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Security in a Small Nation

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Andrew W. Neal

Introduction

Andrew W. Neal

Résumé

This introduction begins by discussing the meaning and scope of ‘security’ in the context of the national independence of small states. It then summarises the main points of contention over security in the debate about Scottish independence during the 2014 referendum, including issues of intelligence sharing, border control, policing, resilience planning, cybersecurity, and economic security. It considers the security experiences of some other small European countries, and also the implications of developments since 2014, particularly the Brexit vote. The final section discusses the ESRC seminar series from which this book was produced, and the organisation and content of the chapters.

Texte intégral

1Questions about ‘security’ provide a lens that brings issues of national independence into sharp focus. In the first instance, security concerns the ability of a state to protect its inhabitants from danger. The idea that security is the first responsibility of government has long been a political mantra. But choosing strategies to ensure a country’s effective security often entails a tension between the protection of its citizens and their individual freedom. Ensuring that citizens are safe from the excesses of state power, for example through guarantees of privacy and human rights, becomes central to the security debate. Such issues are interwoven with the country’s particular style of politics and democracy. Seen in such a light, we must ask what exactly it is that needs to be ‘secured’. In the context of national independence, the answer often goes beyond basic survival; it involves values, culture, prosperity, and the place of a state and its people in the world.

2The chapters in this book reflect upon the security questions raised by the prospect of Scottish independence from the United Kingdom. Despite a victory for the No side in the 2014 referendum, these questions have not gone away. The vote did not settle the issue of independence for a generation as Unionists hoped it would. The Scottish National Party (SNP) went on to win a landslide of Scottish Westminster seats at the 2015 General Election and remained the governing party of Scotland in the 2016 Scottish Parliament elections. At the time of writing, after the UK’s vote to leave the European Union in June 2016, the Scottish First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, is touting independence as a way to keep Scotland in the EU. There is every chance that Scotland may revisit the question of independence, and thus inevitably the question of Scottish national security, sooner rather than later.

3Elsewhere, separatism within other EU member states is still firmly on the agenda, most notably in Spain. And the UK’s decision to leave the EU — otherwise known as Brexit — may be the beginning of a major regional, institutional, and geopolitical shakeup. It could have a domino effect, prompting other member states to demand their independence from the EU too. In all cases, independence is not so much an answer but a series of further questions. Independence from what, and to do what? What ‘security’ would such independence bring? And could a small, newly independent state fare better against forces that even the biggest and most ‘secure’ states seem unable to control, such as migration, capital flows, and new technologies of communication and social organisation?

  • 1 Jack Moore, ‘Brussels Attacks: Belgian Intelligence Services “Overwhelmed and Outnumbered” by Jihad (...)
  • 2 Sébastien Pietrasanta, Au nom de la commission d’enquête relative aux moyens mis en œuvre par l’Éta (...)

4There are many current crises that make the true ‘independence’ of states uncertain. The financial crisis of 2008 has ongoing implications for the financial independence of small states such as Iceland and Greece, as it would for Scotland if it were to become independent, with lingering issues of budgetary deficit and national debt. Terrorist attacks in continental Europe and the Middle East raise questions about the permeability of borders, the effectiveness of international security cooperation, and the intelligence and counter-terrorist capabilities of states, small and large. For example, the police and intelligence services of Belgium — a binational state, the unity of which is consequently sometimes strained — were heavily criticised in the wake of the Brussels airport attack of 22 March 2016.1 So too were the French services in a high-level review of their responses to the Bataclan attacks.2

5The issue of security crystallises these questions. Could a newly independent state prevent such challenges from becoming existential crises? What help would it need, and could it expect, from elsewhere? The Scottish independence referendum, its politics and debates, and the successes and failures of its campaigns, bring these issues into sharp relief. Although the experience of the 2014 referendum is now history, the lessons it offers remain current. The debate over Scotland’s future continues, and the Scottish experience provides a salient example for other parts of the world that face constitutional challenge and upheaval.

Security in small nations

6Security has always been a policy area of special importance, and the events of 11 September 2001 elevated it even higher on government agendas. The perceived threat level in many parts of the world has not since abated. Threats are seen as greater and more numerous in all too many cases.

  • 3 Didier Bigo, ‘Internal and External Aspects of Security’, European Security, 15, 4 (2006), 385–404; (...)

