Section Two

The final sections of the paper written by Isobel Lindsay setting out potential policies and positions in an Independent Scotland.

Territorial Attack

Scotland’s geographic position, surrounded by largely benign democratic states, is a core strategic asset with substantial distance from more unstable areas of the world. We face no military threat from another state. Once the legal status of Scotland as an independent state is recognised there might be economic issues with rUK, but our boundaries are legally defined as will be our rights as a United Nations member state. Our substantial social ties with England, Wales and Northern Ireland will be the basis for a close non-violent relationship.

Transition issue: The threat environment of a territorial attack is low but this can change. There should be flexibility in new systems enabling the scaling up or scaling down of capabilities in a new Scottish Defence Force – a small core capability which can be expanded in changed circumstances.

Nuclear Weapons and Nuclear Power

The exceptional risk factor for Scotland is having the largest concentration of nuclear fire-power in Europe and having it based close to our largest population centres in the central belt. The UK’s four Vanguard Trident submarines are based there, around 200 nuclear warheads and the Astute class submarines, which are not nuclear-armed but are nuclear-powered. This makes Scotland a top target in any situation of heightened tension or, since targeting will be programmed, in the event of an accidental launch. After Freedom of Information pressure, the Defence Nuclear Safety Regulator published its reports on Faslane from 2005 to 2015, identifying 86 regulatory problems. Publication then ceased on “national security” grounds.8 Concern has also been expressed over the planned increase in radio-active waste being discharged from Faslane/Coulport.9 There is also regular transportation of warheads for maintenance through residential areas from Burghfield in the south of England to the Royal Naval Armaments Depot (RNAD) at Coulport on Loch Long. These nuclear convoys have been deliberately down-played as a terrorist risk but they can be readily traced and their route predicted. Nukewatch, a group of volunteer anti-nuclear activists, has been tracking these for years but has chosen not to announce the routes publicly in advance. A serious attack or accident could cause a major radiation leak. A review of safety arrangements for these convoys in Scotland identified serious failures in safety responses in the event of an accident or an attack.10

Scotland also has two ageing nuclear power plants – Hunterston B (North Ayrshire) and Torness (East Lothian) – in the central belt. Hunterston has had periods of closure because of risk from cracks. It has recently been announced that it will not re-open and it is predicted that the risk of cracks will happen in Torness by 2022.11 Torness had had other problems, including a faulty valve in June 2020. There are also three other civil nuclear sites being decommissioned (Dounreay, Chapelcross Power Station and Hunterston A Power Station). All of these are potential risk factors.

Transition issue: Nuclear weapons will be one of the two biggest issues in negotiations (the other being the share of the UK’s national debt). This is an issue in which Scotland could play a genuinely important international role (discussed below).


How Scotland deals with the presence of nuclear weapons on its territory at Faslane/Coulport will be a defining issue in its international standing and in its confidence as a new state. It is an issue with very significant international implications as well as a factor of serious domestic risk. If the issue is handled strongly and responsibly it will establish Scotland’s reputation as a serious player. If Scotland bends under pressure from the UK Government this will be an invitation for increased pressure on all fronts. The likely tactic of the UK Government in the negotiation period will be to seek a long-term rental agreement to continue using the sites. Even if the rental period was five years, this would still be seen as a victory because the assumption would be that they have established a precedent and could continue to exert pressure to continuously renew the rental agreement. They will in all likelihood be supported in this by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

What is required is a very clear pathway for the removal of nuclear weapons from Scotland and a formal public notification of this after a Yes vote. The SNP has supported such a pathway,12 as have the Greens and detailed technical work has been done on this process.13 Within the first year of independence there should be a prohibition on Trident submarines being deployed with nuclear weapons from Scottish land or sea territory. RNAD Coulport has the expert personnel and facilities to remove the components to disable the missiles and the 200 warheads and by the end of year two these should all be removed from Scotland. Assuming a two to three-year transition period, from a Yes vote to formal independence, the rUK will have a period of four to five years to prepare and complete the removal, depending on a clear, detailed, red-line commitment at the start of the negotiation period. There is potential storage for warheads if rUK does not choose to decommission them at, for example, RAF Honington in England. Since the Trident missiles are rented from the US and return there for servicing, their future is a matter for rUK-US negotiations once removed from Scotland. The time-scale for the removal of the hulks and of the Astute nuclear-powered (but not nuclear armed) submarines could be left open for negotiation.

