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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Labour campaign targets BAE Systems Barrow

THE LABOUR party is appealing to shipyard workers ahead of next year’s General Election.

The Barrow branch of the party has sent leaflets to thousands of Barrow BAE workers claiming only Labour is committed to building a new generation of Trident missile submarines that will keep the yard busy into the 2030s.

Labour has seized on an admission the Conservative defence team is considering the option of refitting the existing Vanguard class submarines instead of building new vessels if they win the election.

The hard-hitting Labour leaflet turns round a slogan that the Conservatives used to devastating effect against Labour in the 1980s – ‘If you vote Labour on Thursday, what will the lads do on Monday?’.

In the 1983 general election Conservative candidate Cecil Franks triumphed after he taunted Labour members of the anti-Trident lobby with the jobs mantra in the shipyard.

But 26 years later, Labour prospective parliamentary candidate John Woodcock has turned the tables.

He claims it is only Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown who has given a firm commitment to build the successor class submarines.

Mr Woodcock told the Evening Mail: “Every family in Furness needs to know the truth about the lack of commitment from the Conservatives to building new boats – I think it is a real shame that they are trying to pull the wool over people’s eyes by pretending there is no problem.

“The local Tories say that their party is committed to maintaining Trident – but Conservative high command down in London have admitted that their commitment may only extend to patching up the existing Vanguard class subs.

Vanguard Class

“That would mean scrapping the entire successor programme, devastating the shipyard and throwing thousands of people out of work.”

As evidence, the Labour leaflet cites a spokeswoman for Shadow Defence Secretary Liam Fox, who told The Times on September 11 the Conservatives may have to consider refitting the Vanguard boats rather than building the successor boats.

But the Tory leader in Barrow, Councillor Jack Richardson, dismissed the Labour leaflets and said the party had been pushing the same old line for months.

He said: “This was going around the town soon after John Woodcock was selected. It has been going round different places.

“The shipyard workers are more sensible than Labour give them credit for.

“They know who has ordered ships and submarines over the last 20 years and it certainly has not been Labour.”

He said if there turned out to be a need to extend the life of the existing Barrow-built Vanguard class it would only be because Labour had delayed getting the successor programme going.

Cllr Richardson said since the Liam Fox interview William Hague had been to Barrow and declared the Tories were committed to the new submarines and to building them in Barrow.

He said: “David Cameron and William Hague, have both said we are committed to nuclear deterrence by submarines and these submarines will be built in Barrow.”

Around 150 designers and engineers from BAE, the Ministry of Defence and other organisations, are currently working on designs for the Trident successor submarine programme in Barrow. (Original News)