7In the intervening decade and a half, the meaning and application of ‘security’ have not remained the same. Security was traditionally understood as the domain of high politics, commanders-in-chief, militaries, foreign policy, intelligence agencies, and special branches of police. In many countries this legacy has now been supplemented by comprehensive national security strategies; ‘whole of government’ approaches; national risk assessments encompassing every area of social, political, and economic life; and new forms of security governance covering such diverse areas as cyber, health, environment, energy, and food. The issue of security now encompasses more than the threats a country faces. Security — and the management of insecurities — has become an extensive governmental activity involving multiple departments and agencies, both within and across states.3

8Any examination of state security requires us to consider not only practices of government, but also matters of politics. Liberal democratic governments do not legislate without the public justification of policies and decisions. Ideally, such governments would face constant scrutiny by parliaments, the media, experts, and an engaged public. Historically, however, security has often been shielded from the public eye, confined to the opaque domains of the military and secret intelligence. The wider political class was traditionally kept at arm’s length from security governance through mechanisms of official secrecy and limited democratic oversight. Despite increased transparency since the end of the Cold War — for example, the varying degrees of intelligence oversight reform in many countries, including the UK — these obscuring mechanisms still exist. Nevertheless, despite on-going forms of secrecy, the expansion of the meaning and practice of security resulted in broader political examination in recent years. For example, the security of energy supplies, food, health, and the cyber domain do not arouse the same jealous protection of sovereign prerogative as secret intelligence does, and so allows greater scrutiny, deliberation, and contestation.

  • 4 H. Bochel, A. Defty, and J. Kirkpatrick, Watching the Watchers: Parliament and the Intelligence Ser (...)

9But exposing security to more political debate and oversight poses problems of ethics and responsibility, which the Scottish referendum exposed. To what extent should security be politicised? Should its existential importance elevate it above partisanship, as was traditionally the case in the British system?4 The opportunities for sensationalism that are provided by public security discourse pose a challenge to this tradition. It is difficult for democratic deliberation on security to proceed in an informed, balanced, and rational way when faced with the rhetorical temptations of scaremongering and scapegoating. When dealing with the uncertainties of unknown futures, the politics of fear can be all too effective (as the No campaign in the Scottish referendum showed in a more general sense). Another way to look at this is that it is difficult to oppose policies that claim to increase our security when so much of the necessary information is kept secret by the state. It remains the case that, despite the expansion of the meaning and practice of security, at its core it remains a deeply institutionalised part of state authority, arguably the raison d’être of the state itself.

10In contrast to these entrenched national security traditions, the politics of national independence are the politics of the new. Proponents call for novel ways of organising social, political, and economic life, free from the structures and constraints of old practices. The Scottish referendum created the opportunity to re-examine the workings of every part of the modern state, including its security apparatus. How much exists for historical path-dependent reasons, rather than by design? Would a new beginning offer the chance to create better ways of doing things? For example, the number and structure of the intelligence agencies in a given country is often the product of historical circumstance. While many small European countries have police and military-based agencies, the UK has separate civilian-based domestic, foreign, and signals (communications and cyberspace) intelligence services (MI5, MI6, and Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ)).

11In its proposals for an independent Scotland, the Scottish Government produced a comparatively radical idea for a single integrated intelligence agency (for further discussion see Chapter 5 in the present volume). If ened, this may have posed problems, such as the concentration of powers of state intrusion in a single agency, but it could also have been a more efficient way to tackle security issues in a world where the lines between domestic, foreign, and signals domains are increasingly blurred.

12Yet old structures and constraints cannot be made to disappear overnight, even if constitutional relationships change. Embarking on a new path entails a continuing negotiation with the old. Physical geography is fixed, and imbalances in power and resources remain. And while much is fluid in twenty-first century security governance, many of its edifices remain entrenched. Military restructuring, for example, can take decades, especially if new equipment is to be procured or bases are to be moved. These changes can have major implications for local and national economies, and are thoroughly political for the constituencies and interests involved. This was a prominent issue in the politics of Scottish independence, most obviously with the potential relocation of Trident, but also with the future of the Royal Air Force bases on the east coast of Scotland and naval shipbuilding on the Clyde and Forth. The longevity of security apparatuses applies not just to military hardware, but also to security knowledge, authority, and relationships. For example, a newly independent state could indeed create a new intelligence agency, but what depth of experience and knowledge would it have? What sources of intelligence could it access? What cooperative arrangements would it have with allies? And what recognition would it receive domestically and internationally as a credible security authority?

