Gillian Bowditch once suggested I go and live in Korea. It was meant as an 80’s style political put-down, not a travel tip. So I was less surprised to see her doggedly attempting to re-heat Theresa May’s widely ridiculed scare story about post-independence security for Scotland than I might have been (‘The Spying Game’, Sunday Times 3.11.13)
It tells us far more about the Squadron Volante of the British media’s inability to think outwith the current set of standards and values than it does about our future as a democratic country. It’s a mindset locked in the Cold War unable to shift beyond a hopeless agenda of fear and intimidation – but also, critically, unable to look at major recent events with any detachment.
Even Alex Massie called May’s contribution ‘pitiful’. He was over generous.
This weekend the Sunday Times was on full active service desperately trying to breath life into the Home Secretary’s Five Eyes attack, bringing in no less than Obama, re-worked presumably as dream-smasher and anti-hope purveyor, patented catchphrase: “No, We Can’t”.
Bowditch seems to inhabit a world where the British and American security services haven’t just been exposed on countless levels as operating illegally and working against the public interest and against international law. In a bizarre twist she manages to make Edward Snowden’s revelations NOT a reason to fundamentally reassess international relations and policies but a reason to question seeking sovereignty. The appalling treatment of David Miranda, the harassment of the Guardian and the wholesale attack on civil liberties of people throughout Europe doesn’t merit a mention. Nor does she seem aware of the real problems associated with the Five Eyes programme the consequences of which your being ask to collude with your own ‘disappearance’.
Bowditch cites a slew of high-powered and highly dodgy top spooks, academics and Tories to back up her story but it remains deeply unconvincing. This all stems from the ongoing failure of the unionist mindset to see beyond a state where Britain desperately clings on to the notion of ‘global influence’.
She cites Philips O Brien, convenor of ‘Glasgow University’s Global Security Network‘:
People are waking up to the reality that if you break up the UK, you are posing some very profound questions. Initially it may have been viewed as a rather parochial issue but what people are realising now is that it could have profound implications for world security bodies and how they operate.
Next up was none other than Lt-General Sir Alistair Irwin: “The question is whether the defence force it (an independent Scotland) could create would be a defence force that would be adequate to the purpose of providing the necessary security and protection for the people of Scotland and its interests abroad.”
The key words in that sentence are the last two.
Last up is Andrew Fulton, chair of the Scottish Conservative party – a ‘former diplomat’ – who tells us: “Technically, Theresa May is correct.”
Bowditch fails to tell us that Fulton was among dozens of MI6 officers named by the rebel Richard Tomlinson in 1999. Her omission of detail about the Rothesay born ‘diplomat’ is telling.
Asking Fulton and ex-military people about security is an appeal to an authority they don’t have. It’s a self-fulfilling set of questions to the ennobled few.
Here’s our top five reasons why the very best thing that Scotland could do is break with the British State and start afresh with an entirely different set of security priorities:
1. Our Special Relationship
The rock of our security system has been since WW2 the ‘special relationship’ now desperately tainted by US rogue activities over a forty year period. Take your pick. Involving doctors in torture for the CIA is topical.
2. Extraordinary Rendition
British State collusion with extraordinary rendition (or kidnapping if you prefer) is one standout case that Bowditch seems unaware of. The Lord Advocate is exploring claims that Glasgow, Edinburgh, Prestwick, Wick, Inverness and Aberdeen could all have been used. A chance to step aside from such barbaric and illegal activities should be grasped by any right-minded democrat.
3. Police Accountability
The last few years has seen an explosion of evidence of the British Police forces being out of control, whether you measure that by the revelations of the Leveson Inquiry, the litany of abuses including Iain Tomlinson or the expose of people like Mark Kennedy.
It is impossible to demarcate between security services and the police – as witnessed by the news that we now have a national police unit that uses undercover officers to spy on political groups which is currently monitoring almost 9,000 people it has deemed “domestic extremists”.
Revelations from the off-message former Ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray lifted the lid on extraordinary FCO behavior – are these perhaps the ‘interests abroad’ that Sir Alistair Irwin worries about?
Marcus Williams has written: “Murray believes that the close collaboration between the UK and US intelligence services – and the resulting pressure from the US on the UK not to step out of line – is one of the reasons for the toleration of torture in Uzbekistan. This is underpinned by the widespread media silence on the issue, which he believes is a deliberate policy. One of the things that perplexes him is why more people don’t know about the intelligence sharing agreement between the UK and the US, which allows the UK to share the profits of torture and which uses extraordinary rendition to countries like Uzbekistan to get it.”
Murray himself has commented on the efforts of Darling and May: “I worked in multilateral negotiations in both the UN and EU and found colleagues from countries like Ireland, the Netherlands and Canada to be professional competent and influential. The Scots certainly can be all of those. Small countries contribute to policy, to peacekeeping and to humanitarian effort. This latest bit of unionist nonsense is contemptible.”
Finally, if you are seriously making a case for being tied to British security and foreign policies you have to at least be able to say something about how its going. So are our recent foreign policy adventures, in say Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Libya something to crow about? Did they bring peace and security to us or to the peoples of these countries?
The Sunday Times story leaves a bad taste in the mouth but it also raises some serious questions:
Would we be left ‘out in the cold’? What does this actually mean? In who’s interests do our security services actually work? Why would Scotland be uniquely incapable of running their own affairs and establishing a code of standards to which we could be proud, instead of quietly ashamed.
Read Liberty on the UK and Extraordinary Rendition here: http://www.liberty-human-rights.org.uk/human-rights/torture/extraordinary-rendition/