The Shipping Forecast

Actually it’s all about naval vessels, for the owner of the yards does not do merchant shipping.  That may change.  It may have to.

A good starting point is the opening salvo over at Wings, the media furore after the announcements on job losses.  There are deep concerns on the Clyde and on the Solent.  Portsmouth becomes a maintenance yard; building continues at Govan and Scotstoun.

Then the scaremongering begins.  The local MP in Govan, a certain Mr I Davidson has been filling the studios this past few days, spouting forth, – blah blah blah, separate, blah separation, blah blah separatists – happy it seems to have job losses in his back-yard, and insistent that any new contracts could be scrapped, the yards closed, should we have the temerity to cast a positive vote next year.  So his P45 will not be the only one in Govan; he wants another two and a half thousand of his constituents to join him.  Clearly therefore fighting for the best interests of his people.  He has form for this, as Dr Bateman reminds us.

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But more importantly Davidson seems to conveniently overlook that such a proposal, a separation of the contract, goes wholly against the preferred, and now planned, business base, and would not be acceptable to the commercial contractor.  Even if it suits Davidson’s version of sound-bite politics, if not the interests of his poor constituents.  Why do people vote for representation like this?

But the yard owner makes commercial decisions; based on expert knowledge of his business and his workforce.  And BAE knows that future MOD contracts are there for the taking, wherever he happens to be based.

But the south east sees it as selling English jobs in a futile attempt to persuade us Jocks to cast a negative vote, without stopping to ask why Westminster wants to keep control of us, the apparent drain on their resources.  News just in.  It Won’t Work.  The press spin it all sorts of ways, even, as Stu says, facing different directions at the same time.

If you dare venture into the contents of say the Mail, or the Telegraph, have a look at the comments posted below the line.  You’ll get a feel of how the readers view the independence issue; demanding it for England, release the benefit junkies.  Either route will do for me.  Remember the PM’s fighting with every fibre of his being, of which there appear to be few.

And the politicians do likewise, depending on the particular audience being addressed.  There will be naval vessels built on the Clyde, both pre and post 2016, both for the iScots fleet and others, including rUK.

The rUK may have to put orders out to tender, and BAE from their bases on the Clyde may or may not win those tenders.  But there will be no workforce in place on the south coast.

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But to have Labour MPs, from Glasgow constituencies, pronouncing on the imminent closure of the yards should we vote yes, is taking Project Fear to another level.  And if the callers to Radio Scotland’s woeful Call Kaye are anything to go by, the scaremongering has reached the level where the possible nays are becoming definite ayes.  Enough is enough.  Wolf, wolf?

Job losses in the hundreds are to be dreaded no matter where they fall.  BAE is running a business, commercially, in a world market.  Bearing in mind the state of the aircraft carrier contracts it is perfectly feasible that the much-vaunted T26 commitments may be delayed, significantly, reduced, or just disappear.  Nothing is certain, in any port, any storm.

There is no doubt that BAE are aware of the lie of the political land.  And there is no doubt that Westminster take the possibilities north of the border into account in every utterance, rightly or wrongly, misguided or otherwise.

But Ian Davidson, prize buffoon.  Surely his soon-to-be-former colleagues at Westminster can see that we who vote next year can raise the standards in their House, by ensuring that the Member for Govan need never be sent there again.

And as I type these notes I hear the Deputy First Minster telling the Opposition exactly what it all means for shipbuilding on the Clyde, and for Naval procurement.  Oh Jola.  Dire. If you missed it, check it out at Newsnet; make up your own mind. Then try the state-funded broadcaster’s version of events.

And a couple of afters – firstly Dave McEwan Hill’s letter in The Herald – so why is our fleet fit for the bath tub in comparison to Norway’s?; and secondly Question Time, with Nigel Farage invited to the party, yet again, representing the party with no MPs, the party that has done nothing but lose deposits in Scotland, talking about Scottish shipyards.  Why?

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