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  • Union Problems
    Posted by Douglas Barrie 3:21 PM on Oct 20, 2009

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    While London’s pending strategic defense review looms large for British politicians of all hues – it is not the only strategic issue that may confront the next British Parliament.

    Just over 300-years after the Act of Union between England and Scotland in 1707, the stage may be being set for a final performance that will prove a jaggy issue for the defense of the realm.

    The Scottish National Party provides a minority government in the Scottish national parliament – the parliament has limited powers as a result of the introduction of devolved government - and intends to hold a referendum on independence by 2011. 

    With UK government elections to be held by no later than the first week in June 2010, the SNP is aiming to increase its share of the vote, to lend further credibility to the notion of a Scottish referendum.

    Scottish independence would provide military and industrial issues for both London and Edinburgh.

    In recent weeks the SNP has tried to be emollient about the impact of independence on defense matters, suggesting that besides insisting London takes its nuclear weaponry (in the shape of Trident) somewhere else, then the present military infrastructure north of the border could stay the same, to be shared between the two states.

    The army, navy and air force all have a substantial presence in Scotland. The air force, for instance has three air bases at Kinloss, Lossiemouth and Leuchars. BAE Systems has significant ship-building capacity.

    A former Labour government Secretary of State For Defense, Des Browne, earlier this month suggested that recent statement’s from the SNP on defense “appear to have been made up on the back of an envelope”. Labour and the SNP are the two main parties in the Scottish Parliament.

    During last week’s defense debate in the British Parliament, Labour MP Ian Davidson said that:” Let us proclaim what the SNP defense policy would mean. It would mean Leuchars no more, Lossiemouth no more, Rosyth no more, and the Clyde shipyards no more.

    “All those things would close under an independent Scotland. We have a responsibility to make clear to people here and elsewhere what devastating impact an independent Scotland would have on defense and defense jobs.”

    Davidson implicitly name checked the inspiration for his jibe – Scottish folk-rock combo The Proclaimers, who’s song “Letter From America” laments the loss industry from Scotland.

    Picture Credit Crown Copyright

    Tags: ar99, Scotland, defense, independence

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