For a while now, two political forces have been merging in
that of Britain's
nuclear weapons programme and the Scottish nationalist cause. All of the United
Kingdom's nuclear arsenal is currently
stationed in Scotland
at HMNB Clyde, the Royal Navy's Faslane base on the Firth of Clyde. The ruling
Scottish Nationalist Party are intractably opposed to this, as are most of the
Scottish public, seeing themselves as a "human shield" for any enemy
nuclear attack on Great Britain. They have already come close to their goal of
an independent Scotland in the recent referendum, see: http://hpanwo-radio.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/programme-104-podcast-scottish.html,
and it is likely there will be another devolution vote in the next few years
which could easily go YES, especially since the SNP gained a virtual political
monopoly north of the border at the last general election, see: http://hpanwo-voice.blogspot.co.uk/2015/05/general-election-result.html.
At the same time the UK
government is very keen to renew the Trident nuclear weapons system based at
Faslane. This is very controversial. A submarine-launched ballistic missile nuclear
deterrent system is extremely expensive and many people think it's an
extravagance when at the same time so many old people live in poverty and NHS
nurses are underpaid etc, and the government claim it has no money for them so
they have to live under "Austerity". If Scotland
goes independent then Trident will have to move from HMNB Clyde to a new
facility in England
or Wales which
will increase the cost of replacement by a large proportion, and add to the
dispute. And where will it move to? Your
backyard? Scottish independence will basically make replacing Trident
politically out of the question, see: http://hpanwo-voice.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/replacing-trident.html.
So why then has the chancellor George Osborne just announced a major refurbishment of the Faslane facilities? He is going to allocate half a billion pounds to constructing new jetties, a bigger dry dock and replacing the dockyard's sea wall. The work is due to begin in 2017. He says it's an "investment" that is all about "keeping
safe" in a "dangerous world". The country's Vanguard class ballistic missile
submarines supposedly represent a huge "insurance policy" against any
hostile foreign action. This will create over two thousand jobs, both naval and
civilian, and upgrade the Royal Navy within the NATO ranking. Osborne has been
attacked by Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish first minister and leader of the SNP.
She has called his plan "arrogant" because he has
"pre-empted" Parliament's decision on the replacement of Trident. Ms
Sturgeon has plans for Faslane as a non-nuclear naval base serving an
independent Scottish navy. She criticized Osborne for his hypocrisy; as I said
above, Westminster wants to flush
billions of pounds away on a useless nuclear deterrent while pensioners are
starving. She also brings up the irony that the UK
government has initiated huge defence cuts during the period that it has been
propping up Trident. There are not even any maritime patrol aircraft in the UK's
inventory and we have to rely on NATO allies for that role. Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-34101989.
I don't think Ms Sturgeon said everything she was thinking in her brief BBC
sound-bite interview. What the Westminster
government is actually doing is extremely devious. Osborne is hoping that the UK's
new financial commitment to the Faslane infrastructure will place both moral
and practical obstacles in the way of those in opposition to Trident renewal; also
for those in favour of Scottish independence. As I said above, the two issues
are intertwined. If the upgrades to Faslane are in progress, or complete, by
the time a second independence referendum is announced it will be a useful card
to play. It's a bit like living in a house with another person. You want to
move out, but your housemate doesn't. So while you head off to the estate
agents he calls in some builders to put a new extension on the back, paying
them a lot of your money to do so, in order to try and put you off moving.
George Osborne is a cunning and ruthless politician; no wonder he's done so
well in Cameron's cabinet.
See here for more details: http://hpanwo-voice.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/salmond-vs-darling-part-2.html.