Mark Leftly: Angus Robertson, an independent Scot we should dearly want to keep


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The Independent Online

Westminster Outlook The 'No' campaign in the Scottish independence battle has often been bitterly negative, albeit cloaked in the fluffy, not to mention disagreeably cheesy, slogan "Better Together".

There has been a lot of focus on what Scotland will lose if its people (well, residents) choose secession less than three months from now, be it currency or influence in the European Union.

It is right that those deciding Scotland's destiny understand small but important effects, such as companies of the scale of Standard Life moving vast chunks of work south of the border. Minuses like this probably do outweigh pluses, such as establishing an oil wealth fund.

But the reality is that Scotland has a developed economy, well-educated people, impressive natural resources and plenty of business acumen. Going it alone would not result in disaster; this is simply an emotional argument on both sides – nothing more, nothing less.

But here's something – or someone – Westminster would lose: Angus Robertson. The Moray MP is the Scottish National Party's leader in Westminster and also its defence spokesman.

In this latter role Mr Robertson has been hugely impressive, ferociously pursuing the Ministry of Defence over its many failures.

Earlier this week we wrote about how Capita had earned £100m in just two years from one of the most disastrous government projects of recent times, the army recruiting contract. Under this £1.36bn deal, the FTSE 100 outsourcing giant is meant to help the army enlist regulars and reservists, but it has been plagued by delays, missed targets and MoD-created IT problems.

This nugget was the result of Mr Robertson's constant pressure for information on this and many other issues, including technical faults on failed military aircraft.

Independence is, of course, Mr Robertson's main political interest, and no doubt he wants to cast the MoD as shambolic so as to argue that a Scottish state's defence department would so much better.

But he's a very, very good MP, the sort the House of Commons desperately needs to find out why things go wrong and the consequences of those problems. If Scotland goes independent, Mr Robertson will no longer be around Westminster and he will be missed.

But Mr Robertson was born in Wimbledon. Like a certain other Scot so inextricably linked with SW19, maybe we in the rest of the UK should claim him as our own.