Halloween Horrors

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.

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25 thoughts on “Halloween Horrors

  1. Clear, logical and carefully argued. For that reason you will be even more unpopular with the BBC.

  2. Well reasoned Derek.

    You’d think the true height of hypocrisy would be to aspire to statehood and defence of a state which has banned arms manufacture whilst procuring your armament from other states?

    The answer surely is, once you have true control of such issues, to legislate for clear ethical guidelines of sales and procurement.

  3. Today you have some very fair points Derek. In relation to another matter, perhaps you can ask Mr Finnie how he intends to vote tomorrow in relation to the OBFA Derek and then have a right go at him for the barefaced hypocrisy of the Green Party. Well when you vote with the Tories you are sleeping with hate filled extremely bigoted warmongers of the worst kind then making breakfast in bed for them the morning after.

    • Didn’t the SNP vote with the Tories in supporting the third runway at Heathrow? A huge mistake in my view.

      • As far as I am aware there was no vote at WM – All that happened was that The Government announced their decision to go for Heathrow.

        As regards to SNP support for Heathrow. they were presented with a choice of Heathrow or Gatwick with no option for Status Quo and decided on balance that of the two available options Heathrow would be the better for Scotland. .

  4. Oh for f/is sake Bill don’t mention the BBC we have had enough of them this week,
    Any truth in the rumour of a delivery of Champagne & Party hats to Pacific Heights to celibrate the imminent defeat of the SNP by the opposition parties, including the Greens , On the Abusive behaviour ( football ) bill , good on the opposition parties assisting the Tory party give a good kicking to this SNP Government , even if they don’t have a scooby doo of how they intend to tackle the problem, and even although the bill is supported by many organisations including Police Scotland and not least the public in general, if you disregard Mr James Kellys claim of 70 % of the people support him for his effort to repeal the bill , carry on MSPs you are doing great , playing a blinder even if most of you crawled in the back door Via the list system , you make us feel proud of your interest in society and our well being.
    I wonder how the BBC will present this little gem that has fallen from the heavens, and how long will they will be able to keep a straight face without breaking into song .

  5. Is it not much simpler? Should the gov. of an Indie Scotland decide that it does not support the actions of a foreign gov to whom we sell arms then it withdraws that permission to sell. Should the people of Scotland disagree then the incumbent Scottish gov. is voted out.

  6. ‘Damned if they do and damned if they don’t’,…. It’s a tricky one!….I DO wonder why the Tories/Labour and the Lib/Dems are not jumping on this?…I wonder if it’s anything to do with:

    “The Secretary of State for Scotland, the Rt Hon Michael Moore officially opens Raytheon’s new silicon carbide foundry and congratulates the team lead by Jim Trail, managing director of Raytheon Glenrothes and chief operating officer of Raytheon UK”.

    “Lindsay Roy, [Labour] MP for Glenrothes praised Raytheon’s impact on the Scottish economy and employment market. He said that “Raytheon’s success in Glenrothes hasn’t happened by accident, it has happened by design”

    “On Monday, the U.K. government confirmed it has signed a contract to buy nine new P8 Maritime Patrol Aircraft from Boeing. That’s on top of a $2.3 billion deal for 50 of Boeing’s new Apache AH-64E helicopters, which are set to be in use by the British Army in 2022.

    “We’ve doubled our presence in the U.K. over the past five years (and) we’re going to continue to invest here. We don’t really see our plans changing,” Muilenburg said”.

    Despite all party agreement, it’s STILL the SNP that are to blame…. Seems fair!

  7. This is a slam dunk issue. The Raytheon systems are at the very least an improvement on barrel bombs and cluster bombs and as others have said, it is not the Fife personnel who are guilty of the mess in Yemen. It is the UK/Saudi axis that creates the problem. Last night’s Panorama shed light on the activities of Rolls Royce and their wake of corruption.

    What a mess Westminster creates wherever its writ plays out.

  8. Steve Asaneilean

    Macaroni is correct – sales and procurement are what matter.

    Having said that I looked at the Raytheon website and it made my blood curdle. It’s very clear what they are about and humanitarian it ain’t.

    So I wouldn’t be happy with Scottish Government of any persuasion cosying up to them and I am far from convinced we should welcome their jobs in an independent Scotland…

    • Steve Asaneilean

      Oops – sorry Macart – your name autocorrected to a defence manufacturer. I’m an eejit!

