Coffee House

Will Philip Hammond challenge the SNP’s conceits?

15 April 2014

15 April 2014

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.

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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?


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Show comments
  • rjbh

    Scotland will take 2 of the RNs ships when we leave, in the mean time Scotland will force rUK to either move their Trident fleet, or better still, force Westminster to end the ownership of such weapons. you know it makes sense.

  • komment

    .In a nutshell the rump UK has to cut its suit according to its cloth and if it wants a seat at the top table it will have to pay for the ticket by itself, if it can afford it.
    In fairness to the SNP it does not covet the vain glory that comes with the possession of nuclear weapons.
    A nuclear submarine is an overkill solution to the problems of drug smuggling, people trafficking etc.

  • john

    We do like our pompous, Dickensian names don’t we? How’s this for a gem:
    First Sea Lord Admiral Sir George Zambellas?

  • john

    I’m in awe of the Speccie. Just when I think they can’t possibly come up with another reason to oppose Scottish Independence, they find a new one. Most of us can barely remember the Royal Navy and if we could only get out of crummy imperial holdovers like the Falklands or Gib, it could disappear tomorrow.

  • Chris

    Angus Robertson is a baffoon of epic proportions. I’ll never forget the week after the Snowden leeks when he thought that the BBC Question time (much as he hates it the b does stand for Britain) should reflect the ‘really important’ by-election in Aberdeen. That epitomises that a narrow minded man he really is. When asked at the end to sum up reasons why Scotland should be independent he said, independence is the default setting for nations, there are more nations now than there were 100 years ago. So basically, why not? Not how arguments work Angus, you have to give positive reasons. On the View from 22 he said no nation has gone back after independence, quick question Angus, how many of them were as rich as Scotland, how many had never been invaded by the other country, never had a whiff of violence between the two, spoke the same language and had no cultural differences? Typical Scot nat argument, liken yourself to an oppressed people’s to make your case seem more than it is, a pathetic sanctimonious nationalist bunch of cry babies.

    • Jambo25

      “Positive reasons” such as being presented by Better Together and HMG at present.

      • Chris

        Burden of proof is not on the status quo, the very existence of the status quo proves its viability. The only way you don’t have to prove things will be better with independence is to say things could not possibly get worse, and if you believe that then you are the worst of all narrow minded nationalists.

        • Jambo25

          In political, social and economic affairs there is no such thing as the status quo. The only constant is change.

          • Chris

            Not sure that’s as profound as it sounded. The Union is the status quo, it’s what we have right now. Tell me why Scotland abandoning it would make things better? It seems your argument is no stronger than Robertson’s, well we may as well give it a go.

  • Denis_Cooper

    As I have said, people in the rest of the UK, which by numbers means mostly those in England, should be more worried about this than people in Scotland.

    At present the English can vote in MPs who would have the power to insist that the government of the present UK must upgrade the defences for the whole of the present UK. The voters in England could do that at the next general election or at any future general election, once they had woken up and decided that it must be done.

    If Scotland became an independent sovereign state with its own defence policy then voters in England would no longer be able to do that; they could only vote for the defences of the continuing UK to be upgraded, and would cease to have any influence over the defence policy for the northernmost third of the home island and its airspace and territorial waters.

    The Scots need not worry so much because if it came to some kind of crunch they could rely on other countries, not only the continuing UK but its allies and above all the US, to come to their aid and protect Scotland against any serious threat, and in the meantime the government of Scotland could spend less on defence and more on whatever other things it preferred.

    How those other countries would feel about the future prospect of spending more of their money to ensure the defence and security of Scotland against any serious threat which may arise, so that the Scottish government could spend less, is of course another matter.

  • dougthedug

    Sir George says that the rump UK’s navy would be able to adapt to its diminished circumstances…but Scotland’s navy would be permanently weakened.

    What is Sir George on? Scotland currently has no navy to weaken.

    A Scottish Navy would provide more protection than the British Navy. When the Russian cruiser Admiral Kuznetsov sailed into the Moray Firth in December last year the RN had to send a ship from Portsmouth 600 miles away to intercept and the only way they knew it was there was because the Russians posted their planned route on social media sites.

    No surface warships in Scotland, no maritime patrol aircraft at all in the Union.

