I hate politics – plain and simple. I’m good with the principals and the objectives, but it is the execution I have a problem with. When I say execution, of course I mean the way they do it – unfortunately and too often the literal sense is also true. Politics is all about lying. This should not be a surprise…
A leaflet popped in my mailbox from a postman in Helensburgh. But this was not Royal Mail, this postman is in fact our local Conservative candidate, Alistair Redman. Alistair is a remarkable candidate. Aside from delivering the mail in the rural island community of Islay he has managed to cut through the secrecy of the western world’s nuclear establishment, especially at Faslane and Coulport. He has analysed the job descriptions with his canny knowledge of nuclear weaponry and sub-mariner capabilities. He has also managed to carry out a detailed commercial analysis of the retailers and SMEs in an around Helensburgh. His strategic analysis of the prospects for the area in the event of the removal of nuclear weapons from Faslane predicts around 12,000 job losses. A good piece of investigative journalism. OK, he does contradict Babcock Marine, Lockheed Martin and the Ministry of Defence who say the number is 520 – but I like that cavalier approach, I think I trust Alistair – a lot of people trust Alistair with their mail, so who am I to judge?
I am tempted to canvas his area on behalf of Royal Mail and find out if anyone has had any post in the last few years, while Alistair sifts through millions of top secret documents, benefits studies, commercial impact analysis’s etc. A piece of work no other party has managed thus far. So, well done Alistair.
In his leaflet, and I expect he has been simply pushed for time as he gets the last post out, he forgot to mention that the removal of nuclear weapons from Faslane, under his scenario, cannot be an SNP led initiative. Because the SNP has committed to expand the base with conventional defences to protect our shores, our re-acquired fishing industry, our rejuvenated oil and gas industry and our world class renewable energy installations. Of course, if any of our yachts get into trouble I am sure we will be able to rely on our very busy naval fleet.
Not a criticism, Alistair, just trying to help you present a complete picture. So to be clear, your scenario is one where Westminster gets really miffed, toys out of the pram, ups sticks and leaves, closing the base in the process. If the truth be told, the MoD could shed around 11,500 jobs without compromising our nuclear capability, but what the hell. I hardly think Westminster would be so mean as to shed vital jobs in ‘Bonny?.
Actually, Alistair does make a great point. Between Faslane and Coulport we have the capability, or rather the US with their distant trigger finger, can pretty much end the world in an instant – if we feel under threat. Not that we would ever feel under threat anyway thanks to our foreign policies of appeasement and global harmony. I shudder to think what might have happened in May 1982 if our military might had had an off day at Goose Green in the Falklands and felt they had to deploy Trident. Of course, some may ask why Argentina had the audacity to invade British sovereign territory when we had nothing but nuclear weapons? That General Galtieri always was a bit of a risk taker! but fair play to him, he was not put off by our military might – or is that ‘military might-not’.
Of course, had we ‘nuked’ Argentina then we would have triggered a nuclear holocaust nobody could survive. But even if some did, they were doomed, as our planet was now in ecological free-fall.
It is so important that we retain our global suicidal capability as a potent threat for peace. As Alistair postulates, never mind the destruction of our planet – think about the 12,000 jobs that guarantee the prosperity of Helensburgh and it’s plethora of charity shops. I’m with Alistair, 12,000 jobs is to high a price to pay for the security of our children’s planet.
I am tempted to congratulate Alistair on a well argued continuance of our nuclear capability predicated on job losses. We may be standing amidst a torched earth, a barren wasteland, but come Monday morning, it’s back to work at the base – thank goodness for tinned food.
But wait …. I forgot something, Alistair. I forgot about the time when my family and me came to Glasgow from Antwerp in 1951. I forgot about the fact that my family had been in shipping and shipbuilding for generations. I forgot about my childhood steeped in the shipyards and regular trips down to Craigendoran with my dad and his men on a shipping maintenance mission.
As a child, I grew up in Dumbarton Road, at the junction with Burham Road overlooking the entrance to some of the most important shipyards in the world; Barclay Curles and Yarrows, I could hit with a stone. The shipyards were side by side all the way up to my dad’s Pointhouse Yard, A & J Inglis of Waverley, Jeannie Deans and Maid of the Loch fame. Of course these yards were mirrored on the southbank of the Clyde as well. Morning, lunchtime and finish you could not see the pavement for the swarms of workers coming and going to their work.
