AN independent Scotland should become a military medicine powerhouse to foster strong defence relationships with other nations, two SNP MPs claim.

The move would encourage cutting-edge research that would make the country an important ally for friendly nations, it is claimed.

The idea draws on Scotland’s history of innovation in healthcare that has generated advances like the hypodermic syringe, typhoid vaccine, penicillin and the x-ray.

It seeks to harness the world-leading scientific work taking place in our research centres to create new solutions for battlefield first aid, surgical treatments for complex physical injuries and equally complex mental traumas.

And it’s part of an overarching drive to map out the particulars of an independent Scotland’s defence and foreign policy strategies in advance of the fresh referendum pledged to voters in the SNP’s latest manifesto.

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If successful, it would put Scotland on a par with Estonia, which is a world leader in cybersecurity, and Finland, which is home to the European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats.

The Helsinki-led centre is a platform between the EU and Nato. The SNP aspires to membership of both of these influential organisations for an independent Scotland.

The party’s Westminster defence spokesperson Stewart McDonald and his foreign affairs counterpart Alyn Smith launched their Project No Surprises to “backfill” elements of the party’s agreed policy positions and provide more detail for potential supporters and allies.

It is an ongoing initiative that aims to foster partnerships the pair hope will ease Scotland’s transition to sovereignty, building credibility for the potential benefits of constitutional change in England, America and elsewhere.

Smith said: “Our job is to make sure that the wider world doesn’t have any surprises with what we are proposing.

“I have no doubt that Scotland is going to have a referendum and I think that there is a good chance we are going to win it.”

However, the project has attracted opposition from some elements of the Yes movement, with the duo accused of pursuing a militaristic agenda.

The Alba Party’s George Kerevan, a National columnist and former SNP MP, suggested their strategy could make Scotland “Nato’s anti-Kremlin cheerleader”.

However, the MPs argue that defence and foreign policy are thistles that the Yes movement must grasp.

McDonald told the Sunday National: “There has been an element of ‘if you get rid of Trident, that’s the defence policy’ and ‘if you get into the EU, that’s the foreign policy’. Getting into the granular policy of what this means is key.”

He went on: “When I go to events, the reception I find is people are up for these discussions.”

Smith, a former MEP, says the pair are “slap bang in the mainstream of the SNP and the people of Scotland” in their thinking on these issues.

The duo’s thinking is based on “five pillars” that McDonald says “broadly underpin a robust defence, foreign policy and security strategy for an independent Scotland”.

These position Scotland as a “North Atlantic neighbour” and a “resilient state” that is a “good global citizen” with a “modern Armed Forces” which is multilaterally


THE approach has been criticised for what some see as an attempt to create a state that is not different enough from the UK.

McDonald said: “We want a European model rather than an Anglo-American model.

“We are a martial nation, we have always been a martial nation. In the modern world, it’s about working out what that means.”

On the military medicine proposal, he went on: “It’s true to our values and the contribution that we want to make and it plays to the strengths that Scotland has.”

Other ideas include a “clean information” summit to counter fake news and the formation of a “digital Geneva Convention” to cover

conduct around online activities by state actors.

Meanwhile, Smith is preparing to circulate a discussion paper setting out the feminist foreign policy approach promised in the party’s May manifesto. This draws on learning from France, Mexico and Canada, among other states.

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A recent paper published by the SNP defence team proposes the establishment of a representative body for those in the Armed Forces, as is already the case in countries like Germany and Norway.

It also promotes greater integration between the Armed Forces and the NHS and Jobcentres to improve a range of supports and automatic citizenship for those who complete three years of full-time service.

And in its June submission to the UK Government’s Integrated Defence Review, the SNP stated: “The foreign and defence interests of Scotland have been long ignored by the UK Government. This can be seen nowhere more clearly than in the decades-long neglect of the United Kingdom’s own backyard – the North Atlantic and High North – in favour of attempting to project its power and influence globally.

“The era in which the United Kingdom was able to do so is long gone. Instead, the UK must demonstrate its commitment to regional and neighbourhood security while carving out a place for itself on the world stage through an active commitment to multilateral institutions and international law.”