    • MichtyMe

      The Scots govt has two maritime surveillance aircraft but its sneaky Spanish fishing boats and haddock protection.

  • Hexhamgeezer

    Won’t the jocks have to spend a bit more on fishery protection? After all if they’re wanting Independence they’ll be taking their grounds back from the hated southern Brussels?

    • MichtyMe

      They do that job now, three vessels and two aircraft plus satellite monitoring.

      • the viceroy’s gin

        Those vessels can’t leave port in anything above a light gust. The airplanes have little range, and the satellites are whose exactly?

  • Jambo25

    My dad ended WW2 as a CPO (Guns). He saw far more active service than the good admiral ever did or ever will. He ended up as an SNP voter. The past is past. We have to look at what the realities of today are. As is well known, a Russian task force recently sailed up to the Moray coast and nobody in the Admiralty appeared to know. It took 36 hours to get a ship up to North East Scotland to shadow the Russian carrier battle group.
    We have little or no maritime reconnaissance capability having dumped brand new Nimrods. Our total surface fleet is about 19 ships. We seem to have a navy which is increasingly accident prone and sloppy. Our land and air forces are in as bad a state. We do this on a huge defence budget. Its about the 4th or 5th largest in the world. This is what you get when you put a tenth rate incompetent, like Hammond, in charge of defence and then have as your main policy driver (For virtually everything in government.) the monomaniacal desire of Osborne and Cameron to tackle the deficit and that, apparently, alone.
    Given the shambles that is the current UK defence policy it is really difficult to see how an independent Scottish state could do worse.

    • MichtyMe

      I would be surprised if “nobody” new about the Russian battle group. The wee Norwegians have a squadron of Orion marine survelliance aircraft. Living on that part of the coast I sometimes see naval vessels, German, Dutch, Danes, a Norwegian frigate/destroyer just a couple of weeks ago, doing what you would expect, costal defense in adjascent waters. But the RN…. nope.

      • Jambo25

        Strange that a country the size of Norway has a marine surveillance capability but the UK with a defence budget about 9 or 10 times the size doesn’t. How stupid is Hammond?

        • MichtyMe

          I guess the Norwegians just went to the market and bought what best for their needs and budget. The UK, for some reason or other, required a bespoke capability in Nimrod, which cost billions and never got off the ground, figuratively.

        • El_Sid

          The problem was Portillo, for thinking that it was a good idea to stick with the Comet airframe for our new MPA in 1996. BAE spent billions bodging it and it still didn’t work – better to have invested in an Airbus equivalent of the P-8, at least we would have had something that a) could fly and b)we could export.

    • Colonel Mustard

      £11.4 billion on foreign aid, all of it borrowed. Almost 19% of the Defence budget because of the stupid wazzock in No.10 who has no aircraft carriers or aircraft to put on them but still rattles his tin sabre.

      • Jambo25

        Fully agree. I don’t always (or often) agree with you but you are right on this. There is no reason why the UK with its size of budget shouldn’t have the 2 carriers but we didn’t have to make them so platinum plated and we could have cuter on the aircraft we had for them.

        • Tom Tom

          It was the sweetheart deal to buy US aircraft that was key – the carriers were incidental.

          • Jambo25

            It wouldn’t surprise me.

        • Wessex Man

          Fully agree with you, unfortunately the Yanks have now told us that the Aircraft to go on them can’t be armed at present.

          • Jambo25

            I do find it odd that the RN couldn’t carry on with either the old Harriers or a developed form of the plane. After all they appear to be good enough for the US Marine Corps. We could then have bought much smaller and cheaper carriers.

            • El_Sid

              Google “Withdrawing Harrier – taking the right decision, no matter how wrong it felt” for an insider’s take on the decision – the death knell for the Harrier was really the withdrawal of the Sea Harrier 10+ years ago, followed by sending much of the available fleet to Afghanistan; for the last few years of its life the Harrier force available for the carriers was at best token, but was costing us £1bn+/year.

              The USMC is committed to the F-35B; in an alternate reality it would probably have been cheaper to develop a third-generation Harrier and a simpler, twin-engine F-35A/C, but that ship has long sailed.

