The diary entry for early November 2016 in the Westminster Protect the Union at all Costs Strategy Playbook says“ Dangle MOD warships contracts in front of the Scotch again.” Then in red scrawled underneath it, and underlined, it says “remember to be vague and non-committal”.
Defence Secretary Sir Michael Fallon duly obliged. Although his PR handler (in what looked like a scene from ‘In the Loop’) was determined she was getting him out of the clutches of Bernard Ponsonby before he was forced so far into a tighter than tight corner on a very simple and straightforward question that he may have eventually been forced to answer it.
Anyway the comedy value was good. Bernard’s facial expression was a picture, and now we know that the oft put off, delayed, hinted at, and depleted from its original number of vessels, MOD contract looks like it will perhaps, mibbees aye, mibbees possibly, cause the good citizens of Govan to wake in the morning, next summer, to the sound of the clanging of steel with a renewed vigour coming from the yards, maybe.
Kudos to Bernard Ponsonby for trying to get Sir Micky to say something meaningful. To tell the viewing public whether the prospect of the people of Scotland having the audacity to re-consider whether the seeping sore of the Brexitastrophy disaster makes a second referendum on self-determination for Scots an imperative will make a difference to whether the contract goes ahead. Specifically he wanted us to find out whether there is anything in the contract which scuppers Scotland getting the work should it become independent. He’s still waiting for a response. Maybe he should line up behind Nicola Sturgeon and Mike Russell in the queue for the Brexit hotline to see if David Davis knows the answer. If he ever answers the phone.
According to the Defence Secretary he’s not expecting Scotland to leave the Union any time soon. There’s billions of pounds of work, twenty years of investment at least, There’s weans no’ even born yet who’s jobs will be secure because of this act of benevolence from Big Brother. “We’re investing in Scotland on the basis that Scotland will be staying in the United Kingdom” he says. It’s an answer. But not to the question he was asked.
Let’s speculate on the UK government strategy, shall we? The livelihoods of the workforce and the devastating impact on the local economy of not carrying through on the commitment of a long term shipbuilding contract will continue, as before, to be held over Scotland like the Sword of Damocles, ready to be wheeled out into the media every time there’s even a whiff of the forthcoming referendum, whenever it may be. Threats and fear, as usual.
Meanwhile the irrelevance (the one member of parliament of the ruling Westminster government in Scotland) that is the Secretary of State, is happily congratulating himself and yodelling the usual platitudes about strength and security, and ‘broad shoulders’. Change the tune…..We’ve heard this one before, many times.
Scotland can do oh so much better.