In a nutshell

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I must admit that I am glad neither Mr R Mill Irving (Letters, 6 July) nor SNP MP Angus Robertson (Letters, 5 July) will ever be in charge of defence of a separate Scotland, as neither seems to have the faintest idea about what ­defence means.

Despite a recent denial contained in these pages, 51 per cent of Scots backed renewal of Trident in a survey in May, because most people realise that our defence relies upon having a “big stick” – and they don’t come bigger – which, with unstable nuclear powers like Pakistan and North Korea around, necessitates such a deterrent, despite Mary McCabe’s wishful thinking (Letters, 9 July).

However, lest Messrs Mill Irving and Robertson still insist that any sort of joined-up policy on the defence of these islands is not necessary, allow me to agree with the perspicacious letter from Alexander McKay (8 July) regarding where a threat may come from.

Historically, wars often occur when the future looked set fair only a few years before. Internal political turmoil often results in external wars, as during the French revolution (within three years) and after the Nazis came to power in 1933, within six.

Recent wars in the Balkans are a case in point. Protests that “Europe” somehow guarantees our freedoms, as R Mill Irving maintains, are ridiculous.

If anything, Nato does and membership requires acceptance of its nuclear capacity, which the SNP will not give, therefore it would not be allowed to join.

Equally, defence assets have to be where they are most effective. That does not mean that they must be based in Scotland, as the SNP stridently and mistakenly­ ­insists. Threats can come from all over the world and, as we are all aware, increasingly, that includes the internet.

Defence is a global matter and disappearing into our own ­Caledonian shell is hardly going to help protect us.

Andrew HN Gray

Craiglea Drive


Alexander McKay (Letters, 8 July) is somewhat wide of the mark if he believes our nuclear deterrent has kept us safe for decades. Despite Britain having a submarine continuously at sea, the IRA has fought a vicious running battle since 1969 involving British forces.

Terrorists brought down a plane over Lockerbie, 7/7 brought London to a standstill and two terrorists attacked Glasgow Airport. The nuclear deterrent had one purpose: to provide a stand-off with the Warsaw Pact. Russia did not want to be invaded ever again and surrounded herself with buffer states.

The nuclear deterrent was designed as a weapon of retaliation should they attack but its use would have been after the 10,000-plus Warsaw Pact aircraft had overcome our Lightning interceptor aircraft whose state of readiness rarely meant we had more than 100 aircraft available to defend the homeland. There are two problems with our nuclear deterrent.

First, the countries Mr McKay mentions are unlikely to attack directly. It is much easier to mount attacks by proxy rather than to be internationally condemned by a direct attack. And at what level do you use nuclear retaliation? If a dirty bomb was set off in Britain how would we be able to detect the home country?

It is likely it would be vehicle-borne rather than a missile or aircraft-delivered weapon. We still do not know who was behind Lockerbie or which countries if any were involved in 9/11 and 7/7.

Secondly, any use of such a weapon would possibly see our political leaders being invited to the Hague on criminal charges.

Socially we have moved from the mindset where total destruction of civilian cities is acceptable. The world has moved on and while despots like Hitler still exist there are now other ways of dealing with them.

The real enemies are terrorist fundamentalists with a skewed view of society. They can only be countered by intelligence gathering. The world has moved on and since 1990 the nuclear deterrent has had no real enemy.

Now we would be much better spending on alleviating the real threats. One thing is clear and that is that Westminster’s present policy of interfering in other countries is counter-productive, increasing the risk of terrorism here. At least the Scottish Government realises this and is following the policy of the nearly 200 countries which do not see the need for excessive spending on pointless nuclear weapons.

Bruce D Skivington


Gairloch, Wester Ross