              • Jambo25

                The USMC will, however, carry on using the Harrier until a putative F-35 replacement is ready whenever that is? We have no naval aviation at all at present. The extended Afghan war was a useless waste of lives and resources from which we should have withdrawn after the overthrow of the Taliban government. I entirely agree with your last paragraph. Some P1154 style developed Super Harrier should have been the replacement for the older model: not the ludicrously over complex and hideously expensive mess we seem to have got involved in.

                • El_Sid

                  It’s not true that we have no naval aviation, just no fixed-wing aviation – the Apaches showed in Libya that they can shove lead down the throats of the Queen’s enemies from a ship. Even if you only regard them as a 60% capability, it means that the marginal advantage of having a GR9 is reduced.

                  And the brutal truth is that our naval fixed-wing capability had been illusory for years. Lusty went to the Far East with just 4 Harriers on board – it may impress the natives, but it’s not a serious military capability. In 2008 the requirement for the entire Harrier fleet was reduced to 10 Force Elements at Readiness – it was a paper tiger long before the 2010 SDSR. I think the coalition actually deserve a bit of credit for taking a hard decision like that, it saved a lot of money for something that was good for willy-waving but wasn’t really credible. It’d be lovely if we could have maintained the carriers and 30 Harrier FE@R, but the magic money fairy wouldn’t allow it. Far better to plan for 2020 than look back to 1982.

                  USMC recently confirmed that the 2B software was still on track for July 2015, so it looks like they will have F-35’s in service within 18 months or so. Yes they’ll continue to run their existing Harriers until they croak, but they won’t be spending much money on them.

                  A P1154 style aircraft would be a terrible idea – huge development costs for a marginal capability increase. Far better to stick with something Harrier-shaped, but with more F-35-like electronics.

        • Fergus Pickering

          I thought the Scot Gordon Brown was to blame for the aircraft carriers.

          • Jambo25

            I suspect that the Admiralty were the originators of the plan. The continuing cock-up on what aircraft, if any, should be flown from them is down to the Englishman Hammond.

    • Tom Tom

      The Defence Budget is largely an industrial subsidy for engineering projects and personnel costs are squeezed to acquire equipment from corporations who can offer Senior Officers nice contracts. The FRES project was Dannat’s baby and led to a poorly equipped under-resourced infantry……the deals for BAe and the US corporations is worth so much to top brass who can cavort on the golf course and be wined and dined in Contractor Heaven

    • the viceroy’s gin

      It’s not at all difficult to see how an independent Jockistan could do worse. We’d expect it, in fact.

      • Jambo25

        You mean we’d invade Iraq and Afghanistan and be humiliated in both campaigns or leave ourselves in breach of our NATO obligations by being unable to carry out our maritime surveillance duties due to having scrapped the new reconnaissance aircraft we’ d bought at huge cost to do it.

        • the viceroy’s gin

          There won’t be any invasions, NATO obligations or reconnaissance possible, from the looks of things. So yes, it can get plenty worse.

          • Jambo25

            In what way would that be worse?

            • the viceroy’s gin

              Well, robust reconnaissance is a necessity, and in fact, a moral obligation, not that I’d expect Jockistan to recognize obligation.

              Further, NATO is the established defense organization in much of the West, although again, I wouldn’t expect Jockistan to recognize that as of value to them.

              Not sure invasion would be a necessity for Jockistan in the future, assuming all remains calm in their near region, and no distant threat arises to demand intervention thereabouts.

  • The Laughing Cavalier

    Bring the navy back to Pompey and put English men and women at the forefront for a change.

    • Jambo25

      Apart from the nuke boats that nobody down south appears to want the navy is already based in the south of England.

    • Hexhamgeezer

      Can we (the (North East)have a piece of the English action?

      • the viceroy’s gin

        No. That’s reserved for trendy causes only. Sorry.

  • MichtyMe

    The RN vessels in Scotland that the First Sea Lord refers to are little stuff, small patrol boats and the largest would be the mine hunters. The Scottish Governments three survelliance vessels are probably larger. Not much to boast about. If something like a Russian Fleet appears in these northern waters and the MOD having dispensed with the marine survelliance aircraft, so they may not even know, then they must look to see if there is something sitting in Portsmouth.
    Yes and all those Scots in Nelsons fleet… that explains “England Expects”

  • Theuniondivvie

    ‘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.’

    Well, that’s the past tense dealt with, what about ‘is’?

