Frigates: The broken pledge that shames the Scottish media

It was one of the three key issues of the 2014 independence referendum.  Behind membership of the European Union and currency there was shipbuilding.

A Yes vote was going to see the yards at Govan and Scotstoun close.  That was the stick.  The carrot came in the form of thirteen Type 26 frigates.  So believable was the campaign that workers at Govan and Scotstoun appeared in Better Together campaign literature.

It was a cruel hoax perpetrated by Scottish Labour and Lib Dem politicians working hand-in-glove with a Tory Prime Minister.  They were helped by an unscrupulous pro-Union media that cared little for the workers at the yards.  There was never going to be thirteen Type 26 frigates.

No sooner had fifty five per cent of Scots voted No to independence than the pledges given to the Clydeside workers and their gullible trade union representatives began melting away.  The thirteen Type 26 frigates became eight.  Ah, said Unionists, we’re making up the shortfall with at least five of a new type of frigate.

On November 23rd 2015, after facing questions from SNP MP Angus Robertson who pointed out the broken Type 26 pledge, David Cameron promised not only a further five of the new type of frigates, but there would probably be more for the Clyde.

Cameron’s pledge was confirmed five months later during the 2016 Holyrood campaign by Ruth Davidson after fears were raised that the pledges might not be as cast-iron as people had been led to believe.

On Wednesday the whole sham all but collapsed when it emerged the Clydeside yards would not in fact be building the lighter vessels after all.  The Type 31e Frigates, as they were now known, would be built south of the border.

BAE Systems, the owners of the Govan and Scotstoun yards, had entered into an agreement with Cammell Laird.  The joint-consortium would be competing with the Babcock/BMT consortium for the Type 31e contract.  Even if the BAE/Cammell Laird bid should win, as second partner in their joint bid, the work would not go to BAE yards, but to Cammell Laird’s Merseyside facility.

The Scottish yards have been sold down the river.  As things stand the Clydeside yards are currently guaranteed only three Type 26 Frigates.  Any addition to this number is at the whim of a UK Government that has already broken not one but two promises.

And where is our media as this sad fiasco unfolds?  Nowhere to be seen.  As Wings Over Scotland has so ably highlighted, the media has shown a remarkable lack of interest in this story.  A couple of half-arsed articles from newspapers that helped punt the original Indyref pledge.  The rest have turned a blind eye.

A special contempt should be held for BBC Scotland.  The broadcaster has an obligation to report without fear or favour.  We are compelled to pay a licence fee for the privelege of having impartial, neutral news coverage.  Yet as I write this late on Thursday evening, there has been not one mention of the story from our so-called national broadcaster.

Should we be surprised?  Probably not, when you consider that back in November 2016 BBC Scotland actually reported that an Indyref pledge to build eight Type 26 Frigates was to be honoured.  Yes that’s correct, according to the BBC the Indyref pledge was not for thirteen but for eight.

 

The bulletins prompted a complaint by a listener who pointed out that the pledge made during the referendum campaign was for thirteen Type 26 frigates and not eight as the BBC had claimed. The complaint also alleged that listeners would have been misled into believing a UK government indyref pledge was soon to be honoured when in fact the reality was that it had been broken.

The complaint resulted in the programme producer issuing a private apology. Despite the apology, the BBC refused to broadcast any correction and also refused to accept the pledge was for thirteen frigates.

In its ruling the BBC Trust said: “Trustees agreed that while various UK ministers had warned of the possible impact of a Yes vote on future MoD contracts, they had seen no evidence that the UK Government had made a specific campaign pledge to build thirteen Type 26 frigates or eight Type 26 frigates on the Clyde before the referendum.”

The BBC doesn’t believe any specific pledge was made during the independence referendum.  Not for thirteen frigates, not even for eight.  If it can convince itself of that, then is it any wonder it feels no obligation to run the latest episode of this sorry tale?

