Politicians clash in Trident debate

HMS Vigilant, which carries Trident nuclear missiles. Picture made available under the Open Government Licence.
HMS Vigilant, which carries Trident nuclear missiles. Picture made available under the Open Government Licence.

Thousands of workers at Faslane and Coulport would be ‘thrown on the scrapheap’ in the event of independence, the Scottish Parliament was told this week.

Jackie Baillie: 'Thousands of jobs at risk'
Jackie Baillie: ‘Thousands of jobs at risk’

Local MSP Jackie Baillie ridiculed the SNP’s plans for the future of the navy bases during Wednesday’s debate on the future of Trident, which she attacked as a distraction tactic after Alex Salmond’s performance in the TV debate with Alistair Darling the previous night.

But the SNP’s Stuart McMillan, a list MSP for the West of Scotland, said Faslane would have a future in an independent Scotland – and claimed nuclear weapons actually hampered job creation.

Both MSPs spoke in the Scottish-Governemtn-sponsored debate at Holyrood – which has no control over defence matters – and afterwards Ms Baillie said currently over 11,000 jobs depended on the naval bases, 6,700 with the Ministry of Defence and its contractors, plus 4,500 through the supply chain.

However she said that the SNP’s White Paper stated only 2,000 people would be employed by an independent Scotland’s Navy at Faslane:

“I wanted to know what would happen to jobs of the 6,700 Royal Navy personnel and their support staff in my constituency if we vote for separation.

“So why did the SNP refuse to admit that their own proposals, as published in the White Paper, would involve only 2000 naval jobs?

“It’s clear that they have no plans for the thousands of other people working at the base now and those employed through the supply chain.

“These are well-paid and highly-specialised jobs and people in Dumbarton, the Vale of Leven and Helensburgh won’t stand by while Alex Salmond throws them on the scrap heap.

“Coming in the same week as defence giant Babcock demolished the SNP’s unworkable plans for a conventional base and warned that job losses at Faslane are likely, it is now absolutely clear that only a No vote on September 18 can save jobs at the base.”

But Mr McMillan said the money spent on Trident would be better invested in areas such as health or education.

Stuart McMillan: "Scotland should be free of nuclear weapons'
Stuart McMillan: “Scotland should be free of nuclear weapons’

“Independence offers us that same opportunity to take responsibility to rid ourselves of Trident and thus save our economy billions of wasted expenditure,” he said.

“It’s estimated that by mid 2020s, Trident renewal will cost the UK £4bn per annum.

“The economic case for nuclear weapons doesn’t stack up and indeed actually hampers job creation and investment.

“Within an independent Scotland, Faslane will have a future as it will become Scotland’s main conventional navy base and will also be home to the HQ for the navy and Joint Forces HQ for all of Scotland’s armed forces.”