Local MSP Jackie Baillie has taken the SNP’s Defence spokesperson Brendan O’Hara MP to task for misleading claims on the number of people in Argyll and Bute and West Dunbartonshire depend on the base for employment.
The Argyll and Bute MP recently accused Jackie of using ‘ridiculously inflated figures’ on the number of jobs at Faslane and argued that only a handful of local people worked there. He also called for an ‘honest debate’ using ‘genuine, sourced employment figures.’
Highlighting official figures published by the Ministry of Defence in September 2014 which show that the total number of personnel at HMNB Clyde is 6,800, Jackie called on Mr O’Hara to clarify his comments and come clean on the true scale of employment at the base.
Furthermore, those directly employed at the base is expected to rise to 8,200 by 2022 when Faslane becomes home to the entire UK submarine fleet. In addition to the direct employment at Faslane, there are some 4,500 extra jobs in the supply chain and from using standard income multipliers in the local economy (EKOS study).
“Mr O’Hara has been caught red-handed trying to mislead his own constituents about the true level of employment at the base. If he really wants to see some ‘genuine, sourced employment figures’ as he told local people last week then perhaps he should start by reading the MoD’s response to a Freedom of Information request last year. Then he would know that the MoD employs 4,550 military and civilian personnel at the base and that a further 2,250 civilians jobs are provided by contractors such as Babcock.
“Mr O’Hara should know that you can’t just cherry-pick the figures that suit his own argument and ignore the facts that are inconvenient for the SNP. He should immediately retract his false statement and stop trying to downplay the significant economic contribution of Faslane to Helensburgh and the wider local economy. Local people know that the loss of the base would have a devastating effect on the local economy.”
Labour Party members in Dumbarton, Vale of Leven and Helensburgh have also submitted a motion supporting mulitlateral nuclear disarmament for discussion at this month’s Scottish Labour conference.
The motion, which was passed at a Dumbarton Labour Party meeting last week, says that the SNP has ‘no serious, worked out plan’ to replace the thousands of jobs provided at Faslane and Coulport and recognises that negotiation between countries across the world is the only way to achieve a nuclear-free world.
Welcoming the position taken by the local Labour Party, local MSP Jackie Baillie said:
“Local Labour members understand that there is no easy way to rid the world of nuclear weapons and that the SNP’s not-in-my-back-yard approach of simply shifting them from Scotland to England is the worst kind of politics. That’s why the local party has renewed its commitment to the workforce at the base and pledged to defend the thousands of workers at Faslane and Coulport.
“if Scottish Labour decides to have a debate on Trident at conference, I will be standing shoulder to shoulder with workers at the base and making sure that I protect jobs and the local economy.”<