First Minister tells cabinet colleagues the battle has begun
10 November 2010
Alex Salmond has described the mass demonstration in Moray at the weekend to save RAF Lossiemouth as "the best possible start" to the campaign.
The first minister told his five Cabinet colleagues, who include Moray MSP Richard Lochhead, that the protest in the town on Sunday marked the "beginning of the battle to force the UK Government to think again".
About 7,000 people took part and waved placards carrying slogans including "Save RAF Lossie" and "Fighting for Moray". The march, which also conveyed the message that the Ministry of Defence would not be allowed to leave Moray in the lurch following the decision to cancel the upgraded Nimrod spy plane fleet and close RAF Kinloss, was organised by a taskforce made up of business and community leaders.
A spokesman for Mr Salmond said the demonstration had been discussed at the government's weekly Cabinet meeting in Edinburgh.
He said: "The first minister said it was an extremely positive event which exceeded expectations in terms of the number of people who turned out on a united basis.
"It is by no means the end of the campaign. It is only the beginning.
"It provided a fantastic platform upon which to construct a compelling message to save RAF Lossiemouth and for the Ministry of Defence to meet its obligations for the whole of Moray."
Mr Salmond's spokesman said a report arguing the case to retain RAF Lossiemouth, endorsed by all Scottish political party leaders, had been sent to the UK Government.
He added that further campaign initiatives were being planned.
The spokesman said: "The challenge is to ensure that the cause of RAF Lossiemouth and all the communities affected in Moray cannot be ignored by the UK Government.
"There is optimism that it is a highly successful campaign but it is a very serious situation. No decision on Lossiemouth has been taken and the best we can campaign for is to ensure that decisions are taken in the best interests of Moray."
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