Not plain sailing

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As A former junior manager in the industry, and a former Business Expansion Scheme shareholder in Ferguson’s shipyard, I welcome Iain Gray’s interest in the future of the industry (Perspective, 8 December). However, he fails to mention the Labour movement’s own large responsibility for its decline.

This goes back to Sir Stafford Cripps, chancellor in the 1945 Labour government, who regarded shipbuilders as war profiteers, and legislated to deny them access to capital, followed by suicidal demarcation disputes and regular strikes for completion bonuses, which drove orders to the Far East. By the time of the Upper Clyde Shipbuilders work-in in the 1970s, the damage had already been done.

He also fails to mention that it is useless to depend on UK naval orders. Current orders will be completed by this time next year. The next prospect (Type 26/27 Frigates) is scheduled for 2016, but BAE Systems has been trying for several years to find a partner to share the costs without success, so that order is by no means certain.

Mr Gray says: “As for non-UK and non-military contracts, the yards build these now.” What non-military contracts has BAE Systems built in the past ten years? Will it seek major civilian work for the off-shore sector, which is booming in yards from Norway to the Far East? We cannot afford to have both remaining Upper Clyde yards confined to the declining UK naval budget.

John Smart

Kinneddar Street

Lossiemouth, Morayshire