    • Jambo25

      “nearly a third of Nelson’s men at Trafalgar were Scottish”. In addition rather large numbers were also Irish, American, Scandinavian, African etc. They were still told that “England expects etc.”.

      • Tom Tom

        Were they volunteers or press-ganged ?

        • Jambo25

          Press ganging British crew members from US merchant ships was one of the causes of the War of 1812 but the vast majority of non-English crew members on RN ships were volunteers. Conditions on Briti

          • Jabez Foodbotham

            Thomas Cochrane, another of those naval Scotsmen. There is a nice statue to his memory in Valparaiso,

            • Jambo25

              Cochrane is, of course, rumoured to be the prototype not just of CS Forester’s Hornblower but also Patrick O’Brien’s Jack Aubrey although he was, socially, much grander than either.

      • Fergus Pickering

        Which they responded to, did they not?

        • Jambo25

          Actually, a lot of Nelson’s officers and men, regardless of nationality, resented that flag signal. As some of them, at the time stated, they knew fine well what their duty was. I’m not aware of the Scots or Irish sailors being specifically asked what they thought about it.

  • @PhilKean1

    .
    I think he’s barking up the wrong tree.

    Scottish Socialists feel they won’t need to think about defence. And if they aren’t thinking about defence, they most certainly are never going to contemplate attacking anyone – for whatever reason.

    They think they can remain neutral. That, like some countries during WW2, others can do the fighting and spend the money that will ensure world peace.
    Of course, they will say that Scotland wants never to engage in “illegal wars” – so why do they need an offensive capability?

    The answer is that we are facing an increasingly dangerous world. Some nations will be able to shelter under the sacrifices made by other nations. Scotland will be one of those.
    .

    • Denis_Cooper

      The SNP attitude on defence is basically parasitical, more Chickenheart than Braveheart. However on this and everything else we should constantly bear in mind that SNP members make up less than 1% of the adult population of Scotland, and the other 99% do not necessarily share their views.

      • @PhilKean1

        Trouble is, Denis, is that they keep electing them.

        My thoughts are that Scottish voters were effectively responsible for inflicting the British people with 13 catastrophic years of Labour maladministration.
        .

        • Denis_Cooper

          Well, that’s nonsense as you must know; people in England elect the overwhelming majority of Westminster MPs, and one cannot blame the Scots if the English keep electing the wrong people; and I see no reason to suppose that people in England would start voting for better MPs just because Scotland had become independent, why should that happen? At present it’s 533 MPs elected in England and 59 elected in Scotland, so just taking that simple ratio the English could be held to be nine times more effectively responsible than the Scots for the poor government of the UK. Oh, and if the average constituency in Scotland had exactly the same number of registered voters as the average constituency in England then there would be 57 seats in Scotland; it is a persistent myth among the English that the Scots are heavily over-represented at Westminster when that ceased to be the case once the devolved Scottish Parliament had been established. The same electoral quota is now used in both England and Scotland; there are just 2 more seats in Scotland than there would be if the electoral quota was strictly applied, and that is because of the greater geographical difficulties in defining the constituencies in Scotland.

          • @PhilKean1

            Err, yes. But Labour-voting Scots made the difference the majority of the time.

            And there can be no doubt that English voters are stupid for continuing to vote Labour.
            .

            • Denis_Cooper

              In fact the votes of the MPs elected in Scotland rarely made the difference. There were a few occasions when the Labour government would not have got a Bill passed without the votes of the Labour MPs elected in Scotland, exceeding those of MPs of other parties elected in Scotland, but only a few. The rest of the time the Bill would have gone through anyway even if all the MPs elected in Scotland had been absent.

              • Wessex Man

                I suggest you check Hansard in that case for the make up of the New (enlightened) Labour Cabinet for the years 1997-2001.

                • Denis_Cooper

                  I’m not talking about the make up of the cabinet, I’m talking about the numbers of votes in the Commons. Yesterday I offered a reasonable explanation for why so many senior Labour figures were Scottish in 1997 – that Thatcher had so soundly beaten Labour in England, apart from in some cities – but in any case they still needed the votes of MPs elected in England to do what they wanted.

      • MichtyMe

        I think you are saying that defence policy will be determined by what is the national interest. Well isn’t that just what all national governments do.

