Shadow minister speaks out on independence risks

Shadow Defence Secretary Vernon Coaker visited Helensburgh last week to speak to businesses about the importance of Faslane for local jobs.

He was told there was there was a real concern that a Yes vote in the Independence referendum would devastate the local economy in Helensburgh and the wider area.P1000259

The base directly employs 6,500 people and helps sustain many more jobs in the bars, cafes and shops in Helensburgh which rely on trade from base employees.

Business people from retail, property and service sectors met the Shadow Defence Minister at The Buffet Shop on Friday as part of Labour’s Shadow Cabinet visit to Scotland to make the positive case for remaining in the UK.

Mr Coaker was joined by local MSP Jackie Baillie and Labour’s 2015 General Election candidate Mary Galbraith.

Leading a roundtable discussion with representatives from a number of local businesses, Mr Coaker said 11,000 people depend on the base for employment and that these jobs are best protected by Scotland remaining in the UK.

Afterwards he said: “As a Member of Parliament for an English constituency, I am very clear that this is a matter for the Scottish people to decide. I don’t have a vote, but I do have a voice.

“I was in Helensburgh to make the positive case for why staying in the UK is best for Scotland’s defence and best for Scottish jobs.

“There is a proud Navy tradition in Helensburgh and the business leaders I met here were clear that the only way to protect jobs in this area is by Scotland remaining in the UK.”

Owner of the Buffet Shop café in Colquhoun Square, Michael Curley said: “I’d like to thank Jackie for bringing Vernon Coaker to Helensburgh to see how much my business and others here depend on the base.

“Helensburgh is home to many thriving businesses which create jobs for our young people but all this could be put at risk if we vote to leave the UK.”

Jackie Baillie said the Ministry of Defence had indicated that 3,000 additional jobs would be created when Faslane became the base for the UK’s whole submarine fleet.

And Roger Ferdinand of Perceptive Marketing, a member of the Helensburgh and Lomond Chamber of Commerce, added: “The importance of the base to our local economy cannot be underestimated.

“If Scotland becomes independent Helensburgh would be one of the biggest losers. For many years now we have owed a large part of our success to the Royal Navy. If that goes then businesses and jobs would be put at risk.”