Politics

Scottish Election 2021: Military 'Absolutely Crucial' To Scottish Conservative's Plans

Scottish Conservatives leader Douglas Ross has spoken to Forces News as Scotland prepares to go to the polls next week.

Forces News has been speaking to Scotland's party leaders to learn more about their plans for the Armed Forces and veterans community ahead of the Scottish Parliament election next week. 

Scottish Conservatives leader Douglas Ross has talked through his party's ideas.

What will you do to help veterans transition from the military to civilian life?

"We want to enshrine in Scottish law the Armed Forces Covenant.

"We want to make it easier for veterans to get on the property ladder. The SNP scrapped the Help to Buy [scheme] – we'd reintroduce that and make specific elements of that particularly easier for veterans to get on the property ladder.

"And we'd also look at using the powers within the Scottish Parliament to increase the universal credit payment for those veterans who find themselves and their families in financial distress."

Anonymous military hand with wedding ring holding key
Douglas Ross said the Scottish Conservatives "want to make it easier for veterans to get on the property ladder" (Picture: MOD).

What can be done to better support military spouses and children in Scotland?

"The Scottish Conservative manifesto that we are taking to people across Scotland at this election really focuses on families, on rebuilding and recovering after the pandemic but specifically for military families, I think, we can do far more with the transition again from moving around other parts of the United Kingdom, coming to Scotland.

"I represent the constituency of Moray so I've got an Army barracks and an RAF base and we often find that transition to education with different systems north and south of the border and actually some of the qualifications that military spouses have in other parts of the UK prohibit them from getting jobs here in Scotland.

"I want to do more to make that more seamless in terms of that transition."

What will you do to ensure military and defence-related jobs remain in Scotland?

"Well, they're absolutely crucial and we've seen from successive defence reviews  a real investment here in Scotland.

"Again, back on my own patch of Moray we've got the RAF Lossiemouth - being the base for the P-8 Poseidon aircraft, huge £400m of investment into the P-8 facility and the P-8 aircraft, and I speak regularly with the Defence Secretary Ben Wallace about what more we can do to increase the defence footprint here in Scotland and investment in Scotland."

A P-8A Poseidon at RAF Lossiemouth in Moray (Picture: RAF Lossiemouth).

How does the Armed Forces fit in to your vision of Scotland’s future?

"It's absolutely crucial, that's why Scottish Conservatives have dedicated a day of our campaigning specifically on veterans issues on the Armed Forces.

"We've fully engaged with cross-party group in Holyrood over the last Parliament for veterans and the Armed Forces community.

"And I think the fact that we are focusing elements of our manifesto on the Armed Forces and our veterans shows just how important it is for Scottish Conservatives."

You can read our interviews with the leaders of the Scottish National Party, Scottish Labour Party and Scottish Liberal Democrats by clicking the hyperlinks.

The Scottish Green Party did not respond to our request for an interview.