Guest Column: UK shipbuilding is being shipwrecked under the Tories

Sir Kevin Barron MP
Sir Kevin Barron MP

Workers in British shipyards share a proud tradition – building the best ships in the world.

But in my view the Conservativs are trashing that tradition by offering up the Ministry of Defence’s most recent contract for three new ships to be built abroad. I feel this decision is wrong.

Labour is calling on the Government to guarantee that these three new ships for the Royal Fleet Auxiliary will be built in domestic shipyards.

Building these ships in Britain would benefit those working in and supporting our world-class shipbuilding industry. More than 6,500 workers could be employed through this contract, 1,800 of them in shipyards.

Decisive public intervention in support of this vital industry would protect it from anti-competitive practices by overseas firms and other states. By refusing to help our industry thrive, the Conservatives are continuing their historic trend of hollowing out and closing down British industry.

Over the course of the 1980s under the Tories, 75,000 jobs were lost in UK shipyards.

The Government claims that it is overseeing a ‘renaissance’ in British shipbuilding.

But Scottish employers have pushed through one set of redundancies after another in recent years.

The UK’s shipyards used to produce half of all new ships worldwide, but it’s current market share is now less than half a per cent.

I feel the Tories seem hell-bent on accelerating and deepening this industrial decline.

Shipbuilding is not a lame duck and can have an exciting future right here in the UK.

Labour’s proposal would both sustain existing shipbuilding and supply chain jobs and create new ones across the UK.