Reid says Scots state would be weak in face of al-Qaeda
By Paul Hutcheon
THE HOME secretary, John Reid, has sparked a row with the SNP by suggesting that independence would make Scotland more vulnerable to a terrorist attack.
The Labour MP said the creation of a separate Scottish state would "weaken" the UK's counter-terrorism strategy. He also said it was "fairytale" politics to claim independence would reduce Scotland's chance of being targeted by al-Qaeda.
The home secretary's remarks were made on a visit to Scotland last week, during which he briefed journalists on his thoughts about the SNP. They followed an earlier attack on the SNP at the Scottish Labour conference last weekend.
The Labour heavyweight, still viewed as a potential successor to Tony Blair, blasted Nationalists' policies as "inadequate" on terrorism and globalisation.
Asked whether independence would increase the likelihood of a terror attack in Scotland, he said: "Independence will damage the network of security services that operate against terrorists. And in terms of resources to apply to counter-terrorism, in all of those areas you would be weaker."
Reid said separation would hamper Scotland's ability to contribute to anti-terrorism efforts.
"Are they going to have border guards at the Tweed to stop the terrorists? Or, are you just assuming the terrorists will say yes, we've been massacring children as well as adults, we've murdered people who are Christians and Muslims, yes we've slaughtered people from every background and every nationality but we won't touch the Scots?'. This is fairytale politics," he said.
He also claimed the SNP's opposition to the Iraq war would not save Scotland from making it onto al-qaeda's list of targets: "The naivety of those who believe that, somehow, if you run away from the terrorist that the terrorist won't come after you, is illustrated throughout history. The last big arrests on terrorism were in Canada, but Canada not only wasn't in Iraq, Canada opposed the intervention in Iraq."
Reid added that no part of the UK was safe from terrorist attacks: "In the UK, the first attack by Islamic terrorists was outside of London. It was actually in Birmingham. We know that they will attack wherever they can."