‘Don’t expect a socialist paradise’ says former UK ambassador Sir William Patey

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SIR William Patey, the former British Ambassador to Afghanistan, has criticised Scottish independence, saying a separate Scotland would diminish Britain as a whole.

A Scot who has recently retired after a distinguished career as a diplomat, he has added his voice to the constitutional debate, saying that those who believe an independent Scotland would be a “socialist paradise” are “sadly disillusioned”.

The diplomat, educated at Trinity Academy, Edinburgh, and Dundee University, made his comments before he spoke at an international conference at Holyrood yesterday to discuss making parliaments more relevant.

“I’m a Scot but a Unionist,” Sir William said.

“I have invested a lot of my life in Britain. You get the arguments about what is Britishness and what is Scottishness, but together the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. We would all somehow be diminished if we have England, Wales and Scotland all separate. I just think, as Britain, we have got something to offer. It is not about empire or faded glory or anything.

“[There are] all the arguments about people thinking we will have a socialist paradise in Scotland if we just get rid of all those Tory MPs, but I think they will find themselves sadly disillusioned when they are just as dependent on foreign investment and all the other stuff that make countries have to make the compromises that they do. That’s a debate I will get involved in later.”

On Afghanistan, Sir William said that the US and the UK had to keep giving financial support to the Afghan government after troops are withdrawn.

“There is a danger, in fact it is a cast iron certainty, that if we didn’t pay the money, if the international community stopped supporting the Afghan government’s ability to fund its security forces, then they’d go and find other means of support and the soldiers would defect and go and join warlords who might pay them,” he said.

“My optimism is conditional on us continuing to pay the money five to ten years after our withdrawal.”

Washington has indicated that it is prepared to contribute £1.75 billion, with the remainder coming from Europe and other states, such as Japan and Australia, that are currently supporting the Nato mission.

The UK government says it is prepared to contribute £62.5 million to the fund, but there are concerns that other countries, such as France, are proving reluctant to maintain their involvement in Afghanistan beyond the 2014 deadline.