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Defence Committee
Written evidence from Ben Hardwick

I noticed your enquiry into defence in an independent Scotland and wanted to drop you a line.

You cannot live here and travel around for work or leisure and not notice the military in Scotland; this takes the form of low, fast and loud objects, shipyards, training grounds, avionics factories etc.

As a simple onlooker it seems the defence presence is very substantial indeed as an employer and source of multiple skills and leadership. I believe around 20,000 people work in defence plus those in the shipyards and other industries.

I very much doubt this could possibly stay the same with separation from the UK. It has developed over many decades due to the landscape, location of strategic threats and assets like the North Sea platforms and of course the Scots military prowess.

With the SNP possibly devoted to leaving NATO, and having an absurdly weak world-view (opposing Iraq I believe) and worst of all the clear structural deficit of public finances in Scotland (even if say 90% of UKCS tax revenues are included it is over £70 billion since devolution began) it is hard to see this would not be hugely degraded.

This is to say nothing of the practical difficulties of building–possibly from scratch–a credible defence force and security intelligence apparatus so that Scotland does not become a ‘northern-terrorist-haven’ on the mainland of the British Isles.

At present the USA looks to Britain as a significant player because of its multi-billion pound military machine, intelligence and diplomatic resources, expertise and experience, and willingness to engage and even lose lives in noble and necessary uses of military power.

Will the USA look similarly on a new Scotland or will it be a joke nation on the world stage having almost no power in Washington? A truly ironic outcome of a futile exercise of blind pride when the things we can be proud of like the prowess of Scots regiments, airmen, navy etc have all been achieved in the context of the United Kingdom which may now cease to exist.

July 2012

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