The Ministry of Defence has been urged to halt its planned closure programme of Scottish bases, after new figures showed that the UK government has cut 2,190 military and civilian jobs in Scotland since 2012.
Figures released by the Scottish Parliament’s Information Centre show a 14 per cent reduction in MoD headcount across a range of Scottish sites – with South Ayrshire losing all of its military personnel since 2012 and Stirling losing almost 50 per cent of its military jobs.
The figures from SPICe, released by the SNP, show that a pledge to increase Armed Forces personnel in Scotland to 12,500 will be missed by 25 per cent, as there are less than 10,000 staff currently employed.
It was announced in 2016 that eight military sites would close over the next 16 years, including Fort George in Inverness, home to the Black Watch and three barracks in Edinburgh and the Lothians.
Yesterday, the SNP’s defence spokesperson, Stewart McDonald MP, blamed “misguided” Tory policies for the job losses.
He said: “Scotland’s military footprint has been systematically hollowed out by the UK Tory government – landing a devastating blow to communities across the country.
“Years of brutal Tory cuts have removed any trace of the Army from large parts of Scotland with absolutely no regard for the jobs that depend on a local military presence.
“Of course it’s good news that the UK government has reversed their decision to close RM Condor airfield in Angus, and defer the closure of Redford Barracks in Edinburgh to 2025, but they aren’t done wielding the axe yet.
“Truly historic military sites are being purposefully run into the ground by the MoD before they are closed for
good in the next few years – and to add insult to injury, we know that these closures aren’t even expected to be cost effective.
“At a time when Scotland and the UK is facing an increase in threats coming from the North Atlantic, we also have no major surface warships in Scotland and a shrinking Army footprint – communities around the country have become familiar with the sound of Tories sounding the retreat for defence in Scotland.
“The MoD must ditch these plans to close our vital military bases in Scotland – an unjustified and poorly planned decision.”
A Scottish Conservative spokesperson said: “This Conservative government is investing heavily in our military north of the border.
In particular, we have just recently welcomed a commitment to RAF Lossiemouth worth £400 million, securing the future of the base and preparing for an extra 470 personnel.
“The real threat to military jobs in Scotland is the SNP’s obsession with breaking up the UK.”