By Chris Rumbles
Labour peer George Robertson has been accused of insulting the people of Scotland after claiming that a Yes vote in the independence referendum would be “cataclysmic” and that the “forces of darkness would simply love it”.
Robertson has faced criticism after delivering a speech in Washington D.C. in which he said that Scottish independence would be a cause for celebration among the “enemies” of the “West” because of its “geostrategic consequences”.
Lord Robertson, a former NATO Secretary General, said a ‘Yes’ vote would have a destabilising effect not just within the UK but across Europe.
Giving his speech to an audience at the Brookings Institution, he said: “So I contend that it is far from scaremongering to use the term Balkanization to predict what might happen if Scotland were to break from its 300 year old union.
“The fragmentation of Europe starting on the centenary of the First World War would be both an irony and a tragedy with incalculable consequences.”
The Scottish Government said Lord Robertson’s comments were “crass and offensive” while Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said they did “a real disservice to the debate”.
Despite Lord Robertson’s call for “allies” of the UK to make their opinions known on the referendum, speaking in 2013 the then United States ambassador to the UK, Louis Susman, said the US “did not take sides” and was entirely “neutral” on the matter.
In his speech, Robertson who once claimed that devolution would “kill nationalism stone dead”, went on to suggest that voters in Scotland consider the “impact of their decision on the stability of the world”.
He asked: “What could possibly justify giving the dictators, the persecutors, the oppressors, the annexers, the aggressors and the adventurers across the planet the biggest pre-Christmas present of their lives by tearing the United Kingdom apart?”.
A former chairman of the Labour Party in Scotland, Lord George Robertson of Port Ellen joined the House of Lords as a life peer in 1999. It had been reported that the unelected peer was asked by Labour referendum co-ordinator Anas Sarwar MP to play a more prominent role in the Better Together campaign alongside fellow Labour Lords George Foulkes, John Reid and Jack McConnell.
The move had been precipitated by the most recent Panelbase poll indicating that the gap between the ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ campaigns was narrowing with support for independence standing at 41 per cent and support for the union registering at 46 per cent, with the rest undecided.
Commenting on Lord Robertson’s speech, SNP MSP Stewart Maxwell said: “This intervention from Lord Robertson isn’t just bizarre – it is completely absurd and impossible for anyone to take seriously.
“Project Fear has become Project Farce. It is just one more indication of a No campaign that gives every appearance of being incoherent and in disarray.
“In the days before devolution, Lord Robertson said that a Scottish Parliament would “kill nationalism stone dead”. He was wrong then and he is wrong now.”