X

Create an account to continue reading.

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles
For unlimited access to The Spectator, subscribe below

Registered readers have access to our blogs and a limited number of magazine articles

Sign in to continue

Already have an account?

What's my subscriber number?

Subscribe now from £1 a week

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
 
View subscription offers

Already a subscriber?

or

Subscribe now for unlimited access

ALL FROM JUST £1 A WEEK

View subscription offers

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Login

Don't have an account? Sign up
X

Subscription expired

Your subscription has expired. Please go to My Account to renew it or view subscription offers.

X

Forgot Password

Please check your email

If the email address you entered is associated with a web account on our system, you will receive an email from us with instructions for resetting your password.

If you don't receive this email, please check your junk mail folder.

X

It's time to subscribe.

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access – from just £1 a week

You've read all your free Spectator magazine articles for this month.

Subscribe now for unlimited access

Online

Unlimited access to The Spectator including the full archive from 1828

Print

Weekly delivery of the magazine

App

Phone & tablet edition of the magazine

Spectator Club

Subscriber-only offers, events and discounts
X

Sign up

What's my subscriber number? Already have an account?

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

Thank you for creating an account – Your subscriber number was not recognised though. To link your subscription visit the My Account page

Thank you for creating your account – To update your details click here to manage your account

X

Your subscriber number is the 8 digit number printed above your name on the address sheet sent with your magazine each week.

Entering your subscriber number will enable full access to all magazine articles on the site.

If you cannot find your subscriber number then please contact us on customerhelp@subscriptions.spectator.co.uk or call 0330 333 0050.

You can create an account in the meantime and link your subscription at a later time. Simply visit the My Account page, enter your subscriber number in the relevant field and click 'submit changes'.

Coffee House

Will Philip Hammond challenge the SNP’s conceits?

15 April 2014

8:51 AM

15 April 2014

8:51 AM

First Sea Lord Admiral Sir George Zambellas has said, in the Telegraph, that the sum of the Royal Navy’s parts is not greater than its whole. Scottish independence, he says, would weaken the naval power of the nations of the British Isles. Sir George also appeals to our shared naval history – nearly a third of Nelson’s men at Trafalgar were Scottish, the Grand Fleet was stationed at Scapa Flow and the Soviet menace was monitored from bases in Scotland.

The positive, emotive arguments done, Sir George issues a warning to Scottish voters. In the event of independence, Sir George says that the rump UK’s navy would be able to adapt to its diminished circumstances (a cynic might say that such adaptation has been the navy’s business since the fall of Singapore) but Scotland’s navy would be permanently weakened. In a world of global trade, the argument goes, that is a risk. Furthermore, 16 vessels and more than 3,000 men are stationed in Scotland, directly supported by 2,000 civilians and many thousands more in the supply chain. The implication is that these jobs and investments depend on the United Kingdom’s present defence requirements and are therefore under threat.

[Alt-Text]


Sir George’s arguments are about power (in various forms). Yet there is another way to examine the matter. Respected defence analyst Colonel Stuart Crawford appeared on the Today programme earlier, and said that an independent Scotland’s defence capability would be regional by necessity. The SNP, however, seeks to present this as a matter of choice. Its defence spokesman, Angus Robertson, has said that Scotland houses the Trident deterrent, which it doesn’t want, but has lost the ships, personnel and jobs, which it does want. It follows that Scotland has different defence priorities to the rest of the UK; therefore, independence would enable Scotland to choose its own course.

That is a conceit. The Royal Navy has, in basic numerical terms, been in decline for years; but Scotland and the Clyde have done well from successive settlements, certainly by comparison with Portsmouth, the historic capital of the Royal Navy, where shipbuilding has ended. Angus Robertson is right: this is a question of choice. The British government has chosen to base significant naval resources in Scotland. Any resident of the deprived areas of Portsmouth will tell you that Scotland is very lucky to have them.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond will be building on Sir George Zembellas’s article later today. Will he attack Robertson’s conceit?

Give something clever this Christmas – a year’s subscription to The Spectator for just £75. And we’ll give you a free bottle of champagne. Click here.


Show comments
Close