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW)14 gives Scotland a structure, with United Nations backing and within international law, to become a non-nuclear state with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) supervision. The process of formal ratification of the TPNW has been completed and it will formally come into force in January 2021. Support for Scottish ratification has come from the SNP, the Greens and some Labour parliamentarians.

 Article 4 of the Treaty states:

“Each state party that has any nuclear weapons or other nuclear devices on its territory or in any place under its jurisdiction or control that are owned, possessed or controlled by another state shall ensure the prompt removal of such weapons as soon as possible but not later than a deadline to be determined by the first Meeting of State Parties. Upon the removal of such weapons or other explosive devices, that State Party shall submit to the Secretary General of the United Nations a declaration that it has fulfilled its obligations under the Article.”

Constitutional Issues

There are defence issues which should be included in a Scottish Constitution. The deployment of armed forces should include a “triple lock”.15 The first lock means that Scottish forces could only be used out of territory if there is a clear mandate under international law (for example in United Nations peacekeeping operations). The next lock means that even when a mandate exists, the Scottish Government must be able to articulate a strategy for how the use of military forces can resolve the problem(s). And the third lock is that any deployment should require majority support in the Scottish Parliament.

There is also support from the SNP, the Greens and civic groups for a constitutional clause prohibiting the presence of weapons of indiscriminate mass destruction on Scottish territory, including biological, chemical and nuclear weapons. Austria, for example, has a Constitutional Act stating that “nuclear weapons must not be manufactured, stored, transported, tested or used in Austria”.

Transition issue: Considerable work is already being done on a Scottish Constitution (for example, Constitution for Scotland:

Scottish Security and Intelligence Agency

It is clear from the UK’s security risk assessment that what has been identified as serious issues for Scotland – cyber-attack/crime, serious organized crime, protection of marine resources and possible malicious state or commercial action – we need a good intelligence service designed for Scotland’s needs. It makes no sense to divide the tasks among different services.

Scotland should create a single integrated all-source national intelligence agency responsible for collecting, analysing and utilising information in support of law enforcement, national security and foreign policy objectives.16 The Scottish Security and Intelligence Agency (SSIA) could be largely modelled on the Danish Politiets Efterretningstjeneste (PET) in that it would form part of the national police service but would be responsible for both domestic and foreign intelligence operations. The SSIA should be based at the Scottish Crime Campus at Gartcosh in Lanarkshire. It would have extensive capabilities but with strong political and judicial safeguards for lawful and proportionate use.

Transition issue: One of the great advantages of basing an SSIA at Gartcosh is that a core part of the needed structure is already in place and is devolved. Planning for the expansion of Gartcosh’s capacity can take place at any time. 

Scottish Defence Force

Scotland will have a special opportunity to develop a Scottish Defence Force (SDF) appropriate to the risk environment we face, but with some capacity to adapt under changed circumstances. The approach should start from a fundamentally different perspective from the UK. As Crawford and Marsh have said in their revised Scottish Defence strategy, we will not need “aircraft carriers, submarines, tanks, army attack helicopters, heavy artillery and fast jet aircraft”.17 UK hardware is geared to a global interventionist role which is not relevant for Scotland. The establishment of the SDF will also provide an opportunity to improve conditions for Scottish armed forces personnel with some recommendations on this already included in the SNP MPs’ submission to the UK Government Integrated Review.18

Within the policy parameters different configurations are possible for the organization of an SDF and the following are illustrations, not rigid prescriptions, and drawn from three sources:19

NavyMaritime defence forces should be the main priority for Scotland given our geographical position with a long coastline, major marine resources and close proximity to Europe and Ireland. Resource defence is required for the growing marine renewable energy infrastructure, the declining, but still significant, oil extraction and fishing industries, as well as commercial marine transport that Scotland needs to expand – particularly in the post-Brexit context where new disputes may arise. Smuggling is a substantial issue with big revenue losses and the associated growth of serious organized crime. All of this requires close cooperation between a new navy, Customs, Police Scotland and Marine Scotland. Physical resources and personnel should be shared where appropriate. Liaison with defence and customs bodies of neighbouring maritime states will need to be developed, including through the mutual embedding of some personnel and compatible equipment.

