In a rush…got spiders and webs to take down and a sick child to see to. A quick thought on today’s ‘news.’
John Finnie’s go at the SNP for hypocrisy on the bombing of Yemen…my reaction was agreement as I have an aversion to arms companies, sophisticated weaponry and bombing of civilians. I find the linkage to Scotland an international embarrassment. (Raytheon in Glenrothes make the laser guiding system for the bombs the UK sells to the Saudis who carry out the mass murders).
If only we could get this to stop. I feel his genuine concern and anger and have never doubted his integrity. The hypocrisy bit made me think though. It’s based on the SNP complaining at Westminster about the bombing while, it seems, allowing the national development agencies to give taxpayers’ money to the arms manufacturers. Fergus Ewing even paid a visit to Raytheon to praise their work – not a good look in this context.
I see why the opposition would fire off at this but isn’t it also fair to ask what they would do in government? Being in office is the prize they all seek but it’s also the hard bit. How do you reconcile moral doubts with people’s jobs? If a company is a global standard setter, as this one is, do you pretend it isn’t there? If a big multi national wants to pitch up on your territory bringing a prestige name, associated business and halving local unemployment, what do you say? ‘Nah. You’re alright. You don’t pay all your taxes and your industrial relations are a bit ropey. We’ll wait for the Mother Theresa Packing and Delivery Company to arrive in Cumbernauld.’
An open economy makes it difficult to deter businesses you don’t like – it gives a message to other firms and investors and to those pesky people in ‘the markets’ with their flashing computer screens who determine the value of shares and currencies. And while politicians posture, there aren’t many folk out there who put principle before employment. ‘We make bits that help guns fire. Want a job or not?’
And if you accept that a company who make armaments in some shape or form – often along with other non-deadly stuff you do like – has the right to operate in your territory, on what basis do you deny them access to development funds? If they only make stuff that becomes obsolete, they lose the business and the jobs. (Although I’m not sure how much a few million from Scottish enterprise would really boost Raytheon)
Here’s the thing: if Scotland is independent, how do we defend ourselves? If we have an indigenous arms industry do we ask it to help make up-to-date weaponry to defend us or let it go to the wall? We could have a national debate about arms but the fact is that many countries have one, even those cuddly Scandinavians. If John and the Greens are proposing an end to arms, they can make a principled stand. But from what I can see, their plans demand effective defence, albeit much diminished – ‘The defence budget needs to be adequate to ensure security, but no more so.’ They would convert weapons skills into socially useful purposes but they do still want a minimum defence of the nation. That means vessels, jets, soldiers and, erm, guns. However much you cut the force by, you still need machines for killing or you have no defence system.
Surely the point at issue here isn’t the manufacture of the equipment, it’s the licensing for export and the deployment. And that ain’t done by the Scottish Government. It is our friends in the beloved United Kingdom who have decided the Saudis are our allies – never mind sponsoring terrorism, beheadings and state misogyny – and are safe to sell weapons to. They have allowed the systems to be put to this use, killing civilians and shredding a country.
Morally, it doesn’t let us off the hook. We help make the bloody things. But is it to be our policy not to? If we don’t make them, does it matter if we then import from neighbours other equally deadly shit to defend ourselves? Or are we to trust that no one will ever actually want to attack? Feeling lucky, punk?
It’s a big dirty business and I don’t much like my own conclusions. But, short of pulling the plug on the defence businesses in Scotland, leaving an open question over how we protect ourselves in future, redeploying all the workers and falling out with our NATO allies and even their non-membership friends like Ireland, I can’t see what else the Scottish government is supposed to do but object to the use being made of the weapons. That is why they are at Westminster – to hold to account and raise their voice. Should they have shut up because Fergus turned up for tea? What kind of politics would that be if they are so scared of the media reaction that they don’t speak out at an atrocity? I don’t think the hypocrisy smear works. Maybe I lack imagination. But to me it’s the same old, same old – we’re in this mess because somebody else takes the decisions for us. Sure, we’re not supposed to blame anybody but ourselves…but who is to blame here? Fergus Ewing for paying a visit, the SNP for raising the Yemen catastrophe or the government who treat the Saudis as partners? The answer isn’t double standards, it’s democratic deficit. This is what you get without sovereignty.by