Rum, sodomy, and the lash

It’s another of Project Fear’s carefully coordinated frightnights. It’s another drive-by Tory. This time it’s Tory Defence Minister Philip Hammond, again. Phil has come to Scotland to make a positive case for the Union, which consists of positively telling defence workers in Glasgow that they’re positively going to lose their jobs. Phil represents a Parliament which has already cost Scotland some 10,000 defence jobs. 40% of UK defence cuts have hit Scotland. But these were positive unionist cuts, so don’t really count and it’s just negative nationalist scaremongering to call attention to damage which has already happened.

Phil was supported in his headlong retreat from answering questions by covering fire from First Lord of the Admiralty Admiral Sir George Zambellas, who’s been needing something to do as he’s one of the 40 admirals in a navy which efficiently has half that number of warships and he keeps getting his socks wet when he sets sail on a desk. So George decided that it was a jolly roger of an idea to stick his oar into a political debate, and to tell the people who pay his wages and who therefore outrank him – that would be us – how to vote. Admiral George warned that Scottish independence would “weaken the effectiveness” of the Royal Navy, possibly by creating a situation where the navy’s 40 admirals have only 18 ships which would be ridiculously inefficient because then they don’t even get a half a boat each. And to make matters worse the cost overruns and delays on the MoD’s Amphibious Desk project are horrendous, but there are plans to use a couple of aircraft carriers they can’t afford planes for.

You can be certain that a military man didn’t invade a subject outside his job description without orders, or at the very least some strongly supportive suggestions nods and winks, from someone higher up the foodchain.

Many of us on the pro-independence side had already accused the No campaign of politicising the armed forces with their celebrations of D-Day and WW1 flag waving jamboree only to be told that we were being insane conspiracy theorists or deeply cynical miserabilists. And that last part would be true, because we’ve seen plenty in the way of cynical miserabilism from Westminster, so we’ve learned on the lap of the masters. But they can’t deny it now. With Admiral George’s intervention, there can be no argument that the British Goverment and Better Together will cheerfully politicise and subvert any institution in an effort to keep Westminster’s gravy boat afloat, up to and included the armed forces. And as such, it’s yet another reason why Scotland needs independence. I don’t want my public institutions perverted in this way.

Admiral George said Scottish independence wouldn’t be good for the rest of the UK although they’d get over it just as soon as the desk was watertight – but it would be dire for Scotland with the protection of no naval patrol vessels at all until the Scottish government could acquire some. Though how this would be worse than the situation we have under the Union where there are no naval patrol vessels based in Scotland and little prospect of getting any, George didn’t elucidate.

George thinks that Scotland’s independence would be a direct threat to the Royal Navy, which the First Lord of the Admiralty assures us has an unparalleled reputation and tradition. You won’t get that anywhere else apparently. Although Winston Churchill, who was also once First Lord of the Admiralty, reputedly once summed up these traditions as rum, sodomy, and the lash, which aren’t really that hard to find at all. As I recall, all are freely available on bondage nights in a number of the more niche market clubs and bars.

But in the case of Scotland, the equivalent would be taking our whisky revenues, shafting us, and threatening us with abuse if we try to leave. Now we know where Better Together got its navigation skills from, which explains why their campaign is now going full steam ahead like an Astute class submarine stuck on a rock off Skye.

Phil Hammond, who’s on drive-by duty this week, and who is looking more and more like the anonymous clype who shot his mouth off to a Guardian reporter and holed Better Together’s currency threat below the waterline, wanted to assure us that if there is a yes vote, absolutely nothing would be off the table in subsequent negotiations. Which was a not so coded way of saying “Please please please don’t do a bedroom tax on Trident, because we’ll pay more rent so it can stay. Look, here’s a shiny currency union.” Although he later swore blind that he didn’t mention a currency union as he was away in America at the time. And Alistair Darling had been on the phone again.

