Alex Massie

The Royal Navy vs the SNP

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Alex Salmond may argue that Scotland is "two thirds" of the way towards independence (though even if Salmond is correct that doesn't mean independence is necessarily imminent) but the Royal Navy doesn't seem to agree. In fact, the MoD must consider independence unlikely, otherwise why* would it be basing all of Britain's submarines at the Faslane naval base on the Clyde?

According to the latest plans, the Trafalgar class of subs will move from Devonport to Faslane by 2017 and the new Astute class submarines will also be based in Scotland.

The SNP's defence policy, of course, is a mess. The party is vehemently opposed to nuclear weapons and considers it outrageous (for reasons that remain mysterious) that the Vanguard class of nuclear submarines are currently based at Faslane. But they also welcome the transfer of the Trafalgar subs to Scotland and the promise of the extra jobs this will notionally produce. My old friend Angus Robertson, MP for Moray, was on the news tonight more or less arguing, I think, for shifting the nuclear subs to Devonport and moving the conventional* submarines to Faslane.

*OK, a conspiracy theory for the more rabid caste of Nationalist: the UK government is basing the subs in Scotland so that, along with, inter alia, 45 Commando in Arbroath, the RAF stations at Leuchars, Kinloss and Lossiemouth plus the army barracks at Fort George and elsewhere, these forces can garrison Scotland and frustrate her natural desire for independence. How much longer must Scotland be compelled to put up with the presence of troops from a foreign, occupying power? It all makes sense!

UPDATE: As several commenters chide me - correctly! - we don't have any "conventional" subs anymore. All of them are nuclear powered.

UPDATE 2: I'm actually unpersuaded that replacing Trident is a sensible allocation of already-stretched defence resources. But that's not the issue here and is, therefore, reserved for another day.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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Topics in this articlePoliticsroyal navyscotlandsnp