This project

  • 5 The Reports from this seminar series can be found on the title page on the Open Book Publishers web (...)

13The chapters in this book are the product of a seminar series called ‘Security in Scotland, with or without constitutional change’, hosted by the University of Edinburgh in partnership with the Universities of St Andrews and Namur, Belgium. The seminars ran from 2013 to 2015 and were funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) under the umbrella of the wider ‘Future of the UK and Scotland’ research programme. The seminars began a year before the referendum and concluded a year afterwards. Our main aim was to inform public debate on the security issues posed by Scottish independence. We did this by publishing a number of reports, which went on to feature in the national press.5 We also aimed to create a new Scotland-based forum for security research and policy dialogue, which we did by creating a new research centre at the University of Edinburgh: the Centre for Security Research or CeSeR. The seminars brought together academic experts, parliamentarians from Westminster and Holyrood, civil servants from the Scottish and UK services, and police, security, and intelligence practitioners, some serving, some retired. The seminars were closed-door events, held under the Chatham House Rule (meaning no public identification of the speakers or attribution of what they said). This rule is never ideal in terms of public dialogue and transparency, but it is often the only basis under which it is possible to have frank discussions with professionals who occupy sensitive or formally impartial positions (for further discussion of the dilemmas of public security discourse, see Chapter 8 in this volume).

14The chapters included in this volume represent a core selection of the issues that were covered. Note that we make a distinction between ‘security’ and ‘defence’, and although the two are connected, we concentrate primarily on the former. We take security to denote the broadening subject discussed above, while defence relates more to military matters such as troop levels, hardware, bases, broad geostrategic issues, and indeed Trident. Note that the Scottish and UK Governments both made this distinction in their pre-referendum publications, with the Scottish Government White Paper Scotland’s Future presenting separate chapters on ‘International Relations and Defence’ and ‘Justice, Security and Home Affairs’, and the UK Government publishing separate Scotland Analysis papers on ‘Security’ and ‘Defence’. We do, however, discuss foreign policy and alliances in our first two chapters. The book aims to reflect on the issues of broadest relevance beyond the immediate demands of the Scottish context, while also being able to inform any future Scottish independence debate. Much was discussed in the seminars that is too specialised or contextual for wider debates about security, such as the internal workings of the Scottish police and resilience apparatus (which entails responding to, and recovering from, civil emergencies), or the place of Scotland in the UK National Security Strategy (constitutionally speaking, national security is an area ‘reserved’ to Westminster, but the broad scope of the security risks and challenges currently envisaged by the UK NSS entails roles and responsibilities for many levels of government, including the Scottish Government). The seminars also covered much that cannot be included for simple reasons of space; for example, we would need another volume to include all the expert analysis we invited from other small countries and territories such as Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and the Faroe Islands. This introduction will instead touch on some of this, Chapter 2 discusses Nordic comparisons in depth, and Chapter 5 discusses Norwegian and Belgian intelligence arrangements.

15The book focuses on three core themes, presented in three sections, which can be seen as three levels of analysis. They are: (1) small states and security, (2) democratic accountability and oversight, and (3) security, politics, and public debate.

16The first concerns the international relations of small states, and the possibilities and limits of independence. The two chapters here discuss the foreign policy of small states (Chapter 1, by Juliet Kaarbo and Daniel Kenealy) and their alliances (Chapter 2, by Baldur Thorhallsson and Alyson J. K. Bailes) through the prism of Scotland.

17The second section concerns what are, broadly speaking, constitutional questions of the relationship between democracy, security, and, particularly, intelligence and surveillance. These fraught issues are active and topical in many contexts, including the UK, EU, US, and many small states, particularly since the leaks by Edward Snowden. The first chapter in this section examines the competing meanings and interpretations of security in different national contexts (Chapter 3, by Charles D. Raab); the second considers lessons from Westminster on the reform of parliamentary intelligence oversight (Chapter 4, by Hugh Bochel and Andrew Defty); while the third analyses the politics, practicalities, and implications of the pre-referendum Scottish Government proposals for intelligence oversight in an independent Scotland (Chapter 5, by Colin Atkinson, Nick Brooke and Brian Harris).

18The third section concerns micro-level analysis of the political cut-and-thrust of the referendum campaigns, and the ways in which security issues were presented and constructed by the competing sides and the media. The first chapter in this section examines the extent and depth of public debate on intelligence in the campaigns (Chapter 6, by Sandy Hardie); the second assesses how the media handled the issues (Chapter 7, by Eamonn P. O’Neill), while the third considers the ethical dilemmas involved in political debate on security (Chapter 8, by Andrew W. Neal).

