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New Fleet Solid Support ships: cash-strapped MoD should look at the total cost-benefit of building in Britain


Jeremy Corbyn is in Glasgow today, where – reversing New Labour policy – he will call for Navy shipbuilding contracts to stay in the UK.

The contract could lead to over 6,500 jobs in the UK, 1,800 of those in shipyards: “Our proposal would both sustain existing shipbuilding and supply chain jobs and create new ones – right here in Scotland and also across the UK.”

The MOD, which is alleged to have ‘lost controls of costs’, hopes for a cheaper option. Its spokesman added: “We are launching a competition for three new Fleet Solid Support ships this year and strongly encourage British yards to take part”.

“Until the new Fleet Solid Support Ships (FSS) arrive, these hardy veterans must stagger on into the mid-2020s” 

STRN points out that the need for these important ships was first stated in 2015 – and it is feared that the first ship will probably not be ready for sea until around 2025.

The three currently supporting ships supply ammunition, food and spares are “antiques built in the late 1970s and saw action in the Falklands War”. Corbyn warns:

“By refusing to help our industry thrive, the Conservatives are continuing their historic trend of hollowing out and closing down British industry. Over the course of the 1980s under the Tories, 75,000 jobs were lost in UK shipyards, leaving just 32,000 remaining.

“Our shipyards used to produce half of all new ships worldwide. Our current market share is now less than half a per cent. The Tories seem hell-bent on accelerating and deepening this industrial decline.”

SNP MSP for Glasgow Anniesland, Bill Kidd, is sceptical, saying: “Workers on the Clyde and people across Scotland haven’t forgotten Labour’s betrayal of the industry in 2014.





Media 38: limited coverage of activists’ closure of Glasgow drone factory

In response to years of drone action and Israel’s recent military assault on the besieged Gaza strip, killing over 2,000, at least 75% of whomwere civilians (UN estimates):

glasgow scotland thales occupation

Tightlipped BBC and Scottish television gave only a few lines to Tuesday’s blockade and shutting down of Thales UK, Govan Glasgow-based weapons manufacturer, to protest at the company’s role in producing drones used by Israel against Palestinian people.

The Common Dreams website adds more detail. The protestors from Glasgow Palestine Action, were able to halt the work of the factory from 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM.

Scottish TV News reported that there had been four arrests, two men and two women. The first three arrests were over alleged aggravation charges, with the final man being arrested over allegedly obstructing the police in the execution of their duty.

Fiona McDermot, one of the people who occupied the roof of the factory, said:

“Drones are a key part of Israel’s military arsenal. By allowing this factory to export drone components and other arms to Israel, the UK government is providing direct support and approval to Israel’s massacres.”

From a statement released on Tuesday by the protesters:

watchkeeper drone thales“Thales UK works with Elbit Systems on the next generation of ‘Watchkeeper’ drones based on the Hermes 450, documented killing Palestinian civilians in Gaza in 2008-2009. The drones are marketed as ‘field tested’ – which means they have proven effective at killing Palestinians.”

To Glasgow Council – as SNP membership swells by more than 32,000

“This is a message to Glasgow City Council who fly the Palestinian flag on our City Chambers while simultaneously arming Israel with the weapons they need to bomb Gaza. The UK government, by allowing Thales to operate with Elbit systems, have blood on their hands. Last year alone the UK government had 381 extant arms licences to Israel, worth almost £8 billion.

“We demand that the Scottish government puts pressure on the UK government to end arms sales to Israel. And also takes active steps towards ending the production of weapons systems in Scotland that are connected to apartheid, colonialism and genocide.

“Another Scotland is possible!”

Gaza 1: British media coverage low-key, state directed? 21 sites searched

One of the 15,000 who attended the London demo on Saturday wrote: “It was absolutely amazing. I had no idea there would be so many people there”.

demo london israel

21 British sites searched:

So many people, so little front page coverage in this country’s press and elsewhere, with honourable exceptions. The usually outspoken Huffington Post had published and then buried this article.

The Scotsman is an honourable exception, with its prominent report, opening: ”More than a thousand people across Scotland mounted protests against Israeli military action in Gaza today. The majority of those who turned out to protest gathered in Glasgow’s Buchanan Street, while a similar protest also took place in Aberdeen. Around 1,500 people attended the rallies in Scotland. People marched in heavy rain holding placards calling for an end to bombing in Gaza. The march ended at BBC headquarters at Pacific Quay. Police said the rally had been peaceful”.

The London Evening Standard only covered events in Gaza, placing even that news well down the page.

The Independent covered the Gaza strikes at length, ending with just two paragraphs about the worldwide demonstrations.

dublin gaza demo

Only the Irish Times covered the issue handsomely – above, in Dublin.

Next: Gaza2: poor international coverage of worldwide demonstrations against Israel’s actions – 34 sites searched

i24 logoBut handsome coverage by Israel’s i24, banned in Israel. A find! i24News, based in Jaffa and broadcast worldwide in English, French, and Arabic, is not available in Israel by Hot’s cable network or by satellite broadcaster DBS Satellite Services (1998) Ltd. The protests were covered well, see more here. Despite its apparently objective stance, PM Benjamin Netanyahu has refused a request by owner Patrick Drahi – a ‘Franco-Israeli’ telecommunications tycoon – to allow i24 News to be broadcast in Israel.

And Switzerland takes constructive action.