EAST Renfrewshire MP Kirsten Oswald is a columnist for the Barrhead News.

Last week she looks at defence planning, Trident and supporting veterans.

Kirsten Oswald MP

Westminster, on the face of things, appears to be full of friends to our armed forces.

I participate in many debates on military and defence matters, in my role as SNP spokesperson on Armed Forces and Veterans, and the enthusiastic noises coming from the Tory benches, when service personnel are mentioned is always noticeable.

So it’s a shame these fine sentiments are not backed up by action.

Despite their vocal fervour, this Tory Government is driving a coach and horses through armed forces and defence planning, which has a huge impact on the people who sign up to do a job most of us wouldn’t feel able to.

This week, with the UK Government proposing to lose a fifth of the entire Scottish defence estate, we debated their plans at Westminster.

Not only will these closures have a devastating impact on service personnel and their families, they will result in large-scale civilian job losses, and have a serious impact upon the communities where our bases are located.

And the UK Government themselves admit that numbers behind their cuts simply don’t stack up, meaning that these plans which have such an impact upon people’s lives, and serious implications for our defence seem to have been drawn up on the back of an envelope.

This is part of an unfortunate theme, with poor planning, and a lack of scrutiny, overlain by fine words, but precious little action in support of the people who serve in the armed forces.

The National Shipbuilding Strategy, which is so important for Scotland, and long promised by the UK Government remains missing in action; equipment purchase is being shown a red light by the auditors; and we have Trident missile tests misfiring and being reported on CNN at the same time as we are told in Westminster that the matter is too secret to be discussed.

Scotland, a maritime nation, has no maritime patrol aircraft and there is not one conventional ocean-going vessel in our ports.

It is a depressing irony that our conventional defence capability is reduced, our defence estate devastated, and our armed services are being cut to the bone, to pay for the terrible vanity project of Trident Nuclear Weapons, based so close to Scotland’s biggest city.

Veterans too deserve attention and support.

I have uncovered figures showing the MOD is failing to properly prepare those leaving the services for employment in Civvy Street, which is so important for their future prospects.

The transition can be a challenging one, and that needs to be understood.

We are fortunate to have some excellent support in our local area.

This ranges from the Citizen’s Advice ASAP project, and the support of council veterans’ champion, Jane Duncan, to excellent Scottish Government and charity groups.

I’m keen to play my part too, so I have organised a veterans support event, in Carmichael Hall, on Friday 3rd March, when local veterans can drop in between 2 and 4pm, for tea and a chat, with lots of advice and support on hand.

You can keep up with my work at: kirstenoswaldmp.scot.