DEFENCE DIVERSIFICATION NOW MORE THAN
Research into the potential for Defence Diversification has been
carried out on the initiative of the Trade Unions, Academic Institutions and Nuclear
Free Local Authorities. Most of this activity took place in the 1980s and 1990s
and, as far as is known, there is no current activity around this question in
Scotland. Bearing in mind the numerous military bases such as Faslane and Coulport1
and the numbers of jobs in defence related industries in Scotland there would
appear to be a need to review the impact that, for example, the abolition of the
UKs nuclear deterrent would have on employment and measures which could
be convincingly put into place to alleviate the negative effects this might have
on the workforce.
On 17th September 2005 Scotlands for Peace held a
Forum which was addressed by David Moxham,
Moxham, STUC, speaking at the Scotlands For Peace forum
to the non military sector then the workforce affected may need to be re-skilled.
There may be technologies which would straightforwardly transfer across to the
civilian sector and some facilities could be utilised such as the launch ramp
at Rosyth which was used for the Pelamis wave power converter. On the downside
Douglas pointed out that the military sector was not under the same commercial
pressures compared to the civilian sector hence there is a palpable culture of
inefficiency. Douglas suggested that the government could play a more proactive
role in stimulating the sustainable energy sector by adjusting electricity prices
to take into account environmental costs as in Portugal. In the ensuing discussion
substantial questions were confronted and addressed:
l There are entrenched
interests that have to be persuaded and that this could only be done via government
l Retraining would have to be funded and this could be done by diverting
some of the current defence budget.
l Some military personnel such as engineers,
dentists and doctors could move seamlessly into the civilian sector where there
is an existing shortage.
l The question of export guarantee credits provided
via the DTI to underwrite armaments contracts should be examined3 .
The government further provide further subsidies to defence companies by funding
equipment for the armed forces which helps offset related research and development
costs and therefore facilitates potential exports of the same or similar equipment.
The moral and ethical aspects of diversification program should be emphasised
when addressing the attitudes and concerns of the workforce.
l The mood of
the population, especially young people, is broadly against war as a means of
resolving issues and therefore defence diversification chimes with the times.
Substantial economic changes have taken place recently such as automation in the
offshore oil and gas extraction sector and decline of the telecoms sector.
An education programme could be launched to demonstrate that sustainable industries
are attractive and practical especially compared to the nuclear industry. This
could be worked in with existing peace and anti-nuclear education initiatives.
There must be a UK industrial capacity to fulfil a government stimulated demand
Fox MSP speaking at the closing plenary of the Forum
as well as a capacity on the part of existing companies to absorb former defence
l There is a need for a wide ranging consultation with relevant organisations
around all these questions.
If a revived defence diversification initiative
is going to have any significant effect the Scottish Parliament must at least
acknowledge the initiative and be prepared to debate and consider its proposals.
Moreover, the project must be shaped to address the concerns of the workforces
who will potentially be affected by moves to diversify away from defence into
non-military areas of economic activity.
There was broad agreement for the
proposal that a sympathetic MSP, such as Marlyn Glen, investigate the possibility
of setting up a Scottish Parliamentary Committee examine how to transform the
Scottish economy from having a high level of dependency on military related economic
activity to an economy which depends on a high level of sustainable economic activity.
An obvious priority would be the establishment of a Scottish Defence Diversification
Ian Goudie Defence
Diversification or Dole? June 2001 http://www.thecitizen.org.uk/articles/vol2/article16e.htm
Friends Peace Group: http://nfpb.gn.apc.org/disarmr.htm
and Coulport are the bases where the Trident submarine fleet and their nuclear
warheads are serviced. Altogether these bases employ in excess of 8,000 workers,
7,000 of whom are employed by Babcocks at Faslane. Whilst the future replacement
for Trident has not been decided it would appear that smaller tactical nuclear
weapons are being developed and that the Trident fleet will be phased out in favour
of a more militarily flexible submarine fleet. Thus, whatever policy the government
pursue with respect to Trident replacement, the workforce at Faslane will most
probably be reduced from current levels over the next two decades.
Environment Resources Association
3 It was suggested that the CAAT (Campaign
Against the Arms Trade) may have already have done work in this area.
arresting a demonstrator at the G8 summit