Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Thank You Britain For Our Aircraft Carrier Contract

Alex Salmond would have us all believe there would be no material difference to the Scottish way of life if Scotland were to achieve independence. What tosh!

The SNP are of course correct to suggest we Scottish are perfectly capable of governing ourselves if we wanted to and indeed to suggest we would make a good fist of it. But what they are not honest enough to admit is that the breakup of Britain would come at a heavy cost to Scottish industry, to Scottish jobs and to whole sections of Scottish society.

As just one example, there is the terrific news for Clyde shipbuilding that the United Kingdom government has formally signed contracts to buy two new aircraft carriers for the Royal Navy. Because this involves procurement of strategic national importance to the UK government they are able to place orders with our own domestic shipbuilders without including foreign yards in full scale competitive tendering. In this instance that means job security for yards on the Clyde, Rosyth, Barrow and Portsmouth.

The two new aircraft carriers that are to be built will be the biggest ships ever to enter service with the Royal Navy at more than 65,000 tonnes each. The contract, signed on 3rd July 2008, guarantees more than 7,000 jobs across the UK and means we retain vital skills in our country for the foreseeable future.

Had Scotland not been part of the United Kingdom, with our proud tradition of supporting our Navy, there would not have been any likelihood of an independent English government placing an order of strategic importance to it with a Scottish yard. Indeed, were we not part of the United Kingdom I am in no doubt Scotland would not have a commercial shipbuilding industry of the type and scale we see today. Without Royal Navy contracts the Clyde's shipbuilders would have shut up shop long ago and in the event of independence, but for a few fishery protection vessels, I do not believe there would be frigate, submarine or aircraft carrier orders from a Scottish government to sustain a significant shipbuilding industry in the future.

Independence would dramatically reduce the size and capability of our armed services. Scotland would not procure massive aircraft carriers, would not need the jet fighters that go with them and our army would be a shadow of its current size given our relative irrelevance on the international stage. And yet, today, our armed services support the economies of whole areas of Scotland and play vital roles in the moral fabric of society as we know it. All this would be put at risk by independence and no one should be in any doubt that cuts to Scotland's armed services capability would occur within weeks of any divorce from England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

So, unless I have missed something, the independent Scotland offered by Alex Salmond and the SNP would be detrimental to our armed services. We are a country of 5 million people talented and resourceful people but we would not need, and could not sustain, the number of army, airforce and navy personnel we currently support as nationals of a country with a combined population of 55 million+, even on a pro rata basis.

I am sure HMS Queen Elizabeth II and HMS Prince of Wales will be shining examples of all that makes our country GREAT!

Our two new aircraft carriers, built on the Clyde, will be glorious symbols of why we should be proud to be British and they should serve to remind us all of the benefits Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland gain from being part of a Union that delivers social, economic and strategic advantages - benefits we would not enjoy if we are force apart.

So thank you, my fellow British citizens, for our aircraft carrier contract. Together we will proudly defend our nation, while apart we would surely be shadows of our current selves, both at home and abroad!

No comments: