I am delighted to have been named as the SNP's Defence Spokesperson at Westminster.
I'm looking forward to building on the excellent work done over the past two years by my predecessor, Brendan O'Hara MP, who established the SNP's credentials as the real opposition to the Conservative's disastrous handling of the Ministry of Defence, and being the only major party consistent in its opposition to the renewal of Trident.
I, like many, was surprised at the lack of attention that was given to Defence matters over the course of the election – something that was very convenient for the government and let them off the hook at a time when the UK’s role in the world is facing challenges from Brexit, other sources of global instability, and the viability of it’s own spending plans.
From a Scottish perspective this meant that the government were not forced to make good on their promise to publish the long-awaiting National Shipbuilding Strategy, or the one made to build 13 frigates on the Clyde – so emblematic of the historic underinvestment in defence capacity in Scotland which means there are currently no major surface warships based in our waters. Little attention was paid either to the fact that the government’s public sector pay freeze also affects serving Armed Forces personnel, who will be facing a real-terms wage cut as inflation increases.
In the UK as a whole we know that the Defence procurement budget is at ‘greater risk than at any time since reporting was introduced’ according to the National Audit Office, and that the Royal Navy has a historic low number of usable warships – all direct consequences of Labour and the Conservatives’ obsession with writing a blank cheque for weapons of mass destruction, regardless of the consequences for the rest of the Defence budget.
So I’m determined to make the case for a new defence policy that is in Scotland's interests, stands up for our armed forces and make progress on ridding our country of Trident.