The context

  • 6 UK Government, Scotland Act 1998 (London: HMSO, 1998), gov.uk/ukpga/1998/46/pdfs/ukpga_19980046_en. (...)

19The enquiries and discussions in our seminars illuminated much about the modern-day business of security governance. While the temptation in public debate and much of academic scholarship is to look directly at key security decisions made at the highest state level, the practice of security governance is in fact a complex and multi-layered affair. In focusing on Scotland — a partially autonomous region and constituent nation of the United Kingdom with devolved government — it becomes clear that security is not the concern of central government alone, despite national security being a ‘reserved area’ under the terms of the 1998 Scotland Act.6 This multi-level complexity is true of developments in security governance in other comparable countries too. One effect of the expansion of the concept of security into a more encompassing risk-based concern is that many more partners and agencies become involved. Beyond the traditional intelligence services, branches of the military, and police forces, security governance increasingly involves local and regional government, private security companies offering personnel and specialised technical services, critical infrastructure providers such as water, power, and transport companies, and local stakeholders such as businesses and community groups.

20This kind of complex security governance poses a number of challenges. In the first instance, effective means must be found for agencies to communicate and work together. For example, as mentioned above, a lack of cross-agency coordination and communication in counter-terrorism has attracted criticism in Belgium and France during the last twelve months. Further afield, and with a very different kind of threat, the devastating effect of Hurricane Katrina on New Orleans demonstrated the consequences of inept contingency planning and emergency response, and a lack of investment in resilient infrastructure. Addressing these needs can be difficult. For example, many countries have institutional barriers between intelligence agencies and police forces. Sometimes this is by design, in order to prevent the emergence of monolithic centralised security apparatuses (an important concern in countries that have experienced totalitarian forms of government). In other cases the reasons may be more to do with ‘turf wars’ or historical contingencies; for example, the Nordic countries have more centralised models of policing than the Netherlands or the UK, which have stronger traditions of local autonomy. Despite fears about the growth of security states, there remain many examples of disjointed surveillance, intelligence, and security governance.

  • 7 Scottish Government, Preparing Scotland: Scottish Guidance on Resilience, Philosophy, Principles, S (...)

21In the UK, these multi-level arrangements are not necessarily directly managed from the centre. The Scottish Government has invested much time and effort to pursue its own distinctive way of doing things in certain aspects of security governance, such as with its policing and resilience planning. The 2004 Civil Contingencies Act created a statutory duty for local government to plan and prepare for emergencies and the Scottish Government has taken this a step further. It claims to be ‘world leading’ in developing a high degree of integration and interoperability between its emergency responders, and has also created its own ‘horizon scanning’ capabilities.7 It has created unitary police and fire services for Scotland, which depart from the localised arrangements that existed before and go against a longstanding British tradition of suspicion towards large-scale, centralised, and potentially repressive police forces — a suspicion which can be traced back to the creation of the Metropolitan Police by Sir Robert Peel in the nineteenth century.

  • 8 Jan Terpstra and Nicholas R. Fyfe, ‘Mind the Implementation Gap? Police Reform and Local Policing i (...)

22Scotland’s efforts in security governance, and particularly in resilience planning, have gone well in the sense that there have been few major failures (although problems arising from the implementation of police centralisation led to the resignation of the Police Scotland Chief Constable Sir Stephen House in 2015). Severe winter weather caused major traffic disruptions in 2010 and focused government minds on developing resilience capabilities further. Compare this to the Netherlands, where efforts to create a national police force were resisted by local mayors and police unions, and eventually had to be pushed through by the central government.8 Scotland’s efforts in these areas have probably benefited from having a relatively small, non-hierarchical, and centralised form of devolved government.

23Beyond this internal focus, multilevel interagency cooperation in the UK-Scotland security relationship has gone well too. For example, the security operation at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games was widely hailed as a success. It featured complex coordination between Scottish and UK agencies, including multiple police forces, the military, and the security services, as well as several private security providers. This of course raises the question of what would replace the capabilities provided by this cooperation in the event of Scottish independence.