        • Denis_Cooper

          Whether the SNP defence policy would be in Scottish national interests would largely depend upon how the governments of other countries viewed it. An independent Scotland would need friends around the world; saying that we will depend on you to help us if we ever faced a serious military threat, but we will not contribute to any collective defence, may not be the best way to win some of them over.

    • The_Missing_Think

      So which bogie man is going to launch a physical attack and invade Scotland?

      Name your bogie man. France? Germany?

      Why are they going to go to bother, when they can just legally stroll in, and lob a claim in for benefits?

      So it’s not any EU country.

      Russia and Gazprom?.. China and it’s trade goods? Nope, they have better cards to play, if they wanted WWIII. Additionally, they’ll block any imminent Iranian plans for invading Europe, you’re certain you can ‘see’ around the corner.

      So who is your bogie man Phil? A vague hand wave isn’t valid.

      Name them please, or concede the bogie man is figment of your 1950’s paranoia.

      • @PhilKean1

        LOL.

        France, Germany? You could have quoted an even more improbable pair with Iceland and Malta.

        Let me answer your question with a question of my own. Did the Polish expect to fight a war against Germany?
        Did the British expect to fight a war against Argentina?
        Did the Americans expect to have to fight an all-out war against Japan?

        Your comment is fatuous. Few countries have ever known who they would fight wars against. If they had, they would have armed themselves in order to deter the potential aggressor.

        Oh, look what I just said. It seems that wars can be prevented by preparing to fight wars.
        .

        • Jambo25

          The Poles certainly expected to fight a war against either Germany or the USSR and that is why they entered pacts with France and the UK.
          The Americans certainly expected war against Imperial Japan. In fact, numerous historians think they deliberately provoked it by trade sanctions calculated to destroy Japan’s war making capacity,.
          As for Argentina and the Falklands. Well if the UK didn’t expect some possible Argentinian action over the Falklands, given the messages being sent out, then the UK political class is even stupider than I think it is.

          • Tom Tom

            They had Pacts with USSR and Germany but Colonel Beck deceived Chamberlain as Foreign Minister of the Junta in Warsaw. The Polish regime was especially unsavoury with camps for political prisoners and stripping Jews abroad of passports which led directly to Reichskristallnacht

        • The_Missing_Think

          Where is the name of the country I asked for?

          No hand waving, and no time travelling back to the pre EU, pre Nuke world please.

          Deal with the radically changed modern world now, today, not the 20th, 19th, 18th, (etc) centuries.

          Now please name the country, that you believe is planning to invade Scotland.

          You can’t, because it doesn’t exist.

          No-one is goint to invade Scotland.

          The last to try it were the 19th Legion, they
          were completely vaporised, forcing the wee mighty Emperor Hadrian, to build a very long wall. 2000 years of non-invasion, and you’re twitching about the bogie man?

          The bogie man is in your mind Phil, the bulk of humanity are the same as you, they want
          happy, long enjoyable lives… not premature violent deaths.

          And the micro minority that want violence… we have strong, impenetrable robust borders, to keep us nice and safe, and them out.

          Well we would have, if the voters were wise enough to vote for what they want.

          • Tom Tom

            Noone has invaded England since William of Orange

            • The_Missing_Think

              I have no worries about being invaded by force. None, because it’s not needed.

              Simply buy the invading armies plane tickets, and pick your city of choice.

              The English clearly don’t want them anymore, hence the flow of gifts.

              Something_Missing_In_Them.

            • Jambo25

              The Jacobites in 1745.

          • JimCunningham

            I’d argue that there is more the Scottish Security than preventing invasion, similarly the Defence of England doesn’t begin at the White Cliffs of Dover and with that in mind the Royal Navy is right now along with allies helping to keep the sea lanes open by maintaining major warships deployed overseas which mean piracy and state or non state action to close an international shipping lane or hinder international trade will be countered by nations the economies of which are reliant on the free and uninterrupted use of the high seas and which are prepared to fund maritime forces which underwrite the free movement of goods on the high seas.
            The freedom of the high seas for international trade is principally underwritten by the United States Navy and the fact that it can generally bring war winning force to bear against any enemy that might attempt to close an international shipping lane. Britain, through the Royal Navy contributes to underwriting the security of World trade, a good example might be the provision of a credible Mine Countermeasures Force to the Persian Gulf.
            It is perhaps fair to say two things, firstly that Scotland by itself may not contribute to underwriting global trade in the same way that the United Kingdom currently does (and perhaps it will not even on a per capita basis post independence) and secondly that the Royal Navy of the Rump United Kingdom would have a harder time performing its role either in the UK’s immediate locality or on a global scale without its and the Royal Air Force’s bases in Scotland.
            Most people do not want war, but people can be driven to violence to create a strategic shock quite quickly, as we are seeing in Ukraine at the moment. Ukraine may not seem to have much relevance to Scotland but that may change if the stand off continues or blood is shed on a large scale and prices rise or violence spreads. I think there is a case that Scotland is both better protected by being part of the United Kingdom and participating directly in the collective defence of the Great Britain and Northern Ireland and that both Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom are better off with the UK Armed Forces having access to Scottish bases and training areas.

