Jim Sillars: We must not make the same mistakes

Steel worker John Nelson leaves Ravenscraig for the last time before its closure in June 1992. Back in 1979, there were scare stories that the steel plant would close if Scots voted for devolution. Picture: Donald Macleod
Steel worker John Nelson leaves Ravenscraig for the last time before its closure in June 1992. Back in 1979, there were scare stories that the steel plant would close if Scots voted for devolution. Picture: Donald Macleod
Have your say

During my campaign for a Yes vote, the past has kept intruding.

Passing the Govan shipyard, I remembered standing at its gates in 1979 along with George Cunningham, a Labour MP from a London constituency. He told the men with language that verged on the brutal that if they voted Yes, then there would be no more orders for warships from the Ministry of Defence. Far from telling him to get stuffed, these hard men of the Clyde put their heads down, shuffled their feet and crumbled.

Nothing has changed. Today’s shipyard workers are being told a Yes vote will lose them their jobs. Someone brought me out a cutting he had kept since 1979: a leader in the Daily Express pointing out the dangers to, wait for it, Bathgate, Linwood, Ravenscraig and shipbuilding if we voted for an Assembly. We didn’t get it, but neither did we keep all those great industrial plants. The number employed in shipbuilding then was 25,000. Today it is around 4000. A shipyard worker told me it is planned to reduce that number to 1500. You will forgive me if I wonder when the Scots will ever learn.

Travelling round the country in the Margomobile, I have come across levels of poverty, hopelessness and sheer despair in communities which should make every one of us rake our conscience. There are, of course, people who are doing alright. I am one of them, with safe pensions. But I cannot believe that those of us who are OK, and will be OK whatever the result of the referendum, can willingly ignore what is happening to over one million people and 250,000 children who are submerged by poverty. If this is what being better together means, surely we cannot let it continue?

Let me tell you about a group of young women I met. They work for a privately-owned hotel, on the minimum wage. The owner has given one of them a full-time contract, so that the hotel will always be covered. The other four are on zero hours contracts. This week and next week, the hotel will be quiet in terms of bookings. One of the four will work, but the other two have been told not come back until the last week. How do they pay the gas, electricity and buy food for their children in those two weeks without money? They are the working poor who need to use food banks – and, by the way, Drumchapel food bank ran out of food last Friday.

We should all be ashamed that this is happening in the 14th richest country in the world.

No shame

Tony Blair, former UK prime minister for hire, writing speeches for foreign dictators. The man has no shame.

Religious fanatics should have UK citizenship removed

Hands have been raised in horror at the sadistic execution of James Foley by the Isil jihadis who now control parts of Syria and Iraq.

The British government is worried about what some of these religious fanatics will do on returning here. We should prevent them doing so. They have chosen to join a criminal organisation and should have their citizenship withdrawn.

It is no small matter for a state to do that, but these are unprecedented times, dealing with an organised group which can only be compared with the wartime German SS, whose brutality knew no bounds.

International law does not allow stripping a person of citizenship. But British law allows removal of citizenship if a person has dual nationality. As these people have helped to create what they call an Islamic state then they have opened the door, and we should take the opportunity.

They proclaim they want to live in a Sharia state. Let them, because there will be no Sharia state here, given our profound commitment to democracy, which they condemn. It is also about time for the UN Security Council to designate Isis as a criminal organisation, and refer to the International Criminal Court the task of prosecuting every one of them who is caught, by whatever country, for the war crimes their organisation (state) is committing.

Salmond’s clan is flying high

THE winners of the final TV debate – by a country mile – were Alex Salmond and the Yes supporters in the audience who took Darling on. Alistair’s blustering failure to name even one job creation power that is supposed to be on offer if we vote No spoke volumes of what an empty promise it is. It’s now lift-off for the Yes campaign.