24The fact that the SNP Scottish Government has invested in resilience and interagency interoperability is not separable from the politics of independence. Making Scotland more capable and state-like may ease any future transition to independence. It is also performative in the way it makes Scotland appear more state-like. A similar example is its foreign aid programme in Africa, which is not normally something that sub-state regional governments do, and which makes the idea of independence less of an imaginative leap. However, the political significance of these investments does not diminish the immediate practical importance of resilience capabilities in Scotland, which has more extreme weather and terrain than the wider UK, and a more unevenly distributed population, both of which pose particular challenges to communities and critical infrastructure. It is notable that these areas of resilience investment are in non-traditional aspects of security governance, where the meaning of ‘security’ is broader than national security.

  • 9 Cabinet Office, The UK Cyber Security Strategy Protecting and Promoting the UK in a Digital World ( (...)

25In the more traditional areas of national security and intelligence, Scotland is still reliant on the UK. For example, in our seminars it was shown that the specialist crime division of Police Scotland, which lists counter-terrorism among its tasks, depends on support from MI5 on a daily basis. Similarly, in cybersecurity, despite hosting a successful IT sector, Scotland depends on high-level cyber defences provided by GCHQ and the Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure. Small states can and do provide for their own security in the cyber domain (Finland is a world leader, for example), but these capabilities cannot be created overnight. This is especially important in knowledge-based economies, where industrial espionage and intellectual property theft could dent the attractiveness of a country to businesses and foreign investors. Note that the first objective of the 2011–2015 UK cyber security strategy was to make the UK the ‘one of the most secure places in the world to do business online’, and it is not clear how an independent Scotland could compete on those terms.9

  • 10 R. E. J. Penttila, Finland’s Search for Security through Defence, 1944–89 (Basingstoke and New York (...)

26Geography and the legacy of traditional security structures may be difficult to change, but they are not completely hard facts that remove choice and interpretation from government and politics. They represent a context of historical and geographical experience that policymakers and populations can approach in different ways. For example, Finland’s international and security outlook has been inseparable from its proximity to Russia. This has shaped its foreign policy, with neutrality in the Cold War followed by a gradual edging towards NATO since the 1990s. Although Finland’s geostrategic position may be seen as a constraint, this has also been the source of a strong tradition of security independence and its doctrine of ‘total defence’.10 This is a comprehensive national security model that reaches deep into Finnish social, political, and economic life, featuring, for example, conscription and public/private partnerships for national infrastructure protection.

27Similarly, any vision for Scotland’s future security would be profoundly shaped by its history in the United Kingdom. This has no doubt produced political differences within Scotland, and between Scotland and the rest of the UK. The politicisation of Trident is the obvious example of cleavage, with a decades-old Scottish hostility to the presence of a nuclear base on the Clyde dovetailing with Scottish separatism. The Iraq war also contributed to a sense of alienation from political institutions throughout the UK. Scottish Nationalist politicians have been able to channel this alienation into the idea of an alternative, independent Scottish future. Yet Scotland’s history in the UK also shapes aspects of its international outlook. For example, while SNP policy is to remove Trident from Scottish territory, in 2012 the party reversed its thirty-year-old policy of opposition to NATO, which is ultimately a nuclear defence alliance. In contrast, the radical left parts of the pro-independence Yes campaign, which included the Scottish Green Party and the Scottish Socialist Party, remain committed at the time of writing to unilateral nuclear disarmament and Scotland’s exit from NATO.11

28Similarly, the vision of independence produced by the SNP Scottish Government in its 2013 White Paper did not represent a radical break from UK foreign policy traditions. Although it proposed stronger constitutional safeguards on executive war powers and better human rights protections (no doubt a reaction to the politics of the Iraq War and the wider ‘war on terror’), it did not suggest a retreat from international affairs, nor anything resembling the post-Cold-War quasi-neutrality of Finland or Ireland. Following the Irish example in particular could have made some sense, given the smallness of the two countries, their connections to the UK, their relatively limited resources, and perhaps even small-scale parallels such as the presence of sectarian divisions and organised crime as internal security priorities. However, the limited ‘Irish model’ of security and international relations did not even enter the debate. The ‘Nordic model’ was more often cited, particularly the Danish model of international engagement (Thorhallsson and Bailes discuss small states and alliances in detail in Chapter 2). Despite more radical views on the left of Scottish politics, the SNP remains internationalist, Atlanticist, and Europeanist in outlook. Although its immediate policies depart from the misadventures of UK foreign policy of the past fifteen years, they do not depart from older British traditions of international engagement. The proposals by the Scottish Government in 2013 for an independent Scotland to claim a bigger regional maritime role could even have created greater tension with Russia, particularly given Arctic climate change and the possibility of increased northern shipping and resource extraction.

