SNP conference: Scotland will feel brunt of defence cuts, even if carriers are saved
Scotland faces a cut in military jobs and bases during next week's Comprehensive Spending Review, even if two new aircraft carriers being built on the Clyde and at Rosyth are saved, the SNP conference heard today.
Reports have indicated that the armed forces will see cuts of 8 per cent during the Review, which could impact on RAF bases, particularly Kinloss and Lossiemouth.
But these cuts are 10 per cent less than expected, which may mean that the HMS Queen Elizabeth and HMS Prince of Wales carriers are completed.
SNP defence spokesman Angus Robertson said Scotland has endured "mammoth" conventional military cuts since the last review of defence spending in 1997.
"Scotland has already endured mammoth defence cuts over the last decade, and every indication is that this will be compounded by decisions to be announced this week cutting bases, jobs and skills", he said.
"It is totally disingenuous for Downing Street to try and spin the scale of these cuts as good news, when they mean calamity for Scotland.
"All evidence surrounding the SDSR suggests that the Ministry of Defence is set to continue the trend of concentrating defence manpower, basing and spending in the South of England. This is a triple whammy for Scotland, bearing in mind the cuts we have had, the cuts we face, and the impact of wider budget cuts to the Scottish Government that will hit jobs, services and investment.
"At present there are only 12,190 UK service-personnel in Scotland. Since the last defence review in 1997 there have been more than 10,000 defence job losses in Scotland and there has been a defence under-spend of more than 5.6 billion. This under-spend constitutes a 36% budget shortfall. Scotland has already seen a severe defence shortfall and contraction."
RAF Lossiemouth is home to part of the fast-jet Tornado fleet, but there are fears that half of this fleet could be grounded.
RAF Kinloss is currently awaiting the next generation of Nimrods.
The bases, both in Mr Robertson's constituency, are worth more than 100 million a year to the local economy and provide almost 5,000 jobs.
He continued: "If as has been reported, the SDSR is considering the future of 2nd Division (Cragiehall), Fort George, RAF Kinloss, RAF Lossiemouth, RAF Leuchars and RM Condor, which constitutes the overwhelming majority of significant conventional defence facilities in Scotland. Any closures will have devastating social and economic consequences. Similarly, any threat to Aircraft Carrier orders will have a severe impact on the workforces constructing them in Glasgow and Fife as well as the engineering sector in general.
"The SDSR must consider whether the UK is committed to a future for conventional defence across the UK. Will there be a continuing defence footprint in the different nations and regions of the UK including manpower, basing and spending? Unless the SDSR and Ministers consider this as a priority now, the conventional UK armed forces will become concentrated in 'Super Garrisons' and bases, commanded and trained almost exclusively in the South of England."
"RAF Lossiemouth houses some of the fast-jet Tornado fleet, but fears have emerged recently that half of this fleet could be grounded. RAF Marham in England, another Tornado base, is seen as being in a stronger position because it is also home to their engineering facilities."
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