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Wings Over Scotland

You spend a fiver, we’ll spend a tenner

Posted on August 19, 2013 by

Labour’s shadow Scottish Secretary Margaret Curran is quoted in the Herald today presenting the award of £300m of contracts for the navy’s innovative new aircraft-free aircraft carriers as a benefit of the Union, and continuing the well-worn scare story that the Clyde and Rosyth shipyards would close in an independent Scotland.


We’ve already dealt with that particular canard, so instead let’s look at the sums.

The MoD’s current estimate of the cost of the carriers is “closer to £6bn than £7bn”. So let’s be conservative (and almost certainly wildly optimistic) and say £6.2bn.

Scotland currently contributes 9.9% of UK tax revenues, so Scottish taxpayers are paying £614m as Scotland’s share of the cost of the two carriers.

Scotland is getting £300m of that back in contracts, or slightly less than half.

Scots, then, are paying a net £314m towards the useless ships (because we’re pretty certain they won’t be defending Scotland from any threats – they’re toys for London to “punch above our weight on the world stage” with), one of which will be mothballed as soon as it’s built anyway, because we can’t afford to run it but it was too expensive to cancel the (negotiated by Labour) contract.

Margaret Curran, who would be Scotland’s defender at Westminster if Labour won the 2015 election, thinks that’s a good deal. As our granny used to say, the UK Treasury must have “gey big windaes”, because they certainly saw her coming a long way off.

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63 to “You spend a fiver, we’ll spend a tenner”

  1. Scott Minto (Aka Sneekyboy) says:

    There would appear to be 24 mistakes in that image…. amazing it got past quality control…

  2. Brian McCulloch says:

    Yet some ‘Scots’ will continue to see that as a Union Dividend. As for Curran, Is she still recruiting for a tame bus driver?

  3. David Smith says:

    @Scott. Do you mean the F35-shaped errors?
    My understanding was that Serco/G4S/Capita Naval Services were going to rent out the non-flight deck as advertising space.

  4. redcliffe62 says:

    I just read Cochrane in the DT dated 15th august and I seriously think he has a bolt loose.
    He must be doing it to antagonise as anyone with a modicum of intelligence would see two sides to a story. Either that or he has personal issues. I am not kidding, I genuinely think he has lost it.

  5. Braco says:

    Is the deliberate mistake that the aircraft carriers depicted seem to have aircraft on board? Or are they just inflatables, to help give the viewer some human scale to the colossal waste of these white elephants?

  6. Doug Daniel says:

    Maybe the planes in that image are French?

  7. The Man in the Jar says:

    Consider this and add the previous article regarding trident and what have you got? A complete and utter waste of time and money!
    We can not afford to stay together. Let the rUK carry on with this madness, I for one want out! As should every  right thinking person in Scotland.

  8. Murray McCallum says:

    Paying £614 million to “win” £300 million is a great deal for someone.  In order to boost Margaret Curran’s financial acumen I would suggest she go on Grant Shapp’s, if that is his real name, get rich quick course.
    In the meantime, to be fair to Margaret, my kids try similar shenanigans with their pocket money.

  9. Braco says:

    I can’t see any mothballs all over the second one. Could that be it?

  10. “one of which will be mothballed as soon as it’s built anyway, because we can’t afford to run it but it was too expensive to cancel the contract.” And who negotiated the contracts? Margrit mob.

  11. Melissa Murray says:

    I’m attending Scotland’s Defence Capability at the Festival of Politics next Sunday.
    Jim Murphy and Angus Robertson will both be on the panel. It should be very interesting.

  12. alexicon says:

    Can Curran give a guarantee that the yards on the Clyde and Rosyth won’t be closed or run down when these carriers are finished?
    Thought not.

  13. Bugger (the Panda) says:

    Did anyone see that when HMS Illustrious which chugged its way to Gib along with rest of the serviceable RN was shorn of aircraft on her deck?
    Of course they could have been flown out en route which could account for the slow passage as it allowed the RAF to drum up some sea deck variants of the Harrier.
    I just hope that N Korea doesn’t invade Inverness or the Gareloch  otherwise we would be fekd.

  14. Macart says:

    £314 mil NOT to be defended.
    Who do we send the thank you note to? Broon’s in parts unknown, Fox was fired, Hammond isn’t taking any calls from Scotchland and Maigret isn’t in the job yet?

