THE latest assertions from Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon regarding the security services of an independent Scotland border on the fatuous (your report, 29 January).
This would only cost somewhere in the region of £200 million, Ms Sturgeon assures us. The truth, however, is rather different because the figure she quotes refers to the running costs, not the costs incurred in setting up entirely new organisations and infrastructures.
Ms Sturgeon also states that, because we share an island, MI5 and MI6 would happily share their knowledge with the equivalent Scottish security services. Oh really? Who says so?
It would be fair to assume that the United States, which does actively co-operate with the British security services on a range of highly sensitive matters, would take a pretty dim view of sharing anything with a new, left-wing government actively seeking to remove nuclear weapons from the country it serves and, thereby, weakening the western alliance.
That being the case, then it may not be the straightforward secret-sharing shoo-in that Ms Sturgeon assumes.
As time steadily runs out and the referendum date looms closer, it becomes increasingly clear that the SNP is making up ill-thought out policies on the hoof. Let’s hope the public see beyond the smoke-and-mirror politics the Nationalists employ.
TREVOR Salmon’s analysis of the diplomatic service required by Scotland once she regains her independence (news analysis, 29 January) shows a lack of any evidence to support his claims on cost and potential recruitment problems.
As part of the UK, Scotland has around a 9 per cent pro indiviso share of the assets of the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office including its embassies, ambassadors’ residences, chanceries, consulates, etc. These invariably comprise the most expensive real estate in their host countries but few are fit for the purpose which a modern state requires to protect the interests of its citizens and enhance its international trade. Some states, such as Finland, have commissioned their own architects to design embassies to showcase their own country, and I understand that its embassy in Washington has won many awards and that it is acknowledged as a exemplar in this field.
Scotland’s share of the market value of the current UK embassy in Paris would fund several well equipped and Scottish embassies. Little Britain and Scotland will sell these assets and share the proceeds on a pro rata basis or Scotland will be paid an agreed amount based on their valuation for Little Britain to retain them.
I do not think that we need fear problems recruiting staff. I recall in 1995 being told by the head of chancery at the UK embassy in Brussels that nearly 30 per cent of total UK Foreign Office staff were Scottish, and I have not been aware of any attempt by the British establishment to discriminate against recruiting Scots since.
There is a significant well of ambitious and qualified Scots in the the UK Foreign, Defence and Security Services who will relish the prospect of developing these services for Scotland.
There’s a simple way to have a definitive answer: ask them!
AT LAST, a genuine jobs creation programme for a new Scottish state.
Presumably, as the Nationalists remain confident of winning the referendum, the SNP will soon be looking for prospective employees to set up MacSpooks from scratch, if they have not started already.
But how will they occupy themselves?
Spying on small vanguard parties who appoint themselves leaders of the working class, and who, er, have joined the Yes campaign? But not to worry. They would feel neglected if they were not spied on.
Then there’s the long list of people who signed up for the Better Together campaign – some of them might have subversive intent. Anyone ever made fun of Our Great Leader? Look out.
SO the Dear Leader plans for Scotland to have its own MI5 (your report, 29 January).
I always knew that they would eventually have to find a role for Sir Sean Connery, our favourite old spy, as a reward for his largesse, and Mr President was out of the question once the SNP decision to keep tugging the forelock to the Windsors had been taken.
I suppose that when Sir Sean heads up the service he’ll be known as “C”, which, coincidentally, was the designation of one of the UK’s first 20th C spy masters.
I wonder how Westminster will react to an infiltration of smooth-talking agents from the North?