Lord Robertson of Port Ellen (Letters, 1 June) displays the Scottish inferiority complex so prevalent among unionists when he talks about the “start-up costs of creating a Scottish Foreign Office, a whole new diplomatic network of embassies, consulates and diplomats, as well as the huge costs of building a Scottish defence force”.
Let’s be clear: Scotland already “owns” 8.7 per cent of every UK embassy and consulate as well as 8.7 per cent of the diplomats and of the Foreign Office staff in London and, indeed, throughout the world. A simple leasing arrangement, with some quid pro quos on staffing, would seem to be all that is necessary.
In addition, Scotland “owns” 8.7 per cent of all the UK defence forces: that is 8.7 per cent of all of the Royal Air Force, navy, army and other military personnel; 8.7 per cent of the fighter aircraft and helicopters; 8.7 per cent of the surface ships, submarines and aircraft carriers; 8.7 per cent of all the tanks and APVs and of all the guns, ammunition, rockets, bombs and all of the other UK military equipment.
In addition, Scotland “owns” 8.7 per cent of all UK military buildings and land, including airports and dockyards. Last, Scotland “owns” 8.7 per cent of the Ministry of Defence, all its land and buildings and, of course, 8.7 per cent of all the staff housed in these buildings. That’s not a bad starting point.
Lord Robertson over- emphasises the cost of setting up a Scottish defence force, embassies etc. He fails to recognise that Scots already own their share of the UK’s assets, having paid their share of taxes and more than their share in blood.
I assume that Lord Robertson wants Scotland to accept a share of the UK’s liabilities. In that case, we will be due a corresponding share of the assets.
The starting-point of negotiations would probably be our percentage of population, or GDP. If we ended up with a smaller share of assets, we would be due a smaller share of the liabilities.
The Rest of the UK (rUK) would want to keep the large ships and the planes to fly from the carriers. Scotland would want two or three ocean patrol vessels, (but the Royal Navy only has four) some mine countermeasures vessels and other smaller ships. We would want maritime surveillance planes, but the RAF has none.
Clearly, the UK cannot give us our share of defence assets, so that would reduce our share of liabilities. Similarly, the rUK would owe us a share of its vast and expensive embassies etc, but might find it difficult to make a share available, and we would not need to be on the Champs Élysées in Paris. Again, we would be due a rebate on our share of the liabilities. We would do better to consider the cost of remaining in the near-bankrupt UK.
Lord Robertson is grossly insulting to Scots when he applies the word Balkanisation to the creation of an independent Scotland. It will not be seen as hostile to any other nation state or group.
I would remind my fellow Scots that, in his previous incarnation as George Robertson, he stated in 1995 that “devolution will kill Nationalism stone dead”. So, after such a prediction I do not think we Scots need take such a man’s thoughts on the future of Scotland too seriously. His avowal of the word “separation” is part and parcel of his old Labour Party credo; the word “independent” having been proscribed by the Scottish party.
Robert M Dunn