Martin Hannan: We’re sunk if we trust PM and co

Clyde yards retain the contract to build Type 26 ships for now
Clyde yards retain the contract to build Type 26 ships for now
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It is so very typical of the ­lunatics now running the Westminster government that they should offer HMS Edinburgh to the city that bears its name just days after “hinting” about lost shipbuilding contracts if Scotland votes for independence.

How can we trust these people? Given their stance on the Clyde yards, if we vote Yes, will they demand HMS Edinburgh back?

First off, let me say the cost of buying the Type 42 destroyer should not be inflicted on Edinburgh Council and council tax payers. Instead, the money should come from the National Lottery Heritage Fund. HMS Edinburgh’s acquisition is exactly the sort of thing which it should support – and did, with the Cutty Sark Restoration Project at Greenwich.

I really do wonder, however, at the way the UK government can offer an old ship to us after removing jobs from the Clyde and also hinting at darker retribution after a Yes vote.

The best contribution to the debate on whether or not an independent Scotland would still build ships for the Royal Navy came from a phone-in caller to the BBC Radio Scotland’s Call Kaye programme in which I participated. To paraphrase, the caller said: “If they see us as a foreign country and take away shipbuilding contracts will that mean they will take away Trident, too?”

Her perceptive question stuck a stake in the heart of the Better Together case. Their apologists just couldn’t answer. So as a Yes campaigner and SNP member I demand an answer: if Westminster sees us as foreign will they put Trident in England? I won’t hold my breath waiting on Project Fear’s reply.

As for that clodhopper Alistair Carmichael – the new Scottish Secretary is hardly in office before he has made major boo-boos, especially over the Clyde shipyard contracts.

In claiming that he wasn’t blackmailing Scots to vote No – he definitely was – Carmichael said on the BBC: “What we have got here is something that is certain.”

By that he meant the Type 26 global combat ship contracts. There are 13 of these ships due to be built over the next decade or so and thanks to the latest decisions, the Clyde will be the only place on these islands that can build them.

But remember the Type 45 destroyers. There were going to be 12 of them and now there are only six. That decision was taken by a New Labour government under Gordon Brown, but was never reversed by the coalition government, and the last Type 45, Clyde-built HMS Duncan, has recently been commissioned.

So here’s a question. Given the track record of Labour and Con-Dem governments, how safe are defence-related jobs in the hands of Carmichael and co? How many of the 13 will definitely be built, and will their construction on the Clyde be guaranteed by Labour, Tories and Lib Dems?

If so, I suspect that guarantee will have as much validity as the mid-1980s Tory government’s promise to have the Trident submarines maintenance facilities at Rosyth. In 1993, then defence secretary Malcolm Rifkind sent that very lucrative work to Devonport, and Rosyth lost out.

It’s recent history like this which makes the following question so vital: given what they have done in the past, can you really trust the future of Scotland to a Westminster government?

Hopes go up in a puff of smoke

AS a citizen of slowly diminishing yet still substantial girth, I almost choked when I saw that Edinburgh Council is giving away large burial plots for the same price as single ones.

Just when I could finally look forward to a good deal off the council, I’ll miss out, for I am going to be cremated. Boo-hoo!

Digging chance of Leith adventure

Thanks to the Evening News story about it, I will make my way down to Leith on Sunday to see if I can help at one of the public “dig days” at the site of Leith Fort.

The News story has sparked a lot of interest among friends of mine, not all of them from Leith, about the long-buried fort, and the chance to be part of a “Time Team” dig on Sunday and the following Sunday is just too good to miss.

Leithers will get first dibs, but I hope the rest of us get the chance to join in.

Still waiting for answers on tram damage

The initiative to promote the West End and Haymarket is very welcome and nicely produced and I wish all the traders – who battered a tram-shaped pinata at the weekend – luck in their campaign to inform the world that the area is alive and well after 21 months of disruption from the tram works.

I’m told a number of businesses have disappeared and I know that is true in other areas such as Leith Walk. How many have gone around the city and how much of that was due to the loss of trade caused by the works? Yes there was compensation available, but was it sufficient?

Only when there is a full examination of all the circumstances surrounding the trams project will we know the truth.

The right stuff

Walking in town the other day, I was struck by the sheer diversity of our visitors. There were plenty of accents from around Scotland, too, so we must be doing something right.