General Sir Mike: Scotland safer in the UK than under independence
SCOTLAND is safer as part of the United Kingdom than it would be if it separated, the man who until recently headed the British Army has claimed.
General Sir Mike Jackson, who led Britain's armed forces into Iraq, made his claim on a programme marking ten years of devolution by BBC's Panorama last night.
His view was that a collective British force was more cost- effective and better able to defend the British Isles than if the UK was broken up.
"When it comes to external matters as opposed to internal – defence, security, foreign policy – then Scotland is better within the wider construct of the United Kingdom," he said.
He went on to add that the armed forces throughout the 300 years of Union were an example of how the four nations of Britain worked well as one.
It was a sentiment echoed in a speech by Scottish Secretary Jim Murphy last night.
"It is one army but it is also, when you look at it, a collection of warlike tribes who come together for common purpose," the general said.
"They come together with their own traditions. And that gives a great richness which reflects the societies whom they serve and from whom they recruit."
But the comments have angered Nationalists who argue that Sir Mike's last major command in Iraq was "a folly which Scotland got dragged into unnecessarily" and have since made the whole of the UK a target.
One Nationalist last night pointed out that the attempted bombing of Glasgow Airport showed just how perilous the situation had become north of the Border because of UK foreign policy which won little support in Scotland.
But they also believe that Scotland is less safe as part of the Union because of the nuclear weapons kept in the Clyde with the Trident submarines.
They believe that the existence of nuclear weapons north of the Border makes Scotland a target rather than protects it.
They point to the opposition to the weapons of mass destruction in Scotland among a majority of Westminster and Holyrood politicians, the general public and civic society and they argue that an independent Scotland would be able to axe Trident and its planned replacement.
Their case was yesterday strengthened in a report by former defence chief of staff Lord Guthrie who said that renewing Trident was wrong.
SNP defence spokesperson Angus Robertson said: "Trident is frankly obscene, and in the current economic climate it must be obvious that these resources should be better spent."
There have also been complaints in the past that the traditional Scots regiments have been diminished and virtually scrapped by UK army cuts.
The SNP has consistently argued that they would be able to use Scottish defence money on increasing the size of conventional forces if the country was independent.
Mr Robertson has also suggested that Scotland could have its own navy based in the Clyde, which could co-operate with UK forces across the Border.
An SNP spokesman added: "Scotland's constitutional future is something that we believe the people should decide not any one individual."
He added: "We believe our future is best served as part of the Partnership for Peace, which includes countries like Austria, Ireland, Finland and Sweden.
"Nobody could pretend that these countries are unsafe or lack in security."
LABOUR blundered in the 1990s by allowing the SNP to "monopolise" the saltire, a minister admitted today.
Scots Secretary Jim Murphy said his party had allowed it to be co-opted as "an image of nationalism".
He said Labour had repeated its mistake of the 1980s when it had allowed Margaret Thatcher to "claim the mantle of patriotism" and wrap herself in the Union flag. He made the admission in a speech in Stirling which sought to reclaim the saltire and to argue there was no contradiction between Scots and British identities.
"All of us – across political parties and across civic Scotland – should challenge the notion that Scottishness belongs to any one political party," he said.
Independence takes a back seat because of devolution
SUPPORT for independence has plummeted in the ten years since devolution began a new poll has revealed.
The ICM poll of more than 1,000 Scots has shown that just 28 per cent back independence with 69 per cent preferring a form of devolution.
Ten years ago support for independence was at 47 per cent. Other questions revealed that 62 per cent want Holyrood to have more tax raising powers but 63 per cent are opposed to MSPs having more say on defence and foreign policy.
But when it comes to pensions 65 per cent were in favour of the Scottish Parliament being responsible instead of Westminster.
The polls have been taken as a boost for those who support devolution in Scotland and the Calman Commission proposals to improve it.
It also appeared to be bad news for the Nationalists who have seen backing for independence fall.
However, the Nationalists seized on the results of another question which showed that 55 per cent polled believed if Holyrood were to get more powers then there should be a referendum.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: "This is solid support from the people of Scotland for the position that changes to the current funding system require approval by referendum."
He called on the unionist parties to support a referendum on independence next year.
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Sunday 19 May 2013
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