        • Tom Tom

          Yes, Pilsudski tried to persuade France to join Poland in a pre-emptive war against Germany in 1935…..the Polish Army was then far bigger than the Heer. France refused probably because Britain was signing the Anglo-German Naval Treaty. Poland did sign a 10 year Non-Aggression Pact with Germany in 1934 probably because Poland had signed one with the USSR in 1932

      • the viceroy’s gin

        Iceland, mate. They’ll be down to take whatever they want, once the coast is clear.

  • Tom Tom

    ” the Grand Fleet was stationed at Scapa Flow”

    U-47 was well aware of this……..otherwise what is the point he is trying to make ? It is ludicrous to refer to a Navy we do not have or is he going to Swan Hunter to implore Tyneside to love London ?

    • Hexhamgeezer

      ..as ever we’re consigned to sitting on the sidelines while Shiny Face and Fatso call the shots.

      • terregles2

        How..!!! What have Boris and William being saying now..?

    • JimCunningham

      I suspect the point is that even taking into account U-47 Scapa Flow was one of very few useful operational bases for the Home Fleet in the Second World War and the Grand Fleet in the First – it was far enough away that the RN’s principal formation in European waters could get itself together in good order and move against the German Fleet and also not so far away that generally speaking (excluding incidents like the shelling of Eastern ports in the First World War) the German Fleet couldn’t run amok in the North Sea before the Royal Navy were able to turn up in force and either engage the enemy or chase them away.

  • Denis_Cooper

    The English should be more worried about this than the Scots.

    • Sam Mitchell

      it is obvious that they should be worried over this and other major issues…. BUT… with a blanket ban on any discourse between westminster & Holyrood…. and with the bbc playing its part in the promotion of scare stories…. then… the inevitable situation of Scotland leaving the unequal union will perhaps wake the slumbering lion ….allow it to turn over ….before going back to dozing…

  • asalord

    Ho hum… Another day, another scare story from British nationalists.
    At least it will boost support for the independence movement in Scotland.
    Thanks Phil.

    • Hello

      Typical bluff and bluster from you again.

  • Colonel Mustard

    Sadly, the SNP do have a point about coastal protection and maritime assets. We live on an island surrounded by sea but that fact seems to have escaped the Right Rev Cameron.

    The more I see of the SNP’s desire to rid itself of a Westminster government whose galavanting policies and decisions are getting harder to reconcile with the real needs of those who do not live in London the more it appears that the same arguments for freedom can be made for non-metropolitan England.

    • Iain Hill

      Do it then!

    • allymax bruce

      First Sea Lord Admiral Sir George Zambellas’ comment, shows he, and Westminster, regard Scotland, and Scots, as a mere adjunct after-thought to ‘British’ imperialism fore-thought, and it’s aggressive warmongering nature.

      • Martin Adamson

        As ever, the Nats’ response to any serious question. Start off with anti-English bigotry then stick your fingers in your ears and sing “La la la I can’t hear you!”

        • allymax bruce

          No, that’s a simplistic argument; let’s try again, Martin.
          Zambellas comes out with a statment that ‘If Scotland chooses ‘Yes’ to dissolve the UK, then that will destabilise and weaken the UK’s defences.’

          My argument is, ‘Why hasn’t Zambellas/Westminster, considered what’s in Scotland’s best interests? We, Scots and Scotland, don’t want the war-mongering WMD’s and aggressive nature to life and society.’

          Now, it’s your turn to answer my question please, Martin.

