Monday, 22 October 2012
Power Over Principle?
The above building is well on its way to completion for 2015 at a cost of a mere £105m to the UK taxpayers.
The resplendent glass structure is the new NATO HQ building, situated on the northern side of the dual carriageway leading from Brussels towards Zaventem Airport, in an area which previously could only be described as 'no man's land'.
No doubt Alex Salmond is pleased SNP delegates narrowly voted for his proposal for an independent Scotland to join NATO, but will the newly adopted part of his defence strategy make independence more palatable to floating voters?
Time alone will tell but I was, like some of the speakers at the conference, very sceptical of the pro-speakers statistics. Where are the 75% of Scots who want Scotland to belong to NATO? Most people of my acquaintance are against having Trident missiles in Scotland and against the principles of NATO - just like the SNP has been for the past 30 years.
Angus Robertson's argument had a populist slant to it rather than deeply thought out points and his Who Dares Wins remark after his very slim victory confirmed it was a policy engineered to gain votes, with the defence of the country secondary.
Why join NATO now? In Afghanistan the UK are providing three times more troops per head of population than other European NATO allies. Will an independent Scotland follow London's lead in any future operations?
But the NATO policy wasn't only about defence; assuring the country's safety was secondary to the necessity of the SNP leadership to consolidate its power.
Power over principle is a dangerous route for any politician to walk. Luckily this time Alex Salmond won the argument, albeit by inches, but he must be careful to avoid the trap into which Labour fell in recent years when their preoccupation with power at all costs lost them two elections and the trust of the Scottish electorate.