Scottish Independence: A (Nu)Clear Win-Win Choice

Saturday, 03 May 2014 09:23 By Jim McCluskey, Truthout | Op-Ed
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2014 0503 mccluskey mainChapelcross, Scotland. (Photo: 私の写真 / Flickr)

There is an argument for not politically splitting the territory of a small island. But when the advantages are examined, as some of them are here, it becomes clear that the proposed independence for Scotland will bring about a win-win situation: a win for Scottish citizens and a win for English citizens. 

On September 18, 2014, the Scottish people will vote on achieving independence from the government of Westminster. If successful, a Scottish government will be free to honor the wishes of the people. It will be able to rid itself of the appalling risks from the retention of nuclear weapons on their land and from the mad dangers of nuclear power stations. It will no longer need to be involved in illegal and gratuitous wars at the behest of the United States. The idea of a free Scotland electing to invade or drop bombs on another state is obviously ludicrous. Its taxes will be used to further the well-being of the citizens rather than fund foreign adventures instigated by an irresponsible and unaccountable power elite. All this will be of huge advantage to the citizens of England also. It will surely help to clarify the way that they are used by those with a different agenda, those who are intent on boosting their own power regardless of the detrimental effects on citizens.

The nuclear way a free Scotland could benefit both the citizens of Scotland and of England follows. 

Nuclear Power

When the Westminster government wanted to build one of the most dangerous types of nuclear power stations, namely a fast breeder reactor, to manufacture plutonium for its thermonuclear bombs officials, understandably, made sure it was as far away from Westminster as physically possible, consistent with keeping it on the UK mainland. They chose Dounreay, on the very most northerly part of the Scottish coast. Five reactors were built on the site.

A free Scotland will be powered by safe and sustainable forms of energy.

Their management was appalling. An estimated hundreds of thousands of irradiated fuel particles were left on the seabed and the beach - which has been closed since 1983 because of the danger. The last reactor was closed down in 1994 and was so dangerous that a robot had to be used to work on the decommissioning; a decommissioning that is by no means complete. Twenty years later, a large workforce is still being used in the attempt to make the site safe. The plan is to complete the cleanup by 2022-25 and to convert it to a brownfield site by 2336 - 342 years after closure! No wonder they wanted it as far away as possible! The total cost of cleanup is expected to be around £2.9 billion ($4.8 billion)!

The Scottish people - like those in Germany and other parts of the world - realize that nuclear power stations are both hopelessly dangerous and unnecessary (Fukushima, three years after three concurrent meltdowns, is still out of control and spewing radiation across Japan and the planet and into the Pacific Ocean). A free Scotland will be powered by safe and sustainable forms of energy.

This will be greatly advantageous for the people of England, the majority of whom do not want new nuclear power. In spite of being kept substantially in the dark about the terrors of Fukushima, only 37 percent said they would accept new nuclear power stations. When the citizens of England see that just across the border, citizens of Scotland can have their wishes honored, they will demand the same in England.

Nuclear Weapons

We must acknowledge the consistency of the Westminster establishment in nuclear matters. In order to "get their feet under the top table," they wanted to have a nuclear arsenal, but they were aware of the appalling dangers from accidents and terrorist attacks. Once again, the answer was clear. Get them as far away from Westminster as possible. Having decided on a fleet of nuclear submarines, each one able to carry 48 thermonuclear bombs and each one of these with a destructive power at least seven times that of the Hiroshima bomb, they made sure that they were parked in the most northerly river that would hold them, not the Severn, not the Mersey or the Tyne, but the Clyde. Well across the border in Scotland! Scotland wants them out.  

If a man walks into a crowd brandishing a gun, he is correctly seen as a threat to the people in the crowd. A state brandishing a nuclear arsenal is correctly seen as a threat to humanity. The rejection of the Westminster nuclear arsenal shows that a majority of the Scottish people want no part of this appalling threat to the rest of the world, which Desmond Tutu called "obscene."

In the UK, there is a strong and consistent majority against nuclear weapons in spite of relentless propaganda from the establishment in support of these genocidal instruments of Armageddon. There are 192 states in the United Nations. Only nine of them have nuclear arsenals. The other 183 states have had enough of the power elites in these nine states exposing their citizens and the rest of the world to dire risks. They are uniting with a view to bypassing these nine states and making nuclear weapons illegal. The Scottish citizens and their government, in harmony with this now irresistible movement, when they are free of the Westminster yoke, will send them back to their progenitors.

The citizens of England, of course, do not want them either. It seems likely that they will take courage from the example of a free Scotland and demand that their government rescind its decision to spend 100 billion pounds of taxpayer's money on rebuilding their nuclear arsenal. No wonder Lord Robinson is ranting against Scottish independence, screaming it would be "cataclysmic" and welcomed by "the forces of darkness." He used to be general secretary of NATO and labors under the delusion that arsenals of nuclear weapons are instruments of security rather than the greatest threat to the survival of our species. The people of Scotland know where the forces of darkness lie. When they are free, Robinson knows that his MAD (Mutual Assured Destruction) NATO/NUCLEAR strategy, to which he has devoted a large part of his life, is likely to collapse about his ears. Not surprising, then, that he is losing it with his hysterical outbursts. 