  • 12 Scottish Government, Scotland’s Future: Your Guide to an Independent Scotland (Edinburgh: Scottish (...)
  • 13 Scott MacNab, ‘Immigration: Scots “No More Tolerant Than English”’, Scotsman, 28 July 2015, http:// (...)
  • 14 Scott Blinder and William L. Allen, UK Public Opinion toward Immigration: Overall Attitudes and Lev (...)

29One major division to emerge between Scotland the rest of the UK concerns the EU and immigration. In the Brexit referendum, the Scottish electorate voted more strongly in favour of remaining in the EU than the rest of the country, with a 62/38 pro-remain split rather than the 48/52 of the UK overall. While at the time of writing it is difficult to envisage how Brexit will play out for the UK and Scotland, the issue has magnified existing political differences. Majority opinion among Scottish politicians has long been against restrictive UK immigration policy, and indeed the 2013 White Paper called for higher levels of immigration in a future independent Scotland.12 Despite this, Scottish public attitudes to immigration are not so different from those of the wider UK population: a 2015 YouGov poll suggested that 49% of Scots wanted to see less immigration, exactly the same proportion as in the rest of Britain.13 Based on data from the British Social Attitudes Survey, The Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford states that ‘Existing evidence clearly shows high levels of opposition to immigration in the UK’.14 Yet in the wake of the Brexit referendum, Scottish politicians of all parties have been vocal in trying to reassure resident EU nationals that they remain welcome in Scotland.

  • 15 Stone, Jon, ‘Nigel Farage Says the EU Has Allowed the “Free Movement of Kalashnikov Rifles and Jiha (...)
  • 16 [N.a.], ‘Does Scotland Export Twice as Much to England as It Does to the Rest of the World?’ (2012) (...)

30How an immigration policy that diverges from that of the remaining UK could work in practice is difficult to imagine. If an independent Scotland remained in the EU while the UK left, this would presumably necessitate some kind of border control to prevent non-UK citizens crossing from Scotland into England via an open border. Given the extent to which freedom of movement in the EU has been politicised and even securitized — for example, former UKIP leader Nigel Farage blamed freedom of movement for the apparent ease with which ISIS militants and weapons made their way to France and Belgium before the attacks in November 2015 and March 2016 — this could prove controversial.15 More prosaically, because Scotland trades far more with the rest of the UK than with the EU and the rest of the world (perhaps more than twice as much, although the figures are not firm),16 a hard border would have negative effects on Scotland’s economy if it hindered the movement of goods, services and people within Great Britain.

31The Brexit vote, and the renewed prospect of Scottish independence as a response, revived some of the thorniest issues from the 2014 referendum, raising questions that would be fundamental to Scottish statehood: what currency would an independent Scotland use? Would it be too risky for the Scottish economy to rely on oil and gas revenues (which have declined significantly since 2014)? At the same time, the Brexit vote has made Scotland appear more state-like, with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon active in ‘paradiplomacy’ to the EU, looking for a way for Scotland to remain a member or achieve some kind of special status.

  • 17 ‘Row as Ex-Intelligence Chiefs Say EU Membership Protects UK Security’, BBC News, 8 May 2016, http: (...)
  • 18 Maajid Nawaz and Julia Ebner, ‘The EU and Terrorism: Is Britain Safer in or Out?’(London: Quilliam, (...)
  • 19 Mapping this field has been a long-running task of Didier Bigo and his colleagues. See D. Bigo and (...)

32In the pre-referendum Brexit debate there was some discussion of the security benefits of EU membership, with prominent former members of the UK intelligence community vocal in their views. Sir John Sawers, former head of MI6, argued that EU systems for sharing information on, for example, the movement of suspect individuals, were an increasingly important part of security governance.17 Brexit could mean UK exclusion from shaping the development of such systems, although not necessarily from the sharing of information itself. In other areas of EU security the UK had already excluded itself before the EU referendum, playing no formal part in the EU external borders agency Frontex or its successor, the recently approved European Border and Coast Guard Agency. In contrast, the European Arrest Warrant has been used extensively in UK law enforcement. The Quilliam Foundation, a counter-extremism think tank, produced a comprehensive report on this question based on interviews with twenty high profile security experts including senior British politicians. They concluded that Brexit would not preclude security cooperation between the UK and the EU, and that much of the UK’s international security cooperation — particularly intelligence sharing — ‘will continue to predominantly take place bilaterally and with the Five Eyes alliance’.18 Brexit will not affect the UK’s place in NATO, and may even increase its commitment to the alliance. In many ways the debate about Brexit and security is inconclusive, in part because there is no EU security ‘model’ but rather a complex patchwork of agreements and information-sharing arrangements that include EU member states and non-member states.19

