Defence bases will be safer in an independent Scotland

Military important to Moray

Moray’s MP has dismissed claims that vital defence bases would suffer should the nation return a Yes vote in the independence referendum next year.

Angus Robertson, who is the SNP’s spokesman on defence issues at the UK Parliament, was speaking out after accusations by a former defence secretary that pro-independence campaigners were using “back of the envelope calculations” in asserting that a £2.5billion annual defence budget was sufficient for a future Scottish defence force.

The claims from Labour peer Lord Robertson, a former defence secretary, came in a Sunday newspaper interview in which he said that NATO would be reluctant to accept Scotland as a member.

He added that there was also a danger of major defence companies leaving an independent Scotland, saying: “If you are making parts for things that Scottish forces won’t have, such as the Eurofighter Typhoon, then inevitably you have to go south.”

Lord Robertson’s comments came a week after a report said that the defence capabilities of Scotland would be “greatly disadvantaged’ in the event of a break from the UK.

However, Angus Robertson responded by pointing out that Scotland has not faired well under successive UK Governments, with a number of military bases closed, units disbanded and “vital capabilities” scrapped such as the maritime aircraft that were once a common sight over Moray.

“Scotland has a historic opportunity to make better decisions about defence rather than having Whitehall make bad decision on our behalf,” Angus Robertson said.

He added: “Scotland is contributing £3.3billion to UK defence spending right now, and yet receives only £2billion in return.

“Personnel numbers serving in Scotland are at a record low thanks to the disproportionate cuts compared to the rest of the UK.

“Promises on the number of soldiers being deployed in Moray were simply not met.  An independent Scotland can increase spending on conventional defence while making savings by being a non-nuclear country.

“To have serious credibility the report should have outlined Scotland’s vast defence assets. An independent Scotland would of course not be starting from scratch.

”It is a shame that Lord Robertson prefers Tories in London that we did not elect and continues to make bad choices on our behalf.”