The Scottish MI5 station will change to MI6. And you know what MI6 does!’: Understanding the hidden politics of intelligence in Scotland’s independence referendum debate

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The 2014 referendum on Scottish independence disclosed contrasting perspectives on the nature of a prospective intelligence relationship between an independent Scotland and other nations, particularly the remainder of the United Kingdom (UK). The Scottish Government maintained that intelligence sharing would be in the best interests of both Scotland and the UK. The UK Government, however, raised concerns about the nature and extent of an independent Scotland’s intelligence relationships with both the UK and other international partners. Based on documentary analysis and first-hand qualitative fieldwork undertaken in 2014 this article argues that to fully understand the implications of Scottish independence upon prospective intelligence liaison it is necessary to differentiate between intelligence sharing and intelligence cooperation. Although limited by the ‘control principle’ and national interests an independent Scotland would almost certainly receive intelligence from the UK on an ad hoc basis; particularly if there was an imminent threat. Establishing routine intelligence sharing, and deeper forms of cooperation, would depend upon the specialist contribution or capability Scotland could make to its prospective partners. Whilst some such scope exists in relation to the UK, an independent Scotland would most likely encounter greater challenges in establishing cooperation with, or membership of, the ‘Five Eyes’ alliance.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1
Pages (from-to)3-24
Number of pages21
JournalThe Scottish Journal of Criminal Justice Studies
Volume21
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 14 Oct 2015
Externally publishedYes

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title = "The Scottish MI5 station will change to MI6. And you know what MI6 does!’: Understanding the hidden politics of intelligence in Scotland’s independence referendum debate",
abstract = "The 2014 referendum on Scottish independence disclosed contrasting perspectives on the nature of a prospective intelligence relationship between an independent Scotland and other nations, particularly the remainder of the United Kingdom (UK). The Scottish Government maintained that intelligence sharing would be in the best interests of both Scotland and the UK. The UK Government, however, raised concerns about the nature and extent of an independent Scotland’s intelligence relationships with both the UK and other international partners. Based on documentary analysis and first-hand qualitative fieldwork undertaken in 2014 this article argues that to fully understand the implications of Scottish independence upon prospective intelligence liaison it is necessary to differentiate between intelligence sharing and intelligence cooperation. Although limited by the ‘control principle’ and national interests an independent Scotland would almost certainly receive intelligence from the UK on an ad hoc basis; particularly if there was an imminent threat. Establishing routine intelligence sharing, and deeper forms of cooperation, would depend upon the specialist contribution or capability Scotland could make to its prospective partners. Whilst some such scope exists in relation to the UK, an independent Scotland would most likely encounter greater challenges in establishing cooperation with, or membership of, the ‘Five Eyes’ alliance.",
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AB - The 2014 referendum on Scottish independence disclosed contrasting perspectives on the nature of a prospective intelligence relationship between an independent Scotland and other nations, particularly the remainder of the United Kingdom (UK). The Scottish Government maintained that intelligence sharing would be in the best interests of both Scotland and the UK. The UK Government, however, raised concerns about the nature and extent of an independent Scotland’s intelligence relationships with both the UK and other international partners. Based on documentary analysis and first-hand qualitative fieldwork undertaken in 2014 this article argues that to fully understand the implications of Scottish independence upon prospective intelligence liaison it is necessary to differentiate between intelligence sharing and intelligence cooperation. Although limited by the ‘control principle’ and national interests an independent Scotland would almost certainly receive intelligence from the UK on an ad hoc basis; particularly if there was an imminent threat. Establishing routine intelligence sharing, and deeper forms of cooperation, would depend upon the specialist contribution or capability Scotland could make to its prospective partners. Whilst some such scope exists in relation to the UK, an independent Scotland would most likely encounter greater challenges in establishing cooperation with, or membership of, the ‘Five Eyes’ alliance.

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