33What Brexit means for the national security of an independent Scotland is therefore not clear either. Given that most UK security governance does not depend on the EU, the UK would appear to be a more important security partner to Scotland than the EU or the rest of its members. Yet there is no guarantee that an independent Scotland either inside or outside the EU would become the ‘sixth eye’ of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing arrangement between the UK, US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Arguably it would be in the interests of the remaining UK to have close security cooperation with an independent Scotland, as suggested by the Scottish Government White Paper, but there are obstacles here. For example, sharing US intelligence with Scotland would not be in the gift of the UK because of the ‘control principle’, which prevents intelligence sharing with third parties (for detailed analysis, see Chapters 5 and 7 in this volume). There would also be oversight issues for Holyrood if the UK intelligence services continued to operate in Scotland.

34These questions about a future security relationship between an independent Scotland and the rest of the UK are to an extent unanswerable. They depend on future political positions, relationships, and good will that the various ‘sides’ do not wish to reveal now or cannot know in the present. On the one hand, any concession from Unionists to the idea of future security cooperation would be a concession to the viability of Scottish independence itself, and so politically unpalatable. On the other hand, the Nationalist interest in projecting reassurance and optimism about security issues might compromise the credibility of their arguments. It is for these reasons that the future of security cooperation between the UK and Scotland in the event of independence is as much a political question as an analytical one, and this is reflected in the focus of this book.

Conclusion

35Security in a Small Nation offers a range of expert analysis on these issues. The perspectives of the authors reflect a variety of specialisms, including foreign policy, surveillance and privacy issues, parliamentary intelligence oversight, media, and the politics of security. We hope the analysis presented here will inform the ongoing debate about the future of Scotland, the UK, and the EU, and also shed new light on some deeper questions about security and statehood. The issue of Scottish independence remains a focal point for fundamental questions about the future of nation states and the relationship between democracy and security.

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Pietrasanta, Sébastien, Au nom de la commission d’enquête relative aux moyens mis en œuvre par l’État pour lutter contre le terrorisme depuis le 7 janvier 2015 (Paris: Assemblée Nationale, 2016), http://www.assemblee-nationale.fr/14/pdf/rapenq/r3922-t1.pdf

Scottish Government, ‘Scotland’s Future: Your Guide to an Independent Scotland’ (Edinburgh: Scottish Government, 2013), http://www.gov.scot/resource/0043/00439021.pdf

―, ‘Preparing Scotland: Scottish Guidance on Resilience, Philosophy, Principles, Structures and Regulatory Duties’ (Edinburgh, 2016), http://www.readyscotland.org/media/1166/preparing-scotland-philosophy-principlesstructures-and-regulatory-duties-20-july-2016.pdf

Stone, Jon, ‘Nigel Farage Says the EU Has Allowed the “Free Movement of Kalashnikov Rifles and Jihadists”’, Independent, 17 November 2015, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/nigel-farage-says-the-eu-hasallowed-the-free-movement-of-kalashnivov-rifles-and-jihadists-a6737501.html

Terpstra, Jan and Fyfe, Nicholas R., ‘Mind the Implementation Gap? Police Reform and Local Policing in the Netherlands and Scotland’, Criminology and Criminal Justice, 15 (2015), 527–44, http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1748895815572162

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Notes

1 Jack Moore, ‘Brussels Attacks: Belgian Intelligence Services “Overwhelmed and Outnumbered” by Jihadis’, Newsweek, 22 March 2016, http://europe.newsweek.com/belgiums-security-services-overwhelmed-and-outnumbered-jihadi-threat-439490

2 Sébastien Pietrasanta, Au nom de la commission d’enquête relative aux moyens mis en œuvre par l’État pour lutter contre le terrorisme depuis le 7 janvier 2015 (Paris: Assemblée Nationale, 2016), http://www.assemblee-nationale.fr/14/pdf/rap-enq/r3922-t1.pdf

3 Didier Bigo, ‘Internal and External Aspects of Security’, European Security, 15, 4 (2006), 385–404; Didier Bigo, ‘Security and Immigration, toward a Critique of the Governmentality of Unease’, Alternatives: Global, Local, Political, 27: 1 (2002), 63–92.

