‘OVER the past year, we’ve witnessed major job loss announcements in Scotland’s industries – but not the type of industries we’d ordinarily consider vulnerable in a stagnating economy.

BiFab & Babcock, here on Fife’s doorstep, are ‘big players’ and job cuts have delivered a hammer blow to our local communities. Babcock, for example, lost 250 workers as the carrier contract at Rosyth wound down at the end of last year and then, last month, hopes of a new contract at the yard were dashed when the MOD halted plans to build five type 31 e frigates. Meanwhile, a lack of contracts on the books at BiFab resulted in over 1,000 contractors and nearly 400 staff being paid off at yards in Fife and Arnish in recent months. While we still hope these numbers will recover, it can’t be ignored that, over the past 40 years, industry in Scotland has declined drastically.

In 1979, more than 600,000 people worked in manufacturing, representing 28.8% of the Scottish workforce. Today, after decades of de-industrialisation, that figure has plummeted to 176,000 - a quarter of the previous workforce percentage. There’s no doubt we’re at crisis point but, despite this, there’s little Government impetus to halt that decline and reinvigorate our industries.

Between 2014 and 2017, the Ministry of Defence awarded contracts worth over £1.5bn to overseas bidders and more recently, a £1bn contract for three new Fleet Solid Support ships was opened up to international bidders – work which could secure up to 6,500 jobs, including 1,805 shipyards jobs, which are highly skilled, well paid jobs here in the UK.

Labour launched its ‘Build it in Britain’ policy because, ultimately, we risk losing our manufacturing and skills base and the opportunity to pass that baton on to a younger generation. To think of Britain – an island nation – losing its shipbuilding heritage, is nothing short of sacrilege.

Public contracts provide public benefit, expand our industrial base and drive up tax revenues – a move which, in turn, would drive an industrial renaissance that our country badly needs to rebuild our economy; to rebuild communities and finance proper public services.

Government should be an enabler; should exist to develop or retain well-paid jobs and viable enterprises – we cannot let industries continue on a downward spiral.

That’s why I fully support the Build it in Britain campaign and Labour’s commitment to investing £70bn in Scotland over 10 years – a fund which leaves no doubt about the benefits of the Union.

Rebuilding our industry is crucial to rebuilding our economy but to achieve that requires commitment and a clear strategy. We have an economic plan ready - and the ambition and political will to deliver it’.