By Bob Duncan
The SNP have condemned the ‘unbelievable hypocrisy’ of Labour’s Defence Spokesman Jim Murphy, who has extolled the supposed benefits to Scotland’s Defence through being part of the Union – on the very day that the UK Government announced 8,000 soldiers across the UK will soon be told that they are to lose their jobs.
In yesterday’s Sunday Times, Mr Murphy pledged that he would bring the 20,000 British troops stationed in Germany to Scotland, in order to help promote what he claimed were the “emotional arguments” against independence.
As well as the almost 21,000 troops still stationed in Germany, there are over 12,000 members of military families, and thousands of civilian personnel. The troops were originally placed in Germany as part of the Cold War defences against the Soviet Bloc and the MoD has acted very slowly to repatriate them.
However the SNP criticised the former Scottish Secretary, pointing out that he presided over the loss of over 10,000 personel to Scotland’s defence footprint when Labour were in power.
This pledge from Mr Murphy (pictured) came on the very same day as reports that the MoD is set to cut thousands of service men and women – across every branch and regiment of the Regular Army, with only Special Forces ring-fenced. It was announced that the MoD will make a single devastating cut of 8,000 servicemen and women, reducing the British Army to 86,000 – its smallest size since the 1700s.
Redundancy notices will be sent to servicemen and women telling them their careers are over as part of sudden speeded-up cutbacks by the Ministry of Defence. A further 4,000 soldiers will go before 2020.
Serving officers, military experts and MPs have all condemned the drastic measure as a stab in the back for soldiers and a blow to the Army’s capability.
SNP Defence Spokesman Angus Robertson said:
“This is unbelievable hypocrisy from Jim Murphy – a man whose party oversaw the loss of over 10,500 defence jobs in Scotland, the destruction of the Scottish regiments, and contributed to a £5.6bn defence underspend in Scotland.
“As Shadow Defence Secretary, Jim Murphy has completely let the Tory Government off the hook on the on-going defence cuts in Scotland, and the fact that he chooses to spend his days off campaigning with the Tories shows exactly where his priorities lie.
“If it was so important to the Scottish economy that the troops stationed in Germany were brought back to the UK, then why on earth did Labour not do this when they were in power?
“The SNP represents constituencies with military bases all over Scotland – by contrast, the Labour Party has long since lost the trust of Scotland’s service men and women and their families. Mr Murphy’s comments today reveal exactly why that is the case.”