Anger at Cameron’s ‘Flying by Seat of Pants’ Response to Moray Jobs Concerns

44
2003

POLITICS…
UK PM David Cameron has caused anger in Scotland after making a flippant remark when dismissing concerns over Scottish defence jobs in the House of Commons.

The Tory leader claimed that Scotland, if independent, would not be able to fly planes and would instead be “flying by the seat of your pants”.

Mr Cameron was answering a question posed by the SNP’s defence spokesman Angus Robertson who had raised concerns regarding the economic future of Moray as a result of concerns over RAF base closures and also asked the PM to explain why Scotland was facing a disproportionate cut in defence spending.

With Kinross looking certain to close there are growing fears over the future of Moray’s other RAF base at Lossiemouth after a leaked document suggested that RAF Marnham in Norfolk would be chosen to house the UK’s fleet of Tornado aircraft.

Mr Robertson asked:
“The Prime Minster will decide shortly whether to close RAF Lossiemouth in addition to RAF Kinloss causing the biggest job losses in Scotland since the Tories closed Scottish manufacturing industry in the 1980s.

“This would mean that Scotland would have fewer service personnel, fewer military bases, aircraft, vessels, army battalions and less defence spending than all our independent Scandinavian neighbours of comparative size. Why is the PM pushing disproportionate defence cuts in Scotland while concentrating defence spending in the south of England?”

Mr Cameron replied:
“We are going ahead with the building of the aircraft carriers, which will be built in Scotland.

“I have to say to the hon. Gentleman if we had an independent Scotland you wouldn’t be flying planes, you’d be flying by the seat of your pants.”

The PM’s remarks brought loud raucous laughter from the Tory backbenchers however Mr Robertson reacted angrily saying that the situation the people of Moray faced was no laughing matter.

Mr Robertson said:
“Judging from David Cameron’s response these base closures are just a joke for the Tories, but the reality is that we are facing the biggest job losses in Scotland since the Tories decimated the Scottish manufacturing industry in the 1980s.

“This is no laughing matter for people in Moray, not least our service personnel who are currently serving with bravery and distinction in Afghanistan.”

Mr Robertson also criticised the lack of support for the Moray community from the UK government and highlighted the extent of disproportionate defence cuts in Scotland.  The SNP MP also questioned Mr Cameron’s commitment to the ‘respect agenda’.

Mr Robertson added:

“The UK Government must acknowledge the responsibility that they have to the Moray community. One week after the Kinloss closure announcement and there has been no announcement of help or support from the UK Government to mitigate the impact of these devastating cuts.

“We must ensure that the UK Government recognises the incredibly detrimental impact that the decision taken on Kinloss will have and the potential for even greater damage from the upcoming decisions on Lossiemouth.

“If London ministers withdraw the RAF from Lossiemouth they will have cut service numbers in Scotland by more than 25%, compounding the extreme difficulties for Moray resulting from the dubious decision to close RAF Kinloss.

“The UK Government may call this a Defence Review but the reality is an all out offensive against Moray’s communities by the Conservative/Lib Dem Coalition. When he became PM, David Cameron promised a Respect Agenda but to date all he has done is treated Scotland with contempt.”