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By Julian Nettlefold

25 Jul 08. Even with the signing of the CVF aircraft carrier deal bringing job security to Glasgow, labour suffered a catastrophic defeat in Glasgow East on July 25th. However, the Scottish Shipbuilding Unions are canny people and the devil was in the detail of the CVF announcement. Gordon’s Brown major plan was reported to be to please his local constituents in the Rosyth area, which happened with Rosyth gaining the final construction phase and the upgrade of the Rosyth facility. Govan and Yarrow gained a part of the fabrication work which saved job losses but crucially did not create any jobs and no MoD investment was announce for these two yards in contrast to Rosyth and surprisingly Barrow which is outside the BVT consortium. Barrow was slated as a yard for the Type 45 destroyers but lack of space sent the work to Govan and Yarrow. We have reported on the requirement to have 45 tonnes of chains for the launch of each Type 45 to stop houses on the opposite bank being soaked in the bow wave. Any visitor to Glasgow on the Clydeside Expressway will see the unique sight of a Type 45 being built at the Govan Yard surrounded by new housing on the opposite bank of the Clyde. With the announcement of the new investment at Barrow which was originally slated to be solely a submarine facility and the recent article suggesting that both Barrow and the Babcock yards may join the BVT Consortium, does this signal the death knell for Govan and Yarrow as ship yards given the difficulties in launching larger ships on the narrow Clyde River? Whether BAE signed over the freehold of the Yarrow and Govan yards as part of the BVT deal is unclear, but, BAE is a canny property operator and it is likely that a lease has been signed for the period of CVF and Type 45. A visit by the Editor to the Govan area on Saturday saw a very drab set of buildings with a small sign signifying the changeover to BVT.

But, Labour’s problems in Scotland began with the tragic and sudden detah of Donald Dewar. When the Young Pretender Tony Blair went South with his entourage including Gordon Brown and Alistair darling, Dewar was left behind to mind the shop and keep Labour strong in Scotland and manage Devolution and the building of the new Scottish parliament building bang next door to the heartland of the Union, the Palace of Holyrood. It is likely that the design was so far from Scottish architecture to make a point that a new Scotland would emerge from Devolution with Labour at the helm. Dewar’s death brought a vacuum of talent with first Jack McConnell and then Wendy Alexander moving to pick up the cudgels. But, the canny Alex Salmond of the SNP saw the vacuum created by the death of Dewar and the dearth of Labour talent left in the country. Blair and his team were too busy building their London powerbase and took their eye off Scotland and Glasgow in particular. The rumours of misallocation of cash by David Marshall the sitting Glasgow MP caused the early announcement of his retirement and thus the By-Election. BATTLESPACE does not think it was a coincidence that the CVF announcement was made two weeks before, but maybe BAE and VT noticed the need to speed the process up and made hay with the contract details and terms. Gordon Brown did not even make the journey north to help canvassing to support Labour’s campaign. Perhaps if the election had been in Rosyth, he might have made the trip?

In addition, given that this was Labour’s third safest seat, the By-Election was slated for the holiday season which would ensure a low turnout. But, given that the first choice of candidate did not materialise, did this mean that Labour blew the possibility of postal votes for those shipyard workers going on holiday to vote for Margaret Curran whose name did not appear on the Ballot Sheet until four days prior to the By-Election. The fact that her surname was the same as the Scottish Socialist candidat

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