Jim Murphy: Independence would decimate the Clyde and Scottish defence industry
GLASGOW used to make a third of all the ships in the world but much has changed.
The Clyde has been succeeded by South Korea's Port Ulsan, where a vessel is completed every four days. But we still build ships and there are reasons to be proud.
Right now, on the Clyde and in Rosyth in Fife, thousands of men and women are building two enormous aircraft carriers - each three times longer than a football pitch.
Other countries wanted the contract but the previous Labour government were clear we wanted to build these ships at home.
But there are now two threats - the cuts of the Tory government and total uncertainty about the SNP's plans for independence.
The SNP can't complain about scaremongering. Just look at the facts. If Scotland was to walk out on the rest of the UK, we would no longer be part of the Royal Navy.
Scottish expertise and Royal Navy orders have preserved Clyde shipbuilding, but separation would change this.
Scotland would be a foreign country to the Royal Navy, so why would the Royal Navy of England, Wales and Northern Ireland build ships in a foreign Scotland?
Defence expert Malcolm Chalmers has just published an objective and devastating assessment of SNP defence policy.
An independent Scottish Government, he says, could likely only afford to buy equipment "off the shelf" from overseas and the closest major market, the UK, would have no incentive to invest in defence construction in an independent Scotland.
Chalmers concludes, therefore, that much of Scotland's defence industry could "migrate south" if Scotland left the UK.
His report, the most serious study on independence and defence, has addressed some unanswered questions, and we can see that separation would lead to isolation abroad and weakened forces at home.
The SNP have to say before the referendum how big an independent Scotland's forces would be and how many ships a Scottish Navy would need and build.
The SNP have argued Scotland could have a defence similar to that of Denmark or Norway. If Scotland spent the same proportion of GDP as those countries on defence, however, we would have one of the lowest defence budgets of European NATO nations.
Chalmers' report raises doubts about how many new frigates, submarines and jets a Scottish Defence Force would have.
Constructing armies and naval forces from scratch is complex, would lead to huge disruption and demand enormous investment, which the SNP have either overlooked or misunderstood.
We need answers on these questions as this will impact on jobs in shipbuilding.
Glaswegians working on Royal Navy ships deserve answers. The Clyde is still a working river and we should keep it that way.
The SNP shouldn't be allowed to sink it.
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