Speaking today at The Scotsman’s Conference, ‘Defence Policy: Protecting Scotland and Preserving Jobs’, Jim Murphy will critique the SNP’s policy of independence:
“The SNP now seem scared of their own shadow. In fact they are now feart of full independence. That’s why they now say vote for independence to keep the pound, the monarchy, NATO, EU membership and even the UK welfare system when only one of those five seem certain.
“The SNP defence policy is based more on faith than fact. It’s an ‘it will be alright on the night approach’. But you can’t defend a nation and its interests on wishful thinking and quarter-baked ideas.
“Defence more than any single policy area exposes the intellectual weakness of the claim that the way to increase Scotland’s influence in an interdependent world is independence. When it comes to defence, it’s clear that Scottish independence is a powerful idea from the 19th century ill-suited to the 21st century.”
Jim Murphy will talk about the impact of independence on Scotland’s international influence:
“One of the genuine threats we face is the lack of genuine military and political alliances in the world. The fact is there are currently too few partnerships. But the SNP believe that the UK is one partnership too many.
“Effective defence in the 21st Century demands a greater focus on international alliance-building. Shared threats and financial challenges require the pooling of resource and expertise; multilateral institutions from NATO to the African Union must be strengthened; increasingly regional solutions will lead to conflict resolution. Within this context, why would it be in Scotland’s interest to leave our primary defence alliance?
“While many experts see increased partnership on a global scale as a prerequisite for strong defence, the SNP see separation as a means to assert influence.
“It doesn’t help Scotland get its way in the world to leave the UK, the one country with the unique influence of being in the EU, UN Security Council, NATO, the Commonwealth and the G8. It doesn’t help the world’s poorest to walk out on the country which is the second largest donor of aid to the poorest countries, administered by 500 Scots in East Kilbride. Nor does it strengthen Scotland’s businesses and workers to separate from the third largest economy in Europe. And Scotland’s desire to be a force for good in a dangerous security landscape is undermined by leaving the UK, which is the fourth biggest military budget on the planet and one of only 5 countries out of 198 in the world with a permanent seat on the UN Security Council. In recent years we have had a Scottish Labour Prime Minister sitting with China and America at that top table.
“No country in peacetime history has ever given up this degree of influence and Scotland shouldn’t be the first. We have never been a passive people. Scots have helped shape the world and created some of the greatest inventions. The country that gave the world the television shouldn’t be reduced to a spectator watching world events unfold beyond our influence on our TV screens.”
Jim Murphy will also talk about the impact of independence on Scotland’s industrial base:
“If we wave cheerio to the UK we can kiss goodbye to the thousands of UK defence jobs in Scotland. Like many of us my dad work in the yards and the shipyard trade unions are clear that Royal Navy orders have kept the Clyde afloat for years. But if we leave the UK we leave the Royal Navy and would join the long queue of foreign countries bidding for Royal Navy work. The Royal Navy doesn’t build complex warships in foreign yards so workforces in the Clyde and Rosyth will be at risk from SNP plans. Scotland’s future can be building the best warships in the world for the Royal Navy not being locked out of that work as a foreign country. Defence jobs are vital to the Scottish economy and yet independence puts thousands at risk.
“Let’s consider what’s at stake. Scotland’s largest single workplace is Clyde Naval Base at Faslane which employs around 6,500 people. The 4,500 strong workforce at shipyards in Glasgow and Rosyth are sustained by MOD work. There are almost 400 individual MoD sites in Scotland. The MOD has over 700 direct contracts in Scotland which directly fund approximately 7,000 non-MOD jobs. All put at risk by SNP plans.”