not quite the whole truth, certainly some truths that are safe to tell about the way Great Britain was defended against its enemies and opponents. For many people this meant the unseen cold war between the agents of East and West, but in reality MI5 also kept a listening brief on citizens such as Jack Jones the General Secretary of the T&GWU and our very own Mick McGahey, leader of the Scottish miners.

Somewhere in the inner sanctum of governments, because the same can be said for Labour and Tories when in power, it was decided that the ­policies voted on and supported by thousands of trade unionists were inimical to the national interest. So, MI5 was ordered to play its part to defend the good ­people of Great Britain against their fellow countrymen in the trade unions. Disgraceful. Something of a parallel nature is now being ­experienced by the Scots who wish to deconstruct the British state.

This should be no surprise, because as the authorized history shows, MI5 has bugged every independence movement of the last century. Old habits die hard; Sir Roy Welensky’s room in the Savoy Hotel in London was bugged during the negotiations to end the Central African Federation.

How do we know? The book tells us: in the privacy of his hotel room Welensky boasted “We pulled a fast one on the British Government.” “This was immediately relayed to me (by MI5) . . . so he was not so clever as he thought” – Prime Minister ­Macmillan.

Closer to home Mick McGahey was well known to the secrurity services having had his telephone bugged for years. The joke was Mick was probably winning because of the number of operatives who had cut their teeth listening in to Mrs McGahey’s “interminable” family phone calls, as reported in the book. I wonder if anyone is ­saying the same thing about me?

Inner Murray worth respect

After seeing the documentary on Andy Murray, The Man Behind the Racquet, I’ve developed a whole new layer of respect and liking for our hero. He is bearing up well in spite of the added weight of his fellow Scots’ and Brits’ expectations that he will do his duty by them and win Wimbledon.