A Modest Proposal by the Honorable Blythe Smoking-Jacket, MP for Highlands and Islands and All Things Further North

IMG_0661Ladies and Gentlemen it comes as a great pleasure to address you tonight at this most wondrous occasion. I do hope you agree that our hosts, the Duke and Duchess of Wellmeaningminster, have put on a quite spectacular bash.

First, I would like to assure you that – despite what you may have heard in some of the more scurrilous corners of the media – I am the most devoted supporter of this government in its fight against terrorism.

I pledge my own personal support, as well as that of the party for whom I have been so fortunate as to be chosen its leader, to all efforts necessary for the eradication of this blight that has infected our society.

For let us not delude ourselves into any form of complacency. It may be half a dozen years since terrorists last struck this treasured kingdom of ours, but an on-going war it most certainly is, and moreover a war to the death.

As gladiators greeted Roman Emperors leaving to meet their certain death in the Colliseum – morituri te salutant – I say to you all. Those who are about to die salute you.

Just like those gladiators of old, what we are fighting for is no less than the preservation of our beloved society. A society that has been founded on a code of conduct that stretches back almost eight hundred years to the Magna Carta and now finds itself under continued attack from the hungry wolf crying at our door.

I know that many of you believe the war has been both expensive in terms of life and money, but what price can one place on the preservation of civilisation as we know it?

Which is why I am taking this auspicious occasion to propose that we bring the battle on terrorism back home where it belongs.

As those unfortunate enough to have carried out genuine Internet research on terrorist groups and other unsavoury elements of society such as paedophiles and the scout movement have found to their cost, we in the West have one weapon to which the infidel has as no answer – constant surveillance. I have only the highest regard for our men and women at GCHQ who have spent their whole lives defending all that we cherish dearest from those who would wish to harm us.

Albeit this may have lead to some apparently innocent civilians being extradited to Guantanamo and other places around the globe for alleged terrorist activities. But let me assure you that in the war on terror there is no such thing as innocent.

Unfortunately there is also no such thing as guilty either. The extremely liberal laws of the US mean that few of those interned will actually face trial for fear of being found not guilty of the charges brought before them.

Which is where Scotland comes into play. I know the last time many of us ventured north of the border was on the Glorious Twelfth. But if you were to spend much time in our Queen’s favourite nation, as I am obliged to through my responsibilities as the duly elected member for the Highlands and Islands, you would no doubt have noticed that most of the myriad of islands scattered around the coastline are partially, if not totally, deserted.

I ask you one question. Why outsource suspected terrorist detention holding centres (STDHCs) to remote corners of the world when we can hold them in remote corners of our own country?

I know what you all will ask. What about the poor people who live on the islands enjoying the same traditional way of life as their ancestors have for centuries? Poppycock is all I can say. Speak to these hardened families, as I do at least once every five years, and all you will hear is complaints about how impossible it is to find any work, that is when they are not saying how much they would love to go on holiday to the Caribbean so they can have a suntan like mine.

No, jobs is what these people need, and jobs is what insourcing suspected terrorist detention holding centres will provide. As the war on terror spreads, and I can assure you that regardless of the actualisation of the threat it most assuredly will, the need for such centres will only intensify. The greater intelligence our men and women at GCHQ provide, the more suspected terrorists we will be able to intern. Why let other countries reap the seed of our unwanted grain when we can grow it ourselves?

On my latest helicopter ride around the islands, I identified 12 islets as potential STDHCs – half of these are deserted while a further three have a population of less than a hundred – all inter-related no doubt. This leaves us with three islands that have a population sufficient to staff the STDHCs.

Using Guantanamo as a template – where only earlier this month a further 125 soldiers were flown in to look after the remaining 166 inmates – we are looking at significant employment opportunities not only for the local islanders who can carry out basic administrative and cleaning duties, but also for our loyal soldiers returning from a tour of duty in Afghanistan who could otherwise find themselves heading for the dole queue due to the recent spate of government cut-backs.

If we add to this the medical team needed to look after the inevitable hunger strikers, and translators specialising in Arabic and Urdu, and the employment opportunities for Scotland and throughout the UK are significant. Even human rights lawyers would benefit from the increase in cases concerning inmates complaining about the infringement of their basic human rights. It is what I was led to believe by the MBA course I once enrolled upon but never quite finished, a win-win-win situation. And we shall win the most.

All this funded by our friends from the other side of the Pond and our partners in NATO. Who knows if the political winds were to shift we might even find the UN establishing its own UNSTDHC and we all know what a gravy train the UN is.

Talking to a economist friend of mine only last week at the Club, we discussed the significant impact that STDHCs could have on our crippled economy – possibly even taking the country out of the mire of recession in which we currently find ourselves well and truly sunk.

I know what you all are going to say. What about the weather?

Here, for once the single factor that has held back the Scottish economy – and perhaps that of the whole country – more than any other, actually comes to its advantage. Instead of having to waterboard suspects and as such incurring the wrath of a plethora of human rights busy-bodies funded by people with far too much time on their hands, all we need to do is take them out on a brisk tour of the island, led by their seasoned island hosts. Fortunately, the UN has not invented a human rights charter against severe northeasterly gales, as yet.

All that is needed for the whole exercise to get underway is a suppression of the rights of habeas corpus, although taking Uncle Sam’s response to 9/11 – or 11/9 as I prefer to call it – as an example, even this is not necessarily obligatory. Given the quite exception circumstances we find ourselves placed in, and the huge financial benefit that might befall the country, I think that the curtailment of the constitution is a small price to pay. As my nanny used to say – you can’t make an omelette without breaking some eggs.

Hopefully with your continued support we will soon find that the counter-terrorism business is our business.

And without further ado I hand you back to our hosts for this spectacular fundraising gala who will explain how the money you have kindly donated so far will go to the work of Amnesty International across the globe.