It has often been claimed that an independent Scotland would not be able to defend itself – but recent events would suggest otherwise. UK defences have been run down an ineffective level, Scottish defences have been run down harder than the rest of the UK despite a higher per capita charge, and most of the UK budget is targeted at foreign interventions. To cap it all, Trident is to be renewed at a huge cost, which will account for a much increased proportion of Defence spending, while being irrelevant to current threats.
- A recent UK military report shows Scotland is “poorly defended”
- For the past two years, the UK has seen a rise the regularity of “serious naval and airborne incursions” by Russian jets and ships in and around the Scottish coast and airspace leading to heightened tensions between NATO and Russia.
- The Royal Navy has a total of 13 frigates and six destroyers, a reduction from its combined fleet of 33 back in 2000. Promises on 13 new Type 26 and Type 31 frigates have failed to materialise. Type 45 destroyers had faulty engines and will require costly refitting. 2 Aircraft carriers have been commissioned, but there are no planes to fly from them, and their refuelling ships can’t keep up. Warships are to lose anti-ship missiles and be left only with guns, due to cost cutting. Just 3 warships patrol Britain’s 7,000-mile coastline – this has proved ineffective 20 times in a single year. The flagship HMS Ocean is to be axed to save costs after spending £65million on upgrading the vessel a year ago.
- 20% cuts in MoD properties in Scotland have been announced: despite previous assurances from Better Together: the naval base in Rosyth, Fort George, Glencorse and Redford Barracks, Craigiehall Barracks, Kinloss, Meadowforth and Forthside Barracks are all to close down. These houses could be used to alleviate housing shortages in Scotland – instead, the proceeds will drain away to London. Commando Battery Royal Artillery will be relocated from Arbroath to Plymouth.
- Defence jobs in Scotland are ‘in decline’: employment by the MoD is down by nearly a quarter in the past 8 years. The number of civilian MoD employees has fallen from 6,500 to 3,730 in 8 years. The number in military roles is down from 12,400 in 2008 to 10,100 this year. Between 2000 and 2010 MoD personnel in Scotland were cut by 9% – much higher than the equivalent UK cut of 11.6%. This despite promises to spare Scotland from cuts.
- We’ve ordered 138 F-35 aircraft at £83million each – but their guns don’t fire!
- A Royal Navy tanker deal worth £452 million was awarded to South Korea.
- The UK Government treatment of the armed forces and veterans is shockingly bad. Communities are ignored. We are the only country in Europe to recruit 16-year olds, and recruit deprived children in schools.
- The UK is committed to spending 2% of GDP on Defence, yet charges Scotland 5% (£3 billion). Scottish taxpayers put in much more than is spent in Scotland. Scotland’s defence budget needs only to be £2 billion “in line with modern European nations”.
- There is a “revolving door” between arms dealers and the UK Government.
- Britain’s forces are not configured for defence. They are configured for attack.
- Trident is to be renewed at a cost of £205 billion – despite questions over its effectiveness in a defensive role against current global threats of terrorism, cyber attacks, disease and climate change.
- The MoD has admitted that only 520 jobs are involved at Faslane – and the Scottish Government aim to more than make that up by basing the Scottish Navy there.
- An independent Scotland will not sell arms We will only make what we need for a National Defence Service, and have no Weapons of Mass Destruction.
In an independent Scotland, it will be the people of Scotland, and their Scottish Government, who will decide our future defence policy.
Yes Edinburgh West has a website, Facebook, Twitter, National Yes Registry and a Library of topics on Scottish Politics, including Independence, Defence and Trident. The 2014 Referendum White Paper (p.232) and the Wee Blue Book, although dated, give a good idea of policy options.