      • 😀 LOL

        I’ve been called worse in the past few years.

      • Marconi is a defence manufacturer,Macaroni is something you have cheese with 🙂

        But I agree with Derek, it is an unfortunately fact of life that we need arms, and sometimes that means having a relationship with arms companies. Otherwise the only way to justify the cost of your own arms manufacturing industry( if home grown) is to sell the damn things to other countries. It’s the human condition…..

        In my opinion, though the Greens are to highlight such relationships, it is slightly naive of them.

      • I thought macaroni was pasta!

  9. I see in this morning’s National that the funds were given to help them “diversify away from military products”.

    Being of a curious mind I ran a search and found that like most technology, it can be used for good or evil.

    The variety of uses for laser guidance was amazing ranging through the mundane such as laser guided scissors and beard trimmers through medical uses (mole mapping in cancer patients and injection guidance, sports field line marking machines, concrete screed layers, boat docking systems and then on up to to major construction machinery.

    As I wrote the last item, it occurred to me that maybe such technology was used on the new Forth Crossing. It would be nice if it had been, nd it had been Scottish produced..

  10. SNP baaad. That’s really at the heart of it. Still, when we send our troops off to trouble spots around the globe we should be sending them with muskets and cannons which are capable of grape shot. Body armour? Hell no, costs too much to treat the wounded. We used to joke when I served that if the NAAFI were allowed to sell bullets too, the MOD would stop issuing them.

    Oh and an indy Scotland would be too wee, poor and stupid to properly equip a modern defence force. Bonus, the SNP logically couldn’t therefore be blamed for that… oh, hang on…

  11. Seems to me this is not as complicated as you make it Derek. I think this can be resolved with a few straightforward questions.

    1. Would you think it OK to use the high tech weapons to take out, say, the IS HQ? If the answer is yes, then you are not opposed to the weapons in principle and there can be no justification for criticising Raytheon for making them or the Scottish government for supporting Raytheon. If the answer is no, then you are most likely a pacifist which is fine, but logically you should oppose all weapons manufacture and use as well as all military institutions.
    2. If we assume that the answer above was “Yes”, then the next question is: Do you approve of targeting civilians or recklessly endangering them using these weapons? I will assume that the answer here is “No”. So the problem is the use to which the weapons are being put.
    3. Next question – who is responsible for the use to which the weapons are being put? Answer has to be the Saudis. So they are primarily responsible for the carnage.
    4. Then – what can we in this country (UK for the time being) do to stop the misuse of the weapons? My answer – stop selling them to the Saudis.
    5. Who is allowing the weapons to be sold to the Saudis? The UK government.

    So, my conclusion is that there is no inconsistency in the SNP in government in Scotland supporting Raytheon and the SNP in opposition at Westminster holding the UK government to account for allowing the weapons to be sold to the Saudis. We need to separate out the manufacture, the unlawful use and the immoral supply. Three separate issues.

  12. It is also not as simple as the Greens are making out. An acquaintance of mine has just dealt with one of Finnie’s FOI requests in this regard. They established that several of the companies that had been provided with funds have indeed been involved in the arms trade but this was simply in the supply of components that were also supplied for non military use to other firms as well. So where do you draw the line here? The Greens are perfectly entitled to make a stand but they need to be careful when walking this line as appear to be getting into grandstanding with the usual SNPBad lot. My other half gave her second vote to the Greens at the last election but now tells me she regrets it and and would not vote for them again.

  13. Raytheon are only manufacturing in the UK because the contract specifies a certain amount of work must be here.

    In the past that would have gone to UK “defence” companies but none of them really exist now (BAE Systems is like British Leyland as was – totally bloody useless) and its in the interests of USA companies to keep profits “offshore”.

    When it no longer suits Raytheon then they’ll be gone. So will the skills & infrastructure.

    Needs a “post-UK” assessment rather than the current mess.

  14. Defence products are like pharmaceuticals, they are so expensive that no-one has a home market big enough to justify the investment.

    They only make economic sense if you can export. Or alternatively you import from a conpany in another country who is also trading with a great many other regimes.

  15. John Finnie has lost my respect.
    He’s the hypocrite, after the Greens involvement in the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act debacle.
    I used to vote Green.
    Now they side with the Tories, all shades.
    Never again!

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