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Andrew HN Gray (Letters, 25 March) asks how the SNP defence policy stacks up. This is the usual Unionist trick, to ask a question to which there can be no firm reply because our London masters will not negotiate before we vote for independence.

We know how much this costs and that costs. The SNP will do it cheaper in some areas. All in all it will obviously take a number of years before we reach our full military strength (but we’ve no illusions about being a world power).

As for his snide remarks about present serving Scots not wanting to join the Scots army, he may be right in part, but they need to know what is on offer.

The Irish Republic runs its own defence forces, but still contributes manpower to the UK. As well as Irish, the UK relies on Gurkhas, Fijiians, and elements from the Commonwealth and elsewhere. The regular army cannot recruit enough indigenous people.

The reserves (as has been widely reported) wanted 11,000 and have managed barely 1,000 new recruits, so I don’t think Mr Gray should get too cocky about my country.

As for the Navy, twice in recent years we have had Russian naval ships taking shelter in Scottish waters (as they are entitled to do).

On both occasions the UK sent up a ship to keep a watch on them all the way from the south of England because Scotland (with our exposed northern 
marine areas) has absolutely no surface ship defences.

The UK even had to get Nato help from Scandinavia to put out a surveillance plane because it lacked that resource.

Scotland could do precious little here and now if a Ukraine conflict was to blow up, other than contribute the odd battalion or two, as the likes of Denmark and Norway do. Given the rundown of defences at present, that is probably about as much as the UK could manage.

Thomas R Burgess

St Catherine’s Square


Forgive me but Andrew Gray’s letter examining the SNP’s defence proposals under independence reminded me of my Christmas list when I used to enjoy playing soldiers. Thankfully, these days I wouldn’t write a phrase like “those wonderful destroyers” without realising its absurdity.

Rather than wanting to live in a country with a slightly bigger gun than the rest, I simply want my children to be safe and to live in a peaceful society.

The Global Peace Index 2013 ranks Iceland – with a negligible defence spend – as the world’s most peaceful nation, closely followed by Denmark, New Zealand, Austria and Switzerland.

The UK is ranked 44th while the biggest gun of all, the US, is a less than peaceful 100th. If anything, I consider the SNP’s proposals too wedded to an old-fashioned militaristic approach. But it is clear that small, independent nations of north-west Europe achieve a lot more security for a lot less money. Sounds good to me.

C Hegarty

Glenorchy Road

North Berwick

Andrew Gray judiciously fails to mention that our current defence posture to defend one of the longest shorelines in Europe does not include a single maritime reconnaissance aircraft.

However, a letter from Mr Gray on the topic of defence which does not extol the virtues of Trident? There’s hope for him yet!

Douglas Turner

Derby Street