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Liam Fox talks about the Military Covenant and Libya, and Alex Salmond talks about the Scottish independence referendum, on the Politics Show

Matthew Barrett

Liamfoxpoliticsshow On the Politics Show today, Secretary of State for Defence, Liam Fox, was asked about the Military Covenant. He explained what it meant in practice:

There is an annual duty now on the Government through the Secretary of State for Defence to come to Parliament and report on how the covenant has put into place.  There will also be measures that I’ll set out tomorrow showing how we will have external bodies who, for example, some of the charities, who will therefore be able to speak for the service personnel.  What we have to avoid is getting into legal territory so that we end up with legal bills and the time of our armed forces taken up in the European Courts through the European Human Rights Laws.  That’s not really what our armed forces want.

And why it was important to have a Military Covenant:

The Military Covenant has never actually been recognised in British law ever before that it even existed.  We will publish a new tri-service covenant because it only applied to the army before, we will ensure that Parliament

(interrupted  by “it is largely symbolic isn’t it?”)

It is not, because it will bring political pressure on any future government because it will bring in a whole range of groups that will be able to hold the government to account, the government will have to report to parliament for how that covenant is being implement and we will enshrine in law the principles behind the military covenant itself  that is a step change from any thing we planned before.

He was then asked about the situation in Libya, and the targetting of individuals:

We were very clear it is acceptable to destroy the tanks and armoured vehicles of Gadaffi when they directly threaten civilian population. It is legitimate to degrade the command and control and intelligence networks of the regime which are used to command those forces and provide that threat so we have increasingly been dealing with static targets rather than the moving targets of tanks and so on that actually pose a threat to the civilian population because of the control that allows Gaddafi to have.

On whether Gaddafi has fled or been injured:

I have not seen any new information since those reports before the weekend. It’s a very confused picture, there’s a lot of disinformation potentially out there as well. What we have to be very clear is that we will continue to put pressure on the regime as long as we believe the civilian population are at risk. We don’t target individuals but if individuals shelter within command and control mechanisms that they are using to target the civilian population, that’s their risk.

Salmond-alex-politics-show Alex Salmond was also on the Politics Show. He was asked about why he would not call an early Scottish independence referendum:

Because during the campaign I explained why out objective  is to have the referendum in the second half of this five year parliamentary term and that our immediate priority was to put economical muscle into the Scotland Bill which is legislation which is currently going through the House of commons and the Scottish parliament because our emphasis is on getting the economic teeth to aid jobs and recovery in Scotland but given I explained all that during the election campaign you’d hardly expect me to go back on it now just because we’ve won an overwhelming victory.

And why David Cameron won't call for an early referendum either:

I would think that David Cameron probably realises that Scots wouldn’t take too kindly to a Westminster parliament with no mandate to do such a thing trying to pre-empt or usurp our democratic right to have a referendum when the people elected to have a referendum choose.

Mr Salmond also said the SNP are "prepared to engage" with a two-question referendum - implying there could be an “independent light” option.


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