Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Supporting our local Scottish defense industry.......

Willie Rennie, No 1 on the Regional list for the Scottish Liberal Democrats in Mid Scotland & Fife, won unanimous backing from the party conference in Dunfermline for saving the aircraft carrier contracts which provide crucial local employment at Rosyth and on the Clyde, preserving and developing key skills within Scottish Industry.

Very well done Willie. Here is the full text of his speech to Conference, with an additional article that appeared in the Courier yesterday.

"I am a regular visitor to Rosyth Dockyard.

You cannot but be truly impressed by the sheer scale of the task planned with the construction of the two largest ships ever built for the Royal Navy.

65,000 tonnes of modern defence capability will be sailing down the Forth only two miles from this conference hall in just a few short years.

I met the workers that will commission the ships, I’ve seen the plans and I witnessed the enormity of the newly extended dry dock where the work will be completed.
That is if we let it. The power is in our hands. We can decide the future of the CVF. We can determine the fate of thousands of skilled shipyard workers here in Rosyth and over at the Clyde. It is our government that will decide.

Yet the conditions for such a decision could not be more unfavourable. A gap of £155bn between the money the government receives and what it spends – and that’s just this year alone.
A massive overspend on the defence procurement budget of £35bn. Commitments given to projects without the finance to back it up is an act of sheer recklessness from a Labour Government that professes to be the supporters of our dockyards.

The Labour Government left our public finances in a truly shocking state. They hadn’t even worked out how to pay for the planes that would fly from the carriers before they gave the go ahead.

What’s worse is that only a matter of months after they signed the main contracts did they decide to delay the carriers for up to two years costing the taxpayer an additional £1billion.
But it is us that have been left to pick up the pieces, to make the sums add up and to determine a sensible defence and security strategy at the same time.

Of course the defence strategy of this country should not be determined by the needs of BAE Systems or Babcock or even solely by the needs of their employees. The demand should not be calculated by the needs of the suppliers but any good business knows it needs to look after its supply chain otherwise the chain won’t be there when you need it most.

That’s why it is essential that a critical part of our defence and security strategy should be a sustainable defence industry.

I firmly believe that a versatile, flexible sea-based force can deliver significant value for money in terms of supporting policy, especially in preventing rather than fighting wars. A key component of that force would be the two new aircraft carriers, providing flexibility across the spectrum of operations as well as providing an air base when none are available ashore.
Carriers have long been recognised as a vehicle of conflict prevention especially in far flung parts of the world where we may not have safe and secure land bases from which to project our force for good.

Please support this motion, support Rosyth and the Clyde and support a robust and effective defence and security strategy for the UK. "

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