TO the launch last week of the SNP’s 10th or 11th “policy prospectus” for an independent Scotland.

And how reassuring for those of us who take the defence of the realm seriously that these stout fellows look like they’re on top of the job.

The White Paper lays out what Scotland’s foreign policy would be in a host of crucial areas, including the armed forces and nuclear weapons. 

It’s when the SNP gets to the rather sensitive terrain of national security and intelligence, however, that a slight chill sets in. 

Not to put too fine a point on it, I have questions. 

The SNP say that “the safety and prosperity of an independent Scotland would be assured … by its military capability and alliances”. 

Hear, Hear! But I suspect here that our “alliances” will be doing much of the heavy lifting. 
It’s the next bit that causes me to become somewhat nervous. 

This is where the SNP say that they will also establish “a robust but proportionate security and intelligence apparatus”.

I’m all for proportionality in everything. It’s just that where national security is at stake, I belong to the “act first, ask questions later” school of military engagement. That way you reduce the need for the high cost of defence.  

When a newly-minted Scotland takes its first faltering steps as an independent nation, it will enter a treacherous world of shifting loyalties and endless treachery where you trust no-one. 

And that’s just MI5 and MI6. I’d be a lot less nervous if I could be assured that all those countries which might pose a threat to us also solemnly undertook to be “proportionate” when pursuing their geopolitical objectives. 

I don’t want to cast any aspersions here and there’s certainly no slur intended but the word “proportionate” is not one that readily springs to mind when describing the approach to national security of North Korea, Iran, Russia, England, the US and Israel. 

If some belligerent foreign power is threatening us with a nuclear strike or to plan a land invasion, I don’t want our response to be ‘proportionate’. 

My source in the UK’s diplomatic wing tells me of a curious occurrence when the world woke up to Scotland’s latest White Paper. 

It seems that laughter was heard on those listening devices that MI6 uses to track the chatter of bad global actors. 

The Herald: MI6 HQ in London

Lack of intelligence
MY worries were not eased when I read the next paragraph of our intended approach to security and intelligence. 

In establishing a single Scottish Security and Intelligence Agency (MAyeRight, perhaps), the primary objectives are to be “a good global citizen” and to deliver security and intelligence “in line with Scotland’s values”. 

Let’s speak plainly here. If you’re setting up an intelligence agency you need spies. And among those spies you need assassins. 

And if you’re going to have assassins worthy of the name then you don’t want them to be worrying about whether or not they’re being “good global citizens” as they go about their business

And especially not when they happen upon Boris wielding his MP-443 Grach with yon 17-round detachable box magazine as he’s trying to get his mitts on the secret formula for making Glenmorangie or trying to hack the computer software that hands out annual multi-million-pound payments to Scottish farmers. 

Peace of nonsense
HOW can our assets be expected to take out the roasters and bangers of the axis of evil while worrying about being good global citizens and being all proportionate?

Are they to complete a good global citizenship pledge before every mission? If this is to be in accordance with Scotland’s current values there will have to be an entire section advising of the perils of mis-gendering the enemy. 

“Make all reasonable inquiries before saying: “we’ve been expecting you, Mr Ivanov/Chang/Hajsafi.” 
Are our operatives in the field expected to ask about enemy combatants’ dietary requirements if they’re required to be brought in for interrogation?   

Will our bullets and explosive devices be made in Scotland by artisan craftsmen using native materials sourced sustainably in accordance with our commitment to reduce our carbon footprint to a size four by 2275?

I’m not suggesting for a minute that it doesn’t behove all of us to be good global citizens. 

But I think we need to cut our assassins some slack here. 

And leave it to their professional discretion when deciding if the enemy needs his haw maws summarily booted or whether further inquiry is the best course of action. 

Word is our Bond
AND there’s another thing that bothers me about our boutique approach to rubbing out international bams. It concerns our hard-won international reputation for taking no nonsense. 

James Bond was a Scot who was created by Ian Fleming, inset, a Scot whose grandfather worked in the jute mills of Dundee. 

The Herald:

If his chief concerns were to be a good global citizen and to act “proportionately” and “in accordance with Scotland’s values”, some of his film titles would have lost their allure. 

Dr Yes Please; Live And Let Live; Octogenita; and The Man With the Golden Retriever don’t quite have the same sense of sexy drama. 

And it wouldn’t be the same if all our Double-O agents had a licence merely to “discuss this over a nice cup of tea”.