The Future of Scotland

Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 9:59 am on 29th March 2007.

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Photo of Gordon Jackson Gordon Jackson Labour 9:59 am, 29th March 2007

"The Future of Scotland" might sound a somewhat melodramatic title for a debate. After all, Governments come and go. For most people, when Governments change, life just goes on until the next change. That is normal democratic politics.

The truth is that this election is a little—no, not a little—a lot different. That is true for me even at a local level. Forgive me for being parochial, but as an election draws near it is difficult not to concentrate the mind on what a change would mean to one's own area—in my case Govan, which I live in and represent.

Large parts of Govan were deprived and underdeveloped. That legacy meant that there was a great deal to be done; indeed, there is still a great deal to do. However, I tell the chamber this: any honest, objective observer would say that the change along the entire south side of the Clyde in the past eight to 10 years has been remarkable.

Billions of pounds have been invested and there is still more to come. There are increased employment opportunities. A hospital is being developed that will be one of the most modern in Europe. A shipyard that was days from closure is in a healthier state than it has been for many years. And we have a realistic action plan that will continue the process of regenerating the area through new housing of all kinds and for all people. All of that is improvement. A great deal of that improvement would be at risk if we decided to change direction now.

I have asked this question repeatedly and no one has answered me: how will a shipyard that is largely and crucially dependent on United Kingdom Ministry of Defence orders survive, never mind prosper, under a Government that intends to produce an independent Scotland? Nicola Sturgeon said when she was in the chamber—she is away now that we are talking about Govan—that we are scaremongering and she calls what we say a negative rant. I do not think so. It is not scaremongering; the question calls for an honest, straightforward answer, but nothing is offered.