Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Nicola Sturgeon says SNP Government will put the ‘strongest possible case’ to save shipbuilding on the Clyde; they couldn’t save a ‘sausage’ factory in Broxburn!

Dear All

It seems that military shipbuilding has popped back on the radar which rumours that Govan and Scotstoun may face closure.

At present things are tough, sadly expect that to continue for the next decade unless a miracle happens.

Conservatively some say we are going to be in a hole for another 6 years.

Cuts are happening all over, at present in Britain, we have three shipyards known for military shipbuilding.

Govan; Scotstoun and the Portsmouth yard!

Whatever happens; Portsmouth is going to be saved no matter what by Westminster; strictly speaking it would be madness for that yard to close down.

At present it is assumed by many that all three yards will continue to operate at least until after the independence vote.

It is clear that if Scotland leaves the UK then so goes military shipbuilding from Westminster, a Scottish navy can’t support the order books of Govan and Scotsoun in the long term.

With independence comes consequences, and it is highly disingenuous everything will be rosy in the garden.

Westminster has made it clear; they won’t place military shipbuilding orders in an independent Scotland, their own people come first. Military procurement isn’t simply a matter of just buying what you need; politics plays a huge part in it.

So, there appears to be a threat, but in reality, there is a lot of talk but nothing to write home about just yet. The Scottish Government last night called on politicians to put “political differences aside” and unite “in the Scottish interest” to keep shipbuilding on the Clyde.

Closure plans announced by defence giant BAE Systems left thousands of jobs in jeopardy at its two yards north of the Border but such concerns change depending on the order book. Military shipbuilding is a business, and BAE are still in it to make money.

Deputy first minister Nicola Sturgeon said the Scottish Government will make the “strongest possible case” to save the yards.

As we recently seen; the Scottish Government couldn’t save a ‘sausage’ factory in their own backyard, so I don’t think that false hope helps anyone!

Exactly how will Nicola Sturgeon ensure the survival of the Govan and Scotstoun bases?

Is the Scottish Government going to start military shipbuilding?

For whom exactly will they build?

And of what types of military ships will they build?

Ms Sturgeon said:

“BAE Systems is a hugely important employer in Scotland and we want to ensure that the strongest possible case for the retention of the Scottish yards is made and acted upon. Scotland showed during the Strategic Defence and Security Review an ability to put political differences aside and unite in the Scottish interest, and I believe that the same constructive and positive approach is needed now. The Scottish Government is monitoring this situation closely and will work with BAE, the UK government and opposition parties in Scotland.”

The reality is that any discussion will be solely between BAE and Westminster, the Scottish Government poking its nose in will be ineffective, and any decision will be taken behind closed doors.

As Phillips O’Brien said last night, the smart money is scaling down all three yards to an upturn happens.

I think he is right, no point in ‘rocking the boat’ just yet, after the referendum, then the issue will be looked at again, I expect a sound commitment from Westminster, there are certain niceties and mostly they centre round the General election expected in 2015. Scottish Conservatives are going for a revival strategy, well that’s how politics operates, moving the pieces around, and Cameron needs Scottish seats, question is, are the Conservatives smart enough to capitalise?

The Scottish Government tried to save Halls of Broxburn and had to leave without a sausage, it is therefore highly doubtful that the Scottish Government can save shipbuilding by itself and certainly not out of their budget which is shrinking.

On this issue they are all at sea.

The Scottish yards have a strong economic case however, it isn’t just about pounds and pence, politics play a major role. This is a debate that will firmly remain at Westminster, I don’’t see Phillip Hammond giving the SNP the time of day on this one or even interested spectator status.


Yours sincerely

 George Laird
 The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

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