The CSR and the SDSR have provided bad news for Moray. RAF Kinloss, which employs anything between two and five thousand people depending on your source, is to close. Those jobs were directly linked to the RAF, but beyond that, the town of Kinloss itself will effectively collapse. Added to that, the future of RAF Lossiemouth remains uncertain. Moray has taken a huge hit from these spending reviews and, even if RAF Lossiemouth remains open, the effect of cutting RAF Kinloss will be felt for years to come.

At this point, I’ll declare an interest – my parents live in Moray (though about as far away from Lossie and Kinloss as you can be yet still be in Moray!) and I know a couple of folk who work(ed) at Kinloss, as well as local elected representatives in the area. So this case of cuts, more than many of the others, seems a lot more real to me, and I’m perhaps a little more circumspect when it comes to discussing them.

Of course, losing one and possibly two RAF bases in the area is an absolute disaster for local people, the local community and the local economy. Jobs will go, there will be mass migration from the area, shops will be forced to close through lack of business leading to further job losses and a prolonged period of pain for those in the area trying to escape the economic downturn.

The UK Government established RAF Kinloss for use in the Second World War and have held squadrons based there since 1939. For 70 years the government has made use of the permanent facility there, sending Nimrods from Kinloss to numerous conflicts, including the Persian Gulf in the early 1990s and Iraq and Afghanistan more recently. Around the Air Force Station, the local community grew, with much business based upon their continued presence in the area. In short, the local community relied upon the base for its economy to survive – which meant that the government was effectively responsible for protecting the local economy. This isn’t the same as a car plant or whisky bottling plant closing for business reasons. This is a government deciding to cut the heart out of a local community. I don’t see how this will help the economy here at all, which is the main reason the government has given for the cuts.

On the other hand, look at this from the government’s perspective for a moment. You have a £150+ BILLION deficit to get under control. First on your list of things to do is identify things which are necessary and ring-fence spending on them. Then trim the fat – which means that everything which is not necessary is expendable. You then examine your needs, work out what may be needed for particular policies – in this case, for the defence of our borders – and again, ring-fence spending in these areas. Everything else… well, you cut, or get rid of entirely. You can’t be sentimental when there’s a huge debt to recover. And so RAF Kinloss and its Nimrods were deemed expendable, unnecessary for the future of Britain’s defence.

From this perspective, it makes some sense. We’d be hugely pissed if they’d turned around and said “look, we’ve decided that defence is our priority, so we’re going to keep RAF Kinloss, order more Nimrods and spend much more on air defence. To do that, I’m afraid we have to make cuts elsewhere – which means the NHS will no longer be free and we’re doing away with all welfare spending”. Obviously, that’s an overstatement. But can you imagine what the left would have said – particularly those who are also anti-war types – if that had been the case? The bottom line is, the government has identified that RAF Kinloss no longer fits with Britain’s defence and will no longer fund it. If they’d kept it open and not used the personnel, they’d be decried as wasting taxpayers money simply to maintain the local economy in Moray.

So yes. There are good reasons for closing the base, and I understand the thinking to an extent. But I don’t like it.