Guardian ‘Comment is Free’ piece on the SNP, NATO and nuclear weapons

I’ve a piece in today’s Guardian Comment is Free following the close vote at the SNP’s conference in Perth in favour of an independent Scotland joining NATO.   The text of the resolution proposed by Angus Robertson MP and Angus MacNeil MP is here (but not, it seems, on the SNP’s own website).  The vote has been accompanied by declarations – by Alex Salmond on the Andrew Marr Show, and by a vote due at the party’s next National Council meeting – that not only would an independent Scotland be non-nuclear, it would positively outlaw nuclear weapons.  This is a problematic policy for the SNP, as NATO is innately a nuclear alliance.  Its ‘strategic concept’ emphasises that, ‘as long as there are nuclear weapons in the world, NATO will remain a nuclear Alliance.’  Membership of NATO would necessarily mean sheltering under the Alliance’s nuclear umbrella, through its mutual defence guarantees, and that would mean those weapons would be on NATO vessels that might sail in Scottish waters (or perhaps fly in Scottish airspace) even if they were never based in Scotland.  Then, of course, there are the issues relating to the UK’s nuclear bases on the Clyde.

The Guardian piece – available here – discusses the vote at Perth and wider issues about nuclear weapons, both for an independent Scotland and in relation to referendum campaign strategies.

It’s also worth noting that the Royal United Services Institute published a paper A’the Blue Bonnets: Defending an Independent Scotland by Stewart Crawford (a former British Army officer and SNP candidate) and Richard Marsh, an economist, last week.  The paper considers the defence needs of an independent Scotland, and what its defence policy might look like.  There’s a news release here, and the paper itself can be found here.  It’s part of a wider programme of work by RUSI on Scotland and defence, which can be found here.

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Filed under Implications of Scottish independence, Intergovernmental relations, Policy issues, Referendums, Scotland, Scottish independence, SNP

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