A significant increase in offshore patrol vessels/cutters will be required as well as two frigates and maritime aircraft capability, and at least 2,500 personnel, including a marine commando unit (a third of these should be in reserves). The main bases would be at Faslane and Rosyth.

Army: The army should be built around a number of light infantry battalions with supporting artillery, signals, medical, engineering and logistics capabilities and a small contingent of Special Forces. The Army should be geographically dispersed throughout Scotland with the advantage of enabling most army personnel to have permanent homes in the community. A Scottish army should follow the Irish example and contribute regularly to United Nations peacekeeping operations and humanitarian disaster assistance. The number should be around 6,000 personnel with one third in reserves.

Air ForceAn air force would include a fleet of transport aircraft, maritime patrol aircraft, a helicopter fleet, unarmed drones and around 2,000 personnel. Drone technology is moving fast and this may alter the balance of choices even in the near future.

The above suggests that 11,000 SDF personnel would be needed on a 70/30 ratio of regular to reserve forces. All existing members of the UK armed forces at the point of independence who have a Scottish background (broadly defined) and who want to transfer to the SDF will have the right to do so. There will be transitional issues in relation to personnel planning and re-training. We are likely to find that we have too many or too few transferring and are unlikely to immediately have the desired balance of skills and experience. However, given the high turnover of military employees, this is a short-term issue.

The estimated annual cost suggested by Crawford and Marsh is between £1.1 and £1.3 billion. This is substantially lower than the share of UK Defence expenditure allocated to Scotland under the GERS accounts, which is £3.4 billion. Negotiations on Scotland’s share of UK Defence resources will require decisions on whether there should be any physical transfer or only a transfer of asset value or a combination of both. Macdonald suggests that the initial negotiating position should be that zero assets should be physically transferred and instead we should receive asset values, an approximate value of which would be around £10 billion. Negotiations can proceed from that base position. Scotland would clearly wish to avoid being left with equipment which is dated or inappropriate for our security priorities. 

National Defence Academy

A Scottish National Defence Academy should provide an integrated education, training and research facility for the armed forces, but should also include some shared educational work with police, customs, paramedics, coastguards and other relevant services. This could be a stand-alone institution or attached as a faculty to one or more of our universities.


The decision on whether to apply for full NATO membership should await the removal of nuclear weapons from Scotland. The reason for this is that NATO, as a strategic nuclear alliance (although some member states do not have nuclear capability on their territory), will be hostile to Scotland’s requirement for the removal of rUK nuclear weapons. NATO has put considerable pressure not just on member states but also on, for example, Sweden not to ratify the TPNW. This is likely to have an impact on any negotiations. Once the removal of nuclear weapons from Scotland has been implemented and in that sense is off the table, negotiations on NATO membership can take place in a different context. But one factor that should also be made clear is that Scotland’s security needs can be met at a cost far below the current NATO expenditure target of two percent of GDP. This NATO figure has been adopted under US pressure and may change by the time negotiations start.

Scotland would, of course, seek full membership of the United Nations, Council of Europe, Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) and membership or observer status in the Arctic Council.


