A former leader of the SNP has warned that members of the party are “dangerously naive” if they believe the trajectory towards independence will be decided solely within Scotland.
Writing today in his exclusive Holyrood column, Jim Sillars asserts Scotland is a “small nation within spheres of influence of major powers” such as the United States and European Union who will take an active interest in the constitutional debate over the next two years.
It follows an editorial in the Washington Post – downplayed by the SNP due to factual inaccuracies such as party policy on Nato – which declared that independence could culminate in “a less stable world”.
A row between the SNP Government and members of the opposition over the status of an independent Scotland within the EU intensified last week after Graham Avery, an honorary director-general of the EC, intimated readmission would not be required, providing Alex Salmond with a degree of breathing space amid criticism for only now seeking legal advice.
“… Scotland is not yet an independent state,” writes Sillars.
“We are on a road to it, and it has obstacles. They are others – states, on the same road, and they have an interest in our position, because they can be affected by independence. England is one, the Baltic states are another, the EU, and US/Nato is another.
“If any member of the party thinks we have a clear road ahead, with no external pressures from external interests, then they are dangerously naïve; dangerously naïve because they will be unprepared to cope with the external factors which, if ignored, will damage the campaign.
“I fully appreciate the moral outrage expressed by delegates who, for many years, have campaigned against nuclear weapons, especially the ones on the Clyde. But the silly, sarcastic, bombastic statements that emerged from the leadership after conference, that England can take Trident to Brazil or America, were anything but sensible.” Sillars asserts Trident “will be with us for some time before it finally leaves our waters” and insists a focus on Nato should have been established long before this summer.