Thomas Docherty, the Labour MP for Dunfermline and West Fife, has written to the Ministry of Defence to call on them to investigate the accusation made by veteran Lib Dem MP Menzies Campbell that party colleague Danny Alexander intervened in the decision to close RAF bases in Scotland.
In an angrily worded interview, Mr Campbell had alleged that the Secretary to the Treasury had exercised the political clout of the Treasury in order to ensure that the Lossiemouth base, sited in Mr Alexander’s constituency, would remain open at the expense of the Leuchars base, sited in Mr Campbell’s constituency.
Menzies Campbell is believed to have been especially angered because the defence review had apparently originally intended to spare Leuchars, until Mr Alexander intervened. Mr Campbell’s comments led Jim Murphy, Labour’s shadow defence secretary, to call for a re-opening of the defence review.
In his letter to Ursula Brennan, the permanent secretary to the Ministry of Defence, Mr Docherty said: “The suggestion raised by Sir Menzies Campbell, namely that the Chief Secretary to the Treasury may have influenced the decision because of the redrawing of parliamentary boundaries near RAF Lossiemouth, is alarming and will infuriate people and communities who have loyally served the RAF for generations.
“I am therefore asking you to investigate this matter with some urgency, and appraise me of any correspondence or contact between ministers in your department and the Chief Secretary to the Treasury.”
Commenting on the continuing row, the SNP MSP for North East Fife Rod Campbell said: “The Lib Dems have been busy settling scores and Scotland’s air bases have paid the price.
“This has been an astonishing dispute between two of the leading figures in the LibDems and shows how bad their battle for survival has become.
“Instead of getting together to fight for the best deal for Scotland and protect both Leuchars and Lossiemouth, it would appear the personality clashes between Menzies Campbell and Danny Alexander allowed the coalition to cut the RAF in half in Scotland.
“This is an extraordinary situation that suggests the Lib Dems are more interested in self-preservation than protecting the people they represent.
“In contrast the SNP in Government and as a party backed both bases and made the strategic case for protecting Leuchars and Lossiemouth from cuts.”