          • paulus

            Well it generally helps in defending yourself as an Island that you have a navy.

            Thats the first time ive ever heard the argument that the Sots are wee quiet pacifists, made aggressive by the wicked English.
            Just because your national dress is the same as 12 year old japanese school girls, doesn’t make you a 12 year old japanses school girl, it makes you a hairy legged weirdo in a tartan skirt. It doesnt matter how much you giggle no one is going to buy your underwear out of vending machines. probably North Korean troops are keeping your recyclables in a hemetrically seald bag ready to unleash on South Korea.

            • terregles2

              I am quite intrigued by your analysis of national dress. What do you make of the costume worn by Morris dancers,?

              • Fergus Pickering

                Morris dancers wear it to dance in. Scotsmen wear skirts to conduct their business in. Of course the kilt is a Victorian fashion, like shortbread. Highlanders didnt wear them.

                • terregles2

                  Quite agree it was introduced by the Victorians. Haven’t seen anyone conducting their business wearing it or indeed wearing it at all.
                  It’s usually seen mostly at the Edinburgh Tattoo being worn by the British army, Royal Scots Dragoons etc.
                  I just thought Paulus might have an opinion on Morris dancers costumes as he seems to put a lot of thought into national dress and customs etc.
                  Personally I love Morris costumes and I like their dancing I love tradition and folk history. It is just one more thing about England that I appreciate from Shakespeare to the Brontes,Thackery,Austen, Lake district, York, English villages etc a It is an endless list.
                  Even if I thought any English traditions were silly I would not say so. I think it is rude to sneer at the traditions of another country. We should have respect for their culture.

                • Fergus Pickering

                  Not necessarily. Many aspects of other people’s cultures are quite undeserving of respect and should be stamped out. It is that sort of unthinking, pious garbage which so many ‘liberals’ spout. An aspect of Scottish culture seems to me the wish to nurse a grievance. I’m sure you know what I am talking about. It leads, for instance, to the bullying of English children in Scottish schools. Scots need to stop this for their own good. For OUR own good. The kilt doesn’t matter.If you want to wear it, then wear it.

                • terregles2

                  indeed some cultures have practices that should be condemned very loudly I am sure we can all think of several barbaric examples from FGM to stoning.
                  I should have made myself clear that I was referring to countries who in general do not have barbarity enshrined in their laws.
                  You say that it is part of Scottish culture to nurse a grievance I think that is rather a sweeping statement. I don’t know anyone who does that. I know many who dislike and distrust the Westminster government but that is quite different from disliking or holding a grievance against English people. There certainly seem to be many on this forum who appear to have a grievance against Scottish people but I am sure they do not speak for everyone in England,
                  My neighbours are English and their children do not get bullied at school. All bullying is abhorent and damages people for the rest of their lives. I know of a Scottish boy who was bullied in an English school but that is not a reflection on the whole English nation. Children are bullied for any reason from wearing glasses to having red hair or a stutter or indeed almost anything. I agree bullying should be tackled and stamped out wherever it shows its’ ugly face. Children especially need to be protected from it.

                • komment

                  Why do I get the feeling the 300 year Union has been the longest Cold War in history?

                • komment

                  I have never heard it suggested that Scots evervwote shortbread.

        • Jambo25

          Quote me where the “anti-English bigotry” is in allymax bruce’s posting.

          • Inverted Meniscus

            I suspect it is the reference to “British imperialism and warmongering”. For British read English.

            • Jambo25

              I see the words ” ‘British’ imperialism”. I don’t see ‘English’ mentioned at all.

              • Inverted Meniscus

                I suspect that Mr Adamson believes that Mr Bruce is not conceding Scotland’s share of the blame for any imperialist adventures but is using British as a euphemism for English. I believe it is called reading between the lines.

                • Jambo25

                  It could also be called being plain wrong. FWIW, I taught History in Scottish schools for over 30 years and all the children I taught were told about the Triangular Trade, slavery and the other sleazy bits of the Empire. They were also told that Scotland played a full part in this.

                • Inverted Meniscus

                  Calm down, I was only providing an interpretation of what I thought another chap was getting at.

                • Jambo25

                  I’m perfectly calm ‘ Its just that I get the feeling that a lot of people down south are now looking for slights where there aren’t any.

