Blow for No campaign as official figures demolish Trident jobs claim

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  By Bob Duncan  
 
Labour claims that up to 19,000 jobs could be lost if nuclear weapons are removed from the Clyde lie in tatters today following official confirmation from the MoD and a correction from a Scottish newspaper.
 
According to the Scottish Labour party, the Faslane Naval Base would be forced to close if Scots vote yes to independence – with the loss of 19000 jobs.

By Bob Duncan 
 
Labour claims that up to 19,000 jobs could be lost if nuclear weapons are removed from the Clyde lie in tatters today following official confirmation from the MoD and a correction from a Scottish newspaper.
 
According to the Scottish Labour party, the Faslane Naval Base would be forced to close if Scots vote yes to independence – with the loss of 19000 jobs.

However, the claims have been comprehensively shredded by official figures released by the Ministry of Defence which estimated that only 6,700 military and civilian  jobs were reliant on the base, with a further 1500 if the planned renewal of the nuclear weapons system goes ahead.

The figures were recently confirmed in a House of Commons statement by Defence spokesman Philip Dunne, who had been quizzed by SNP MP Angus Robertson on the claims by pro-Union politicians and others.

Mr Robertson wrote: “Last week, the UK Government published a paper about Faslane, which was widely reported together with incorrect job projections.  Will the Minister dissociate the UK Government and the Better Together campaign from double counting and fabrication on such a serious issue?”

Responding, Mr Dunne dismissed the Labour party figures, and said:

“The Honourable Gentleman has clearly been reading information that is simply not emerging from the Ministry of Defence.  The base at Faslane is the largest employment site in Scotland, with some 6,700 military and civilian jobs projected to increase to around 8,200 by 2022 as the Royal Navy moves all its submarines there.  Those are the numbers.”

Clarification of the official estimate has led to an embarrassing correction by the Herald newspaper after it published the Labour claims in an article on the 9th January.

In its original article, the Herald wrote, “Some 6700 direct jobs are at Faslane along with a further 1500 posts which are to be created by a centre of excellence in 2022.  Labour calculate a further 11,000 people are also indirectly reliant on the base for their livelihoods.”

The article was accompanied by a headline claiming the same 19000 figure.

The claim of 19,000 jobs was also made by Labour MP Ian Davidson, who was speaking in his capacity as Chair of the House of Commons Scottish Affairs Committee.

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Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland on 9th January, Mr Davidson increased the figure claiming that over 20,000 jobs would be put at risk by independence.

Mr Davidson isn’t the only Labour politician to claim tens of thousands of people relied on Faslane for employment.  His party colleague and fellow MP Jim Murphy claimed in October 2012 that the SNP was “willing to jeopardising tens of thousands of jobs and a key part of our defence posture”.

Local Labour MSP Jackie Baillie has claimed that the Trident nuclear weapons system sustains 11,000 local jobs.

However, an official answer from the MoD has revealed that only 520 jobs rely directly on nuclear weapons.  They identify a total of 159 Ministry of Defence jobs in Scotland and 254 jobs at Babcock Marine as being dependent on Trident, as well as 107 jobs at Lockheed Martin UK Strategic Systems. The exact locations of the Lockheed Martin jobs were not available.

A report commissioned by Scottish CND in 2007 put the total number of direct and indirect jobs resulting from the Trident nuclear weapons system at just 1536.

Speaking in October, John Ainslie, Scottish CND’s co-ordinator, said: “Both Labour and Conservative politicians are trying to scare the public by exaggerating the economic implications of nuclear disarmament.”

In its report, CND Scotland calculated that, despite all of the UK’s WMDs being based in Scotland, of the total direct and indirect civilian employment dependent on Trident across Britain, only 9.1 per cent is currently located north of the border.

They discovered that the maintenance infrastructure for Trident is split between:

  • The Atomic Weapons Establishment, Aldermaston (warheads)
  • Devonport (submarine refit and reactor refuelling)
  • The United States (missile supply and maintenance)
  • Faslane (logistics base, service and maintenance)

CND Scotland also found that only 30 per cent of the civilian workforce at Faslane is related to Trident, with the rest being directly or indirectly employed by the conventional systems located there.

The report also claimed: “In addition Scotland’s share of the cost of renewing Trident is estimated to be £85 million per year for 15 years.  The [UK] Government has said that this money will not come from the current Defence Budget.  This additional expenditure could put at risk 3,000 public sector jobs in Scotland.”

MP Angus Robertson said Faslane had a good future as the base for an independent Scotland’s conventional naval forces, rather than as a repository for Trident nuclear weapons, which the people and parliament of Scotland did not want.

He added: “One of the biggest benefits of an independent Scotland will be the ability to remove Trident from the Clyde.  Scottish public opinion and a majority of the members of Scotland’s parliament are strongly opposed to nuclear weapons being based in Scotland and only a yes vote in 2014 can guarantee Trident’s removal.

“Just last month Defence Minister Phillip Dunne made it clear in a parliamentary answer to me that there is enough room at the Devonport yard to base Trident there.

“Ironically, the UK government is content to dump Trident nuclear weapons near Scotland’s biggest city, but is unwilling to station them on the south coast of England – for safety reasons.”