UK coalition accused of putting Trident before armed forces personnel

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By a Newsnet reporter
 
The Tory/Lib Dem coalition has been accused of wasting money on a “crazy” nuclear weapons system at the expense of armed forces personnel after it announced almost 2000 redundancies today.
 
The criticism follows Defence Secretary Liam Fox’s confirmation that 930 RAF and 920 Army personnel are to be made redundant, with 750 of them compulsory.

The redundancies are part of a four year plan that will see the MoD shed 22,000 posts.  The cutback has led to claims that the coalition is placing the UK’s military capability at risk.

Commenting, the SNP’s Defence Spokesman Angus Robertson said the cuts were shameful at a time when personnel were supporting operations in Libya and Afghanistan and while the UK Government continued to find billions for the renewal of Trident.

Mr Robertson said:

“These redundancies are shameful at a time when personnel are supporting operations in Libya and Afghanistan.  These further cuts to our forces come on top of the 10,500 defence job losses and £5.6billion underspend Scotland has been hit with over the last decade from Westminster.

“The UK government has its priorities all wrong when our conventional, front-line forces face compulsory redundancy, while the Trident nuclear weapons system is treated like some sacred cow.”

Mr Robertson claimed that people in Scotland were “appalled” by the coalition’s continued support for nuclear weapons that he said offered “little defence in the 21st century.”

He added:

“Majority Scottish opinion, our churches, the Scottish Trade Union Congress and Civic Society, all oppose Trident, yet the UK Government wants to use Scottish tax-payers money to pay for these weapons of mass destruction while cutting conventional defence.

“Any way you look at it – on moral, financial, or defence grounds – renewal of Trident is completely untenable in the face of these redundancies.  A normal country with the power to decide its own defence and security policy would never be pushed into this crazy situation. Scotland must have independence to determine its own priorities, rather than have somebody else’s imposed on it.”

The announcement was also criticised by Labour’s shadow defence spokesman Jim Murphy who said the cuts were the result of a rushed defence review and had long term implications for the UK.