07 November 2013

Stick or twist?

The deal on the naval shipyards poses a problem for the SNP.  The Guardian sets it out somewhat brutally:
Vote no to independence, and Scotland's shipyards can continue to get new orders from the UK Ministry of Defence, and be in pole position for the construction of the Royal Navy's new frigate later this decade. Vote yes, and the Scottish yards are likely to suffer the same fate as Portsmouth, with thousands of job losses in areas of already high unemployment.
And looming above the shipyard question is Trident.  The nationalists are apparently determined to banish the so-called nuclear deterrent from Scottish shores, whereas a London administration is equally determined on its retention.  Throw in the fact but there is nowhere else in the UK where it can be feasibly based, and there emerges an impasse which would be central to negotiations following a yes vote.

Nor can the SNP leave the issue on the shelf during the run-up to the referendum.  Can the Scottish people be expected to vote for independence under the implied threat of massive job losses at defence establishments if the SNP insists on telling London where it can stick its nuclear submarines?  On the other hand, would it be possible for the nationalists to undermine a central plank of their appeal by offering some kind of deal whereby a foreign power in the shape of the London administration could keep its nuclear bases in Scotland, even if such a deal opened up the possibility of better treatment for Scottish shipyards and other military establishments and of longer-term co-operation between Edinburgh and London on defence matters?

It’s a difficult choice ...

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