Naturally, being a Tory and a Unionist, Phil thinks any negotiations with Scotland would be immensely complex and difficult. We shouldn’t be surprised by that, Tories find everything to do with Scotland complex and difficult, as they are demonstrating with their ham fisted attempts to reach out to a Scottish electorate. Phil, who wasn’t scaremongering at all, said:

“Because if they insist that [Trident] has to go, there would have to be complex talks about the costs and timescales involved. Any notion that it would be quick and easy is just plain wrong.”

Saying it would not be quick or easy is a half truth, as Phil knows all too well because he may be many things, but he’s not that stupid. Spain negotiated the removal of the US Polaris nuclear missiles and subs from the American naval base at Rota in Andalusia. Agreement on removal was reached in 1976, not long after the death of Franco, and the nukes were adios by 1979. It took just 3 years from the opening of negotiations with the USA to the removal of weapons of mass destruction from Spain. So the process of removal is indeed relatively quick and easy, or at least it will be for Scotland.

Of course the USA had somewhere else to put their nuclear strap on dildoes, sorry, defence assets, the rUK doesn’t. So it’s not actually going to be quick and easy after all. It’s just that it’s the rUK that’s it’s not going to be quick and easy for, not Scotland. Scotland’s negotiating stance is easy to articulate. It’s: “That’s your problem pal”.

Talks about the costs are equally quick and easy for Scotland. They’re Westminster’s nukes, and if Westminster wants to keep them then Westminster can pay the removal costs. Otherwise we just make a wee call to the UN’s version of the cooncil binmen, and tell them we’ve got some nukes we’d like collected on Thursday. They were left behind by an antisocial lodger who we evicted.

The cost of a new base comes under “that’s your problem pal” too. Although no doubt a Unionist politician will pop up sooner or later to insist that Scotland has a moral duty to contribute financially to the most immoral weapon in the history of humanity. They don’t really do self awareness in Westminster.

However notionally some 8.4% of Trident belongs to Scotland, so theoretically Scotland could offset its share of any removal costs by giving Westminster the 8.4% share. But there will be the costs of cleaning up the mess the MoD will leave behind at Faslane and Coulport, so we’ll be expecting some compensation. Our 8.4% share of Trident may cover it, but it may not. The clean up afterwards may take years, but that depends on just how much radioactive contamination the MoD will leave behind. Currently they’re not for telling.

After independence we’ll find out just how much damage they’ve done. Since the MoD managed to contaminate a beach in Dalgety Bay for hundreds of years to come with just some glow in the dark paint, it’s sobering to consider just how much dangerous waste they may have spilled or lost track of when they’ve been dealing with yer actual nuclear warheads and nuclear powered submarines.

The current anger over Trident will be a wee tsk and an indulgent “och whit are you like” compared to the particle-storm of gamma rayed fury which will explode against the MoD when Scotland finds out just how much glow in the dark crap they’ve left in our land and our seas. The present bunch of Westminster incompetents are in no small part motivated by a desire to keep Trident in Scotland at least until they’ve safely retired to a seat in the Lords and some cushy directorships. Then they can escape the fall out.

So it’s not Scotland that’s been got over the barrel of a Trident missile Phil, that would be you. What dirty little career ending embarrassments is the MoD hiding under the cover of national security? Independence means they’ll be found out.

That said, there may be the glimmerings of a deal. But it’s not a question of how much Scotland is going to have to pay Westminster for the removal of Trident, it’s a question of how much Westminster is going to have to pay Scotland. For starters, Westminster can stop pissing us around with currency union threats, EU threats and Eurovision threats, see sense on debts and assets, and Scotland might just give Westminster a short, limited, and tightly supervised period of grace in which to move its WMDs. But only if they start acting like grown ups and not like petulant pettit lipped weans who’ve been too used to getting their own way. Or we can get rid of the nukes the day after independence. It’s your call Phil.

But there are very many in Scotland who would not be at all happy with even the shortest period of grace – like me for starters – so Phil and Admiral George can rest assured a Scottish Government will be expected to extract a very high price for it. Because it will be the people of Scotland who are holding the lash. Won’t that be a novelty.



