This is an eye watering story, it involves hundreds of thousands of workers thrown on the scrap heap and possibly even the reason why we have so many children living in poverty today which is heavily concentrated on Glasgow and the surrounding areas. Yet very few people know about it.
At one time as many of you will know, shipbuilding was big business on the Clyde. If you lived in and around Glasgow, chances are that you had members of your family or friends that worked in one or indeed you worked in one yourself.
They are gone now except for the two BAE shipyards on the Clyde employing a mere 3000 people which is a shadow of the picture that we saw just 30 to 40 years ago. And it wasn’t just the shipyards that were effected, many companies fed into the shipbuilding industry from steel works to furniture makers based in and around Glasgow that also employed thousands.
Glasgow and the surrounding areas turned overnight from being part of a manufacturing economy to a service economy. The day of the call-centre had arrived. Many of the people that worked in the shipyards went abroad to find work using their skills in other shipyards around the world, what a loss!
I help to run a facebook page, it’s called “Scotland’s Big Yes/No? Debate” and tries to create a place where pro-union and pro-independence folk come together to debate the issues leading up to Scotland’s independence referendum on the 18th of September 2014. It can be “lively” at times as you can well imagine.
One day, I happened upon an article in the Sunday Post entitled “Did MoD block oil boom in the Firth of Clyde?” and posted it on the facebook page with the question “Well did they?”.
The members of that facebook page come from all backgrounds and walks of life and therefore it wasn’t too long before an interesting dialogue took place. A lady called Julie Dettbarn announced herself as a Researcher that was interested in the National Archives and she suggested that she would take a look to see if she could find something that had been declassified on the issue.
Sure enough, Julie spotted several documents that looked likely and she aired that with the group. It was quite funny because we had those of a pro-union stance looking in as well and making a few comments – well you can imagine! Then we needed for someone who was near enough to go to the National Archive and retrieve them. Angus Coull stepped up to the plate and agreed that he would go. At the same time, Julie had contacted Chic Brodie SNP MSP who agreed to join Angus on their trip to the National Archives to retrieve copies of the declassified documents. With the aid of Chic Brodie, it was imagined that his presence would open doors that others couldn’t.
What they found painted a picture that doesn’t speak well of the British Establishment and more pointedly the MoD in their total disregard for the people who live on the lower reaches of the Clyde.
On the same facebook thread we also had a gentleman called George Smith who kindly pointed us to the plans by Chevron at the time to put a major oil refinery at Hunterston Point along with other major projects to take advantage of the deep water berthing there. It can be seen that they were planning big. Chevron must have spent a fortune planning for such an undertaking. Those details were sent through to Chic Brodie MSP as supporting documents.
On the 16th of October 2013 at 17:07, Angus reported back to the group and said ” Well folks, I’m not going to go into too much detail on this public forum, but I will say that me and Chic’s visit to the National Archives yesterday uncovered political dynamite which could be very bad news indeed for the No campaign. Chic got copies of the most important documents, and will be talking to Alex Salmond in the next few days. They will undoubtedly make it public in the near future.”
On the 9th of November 2013 a second article (it was a full two page spread in the paper version) was released, this time the headline read ; “West coast oil boom was blocked by MoD”, here is the on-line version;-
The Journalist involved in both articles was Andrew Picken and we give thanks to him and the Sunday Post for the wonderful articles produced which I have provided links to.
So, what now? It has been confirmed that the MoD did in fact block an oil boom on the Clyde, a Clyde at the time that was buzzing with shipbuilding. An oil boom would have been the much needed lifeline that the shipyards and steelmakers and furniture makers and a whole host of smaller businesses needed to stay alive and prosper. Fact.
It was imagined that when this hit the newstands that other Scottish newspapers would pick up and run with this story and give it arms and legs, but that hasn’t happened. I can’t say that as a pro-independence campaigner I’m very surprised. The main stream media in Scotland have pinned their colours to the Westminster mast and that makes me sick to my stomach. Very little is written or broadcast that supports the pro-independence cause directly. Or indeed attacks the British Establishment.
I can imagine that lots of the people directly effected by this “theft” (if they saw the articles at all, that is) probably looked at the articles and said “Oh well” whilst giving a Scottish shrug. I at least expected a public outcry. A bit of rage.
One can only imagine the countless number of lives that have been blighted by this pernicious action by the MoD. That blight has carried on through the generations of people that have been brought up on teh lower reaches of the Clyde. The MoD might as well have bombed us…..
All I can say to end this is that those submarines have to go and that at least the oil still exists for the future and that will hail a brighter outlook for the people of Glasgow and it’s surrounding areas in a future without the blight of the MoD. Bring on Scottish independence!
David Milligan Lvss