A traditional narrow focus on “defence” issues is not appropriate for Scotland, nor indeed for any country given 21st century challenges. The armed forces have to be placed in the context of new security challenges and the responses required, including the value of investing in soft power as in the case of Ireland. There are some initiatives that can be taken now by the Scottish Government that are both useful in themselves and create a bridge to the institutions of an independent state. Creating a Secure Scotland Commission and upgrading the status of the intelligence centre at the Scottish Crime Campus at Gartcosh to a “provisional” or “pre-natal” Scottish Security and Intelligence Agency would be viable initiatives within the current devolved powers. In summary:

  • Cyber security issues are clearly emerging as a priority and we have in the proposed SSIA a practical plan for that.
  • Coastal protection is a higher priority for Scotland than the rUK and is likely to increase in significance. It has been neglected and requires a substantial increase in off-shore patrol vessels and personnel.
  • The proposed SDF should be designed for flexibility with a modest core capability that can be adapted to changed circumstances. We do not need the current UK’s major hardware designed for a global interventionist role. The SDF’s cost will be substantially less than that assigned to Scotland currently by the UK Government.
  • Nuclear weapons and Faslane/Coulport are dominant risk issues and will be a major challenge in transition negotiations. Statements of opposition to nuclear weapons are worthy but meaningless unless accompanied by a very clear plan with a tight timetable for their removal. Work has already been done on this and Scotland’s position will be greatly strengthened by the TPNW.

Isobel Lindsay

Scotland, December 2020

I hope folk enjoyed this paper. I know it is longer than a normal post but it deals with important issues and the spreading of more knowledge on these issues can only aid Independence.

17 thoughts on “Section Two

  1. As I posted Yesterday, Ireland is Oor Template Not England, USA or the Russian Federation!
    Very glad to read that Oor Defence Budget would be, at today’s costs, about 1/3rd of the Robbing figure ‘Charged’ to Scotland in the Absurd GERS figure of £3.2 Bn p.a.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I had no idea such thought had been given to this full list of considerations. I particularly agree with the formation of the SSIA. Being anti-nuclear I am in support of all nuclear weapons and associated infrastructure being removed from Scotland.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Thank you for your interesting paper. You have reference numbers throughout but they don’t seem to be linked to anything. Is it possible for me to see the sources please?


  4. Our share of the UK’s national debt? We didn’t run any of that up! If the plan is indeed to take any of that on then it should only be mentioned in conjunction with our share of the assets. We get enough of that from the MSM – “Scotland’s deficit, etc, etc.”

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Again all good stuff. Maybe we should all sign up to Nicola Sturgeon’s announcement today of setting up an Independence Task Force and the appointment of a new High Profile Strategist.

    Just what the suckers want to hear. Total pap from a First Minister up to her ears in a criminal conspiracy.

    Well let us be clear on one thing. Unless and until the cancer that currently runs the SNP is excised and criminals involved in a criminal conspiracy brought to justice, there will be absolutely no progress to independence. And all candidates for the forthcoming election should take very good notice of that. They can no longe4 stand idly by being part of the rotten Burgh that is the current statelet of Scotland.

    And so we must keep up the good work. Independence can be won. But change, big change is needed, and it is needed now.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The only major problem I have with the conclusions in this paper is the belief we don’t need fighter aircraft. With Scotland’s maritime footprint, extremely strategic geographic position and offshore assets, the ability to dispatch interceptors to any incoming threats (provocative or real) is essential. Two frigates and some Coastguard Cutters are not going to be much protection if they are hours, or even days, away. Aircraft Carriers are of NO use to an independent Scotland, but aircraft are. They are very much the first response defence of any country with Scotland’s footprint and global positioning. We can’t, embarrassingly, leave it to others (such as the UK) to do it for us.

    All in my opinion of course. Others will no doubt disagree.


    1. For deflecting nosey Bears? Perhaps, but they don’t need to be the latest thing as they’re surveillance rather than offensive. A couple of squadrons of Foxbats or suchlike would do the trick…


      1. If they’re not a threat to any intruders they’re no deterrent, and useless in the event of an actual attack. They need to be capable of at least making a potential enemy think twice. As I said, we can’t leave it to others to do it for us.


  7. This is an excellent analysis by Isobel Lindsay and I’d like to thank her for producing it – I agree with much of what is put forward here – an integrated security service and Gartcosh centre – the focus on maritime defence – the numbers and scale of military assets mostly, and the estimated investment needed.

