NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Party leaders to march in support of RAF Lossiemouth

All four of Scotland's main party leaders will take part in a march in support of RAF Lossiemouth in Moray.

Organisers of the event say they expect thousands of people to take part in the event on Sunday 7 November.

First Minister Alex Salmond and the leaders of the three other main political parties will address a rally.

There are growing fears for the future of RAF Lossiemouth under the UK government's strategic defence review.

It is thought the base could lose its Tornado fleet to RAF Marham.

The march will begin at 1400 GMT from Muirton Road, yards from the main entrance to the base.

Led by a pipe band it will proceed along Coulardbank Road, Elgin Road and Moray Street to the Grant Park football ground.

The speakers will be introduced by Colin McGregor, brother of actor Ewan, a former Tornado pilot.

Community fight

SNP leader Mr Salmond said: "We intend to make the UK government and the Ministry of Defence sit up and listen to the people of Moray and Scotland.

"I will be proud to march alongside community and business representatives and the families of our brave servicemen to highlight that a quarter of Scotland's defence footprint and 70 years of history cannot be allowed to disappear."

Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray said the cuts would "rip the heart" out of the whole county.

He added: "The people of Moray deserve the support and solidarity of the whole of Scotland in fighting for their community."

Scottish Tory leader Annabel Goldie said the scale of the deficit meant the defence review could not be "pain free".

But she added: "I fully understand the fears and worries of the people of Moray and I urge our governments to work with the local community and local council to chart a way forward and to identify opportunities."

'Clear message'

Tavish Scott, leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, said: "So many local jobs and local people's futures depend on RAF Lossiemouth.

"I want both to listen to local people and show my support by joining the day."

Lossiemouth councillor David Stewart, who has been involved in organising the event, said: "The fact that all four Scottish party leaders will be taking part in the march and rally shows just how important RAF Lossiemouth is to Moray.

"We want the public to join them in sending a loud and clear message to the Ministry of Defence and the UK government that the base must be saved."

Meanwhile Scottish Secretary Michael Moore has defended his role in representing Scotland's interests in the defence review.

He said had been "diligent" at making Scotland's case, but conceded that there was "uncertainty" over the future of RAF Lossiemouth.

He told MPs on the Scottish Affairs committee that officials in his department were compiling information on the economic and social effect of base closures on the Moray economy, which would be passed to the Ministry of Defence before final decisions were made.

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