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15 thoughts on “Frigates: The broken pledge that shames the Scottish media

  1. Col

    It’s what they don’t report which shows them up more clearly than when they twist a story and use clever use of language to turn a positive into a negative or install doubts in viewers and listeners minds. They really put a lot of time and effort into forming opinions in the minds of the population. They ARE nothing more than opinion formers, not journalists and most definitely not a crucial part of the democratic process. No no no, they are the opposite of what they claim to be and do and the sooner the mask is ripped from their face the quicker we shall gain our independence.

  2. Big Jock

    The press denied that the Vow was the nearest thing to Federalism ,as was widely reported by them at the time.

    This latest has taken an even more sinister turn. They are now actively blocking any news which may damage the British state and the Tory government. The mask which was hanging on by an eyelash. Has now been removed to reveal all it’s ugly reality.

    We are now living in a nation where the press are trying to create a state controlled media. This is very, very dangerous. If they think they can bury bad news this will only work with the ill informed and those outwith social media. In other words the majority of no voters in the older age bracket.

    Let them carry on as their audience is diminishing much like call Kaye’s rent a Yoon moronic call in show.

  3. Toby Lerone

    Excellent article again, but can I raise one point.

    “55% of Scots voted No”

    Just nitpicking here but it was 55% Scottish residents voted No.
    I’m guessing that Scotland has about 15% non Scots residents.

  4. Big Jock

    Yes Toby correct 52% of people born in Scotland voted yes. If I move to England I am still a Scot. It works the other way too.

    1. Mike Pinchard

      You had to be residents of Scotland to vote. The No voters tipped the balance. I no longer live in Scotland and was not allowed to vote

  5. Phil MacVee

    Para 2: I think you meant “yes” and not “no”.

    A No vote was going to see the yards at Govan and Scotstoun close.

    I think it should read:

    A YES vote was going to see……………….

  6. tartanfever

    Am I the only person in Scotland that witnessed the unbelievable report from the BBC’s David Henderson on the lunchtime edition of Reporting Scotland yesterday (20th October) on the frigate story ?

    In all my years this ranks as one of the Top Ten BBC ‘avoidance’ broadcasts, that is, avoiding the very simple headline that the number of frigates being built has been reduced.

    It’s available on the Iplayer today until 13.45 then it’s gone forever, I can’t believe everyone has missed this and no-one’s talking about it.

    1. Jon

      TF . . . I heard Henderson. . . . Or goody two shoes as he’s known . . . . They are observing what Trump, Spain , plus learning from the Brexit campaign, Scots need to have their eyes opened

  7. m boyd

    On Radio Scotland yesterday they did get Duncan McPhee to basically say things would be even worse if we were independent… problem solved.

    At least when the ship building yards have gone; the Aberdeen Angus comes from Argentina and there are no markets for fish we can remind the redundant shipbuilders, fishermen and farmers…they made their choice.

  8. KennyM

    As long as these oafs in the yards are happy to have scum like Duncan McPhee represent them then they deserve whatever they get.

  9. Jason Smoothpiece

    Sadly they get away with it because many in Scotland are not really aware of what is going on.

    There is also the good old tribalism:

    I’ve always voted Labour or I’m a Rangers fan therefore I don’t want to hear any of that truth nonsense.

  10. Bibbit

    Any bets when Nicola announces Indy Ref2 date, the UK Govt will promise Govan 13 frigates again?

    Fool me one, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

    It’ll be an overwhelming YES vote next time. Only the died in the wool OO type will vote NO along with the Tokyo Rose types as personified at BBC REporting Scotland, who see only what they want to see.

  11. Dr Jim

    If the English government were to cancel all shipbuilding for the Clyde the workers would still vote NO to Independence
    That horse won’t drink unless it’s orange or blue water
    The BBC however would likely report the lack of contract on the uncertainty of Scottish Independence conveniently laying the blame at the feet of the SNP

  12. Robin Ross

    My old boss always maintained that if you didn’t have a wee bit of paper with an order number written on it, promises of work were worthless.

    I’d have thought a union man like Duncan McPhee would have also realised this, but perhaps BAe just do business and sign deals with a handshake…

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