The geo-strategic importance of Argyll & Bute constituencies in general elections in Scotland

Argyll & Bute image

By Caroline Weintz,

Studied at Curtin University, Westren Australia.
Lives in Uddingston, South Lanarkshire, Scotland.

It is no accident or coincidence that the biggest NATO exercise of all time is being held off the coast of Scotland and based at Faslane this week. This was by far a political move by the UK Government and it’s lackeys in the Labour and Lib Dem parties.

Interestingly, I don’t think it will make any difference to the way people will vote in Argyll & Bute where Faslane is situated – the Lib Dems had a relatively small majority. Whilst the Tories came second and Labor close behind in third place, the only party to have made any real gains on that seat in the 2005 election were the SNP with less than six thousand separating them from the Lib Dems.

The Lib Dems are going to be wiped out in Scotland, with the Tories and Labour following closely behind in the vast majority of seats – even those seats like Argyll & Bute which have traditionally been held by the Tories and Lib Dems. Add into the significant gains the SNP made in that seat five years ago with the national increase of surge towards the SNP in every other constituency, in all likelihood the SNP has a real chance of taking Argyll & Bute on an anti-tridant ticket.

Argyll & Bute Councils

Having lived in the constituency in the neighbouring town of Helensburgh which has always relied very much on the revenue generated from Faslane base for the local economy and jobs, I know that politicians from the London parties have used the threat of job losses and the collapse of the local economy as a way to keep the SNP from winning the seat.

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However, for the past ten to fifteen years, despite Faslane remaining in situation with trident firmly fixed at the base, the local economy in Helensburgh as well as in neighboring town of Dumbarton where once a large swathe of civilian workers from the base lived, have declined to a desperate point of no return. Indeed, the number of local civilian workers now employed at the base is negligible with a constant reduction in the numbers of semi-skilled or unskilled staff being employed there.

Both towns can now only boast row upon row of charity shops and payday loan shops on their high streets. The once bustling seaside town of Helensburgh was once the resort for the rich to reside in during the summer months and returning to Glasgow and Edinburgh throughout the winter. Those days of shops and many small businesses are well and truly over despite trident still remaining in dock at Faslane.

The polticians from Labour and the Lib Dems particularly have peddled the threat of annihilation of Helensburgh and Dumbarton on a scale worse than a nuclear attack if trident were removed from the Clyde. Yet history serves loud and clear that the local economies are already decimated and the Labour political stronghold in Dumbarton and the Lib Dem home turf in Argyll & Bute are being undermined by the decades of false promises and over inflated boasts about how good trident is for the local economy have done nothing to save either town from total economic ruin.

Argyll & Bute constituencies

The fact that Trident is there – the fact that a naval base is there – now means nothing to the few small businesses in the towns that house the civilian workers and families of the naval personnel. Trident is no longer a deciding factor in whether or not people have jobs, or if there is any benefit to the local economy.
The people of both towns – one in Argyll & Bute and the other in West Dunbartonshire constituency can see very clearly that their job prospects and local economies can no longer rely on trident and Faslane. With this clear check on reality, it will mean a significant rise in the level of support in both constituencies for the SNP – the only party that has the power to make real positive changes, that will help lift these towns back into something more than two high streets of charity shops, payday loan sharks operating legally behind a shopfront and a consistent rise in the number of people living well below the poverty line.

What all politicians have failed to point out when talking of the proposed renewal of trident at over £150 billion is that Faslane sits just seven miles away from Renton one of, if not thee poorest and most deprived areas in the UK. An area that can seemingly only boast of having nearly 50% of children in Renton living in poverty. Life expectancy is much lower than the Scottish average in Renton with number of jobs available in the local area being extensively lower tjan the Scottish average.

People in this area are starting to see that having trident and Faslane parked on their doorstep has done nothing whatsoever to help improve the life expectancy of women, children and men in the Renton and neighboring areas. People want change and they will no longer trust the rhetoric of Labour, LibDems or Tories again!


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