4 H. Bochel, A. Defty, and J. Kirkpatrick, Watching the Watchers: Parliament and the Intelligence Services (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014), p. 27.

5 The Reports from this seminar series can be found on the title page on the Open Book Publishers website, http://www.openbookpublishers.com/product/524#resources. They can also be found on the website of the Centre on Constitutional Change, http://www.centreonconstitutionalchange.ac.uk/tags/security-defence

6 UK Government, Scotland Act 1998 (London: HMSO, 1998), gov.uk/ukpga/1998/46/pdfs/ukpga_19980046_en.pdf

7 Scottish Government, Preparing Scotland: Scottish Guidance on Resilience, Philosophy, Principles, Structures and Regulatory Duties (Edinburgh, 2016), http://www.readyscotland.org/media/1166/preparing-scotland-philosophy-principles-structures-and-regulatory-duties-20-july-2016.pdf

8 Jan Terpstra and Nicholas R. Fyfe, ‘Mind the Implementation Gap? Police Reform and Local Policing in the Netherlands and Scotland’, Criminology and Criminal Justice, 15, 5 (2015), pp. 527–44 (pp. 532–34).

9 Cabinet Office, The UK Cyber Security Strategy Protecting and Promoting the UK in a Digital World (London, 2011), https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/60961/uk-cyber-security-strategy-final.pdf

10 R. E. J. Penttila, Finland’s Search for Security through Defence, 1944–89 (Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan UK, 1991), p. 89.

11 [N.a.], ‘Who We Are’, No to NATO Scotland Coalition (2016), http://notonatoscotland.org.uk/index.html%3Fpage_id=201.html

12 Scottish Government, Scotland’s Future: Your Guide to an Independent Scotland (Edinburgh: Scottish Government, 2013), http://www.gov.scot/resource/0043/00439021.pdf

13 Scott MacNab, ‘Immigration: Scots “No More Tolerant Than English”’, Scotsman, 28 July 2015, http://www.scotsman.com/news/politics/immigration-scots-no-more-tolerant-than-english-1-3714620

14 Scott Blinder and William L. Allen, UK Public Opinion toward Immigration: Overall Attitudes and Level of Concern (Oxford: The Migration Observatory, 2016), p. 4, http://www.migrationobservatory.ox.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Briefing-Public_Opinion_Immigration_Attitudes_Concern.pdf

15 Stone, Jon, ‘Nigel Farage Says the EU Has Allowed the “Free Movement of Kalashnikov Rifles and Jihadists”’, Independent, 17 November 2015, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/nigel-farage-says-the-eu-has-allowed-thefree-movement-of-kalashnivov-rifles-and-jihadists-a6737501.html

16 [N.a.], ‘Does Scotland Export Twice as Much to England as It Does to the Rest of the World?’ (2012), https://fullfact.org/economy/does-scotland-export-twice-much-england-it-does-rest-world; Blinder and Allen (2016).

17 ‘Row as Ex-Intelligence Chiefs Say EU Membership Protects UK Security’, BBC News, 8 May 2016, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-36239741

18 Maajid Nawaz and Julia Ebner, ‘The EU and Terrorism: Is Britain Safer in or Out?’(London: Quilliam, 2016), http://www.quilliamfoundation.org/press/quilliamreleases-report-on-the-eu-and-terrorism-is-britain-safer-in-or-out/

19 Mapping this field has been a long-running task of Didier Bigo and his colleagues. See D. Bigo and E. Guild, Europe’s 21st Century Challenge: Delivering Liberty (Farnham and Burlington: Ashgate, 2010).

Auteur

Senior Lecturer in Politics and International Relations at the University of Edinburgh and co-director of the Centre for Security Research (CeSeR). He is the author of Exceptionalism and the Politics of Counter-Terrorism (2010); co-editor, with Jef Huysmans, Claudia Aradau and Nadine Voelkner, of Critical Security Methods (2014); and co-editor, with Michael Dillon, of Foucault on Politics, Security and War (2008). He was principal investigator of the ESRC seminar series ‘Security in Scotland, with or without constitutional change’ (2013–2015), and is currently finalising a monograph on security politics and professional politicians.

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