But was that not the heyday? Oh no – the heyday is today when the world’s shipping tonnage has increased by 400% and 95% of all commodities are shipped at some point – but nothing to do with the Clyde, sadly.
So, what does all this mean Alistair? well, records are not great but 19 of the shipyards employed 70,000 workers. Over and above that there were almost 60,000 apprentices. The apprentices were important because many were pseudo tradesmen paid a pittance, rarely shown on the books or counted and vital to balance the books. Over and above this, the Clyde had boatyards, berths, docking facilities etc and they were also big employers. Add this lot up and we are looking at close to 200,000 workers. Now, Alistair, did I mention the ancillary and support industries? Also on or around the Clyde we had Weirs Pumps, Clydesdales etc. We had the steelworks at Ravenscraig. We had the coalfields, we had the sundry suppliers like Fyfe & McGrowther – the list is endless. Of course the workers had to live somewhere, they had to eat, their families had lives too. They all needed transport, education and clothing etc, etc.
I am guessing that in the round we are looking at 300,000 to 400,000 people directly or indirectly dependent on the Clyde and its industries. Of course, there are other more tenuous links to industries. Where you have an engineering powerhouse, a pool of highly skilled engineers other industries thrive. We had Albion Trucks at Scotstoun, we had the locomotive works at Springburn, we had cars at the massive Routes Linwood plant, we had Singers sewing machines at Clydebank, so big it had and has to this day its own railway station – and let’s not forget Barr & Strouds opticals and Temple Sawmills at Anniesland. Alistair, I could go on all day.
When I was a boy, there was work a plenty for everyone who was minded to work and that was just about everybody.
We are just talking about Glasgow, the second City of the Empire. A city with a higher population at its centre than even London; so say the densest City Centre in the world. Did it all just vanish? Where did all these people go? and more importantly … WHY.
Lets get back on track and consider shipbuilding. Did it just go down the pan despite massive investment in all the new technologies? Did our order books just dry up? In fact through lack of proper management and inward investment the 19 main shipyards were rationalised into 5, called Upper Clyde Shipbuilders UCS … then later trashed. Fortunately, Jimmy Reid emerged and had a worker’s lock in. They managed to keep UCS afloat for a number of years despite the attempts to scupper them. How did he/they manage to do that? simple, they HAD A FULL ORDER BOOK when they were trashing them.
So why would they do this? Well, the shipyards had become very militant. Militant, in context, means too critical of the Government – so they had to go. It was that simple.
Of course, Alistair, this is only a snapshot of what went on, one persons view who was actually there, who had a special knowledge. However, as I reflect on your logic for retaining Trident and Faslane based on 12,000 jobs, that don’t actually benefit Helensburgh, I am drawn to the 100s of thousands of jobs and lives that were sacrificed on the Clyde and in the West of Scotland as a POLITICAL EXPEDIENCY.
If only you had been the postie for the West of Scotland at the time, I am sure you would have emerged as the people’s postman champion and brought your compelling arguments based on job losses that would have saved the Clyde, the West and probably the rest of Scotland.
ALISTAIR, I THINK YOU MIGHT BE MY HERO
Many years ago a work colleague of mine returned from a 3 year contract in Zambia. Over the coming months he treated us to stories of life in Zambia under Kenneth Kaunda and a particular story of the hyena. Kaunda was a dictator who engineered a one party state, neutralised his opponents and ruled with an iron fist and techniques…
All last week I Tweeted my prediction that the girls, all 3 of them, would give the 4 boys a lesson in proper politics – or words to that affect. I was not being clever, nor probably unique. The endorsement, for me came from the number of guys who favourited and retweeted me. Many others were predicting the same. I have to say it was bl**dy obvious. There was no conspiracy, no collusion just a meeting of minds and a demonstration of how girls do things – often more effectively.
Question: When girls go on a night out what is the last thing they do? Ok, that was an easy one – they make sure everyone gets home safe. By contrast, guys split up on the steps of the pubs and go their separate ways. Some get home, some disappear for days, some end up in a hedge in another town and there is always one who is still out there!
In a sense, that is what we saw last night.
The media love to turn everything into a contest – who won? who came last? who scored the best shot on someone else – the kind of adversarial politics we witness every Wednesday lunchtime. The object of the exercise was for each Leader to get their points across. The winner was supposed to be the people of the UK – but not Northern Ireland. (just as a little aside – if there is such a thing as a Scottish Labour party, where was Jim Murphy? – exactly, I rest my case.)
