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Defend the disabled, not indefensible Trident

Commenting on a planned visit by the Chancellor to the home of the Trident nuclear weapons base today, SNP Westminster Defence spokesperson Brendan O’Hara MP contrasted the Chancellor’s proprieties for nuclear weapons against both welfare support and spending on Scotland’s conventional defence forces.

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Brendan O’Hara MP said: “With the UK Government facing a United Nations probe over its cuts to support for disabled people, George Osborne has his priorities all wrong. He should be defending the disabled, not his government’s indefensible decision to spend 100bn on a new generation of nuclear weapons – and this so-called investment in Faslane will directly support the deployment of Trident submarines.

“Indeed, George Osborne is essentially pre-empting a vote and actual decision on renewal of Trident.

“There is something fundamentally wrong with Westminster’s values and priorities if the Chancellor thinks wasting billions on nuclear weapons is something to boast about when people are dying within our benefits system.

“And in defence terms too, at a time when Scotland’s conventional defence footprint has never been smaller with major capability gaps, base closures and personnel numbers at an all-time low, it seems the Treasury apparently has a limitless pot to keep an unwanted and obscene arsenal of nuclear weapons afloat. Investment in Faslane is welcome but it must be as a conventional base and not more money spent on weapons of mass destruction.

“The reality is that Scotland has been hit by continued, disproportionate cuts to our defence footprint with less than 10,000 defence personnel. Axing of air bases such as Leuchars, for example, have seen Fife badly hit with a reduction from 1770 personnel to just 570 since April 2012.

“The Tories claim that they are the party of defence and yet we see time after time they cut the defence footprint in Scotland to the bone to the point where we are left in the absurd situation in Scotland as a maritime nation without a single maritime patrol aircraft to defend our waters and without the proper conventional naval vessels based in Scotland, whilst Westminster is hell bent on renewing Scotland’s nuclear arsenal.

“With plans by the UK Government to initiate a new Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) this autumn the Ministry of Defence must rule out further damaging cuts to Scotland’s defence communities who have been hit by job losses, base closures and cuts to key conventional capabilities.”