During the BBC’s broadcast debate on the Scottish referendum, held in Orkney, one gentleman in the audience asked if the Royal Navy would be able to use Scapa Flow in the event of independence. I presume he did not mean for scuttling purposes. At any rate, he did not receive an answer to an interesting question.
If the Queen is retained as head of state in a future independent Scotland, as seems to be the intention, Scotland’s navy would, like the Royal Australian Navy, become, presumably, the Royal Scottish Navy.
Its sailors would have their loyalty to the Queen, and sharing such allegiance, and being fellow members of Nato, would welcome RN ships into Scottish ports – unless they contained weapons of mass destruction.
This makes the Ministry of Defence’s threatened refusal to build in Scotland’s yards clearly negative and arbitrary.
These vessels could be jointly designed and the MoD should remind itself that the Clyde produced the great proportion of ships for the last two World Wars. Perhaps under better governance the yards might return to the high levels of competitiveness and innovation they enjoyed in their heyday.
This matter of a hereditary head of state has another great virtue: one may be as much against the government as one wishes without being a traitor to the Crown.
A good example was Winston Churchill excoriating the government before the Second World War without harm, because he was a well-known imperialist and hence royalist.
This tradition should be retained by an independent Scotland, though it brings along the last questions: should the joint Kingdom of Scotland and England be called the United Kingdoms, and should the Queen of Scots be Elizabeth I?
Iain WD Forde
I READ with interest Allan Massie’s article on the British nuclear deterrent (Perspective, 16 April).
He argues forcefully on the pros and cons of removing these weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) from Scotland. I find, however, his logic inconsistent, muddled and flawed.
The current Yes campaign does not argue that the British government should disarm unilaterally, only that it should be removed from Scotland. So there is no threat to Westminster’s toys being lost. The key issues here are simply cost and, more importantly, the fact that there is nowhere in the British Isles to where it could be moved. Northern Ireland? I think not. Wales? Err, no.
I suggest parking the submarines in the Thames. This would have the benefit of depressing property values as the locals realise that in the event of a first strike they are toast.
According to Allan Massie’s analysis, no-one has ever used WMDs. What could possibly go wrong? Oh, and while we are on the subject, could we have the test reactor in Dounreay removed as well? Westminster could find an industrial estate in Slough to take it, I’m sure.
In pre-referendum Scotland it is becoming nigh on impossible to tell the truth without being subjected to criticism.
Defence Secretary Philip Hammond was asked about the effects of Scotland deciding to separate on the livelihoods of Scotland-based workers in the industry (your report, 16 April).
He answered truthfully and factually and in measured tones, pointing out the certainty of severe job losses. Is there anyone with an operating brain, anywhere, who is unaware that this will be the case?
For stating these facts and truths, Mr Hammond was called “negative” and accused of using “emotional blackmail” and of “making threats”.
So for the pro-break-up side it would appear all that is acceptable is to make vague assertions and express fantasies, hopes and prayers as “facts”.
Telling the unvarnished truth is not allowed any more – it’s “negative” and “threatening”.
George Orwell’s nightmare of Newspeak is alive and well in Scotland today.
New Cut Rigg
Defence Secretary Philip Hammond’s intervention in the independence debate is more than a little hypocritical, especially given the reality of the damage the defence cuts inflicted by Westminster have had on Scotland.
Decisions at Westminster have seen Scotland stripped of military assets and serving personnel handed redundancy notices, with more than 11,000 defence jobs lost in Scotland in the past decade.
Yet while all of these deeply damaging cuts have been inflicted by Westminster, every one of the Westminster parties remains committed to wasting £100 billion on replacing Trident.
The first duty of any government is to protect its citizens, but the reality is that under the Union Scotland has already been stripped bare of conventional naval capability by Westminster’s cuts.
There are no ocean-going surface vessels based in Scotland and no maritime reconnaissance aircraft – that is an extraordinary and unacceptable gap, which has seen ships dispatched from the south of England to the Moray Firth in response to Russian naval activity.
That gap also means the UK is having to rely on Nato allies to help cover routine maritime patrol duties – a responsibility an independent Scotland will take more seriously.
The only way Scotland will be able to adequately defend itself is through independence, with a stronger armed forces north of the Border.
These forces, co-operating with those from the rest of the UK in areas of mutual interest, will collectively strengthen, not weaken, our impact.