0 thoughts on “Rum, sodomy, and the lash

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  2. The Trident submarines and warheads are effectively the UK’s small contribution towards America’s nuclear arsenal; the missiles are owned by America and leased to the UK. If Westminster cannot bear to part with them, they could arrange to base them in America, alongside America’s nuclear submarines, at least until they can provide an alternative base in England or Wales.

    Also, I would like to see the the decommissioned nuclear submarines removed from Rosyth. If they can be left so close to a major city, surely a place could be found for them in the Thames Estuary?

  3. ‘Course in all this cataclysmic carnage of galactic proportions which will be visited upon an independent and defenceless Scotland, it seems to have escaped the attention Mr Hammond and Captain Pugwash that there is another more positive side to the story.

    Heaven forfend that others have a different view of how to conduct themselves on the world stage. 😉

    • Thank you for that Macart, though I have to say my thoughts on Westminster and how it will view Scottish Independence may not be as rosy as the SG would have it. They are a bunch of pettit weans indeed as the Wee Ginger Dug would have it. They will do anything to scupper our interests.

      • Again its not really their job to admit that the SG has done any work on defence, and if pushed to admit there is a case, then its their job to rubbish it. However contrary to popular media opinion I reckon this is one where Westminster and BT are weak. The current record of the MOD is a howler from Nimrod on down. The carriers without aircraft is a classic example of procurement carnage. Dalgetty Bay, Rosyth, Kinloss and Leuchars stramash, the amalgamation of the Scottish regiments and downsizing. Its one long list of carnage to the Scottish defence footprint and washing their hands of the crap they leave behind.

        They have neither the professional or moral high ground to preach to others about how a defence stance should be composed or conducted.

  4. The Faslane base and everything based there is a UK asset. So, presumably, like all other UK assets that are firmly grounded in Scottish territory, Scotland would get all of it.

    So unless they happen to move Trident out of there before we go independant, Scotland doesn’t get an 8-point-whatever population share of Trident, we get all of it, since it’s on a Scottish military base. You wouldn’t be arguing that we get an 8-point-whatever share of the trucks or fuel in Faslane, why should it be any different for the other vehicles and supplies?

    (And since Scotland’s been a net contributor to the UKs finances, a population share of assets doesn’t seem fair anyway)

    • It’s a very interesting point, this. Someone on another board pointed out to me this is what happened with the USSR’s nuclear weapons that were left in Ukraine. It just didn’t occur to me.

  5. Besides an over abundance of Admirals in the royal Navy, UK also has 500 Generals in the army, 4 times the number the USA has. If you can bear to listen to dear Andrew Marr (and our prestigous historian, Rory Stewart, is also a guest, a bonus) you will hear Frank Ledwidge, author of “Losing Small Wars”, describing the situation around 8.9 minutes here

  6. Paul excellent article again.

    However I think you over looked the Holy loch shambles the good old USN left for HMG & MOD, when it pulled out of there at short notice.

    HMG has the responsibility for the clean up of the bed of the loch which the yanks used as a dump. What was dumped there is unknown, but MOD decided it was safer to leave it undisturbed. What you don’t know won’t do you any harm, out of sight out of mind. Believe it is still classified as a foul anchorage.

    Anybody who has worked with USN will tell you how open, conscientious and truthful they are, some of the time.

    I think the MOD hope if we don’t talk about it maybe the daft jocks will forget about it, just like HMG.

    I think they started a survey to try and establish what was down there, don’t think they finished the survey for some unknown reason?

    • That was not quite how it was. After the US Navy left, the MOD said they wanted to clear the rubbish from the bed of the Holy Loch, some of which dated back to when it was a Royal Navy base during WW2. They claimed that it was better removed and it was their responsibility, not the US’s to remove it. The MOD also said that the bill for the clean up was their responsibility.

      I was the local councillor at the time and I looked into the safety implications of this operation for the population of the area and, after taking a lot of advice from marine scientists in a number of countries, came to the conclusion that removing it posed a greater danger than leaving it. This was nothing to do with the nature of the rubbish. Almost the whole of the Upper Clyde area had, at some time in the past, been contaminated by radioactivity from the reactor of a nuclear submarine. Whether it was a US or RN sub I do not know. I cannot now remember the exact contamination but it was definitely of submarine reactor origin.