It must have been a horrible time for the media. If they had dared to print or comment on anything too far short of what the public had witnessed – their cover was blown.
So, for me the highlights were clear. The 3 girls put across their views very clearly. There was clear uniqueness and much overlap. I counted the number of times the girls bitched at each other – I made that zero. They listened, they debated, they supported each other when it was relevant and they even highlighted any points where they agreed with the boys – of course that was always going to be hard. Natalie began the debate and was a bit nervous, still cognisant of a previous performance (like none of us have every had one of these days?). However, her message was clear and poignant and she quickly found her confidence and was back to full strength with a very strong performance. Leanne made it very clear from the outset that she was there as the voice of Wales – that is the voice of the people of Wales let down by Ed Miliband. Nicola, already demonised in the media for her ambition to break up the United Kingdom into small pieces ready to burn, came as the voice of the majority Governing party in Scotland but with a message for the people of England. Her ambition is to give Scotland a stronger voice at Westminster but also to fight for just policies that she believes the people of England deserve, such as education for all based on ‘ability to learn’ not ‘ability to pay’.
On the other hand, I was relieved that the ITV authorities had searched the boys for weapons or there would have been carnage. I know they cannot agree on everything, but surely to goodness they can agree on SOME THINGS. That’s a no. Cameron and Clegg have been in coalition for 5 years and last night we discovered they did not agree on ANYTHING. Clearly, Ed Miliband had been groomed to look down the lens of the camera and make out like he is really enjoying himself. He just looked a bit stupid at times. In fact he was visibly shaken, and unreportedly so, for his panic every time the past was mentioned and how his lot had trashed the economy. After ruining the economy, Ed reconciled the whole situation, the extra £1Tn core national debt, the austerity, their policy of mass uncontrolled immigration with a very sincere(ish) apology. Not to be outdone, Nick managed to get in an apology for all the students now shackled with a life destroying debt they will never shift in their lifetime or even that of their children. However, nice apology, your sincerity was palpable. Cameron didn’t apologise for anything. Perhaps he would have if he had attended the second half of the debate – what? he was there? well perhaps the right hand camera had broken down.
I was just a bit uneasy with Julie Etchingham. Too often when one of the girls attempted a response she cut them short. However, however, if Nick chipped in, all we heard was ‘let’s hear from Nick’. I’m not sure if Mrs Clegg has anything to worry about – but if she has, you heard it here first?
One thing that came across loud and clear was the potency of Nicola that only 1 person in 11 in the UK can vote for her party, but not her. Social media was alive with comments praising her performance and many commentators recognised that only the people of Scotland can vote for SNP and Nicola is an MSP not a candidate MP.
Many people in England were frustrated that they could not vote for Nicola.
So here’s the thing. Here’s the really big thing that everybody is missing!
Remember I opened with the last thing girls do after a night out – they look after each other. Some of my readers may remember one of my blogs where I felt the SNP should field candidates in England? perhaps not such a stupid idea?
Put these 2 points together and I have 2 conclusions.
First, the pundits are debating who the major parties will form allegiances or coalitions with. THEY ARE MISSING BY A MILE. DO they actually think that SNP are about to enter into any form of allegiance with Labour under a (I hate this newly created term – supply and confidence) agreement. NOT A BIT OF IT. The girls are heading home and on that journey, as we, and all the nation, saw clearly in evidence last night they will stick together. It is plain, as the nose on your face, that the first allegiance has already been formed, is highly effective and and any political party that needs political support will be dealing with Natalie, Leanne and Nicola/Alex. AND THEY BETTER HAVE A GOOD STORY!
My second point, I did not see coming. The SNP are not going to field candidates in England - BUT THEY DON’T NEED TO. If people in England liked what they saw last night, then they must get behind Natalie, get behind the GREENS. In Wales they will get behind Leanne. Together they will shake UK politics to the core – together they will make the UK a fairer society for all the countries of the United Kingdom. I don’t know if that is the future, but that is a future, and a great place to make a start.
Let’s give them a strong numerical power base. Let’s change politics forever. Our children will be the first to thanks us.
LET’S GIVE THEM THE TOOLS AND THEY WILL FINISH THE JOB!
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