Saturday, 25 April 2015

The MP for North East Fife will serve at Westminster, not Holyrood.

There are important local matters that an MP can fight on: For example, our landscape is changing, with wind turbines becoming an increasingly obvious and mostly unwelcome feature. That happens because Westminster has accepted EU renewable energy targets and carbon footprint thresholds. And sanctions paying subsidies for uneconomic wind energy systems which the people who are now setting them up know that they would not pursue if they had to pay foot the bill. Instead, energy users have their bills loaded with a surcharge to bung the wind industry - FITs or Feed In Tariffs cost all of us and benefit the few. Westminster should stop that nonsense.

Defence too, matters locally. Changes at Leuchars will be sorted out in the medium term as the Army replaces the RAF as the main unit there but the change was a mistake. Ming Campbell said it was a strategic mistake. In a way, but not as he meant it, he was right. The strategic error is in the dangerous cut in defences, the reduced size of the RAF fast jet fleet, not so much where the vestiges of the RAF as we knew it are based.

But even on his own measure, that closing RAF Leuchars was a strategic error, the Liberal Democrat's past Leader and Defence Spokesman, rolled with the decision and continued to support the coalition which made, in Ming's terms, the disastrous mistake. He should have really stood up for us and resigned the whip, not back off on a matter of principle. He must have known he was going to retire, so he had little to loose, surely? The impact of a senior resignation would have rattled a cage or two.

We have to restore defence spending to at least meet the agreed NATO targets; it does many things beyond the obvious necessary restoration of defence capacity. It is one of the few real ways in which a government can create real jobs, in the armed services, and in the defence industry. My manifesto, written in March, also advanced my view that we need to strengthen the RFA (Royal Fleet Auxiliary) with hospital ships - in fact with purpose built hospital, rescue and support ships. They would be roled to do what the Prime Minister has now tasked HMS Bulwark to do - a humanitarian mission to rescue and help people in distress; they'd be able also to deploy Field Hospitals ashore (useful for Refugee situations, or for survivors of Natural Disasters), produce water and supply energy, whilst still having the ability to carry out their normal role of RAS (Resupply At Sea).

There are many issues for your MP to address, like those above. It is, now, for your MSP and councillors to try to get the NHS and Education right in Scotland: I assume all the other candidates do accept the existence of the Scottish Parliament.

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