      The survey was conducted at my request, but the company who did the survey were the same company who had been engaged to do the clean up so I did not believe their results would have been honest and objective.

      In the Holy Loch, the sedimentation rate was very high, about 1-2 cm/year. This meant that the contamination was now buried about 20cm below the surface of the sea bed and, as it was never going to be cleaned up because of the scale of the contamination, 20cm down was a good place to leave it. The recovery of the rubbish would have raised the comtaminated silt and it would have been spread about on local beaches by currents.

      One of the reasons I was so concerned was that the Dunoon area had, and possibly still has, one of the highest rates of breast cancer in the world, yet no research had been done to find out why this was so. Many have suspicions about the causes and I did not want to risk this fresh contamination of the area.

      I also had suspicions about the motives of the MOD in insisting that they pay for the clean up. I was sure that they wished to set a precedent that the host nation pays in order to avoid the bill for clean ups of other areas which they had contaminated. Christmas Island nuclear tests was one example, as was the Australian desert at Woomera where a lot of weapons testing was carried out.

      I had the support of the local community but this seemed not to matter and the clean up went ahead. Whether it was done properly and completely or not, I have no idea. Nor do I expect to be told.

  7. I am certain that our northern neighbouring NATO allies will loan us naval vessels if required prior to the SDF getting up and running.
    NATO will also want to get us onboard as soon as possible to plug the current gap in the Iceland Scotland sea area.
    This will be especially true if Tsar Putin continues with his Russian expansion programme.

  8. How more clear do they have to be that they just want to ‘use’ Scotland on an ongoing basis? It’s clear to anyone with even half a brain that this is the case.They’re not even pretending any more

  9. Paul, your blog is top of my list of indyblogs! Always full of the most delicious satire and a pleasure to read.

    What a ballyhoo from the usual Establishment gadgies.

    The last paragraph gives me a delightful feeling at the thought of Scotland being in the position to tell Westminster what to do with the ineffectual object called Trident.

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  11. “As I recall, all are freely available on bondage nights in a number of the more niche market clubs and bars.”

    Are you able to supply the locations of these establishments?

    Poverty in Glasgow is endemic in some locales. Indeed, it has been so ingrained for so long that fetuses in the womb and neonates of both sexes, come into the world epigenetically predisposed to illness, mental disorders, and early death (recent Glasgow U study)*.

    The socio-economic blights that both plagued and defined Glasgow when I acted as gofer for Labour councillors half a century ago, are still present today.

    That span of fifty years also encompasses an arc of Labour’s hegemony in my home town. The more things change the more they stay the same in Labour controlled Glasgow.

    If Labour and the Union could not eliminate or at least substantively ameliorate these blights in fifty years, why should anyone believe they can fix them in the next fifty, or ever? The less charitable might conclude they have been in power far too long for any good they may have done.

    But hey, we can punch above our weight should Johnny-Foreigner ever get ideas above his station, have a permanent seat on the Security Council, and Scotland’s the envy of the world as part of the most successful union ever.

    What’s not to like?


  12. The other thing Phil seems to be forgetting is that as soon as we vote for independence, the retention in Scotland of these vile things becomes next to untenable since it becomes relatively easy for a foreign government (i.e. Scotland’s) to interfere with the UK’s supposedly independent nuclear deterrent. Purely on a risk assessment level, that must surely be unacceptable. What if we blockade the port, or mine the waters, or let the Chinese build an even bigger base next door with a nice overlook?

    I don’t think any of those things are remotely likely, but that they’re possible at all is the problem.

  13. Never mind David Cameron being the prime minister that loses the Union. Small beer compared to being the defence secretary that loses the permanent seat on the UN Security Council. Suspect that’s what driving Phil and the First Sea Lord.

    And how First Sea Lord George must look back a few years when the Royal Navy was a proper navy, like when the fleet assembled at Spithead for inspection by the new queen…

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