Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Scottish independence: Govan and Scotsoun Clyde yards have been saved from closure; the next time Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon use SNP grudge, grievance and malcontent remember both Scottish yards were saved at the expense of Portsmouth






















Dear All

Things are very tight financially at the moment, not just for ordinary people but also for big business such as BAE shipbuilding.

Defence giant BAE Systems is to consult on shedding 1775 jobs across their shipyards.

The good news is that the Clyde shipbuilding yards at Govan and Scotstoun will stay open.

BAE systems had to make a really tough choice, this compromise saved Govan, out of the two Scottish yards Govan and Scotsoun, the business case for Govan’s closure was pretty much odds on when you look at Scotstoun’s facilities. 

It was saved in the UK national interest!

That being said there are 835 jobs are under threat in Scotland.

Govan’s new role will be to construct hulls for the new Type 26 frigates which cost in the region of half a billion pounds.

Scotstoun will be doing the fitting out work.

BAE said:

"Following detailed discussions about how best to sustain the long-term capability to deliver complex warships, BAE Systems has agreed with the UK Ministry of Defence that Glasgow would be the most effective location for the manufacture of the future Type 26 ships”.

This shows despite Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon’s campaign of grudge, grievance and malcontent regarding the Scottish referendum, there is still goodwill coming from down south, things aren’t perfect by any means.

BAE added:

"Consequently, and subject to consultation with trade union representatives, the company proposes to consolidate its shipbuilding operations in Glasgow with investments in facilities to create a world-class capability, positioning it to deliver an affordable Type 26 programme for the Royal Navy. The cost of the restructuring will be borne by the Ministry of Defence. The implementation of these restructuring activities will sustain BAE Systems' capability to deliver complex warships for the Royal Navy and secure the employment of thousands of highly skilled employees across the UK."

Although Govan and Scotsoun are being saved, for some people they are going to lose their jobs, and as such any and all help should be offered to them, this is extremely unfortunate but that is the nature of business.

In an ideal world the order book would always be full, but we aren’t living in an ideal world.

Prime Minister David Cameron's official spokesman said:

"These are decisions taken in the UK's national interest."

As well as the business aspect, there would be a political one as well to consider.

The spokesman added:

"This decision was taken with a view of how we have the best-equipped, best-maintained Royal Navy. That is the basis on which it was taken."

So, at present the Westminster Government appears on the surface to be saying that they are effectively placing all their shipbuilding eggs in one basket without any contingency plans.

That won’t be true; the Portsmouth yard could be expanded in a relatively short time if needed. It may make a good story to assume its all or nothing but defence isn’t run on just assumptions.

Cameron’s spokesman also said:

"The basis on which we proceed is on the basis that we are confident that the case (for Scotland to stay in the UK) will be successfully made."

And why rock the boat, pardon the pun.

So Portsmouth is the home of the Royal Navy fleet and the historic tradition of world-class shipbuilding of Royal Navy ships continues on the Clyde."

As to future orders, the MoD is to commission three new ocean-going offshore patrol vessels for the Royal Navy And that work will be built by BAE on the Clyde which is some comfort to those staff who recently were wondering if they had a future.

With the completion of the current aircraft carrier contract, there was a gap before the start of the Type 26 work however this order will solve that problem.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said:

"This deal will provide the Royal Navy with three brand-new maritime patrol vessels with a wide range of capabilities which will support our national interests and those of our overseas territories. This is an investment not only in three ships but in this country's warship building industry. It prevents workers standing idle and sustains the vital skills needed to build the planned Type 26 frigate in the future”.

You could say that this story leaves little room for the Scottish National Party to claim any sort of victory, if independent, Scotland would lose Govan and Scotsoun, there wouldn’t be an order book to sustain both and we would probably lose both.

Military shipbuilding isn’t just costly it requires a group of people will unique skill sets and experience.
  
Gerald Vernon-Jackson, leader of Portsmouth City Council, said:

"I condemn the decision to shut down the last remaining shipyard in England with the capability to build advanced surface warships. This decision is bad for Portsmouth, with the loss of many highly-skilled jobs, but it's also bad for the defence of the UK and for the Royal Navy. The remaining yards with the capability to build advanced warships are in Scotland, and the referendum on Scottish independence is less than one year away. Ministers have put the defence of the UK and the future of the navy at real risk. We will work as hard as we can to protect jobs in Portsmouth. Portsmouth remains the home of the Royal Navy, with more than 10,000 jobs remaining in the dockyard."

The next time that Alex Salmond and Scotland’s unpopular Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon stand up and scream grudge, grievance and malcontent, people should point to this deal. For the people in Portsmouth, one can understand their feelings, this change isn’t just a business case; politics have been thrown into the mix on this occasion.  

Scottish people can be glad that the historic tradition of shipbuilding on the Clyde has rightly been saved, but along with the happiness, lets us also remember that there has been a cost at Portsmouth in England.

And we shouldn’t lose sight of that or ever forget.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

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