Proposer of the policy and General Secretary of the Alba Party, Chris McEleny, argues that the Defence footprint in Scotland is of massive value and strategic importance.
McEleny also argues that the size, format and capability of the Scottish Defence Force would be primarily based on naval forces and coastal defence.
He gave the following reasons:
· The size of Territorial waters and EEZ.
· The impact of climate change on the opening of new sea routes with the melting of ice caps in the Arctic Ocean.
· The need to patrol and enforce Scottish fishing rights and protect offshore assets in both hydrocarbons and renewables.
Scotland would support the ‘peaceful common good’
This comes after the party held a National Assembly conference on Defence and Security and Nuclear Disarmament, which allowed party members and the wider public to listen to expert opinion as well as debate their own views on Defence and Security policy in an independent Scotland.
In a press release emailed to me earlier this month, the party said in a statement that the “Conference believes that the Defence and Security of an independent Scotland should be underpinned not only by the principal of Defending Scotland but also by being a nation that supports the peaceful common good of the world.”
Old regiments return
So, I hear you ask, what was proposed at the conference? Well, directly from the horse’s mouth, they say that Alba:
“i) recognises Scotland has a proud army tradition and an independent Scotland would be able to reinstate historic units disbanded by the UK Government such as the Royal Scots, The Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, and Black Watch Regiments and battalions as part of the Scottish Defence force structure.
ii) supports the base of the Scottish Defence forces should be at Faslane in HMNB Clyde, with the army, the naval forces, and the air force (based at Lossiemouth) all reporting into a new Single Defence Force structure that includes in it army, navy, air and coast guard as its constituent parts.
iii) notes an independent Scotland should build to a footprint of defence forces that total in the region of 15,000 regular and 5,000 reserve personnel.”
I asked Chris where Army Command would be and was informed that Alba would leave that up to the Army. Referring to the policy document, Chris said:
“It’s actually silent on that. It makes the point that there would be a joint defence force that reports to Faslane. Where functions such as army units would be based would be up to the command.”
No plans to join NATO
The Alba conference agreed the following – and this is directly from the horse’s mouth and differs somewhat from the SNP in one notable way as NATO membership isn’t sought:
“1. ALBA advocate for the Government of an independent Scotland to sign the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons and will campaign for other nations of the world to do so.
2. There is a long-standing national consensus in existence that Scotland should not host nuclear weapons and ALBA Party demand that the negotiating party for an independent Scotland secure the speedy and safe removal of the nuclear fleet from Faslane, which will be replaced by conventional naval forces; all weapons of mass destruction and all associated nuclear materials negotiated to be safely removed by day one of Scotland becoming an independent nation.
3. ALBA advocate for an independent Scotland to be a participating state of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) to work for stability, peace and democracy through political dialogue about shared values and through practical work that contributes to sustainable progress.
4. ALBA advocate for the Government of an independent Scotland to inform NATO that Scotland will not host nuclear weapons and that Scotland will cooperate with NATO in so far as its member states participate in UN sanctioned operations or in non-nuclear defensive exercises.
5. ALBA will not advocate for an independent Scotland to seek NATO membership, but instead ALBA will call for the Scottish Government to establish bilateral relations with NATO in which we can choose Scotland’s own priorities for cooperation.
6. To build on the successful National Assembly discussions by convening a steering group, consisting of experts, which will further develop party policy into a full defence and security paper.”
The above is presented without opinion or speculation, merely presented as is, to allow you, the reader, to make up your mind.
The party membership will vote on whether or not to accept the policy at the conference on October 15th this year.