            • terregles2

              Why is any criticism of Britain and indeed the the Westminster
              government interpreted as being anti English.
              It is in fact criticism of our government and our country as at the moment Scots, English, Welsh and Northern Irish are all British.

      • Kitty MLB

        Attacking the English are you now Ally. A woof in sheep’s clothing.
        Some might be heartbroken now, you of all people.
        We do not have an aggressive war mongering nature but have a right to defend our self.

        • allymax bruce

          Hi Kitty, ‘attacking the English’?
          No, I’m defending the Scots.
          Don’t be heartbroken, I’m not attacking anyone; just making obvious argument, to Zamballas’ blindingly obvious silly comment.

          As for ‘[Westminster/England], having the right to defend our [your self], self’; yes, I agree. As such, Scots know having WMD’s are a lure to annihilation. Seems to me, Kitty, having WMDs is more of a threat, than not having them; like I said, WMD’s are an aggressive war-mongering weapon.

          • Kitty MLB

            Oh, I am sorry Ally you have every right to defend the Scots.
            and to whack anyone you chose- even me. ma spero voi che, mio caro celtico guerriero 😉
            Yes WMD are an aggressive weapon, but this issue is that
            terrorists already have these- Oh I don’t know- we will
            eventually be our own destruction on of these days.

            • allymax bruce

              I forgive you.

              • Kitty MLB

                Thank You. Well I’d better drag my lovely chap out into the
                blustery fresh air. May I wish you a very Happy Easter, Ally.

          • the viceroy’s gin

            You’ll find that the volume of “war” across the globe seems to have taken a tumble since nukes reared their ugly head. If they’re war mongering weapons, those numbers don’t show them to be so.

          • komment

            Saddam Hussein would argue you don’t need nukes to get annihilated, only a dodgy dossier prepared by dodgy dossers.

        • terregles2

          Is that why Britain invaded Iraq and Afghanistan.? Were they acts of non aggression?

        • Fergus Pickering

          I like a woof in sheep’s clothing. Very apt.

          • Kitty MLB

            It pained my soul to say that about my Celtic Warrior,
            Ally, especially as we have exchanged haggis and cheese
            and pickle sandwich. Yet he must defend Scotland and I
            must defend England. Yet our countries may be ripped apart
            but not all their peoples ( No apologies, wee Eck )

    • MichtyMe

      Scots independence, contrary to what the Sea Lord says, would probably strengthen the naval power in these isles. It is coastal defence that a Scots government would spend a large part of its defense resource on, rather that the diverse far flung spread of the UK spending.

      • Martin Adamson

        Afraid not, once Scotland is independent the corrupt West of Scotland block vote it going to be spending all the available cash on treats for the semi-literate unemployables in the political class, so there is going to be no money available for spending on any kind of difficult to understand abstract concepts like defense and protection.

        • Jambo25

          No its not. Their day is largely over.

        • Sam Mitchell

          isn’t it nice to know that patronising southerners think they are remote enough to post on issues they haven’t a clue about…

      • Inverted Meniscus

        Well he is just the First Sea Lord after all. What could he possibly know about naval resources compared to an expert like yourself? I think rather it is the usual SNP conceit of trying conveniently to turn every argument on its head and suddenly the Navy (as if by magic) will become stronger and a currency union (an unmitigated disaster for the UK) the answer to all of our financial prayers.

        • Sam Mitchell

          What I would like to know is where the TWO Marine units are stationed… I know where one is…. BUT the other????
          and if Holland can survive without 40 Admirals and 260 Captains…. why can Scotland not?… plus… England would simply have to buy some ships from Korea in the same way that the M.o.D buys other essential equipment… get used to it…

          • Inverted Meniscus

            Get used to what precisely?

          • JimCunningham

            45 Commando in Arbroath and 43 Commando (formerly Fleet Protection Group RM) in HMNB Clyde.

  • swatnan

    Do keep up Zambellis: Send in the Drones. You don’t need countless Tridents.
    For heavens sake, how many times can anyone be killed; only once. Just one Doomsday Machine will do, and you can base that in …. a secret location.

    • Hello

      And what if the Doomsday Machine fails? Do you think it might be a good idea to have a backup?

      • the viceroy’s gin

        …mineshafts. And we can’t permit a mineshaft gap to develop, at any price.

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