    Now for the criticism!

    I wouldn’t mention anything about ‘national debt’ on a presentation here (in brackets, in bold near the top of this section) – it is a separate issue and not necessarily one needing negotiation – in fact the ‘debt’ is definitely not needing negotiation (but then you have to go down the road of defining government debt, which is not the same as personal debt and,,, well, best leaving it well alone). It isn’t relevant here, and distracts from the rest.

    I would say there shouldn’t be any negotiation on shares of assets/debts at all – it’s not worth it overall, and I don’t think will benefit us. Whatever is still within our national territory on the day we become independent is ours – England gets the massive, huge, benefit of being the continuing state, the U.K. This is worth much more to them than anything we have, trying to negotiate or divvying anything up is not going to see us in a position of strength or benefit us in any way. I’d say ‘if you want to hold on to the title of UK and all the memberships and benefits that brings, you can just leave us alone (and put the sea border back to where is should be, thank you)’. If they want to negotiate anything before independence – let them ask for it. On the big main stuff I mean – there should and will be agreements made on various things after independence to ensure good relations and trade etc.

    If trident is still on our soil when we become independent, I suppose it’s ours, then, to dispose of as we see fit, with UN agreement. I agree about waiting re membership of NATO.

    I think nuclear power stations are a separate issue that should be dealt with separately – there are security issues there too, but that isn’t particularly addressed here. The last I heard, for example, is that Dounraey is storing Australian nuclear waste – their rental period has ended, but of course they don’t want it back, and how do you transport it back… Anyway, I think it needs its own analysis, decommissioning may end up being very costly, there are environmental concerns (don’t want to be the international nuclear waste dump), and safety concerns, etc.

    I’ll say again though – this is good stuff: well thought out, and well presented. Thanks for posting it Iain, I doubt I’d have sought it out otherwise,

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh, and I also like the idea of a constitutional triple lock on the deployment of armed forces – if this is written down it has the added benefit of immediately improving international relations – any country negotiating trade deals etc will already be confident we aren’t going to invade and asset-strip them (that is, we don’t need to build a reputation on that front, whoever our government is they will not be able to go around invading other countries).

      Liked by 1 person

  8. This is the kind of serious stuff about Scotland’s future I like to read about, it lays out the directions we must take, along with a small amount of supposition after independence is gained. Its well thought out and gives me a sense of hope and perspective that Scotland can and will take its place in the world outside this union, and even though we are one of the oldest nations in Europe, we still have much to learn having been stuck for over 300 years in this union which has damaged our great potential. I would like to see the return of our 600 sq miles of stolen seas as well, Scotland’s assets are not to be plundered at the stroke of a foreign countries pens.

    Section one and Two, are fabulous blueprints on which directions and actions an independent Scotland must go and take. Pity the party (SNP) that was set up and kept in government by the public on the very premise of bringing independence to Scots and Scotland, didn’t care to lay out this path in such a lucid detail.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. a good analysis

    with modern glass cockpits civil aircraft can have problems. A few interceptors are needed to provide escort duties also fast search in SAR.

    If UN support is going to happen then Combat Air Patrol and ground attack support are needed to protect troops. Interceptors with hard points and rotary gunships are needed

    this size of the forces is also something that needs to be decided. Regular troops are expensive and can spend a lot of time in “training” between deployment. Reserves need to make up the majority of the force for economic and efficiency reasons. 1000 troops can cost over £50m pa in salary, living support, pensions. A total force of nearer 5,000 – 6,000 is nearer requirements. In shipping around six patrol vessels should be sufficient. If all large Calmac ferries are equipped with a heli deck and a container loading system they can be used as Theatre Support Vessel (as was used in Falklands). The three 1964 ferries were equipped for military use.

    Close Faslane on wrong side of country and with a long entry run. Use Leith and Rosyth both have docking facilities. Equip Oban Lerwick and Aultbea as resupply points Aultbea is a NATO refuelling base.

    Use Prestwick as main air support base with facilities at Edinburgh Turnhouse, Aberdeen Inverness and Sumburgh.


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