This may look serene – but under the surface there is a Referendum debate STILL raging

Alex Salmond and the SNP succeeded in securing a Referendum on Scottish Independence - well done! - but now it's about Self Determination or Servitude for Scotland ... that's was the only question, There were only two answers - yes or no - the rest of the rhetoric was only there to throw you off the scent! ..... and the waters start to stir! The waters may look calm now, but make no mistake, the circumstances of the referendum were such that the waters will never be calm until Scotland has its right of self determination as an independent country. Care to dive in??

Fool Fiscal Autonomy

I understand some senior Tory MPs have been lobbying Cameron to ‘settle’ the Scottish question giving us Full Fiscal Autonomy FFA and ‘hell mend the consequences’ about the £7.5 Billion black hole or deficit. Fighting talk indeed, were it not for the fact that any politician making reference to this ‘hole’ in the FFA clearly does not have a grasp…

Out with the New!

Sunday morning can start pretty slow – unless you find Peter Mandelson thrust in your face as we did this morning of 10 May on Andrew Marr.  I’m not sure whether this is the BBC being provocative or failing in their attempts to stoke up Labour sympathy. Either way, they ticked both boxes for me.   Could someone please remind…

The art of lying

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?

Redman

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

The hyena is King of the jungle-right?

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…