The UK's special-relationship primary ally, the United States, relates to the rest of the world with the precepts such as "full-spectrum dominance" and "manifest destiny." As a result, officials have developed the most potentially destructive military force the world has ever seen - one that can strike any part of the globe at a moment's notice. It does this by virtue of its unwavering belief that its dominance is part of the nature of things. God is with them.

After independence, Scotland would be able to spend its part of the present UK military budget on schools, healthcare, the elderly and to relieve the suffering of the poor.

The Westminster government, befogged by its fantasies of continuing to be a "Great Powe,r" complete with the hangover of imperial arrogance, holds on to America's hegemonic coattails and participates in its monstrous wars. Let us not forget that Cameron wanted to bomb Syria. He was only stopped by the House of Commons, which perhaps had learned from its disastrous and tragic decision to participate in the invasion and destruction of Iraq.

The Westminster government is the fourth largest military spender on the planet.

It is spending £100 billion on renewing its nuclear arsenal, £2.5 billion on new jet fighters, £6.2 billion in two new mega aircraft carriers, and £32.4 billion has been earmarked for "normal" military spending in 2015. The Scottish people would no longer be paying a substantial part of this expenditure. After independence, Scotland would be able to spend its part of the present UK military budget on schools, healthcare, the elderly and to relieve the suffering of the poor.

After independence, the Westminster militarists will no longer to be able to pump themselves up with the "Great Britain" mantra. What will they call themselves then? Probably not "Little England." But whatever it is, it is unlikely to hark back to imperial "glory." This will be a huge plus for the citizens of England who do not want to be continually waging gratuitous wars. The citizens of England did not vote for the politicians' wars. They would be able to say, "If Scotland does not need to be one of the largest arms spenders in the world, why do we?"  

Sustainable Energy

When free of the Westminster government and its fixation on nuclear power, Scotland will be able fully to put this old-thinking technology behind it and forge forward with the power sources of the future.

The natural resources available to Scotland for harnessing energy are extraordinary even by global standards. These include wind power and hydroelectric power from waves, tides and the movement of major flows of water along its coasts.

Already, it is a net exporter of energy; exporting over 26 percent of generation. About one-third of the entire Scottish land mass is a catchment area for an operating hydro scheme. By 2012, 40.3 percent of Scotland's energy came from renewable sources.

And its target is 100 percent for renewables by 2020! 

The natural resources available to Scotland for harnessing energy are extraordinary even by global standards.

When fully developed, offshore wind could provide almost half the energy used in Scotland.

Scotland is at the forefront of developing wave power and its Islay LIMPET development, opened in 2001, was the world's first commercial scale wave energy device.

Tidal power is in the development stage. The scheme unveiled at Invergordon in 2010 is claimed to the largest tidal turbine ever built.

A free Scotland could become a significant pioneer in renewable energy and thereby give encouragement by example to England and other states. 

Scottish Culture

Scottish independence is a nuclear issue in addition to the fissile material aspects. It is also nuclear in the dictionary sense of "That around which something can grow." A free Scotland will be an example to the world of what can be achieved by a liberal culture not hopelessly entangled in the interests of big business and power elites, which puts the wellbeing of its people first.

A free Scotland would improve the finances of its citizens. The tax system would be made fairer and energy bills would be reduced by 5 percent. The state pension would be protected with stronger guarantees that the real value would not fall. An ensured minimum wage will rise with inflation as will the value of benefits, tax allowances and tax credits. The rolling out of Universal Credit would be stopped and the bedroom tax abolished. All this would be facilitated by not having to subsidize nuclear power, not having to incur the huge expense of creating and maintaining a nuclear arsenal, not waging imperial wars and not giving massive support to the arms trade.

Scotland is one of the richest nations on the planet. In 2011, it was ranked eighth out of the 34 developed countries in the OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development). If free, it would elect to share its wealth equitably among its citizens. 

A free Scotland will be an example to the world of what can be achieved by a liberal culture not hopelessly entangled in the interests of big business and power elites, which puts the wellbeing of its people first.

But the underlying justification for Scottish independence is to continue developing a unique and priceless culture and heritage with values not synonymous with those of the Westminster elites or the United States. These elites are content to oversee a UK system in which the five richest families own more than the poorest 3,640,000 families! We learn from the Office of National Statistics that in the UK, the richest 10 percent of the population owns 43.8 per cent of the wealth. This degree of imbalance would not be acceptable in a free Scotland. 

Hugely contributing to the prosperity of a free Scotland would be its attitude to further education. It would not saddle its most talented and industrious young people with enormous debts. Under the Westminster government the average graduate leaves university with a dept of 44,000 pounds! What a way to start one's adult life. They will be well into middle age before they will have paid it off. Such a thing would be inconceivable in Scotland, where university education is free.

Scottish universities are renowned internationally, with five in the world's top 200, and are winning competitive research funds at a rate of 50 percent above the UK average based on their excellence.  

Of enormous importance is the promise that an independent Scotland would have a written constitution. This would state the duties of government and the rights of citizens. Once more, this example would be of great benefit to the English, especially those many fighting for a more fair society and accountable government. 

Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.

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