BY EFFIE DEANS
There is a moment in the Godfather when Vito Corleone tells his rather dense son Sonny “Never tell anybody outside the family what you’re thinking again.” He was right. The fact that Sonny revealed his opinion leads directly to an assassination attempt on Don Corleone and indirectly to Sonny’s death.
I was reminded of this when Nicola Sturgeon chose to reveal her opinion about introducing a no fly zone in Ukraine. Sturgeon has no army, no navy and no air force. The Scottish Parliament has no say whatsoever on defence, nor indeed on foreign policy, but Sturgeon has been going beyond her remit for years.
She acted as if Scotland were a member of the European Union and was allowed by the EU to engage in low level international diplomacy. She tries to act as if Scotland is already an independent sovereign nation state rather than a part of one and now acts as if Scotland were a member of NATO. She does these things for a reason.
Scottish nationalism depends on establishing that Scotland already is what the SNP want it to become. The argument amounts to we are independent so we ought to become independent. It is for this reason that Sturgeon treats the visit of a British Prime Minister as if it were a visit from a foreign power. The argument may be contradictory, but it is also effective. Most Scots do think that Scotland is already a country just like France or Germany. It is why asking them “Should Scotland be an independent country?” amounts to should we be what we already are. After all our leader even has an opinion on foreign affairs and how to help other independent countries like Ukraine.
But it is here that the SNP’s obsession with independence becomes dangerous. Most of the time Sturgeon’s pretence that Scotland is already an independent nation state is petty and harmless, but not always.
If the members of the Corleone family had been united, if they had not revealed any difference in opinion, then it might have been possible to avoid the threat that developed to the family. So too if Remainers and Scottish nationalists had accepted defeat in the 2016 and worked together for the best possible deal for the UK, then the deal we achieved would have been much improved. Sturgeon’s playing at foreign affairs harmed Britain and did not bring her one step closer to independence.
The issue is far more deadly now. Britain’s dispute with the EU was about competing interests, but the member states of the EU remain our friends and allies. They are economic competitors but they are not threatening us. Russia is threatening us.
The risk of nuclear war is still remote, but it is a lot less remote than it was a few weeks ago. We must hope that the same rules apply as they did in the Cold War. If not, we are in trouble. But those rules limited the ability of NATO to act against Soviet aggression. Both sides went to great lengths to avoid shooting at each other, because it might escalate a conflict that was already dangerous enough.
It is understandable that Volodymyr Zelenskyy would like a no fly zone like the ones that the West imposed in Bosnia, Libya and Iraq. It would undoubtedly help Ukraine against Russia. It is understandable why Sturgeon wants to play the dim brother role, Zelenskyy is popular. Sturgeon hasn’t been on TV much lately. Sympathy with what the Ukrainian leader wants, might increase support for Sturgeon and Scottish independence. But she is in fact giving aid and comfort to Russia.
There is a reason why NATO has rejected a no fly zone. It has intelligence in both senses of the word. Sources will be telling the NATO command structure that a no fly zone risks escalating the conflict into a conflict between NATO and Russia. The only way to enforce a no fly zone is to threaten to shoot down Russian planes and mean it. We might also have to destroy Russian air bases, radar stations and the facilities on which the Russian air force depends.
But this is the equivalent of shooting border guards in Berlin because we sympathised with those East Germans trying to escape. It’s like shooting down Russian bombers testing UK defences as they approach the coast of Scotland. It’s like sinking Russian ships in the Moray Firth. If this is the SNP’s defence policy, while unilaterally getting rid of nuclear weapons from Scotland, it isn’t going to end well. Perhaps our unbuilt ferries can take on the Russian navy.
Those who threatened the Corleone family looked for division, because that division could be exploited. It was for this reason Don Corleone told his stupid son not to reveal his opinions in public. The Russians too will be attempting to exploit division in the UK. They know that if only Scotland could become independent, then one of three NATO nuclear powers would be diminished. There would no longer be any need to worry about the British armed forces, because they would have ceased to exist after three hundred years of defeating almost everyone.
A divided UK would have to worry about its northern flank. The former UK bases and radar stations in Scotland would belong to someone else. The UK has played an important role in supporting Ukraine sending weapons when Germany didn’t want them even to cross German territory. Putin would be delighted if Sturgeon succeeded in breaking up Britain. Why else do you think he was willing to fund Alex Salmond. It would be surprising if Putin’s money has not been helping other Scottish nationalists.
I suspect if asked Zelenskyy would say that the most helpful thing Sturgeon could do would be to abolish the SNP.
There are few real democracies in the world. We are threatened by tyranny not merely in Russia, but also in China. We cannot afford an idiot son who thinks that he is already Godfather. The UK can afford no division at all, not from Remainers and not from Scottish nationalists. Disunity now is dangerous.
Sturgeon should confine her comments to those areas that are controlled by the Scottish Parliament. She lacks the intelligence in both senses of the word to comment on anything else.
The excellent Effie Deans writes at Lily of St. Leonard’s here.