Friday, 22 July 2011
Fox By Name, Foxy By Nature
On what he thought was the last day of Parliament it took only ten minutes for Liam Fox to announce his Defence Transformation which included the closure of RAF Leuchars and simultaneously 'save' RAF Lossiemouth. The grapevine was partly correct, although Leuchars is not to be sold but turned over to the Army along with RM Condor near Arbroath.
The closure of Leuchars as an airbase was upsetting enough to locals here but when Liam Fox emphasised that the threat of an independence referendum from the SNP Scottish government had played a significant part in the way he had decided to reconfigure the armed forces across the UK, I gasped in astonishment. Surely such reviews should be undertaken for reasons of security and practicality? Since the demise of Scottish regiments by the last Labour government and the introduction of the Royal Regiment of Scotland, I am convinced our military are political pawns. One of my readers is so incensed, he has written to the Queen to express his anger about the politicizing of certain military events.
Liam Fox insisted the changes would save money but, as Leuchars had a multi-million pound refit only a few years ago and now it will be necessary to spend more millions in order to convert it to an Army base, I only see expenditure. The new barracks at Kirknewton, near Edinburgh, has no price tag attached, although it's been reported in the press that the sale of Craighall, Redford Barracks and Dreghorn Barracks (all Edinburgh area) could release a sum around £50 million. Many are unhappy at the closure of these Army bases.
£1.5 billion is to be invested in the reserves over the next 10 years, building up the Territorial Army as the regular force numbers decline. It is expected that 30% (36,000) of the armed forces are to be part-time TA by 2020.
As my title denotes Dr Fox's plans may be more relevant to this rather than the security of these islands, even though William Hague currently disagrees.