October 11, 2018 Blog

Tory austerity stripped £2.5 billion from Scotland’s defence spending

October 10, 2018

Paul Sweeney MP, Shadow Scotland Minister and former Army Reservist in the Royal Regiment of Scotland.

Tory austerity has crippled Scotland’s public services for almost a decade.

Throughout this time Theresa May and Ruth Davidson have kept up the pretence that they have protected our armed services from their callous cuts to public spending and have had the barefaced hypocrisy to claim Labour are weak on defence.

Like in so many other areas, the rhetoric doesn’t match up to the reality.

The independent Scottish Parliament Information Centre has found that defence spending in Scotland has fallen every year in real terms by a cumulative total of £2.5 billion since 2010/11, as it has across the UK. British Army strength has fallen from 102,000 to just below 80,000 – the smallest since the 1850s. The RAF and Royal Navy have also been slashed. Thousands of well trained and war hardened troops have been made redundant and offered little practical or medical support as they return to civilian life by a cash strapped Ministry of Defence.

In Scotland, two of the three RAF bases have been withdrawn along with the Nimrod maritime patrol aircraft that monitored Russian submarines, the famous Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders infantry battalion disbanded and the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards’ tanks sent to the scrapyard.  Now one fifth of Armed Forces bases in Scotland are in the Tory crosshairs for closure, in a bodyblow for communities from Inverness to Penicuik.

Austerity has harmed our armed forces yet Ruth Davidson parades around the country in a tank and poses as an honorary colonel, pretending stand-up for our soldiers.  These numbers show she is nothing but an arm chair general.

These cuts to Scotland’s defences come at a time of increasing Russian aggression and the future of NATO under threat from an increasingly unpredictable President Trump.

Unlike the Tories, the next Labour government will cherish our armed forces and veterans.

Labour will protect the defence budget and ensure at least 2% of our nation’s GDP is spent on the armed forces to give ordinary service families security.

But that is not all.

The next Labour Chancellor, John McDonnell, will ensure the defence budget rises by at least 0.5 per cent above inflation for every year of the parliamentary term.

Under the last Labour government, defence spending saw sustained growth above inflation, in contrast to Tory governments before and since.

The idea that the Tories are the party of defence is a myth.

Labour will protect our armed forces so they can protect us.

Only Labour will end the austerity which is crippling our armed forces, and threatening our security in an increasingly dangerous world.