NATO. Did SNP swap morality for pragmatism?

October 20, 2012

In common with everyone else with even a passing interest I have an opinion on NATO and on the SNP reversal of policy. I accept that the policy has been changed democratically within the party, but it is obvious to the dogs on the street that it would not have been so without the leadership pushing the case.

It is of course gratifying to see democratic debate in action, but the outcome leaves me a little bemused.

A policy which in opposition has been one of the hallmarks of the party, one which set it apart from others has been jettisoned for what? Have the leadership been wrong all these years, have we all been misled?  Or is it as some of the opposition would have it simply a calculation of referendum Yes votes won and lost on the issue?  The calculation has undoubtedly been that a solid Yes vote is not going to jump the dyke on the basis of a single issue- but an undecided who is a political passer by may well be soothed enough to know that nothing is going to change and there will be a few extra pounds (sic) in their pocket.

The calculation that Yes voters will not cross on a single issue may well be tactically correct. But it could be said that we are no longer talking about a single issue.

The other issues which have been afforded less democracy than the NATO question appear to have been set firm by being declared the settled will of the leadership.  Monarchy,Europe, Financial regulatory system/Currency- and that is before the real debate on detail has begun.

Declaring membership of NATO to be the plan may reduce international (read USA) opposition to Scottish independence, but it certainly will not remove it. The USA will of course be watching, and doubtless will have decided that an independent Scotland is not in their favour. The rest of UK will be weakened at least by virtue of reduction in population, which may well focus attention on the UN Security Council permanent membership. With South American countries clamouring for reform this would offer unwelcome opportunities to question the current system. The US will of course hold their tongues and not interfere in the internal workings of an ally- until at least they believe that their interests are affected. It is certain that they will make their feelings known and – pay back time- it is equally as certain that those feelings will be in tune with Westminster’s.

It is easy to wonder if the whole upheaval is going to be worth it if the institutions that we live under and the corrosive establishment which is formed around those institutions are to remain in place.

There is the saving grace that a vote for independence is not a vote for the SNP- It is simply a vote to elect a new independent government. This is the government that will be charged with creating the new Scotland. If there is a party ready to offer the alternative vision for Scotland, they should speak now or forever haud their wheesht.  Maybe this is the opportunity to separate SNP from the ownership of the YES campaign and begin to truly question what is possible. At present the Scottish people are being asked to vote in reality not for independence, but for a Scotland envisioned by the SNP.

It may be a gift to the NO camp to stop short of defining what Scotland is to be but those declaring a vision for Scotland are not the only people with a right to declare.

Michael Moore said shortly after the Holyrood elections indicated that there would be the opportunity for a referendum, that there should be two referendums. I still agree- The first to mandate negotiations for an independent Scotland and the second to approve the settlement with RUK.  It is during the period between first and second referendum that the shape of Scotland should be formed and presented to the people.  This is the scenario that the Single Decisive Question and the Binding Result are intended to prevent.  It is the most honest and democratic way of arriving at the true will of the people.

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