John Joins Calls For New Thinking On Defence Priorities

Ahead of this weekend’s Scrap Trident weekend of action, John has joined with members of the Independent/Green group in signing a joint letter to the First Minister calling for a new approach to military spending in an Independent Scotland.

The letter, which can be seen below, offered a different vision of defence spending rather than continuing the UK’s vision of unnecessary spending against public service cuts.

Commenting John said:

“The Scrap Trident weekend of action will truly reflect the strength of feeling against Trident in Scotland.  That these Nuclear Weapons continue to remain in Scotland against the repeated wishes of the people of Scotland and their Parliament is an all too clear indication that we need independence. But we must ensure that with the powers of independence that we do things differently.

“Committing to NATO and the defence budgets which accompanying it will squander a great opportunity to divert vital funds that would be better spent in our communities’ schools, hospitals and other vital services.”

Ends

  1. Dear First Minister,

Global Day of Action on Military Spending

Monday 15th April 2013 marks this year’s Global Day of Action on Military Spending. The UK commits £39 billion of public money each year to military expenditure whilst vital public services face drastic spending cuts. It is our firm belief that this is the wrong choice. Our public resources should be focussed on challenging society’s inequalities, improving people’s health and well-being and helping create an environmentally sustainable society and we hope you share that view.

Independence will give Scotland a chance to do things differently but the SNP’s plan to commit £2.5 billion to an annual defence and security budget as part of NATO completely undermines this opportunity. Clearly there is a role for national defence but this does not require membership of a cold war nuclear alliance and a budget running into billions of pounds. The last thing an independent Scotland should do is mimic the military posture of the UK, with the aggressive projection of power around the world and engaging in reckless overseas adventures.

We recognise that a smaller defence budget would affect communities heavily reliant on the arms industry and defence, such as Edinburgh, Fife, Moray and the area around Faslane. These communities deserve a just transition and the money diverted from military spending should be used to diversify their economies, redeploy their skills and technical expertise to, for example, the energy sector which is itself in need of more engineers.

Polling released by the Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament found opposition to the replacement of Trident running at 75% demonstrating yet again the strength of feeling in Scotland. As you know we fully support the removal of Trident from Scottish waters and opposition to the replacement of these weapons of mass destruction but we must also take a different stance on military spending to let Scotland play a positive and fair role in the world.

Yours,

John Finnie, Patrick Harvie, Alison Johnstone, Margo MacDonald, Jean Urquhart

2. For information on the Scrap Trident Weekend of Action see: http://scraptrident.org/