Scotland decides 2014: Independence and defence

Only days to go until the referendum vote
Only days to go until the referendum vote

With only a few days to go until Scotland decides its future, we look at another key issue in the independence referendum.

The big question of defence – how we should look after ourselves – has been one of the hot indy topics.

Where do we stand on Trident? What about those working in the Armed Forces or with firms reliant on Ministry of Defence work?

Penicuik councillor Derek Rosie and MP David Hamilton thrash out the arguments.

Councillor Rosis says: “It’s the duty of any Government to protect its citizens. So the question is, has Westminster done that job for Scotland, and what difference would independence make? To answer that, you must ask what needs defended? Is it being done? Do we feel safer?

“Well, we need to defend our coast line, our natural resources: oil, gas, and so on. That means conventional defence. Yet the record of Labour and Tory Governments has disproportionately reduced defence jobs in Scotland, when compared with the rest of the UK. Regular army personnel numbers have been reduced to just 3,250 in Scotland, so we have a far smaller army presence than comparably sized nations such as Slovakia (6,230), Slovenia (7,600) and Denmark (8155). That includes bases such as Glencorse Barracks in Milton Bridge, just outside Penicuik, with 400 single soldiers and 151 families.”

Mr Hamilton says: “Defence is a matter of vital importance for the future of Midlothian and Scotland. Ensuring the safety and security of its citizens is the first duty of any Government; with just a few days to go until the Scottish people cast their votes in the referendum on Scotland’s future, serious questions remain about the Nationalists’ plans for Defence.

“Being part of the UK will secure 8,000 shipbuilding jobs on the Clyde and Forth, which are vital to protect the future economic prosperity of Scotland. If Scotland votes to separate, contracts to maintain the new aircraft carriers and build the new state-of-the-art Type 26 frigates will be relinquished. The British Government has never procured a complex warship from a foreign nation, and would have no incentive to do so now.”

Read more of their views in this week’s Advertiser. On sale now.