IN the 1960s, Colvilles Ltd was Scotland’s largest steel producer, and it had cross shareholdings with customers and the major Scottish financial institutions – a kind of “Scotland United”, one could say.

The shipbuilding industry here was under threat from competition in Japan and Korea, but Scotland United had an answer: Colvilles acquired land at Hunterston, where they would site a huge steel production complex to benefit from a 300kt capacity iron ore import berth and an outloader of up to 100kt for shipborne sales of steel plate to yards on the Clyde and elsewhere. This was planned to ensure the ongoing viability of their shipbuilding customers through the supply of steel plate at world-competitive prices.

This “best laid scheme” was scuppered by the Labour Party with its UK-wide nationalisation of the steel industry in 1967.

The newly created British Steel Corporation had limited cash. The Hunterston scheme was curtailed, and huge sums were instead invested in the rationalisation of steelmaking on Teesside and the creation of the Redcar iron works – all to the detriment of steelmaking viability in Scotland.

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In the 1970s, some Clyde shipbuilders were determined to at least benefit from economy of scale. This saw Scotts of Greenock and William Lithgow at Port Glasgow amalgamate and agree to buy additional land from their local Council; for expansion of the Kingston yard where they planned to double the size of their bulk carriers.

This “best laid scheme” was holed under the water, so to speak, by the Labour Party with their 1977 creation of the nationalised British Shipbuilders (BS).

Apart from the familiar constraints on cash, the Labour Party decided to “mak siccar” by placing the headquarters of BS in Newcastle, just upstream from Swan Hunter – the major competitor to the Scott Lithgow group.

So, while the Tories are guilty of heartless overseeing of closures in the 70s and 80s, the Labour Party are especially responsible for undermining the viability of Scottish steelmaking and shipbuilding in the first place.

For the Labour Party, investment decisions are the result of simple arithmetic – which investment will maximise union membership subscriptions and votes at the next General Election. In this sense, the Labour Party is truly corrupted by money and influence; and, ultimately, the power they bring.

With or without further nationalisations, a Labour government would be a horrendous threat to the viability of most major industries in Scotland. So much so, I would say that to vote Labour is anti-Scottish.

Why should that be the case? Well, answer me this: how many “Red Wall” seats are there in Scotland?

Alan Adair


I WAS so disappointed to read in Tuesday’s National that a motion calling on the SNP to creatively use devolved tax powers to help tackle the cost of living crisis has been excluded from the draft conference agenda. It apparently called for the Scottish Government to consider increased taxes on the country’s highest earners and replace the unfair council tax. The SNP pledged to scrap council tax ahead of the 2007 Holyrood elections, but the last time I looked at my bank statement, I am still paying it.

However, the conference is more than happy to discuss a completely unworkable and unenforceable motion calling for members to sign up to some form of pledge before they can participate in the referendum campaign – if there ever is a referendum campaign.

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What is the point of the governing party of Scotland holding a conference when it will not even discuss the cost of living crisis – the most burning political topic of the day, the month and the year – in order to discuss a meaningless internal motion?

In 2017, the Scottish Government pledged to set up a publicly-owned, not-for-profit company to sell gas and electricity to customers at low prices by 2021. Why has this plan not come to fruition? When the plan was announced at the 2017 SNP conference in Glasgow, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said energy would be bought wholesale or generated in Scotland and sold to customers “as close to cost price as possible”. She said the company would not pay shareholders or corporate bonuses and that its only job would be to secure the lowest price for consumers, and it would give people – particularly those on low incomes – more choice of which supplier to use.

At its September 2021 conference, a motion passed by 527 votes to 6 stated a new national energy company could set “the standard for Scottish clean power production that prioritises made-in-Scotland electricity.” A matter of days later, SNP Net Zero Secretary Michael Matheson justified the energy company policy now being dropped by claiming “the issue is not so much the supply of energy” and instead pointed to a new agency tasked with “co-ordination of the necessary action to deliver decarbonisation”.

What is the point of having a party conference which ignores the very basic current political issues in order to debate its own internal party nonsense, and even when it overwhelmingly agrees a policy, its own government simply chooses to ignore it?

Glenda Burns