Scottish secretary faces calls for resignation

By staff

Scottish secretary Jim Murphy faced calls for his resignation today if he did not manage to guarantee the future of 125 defence jobs at a rocket test range in the Hebrides.

The demands follow an end to the MoD consultation this week into the future of the range.

Western Isles MP Angus McNeil claimed 9,500 Scottish defence jobs had been lost since Labour came to power, and demanded the Scottish secretary resign his position if workers in South Uist, Benbecula and St Kilda lost their jobs.

“There is no doubt that the loss of these jobs would be a hammer-blow for our fragile island economy, and if our community can’t keep these jobs then the Scottish secretary should resign his,” Mr MacNeil said.

“As the consultation on the future of another 125 jobs at the missile range in the Hebrides closes, Jim Murphy should hold the UK government to account.”

The sites are operated QinetiQ – a privatised research arm of the Ministry of Defence.

Mr Murphy said: “The MoD is committed to ensuring that the arguments and evidence produced by the Hebrides task group and others is considered very carefully and a decision will be made in the next few weeks.

“We recognise that the MoD in Scotland makes a significant contribution the Scottish and local economies.”

But a spokesman was more forthright, insisting that “if Mr MacNeil was actually concerned with supporting the communities of the Western Isles rather than desperately trying to score cheap points, perhaps he would have bothered to turn up to two separate meetings the cross-party task force have held with UK ministers in Benbecula.”

A petition opposing the downgrading of the sites has been handed Downing Street by campaigners.

The National Trust for Scotland has warned its efforts to close the military rocket range radar station on St Kilda could cost millions of pounds.