The war in Ukraine has sounded alarm bells

Tuesday March 8th 2022

Craig Hoy MSP South of Scotland
Craig Hoy MSP, South of Scotland, writes his monthly column for Midlothian View

Like many others in Midlothian, I had thought the days of invasion by dictatorships on European soil were the stuff of history books rather than news bulletins of 2022.

The scenes which we have been seeing from Ukraine are absolutely horrifying, and at this time I offer my full and unreserved support to the people of Ukraine, and my thanks to the many Midlothian residents who have shown their solidarity with the Ukrainian people.

The war in Ukraine has sounded alarm bells which, in truth, should have been ringing at Holyrood far earlier – and far louder – than they have been.

History tells us that oppressive regimes use energy supplies as pawns in a global security game. That is why it is more important than ever to build resilience into our own domestic energy supplies.

And as oil and gas prices soared in recent months, the First Minister stepped up her opposition to the oil and gas industry.

While energy policy is reserved to Westminster, the SNP have said they will use their control of the planning system north of the border to block any future civilian nuclear energy in Scotland.

So not only is our oil and gas sector at risk, the clean, safe and secure zero-carbon electricity delivered by civilian nuclear energy facilities such as Torness power station in East Lothian are also being sacrificed by Sturgeon, forcing Scotland to rely on despots like Putin for oil and gas supply.

Given the chance, the SNP would scrap our nuclear deterrent, while their coalition partners in the Scottish Greens have confirmed they are still opposed to NATO despite Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

I will always support our membership of NATO, our energy security, defence and the many jobs supported by the nuclear industry in the South of Scotland.

On that note, I had the honour of opening a debate on veterans’ mental health and wellbeing in Scotland last week, where I pointed to the collective shame that all parties should feel knowing that many veterans are to this day struggling with alcohol and drug addiction issues, PTSD, mental health challenges and even suicide.

Our service men and women have shown the same sense of selfless commitment at home and abroad which we have seen from the brave Ukrainians who are returning to their country to take up arms against Putin’s revolting regime.

And that is why the drumbeat of war in mainland Europe today will undoubtedly affect many of our own veterans.

While £2 million of funding was been announced for Scottish veterans’ charities during the debate, however more needs to be done.

We owe our service men and women their safety, and we cannot allow their welfare to be overlooked for any longer.

I will continue to push for the Scottish Government to provide comprehensive support for our veterans as they transition to civilian life, who we owe our freedom.

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