  15. Richard Lucas says:

    I think it’s a safe bet that both of these misbegotten vessels will be quietly flogged off at a massive loss to somewhere like Brazil or India – once the next General Election is out of the way.

  16. Bugger (the Panda) says:

    OOps it apppears HMS Illustrious is a helicopter carrier despite the ski deck.
    I thought we didn’t have any helicopters either, certainly not enough for Iraq and/or Afghanistan.

  17. Gillie says:

    So what is the scrap value of these carriers?

  18. Clydebuilt says:

    Ian Bell said in the Herald that the cost of the aircraft would be TWICE as much as the ships. They are  to be American aircraft.
    there is a common thread between the Carriers and Trident, the vessels are made in the UK the Weaponry is made in America.
    It would have been cheaper and provided jobs and taxes in this country if a “marinised”  version of the Typhon was created. BUT around time when these decisions were being made Fox the Minister for Defence had a retired American Officer as his assistant.

  19. Murray McCallum says:

    “scrap value of these carriers?”

    Looking at conversations on Twitter about people being arrested for taking food waste out of skips, better a barter trade with Russia whereby they give us food and we give them carriers.  Technical term for this is Pareto optimality.

  20. Juteman says:

    Maybe this is all part of a cunning plan?
    Those carriers would make an excellent floating dock for Trident.

  21. Gillie says:

    ….. and then there is the F35.
    A plane hugely expensive to buy, fly, maintain and fix; so poor in performance, slow, manoeuvres like a brick, poor pilot visibility, limited payloads, useless in dog fights; and stealth technology that will be outdated before it even becomes operational.  
    Also if one the F35 partners pulls out then the cost of each plane will rocket. The Dutch air force need 60 new fighters to replace their ageing F16s, they only have enough money to buy 30 F35s at current prices, and of that they can only afford to keep 6 F35s flying at any one time for home defence and NATO operations. 
    When naughty natives see this aircraft carrier with only a handful of F35s coming towards them they are more likely to wet themselves with laughter than fear. 

  22. MajorBloodnok says:

    If Glasgow Labour MPs were involved in commissioning this lot then I wouldn’t be surprised if they “go on fire” at some point so they can claim the insurance and use the dosh to convert them into floating casinos.

  23. Gillie says:

    An excellent expose of the JSF F35 as a ‘lemon’ by the man who designed the F16 and A10.

  24. pmcrek says:

    It costs £130 million and takes a year to build a type 23 frigate, we have two shipyards left employing 4,000 people,  an independent Scotland could easily afford to run the remaining shipyards forever if we wanted with state orders only.
    Note also the same industry in Norway employs around 20,000 people off the back of both private and state sector orders, the UK is quite frankly holding the industry in Scotland back.

  25. Adam Davidson says:

    I don’t understand the ‘would cost more to cancel’ logic. Surely we can say to the contractor, £6bill contract, your profit £10 mill, here’s your £10m, and you don’t even have to do any work. 

  26. Vincent McDee says:

    Why is nobody covering the fact carriers can not act independently?
    Carriers are  vulnerable to attack by other ships, aircraft, submarines, or missiles. Therefore, aircraft carriers are generally accompanied by a number of other ships to provide protection for the relatively unwieldy carrier, to carry supplies, and to provide additional offensive capabilities.
    Where does the Navy keep enough  guided-missile cruisers, destroyers, anti-submarine frigates, submarines and supply ships to protect these carriers.
    See here for more information:

  27. proudscot says:

    To save a whole lot of money, could the UK not just give up its Unionist pretensions of being big and powerful (19th century vintage). Better still, if it’s international prestige Westminster is after, why don’t they offer Spain to swap Gibralter for Rafa Nadal? At least then Andy Murray would have a fellow world class tennis player to share the burden of representing Britain at his chosen sport.

  28. pmcrek says:

    Adam Davidson,

    The contracts are currently “secret” so we dont actually know the exact details however the break clauses are not just about handing over cash. The problem with the clauses is that the guarantee replacement work.

    So if the MoD cancelled the contract, paid the money stipulated in the break clauses, they would then STILL  need to place new orders for the duration of time the carriers would have taken to build, which means they would have to keep 4 yards in orders until about 2016, the equivalent of say 4 type 45 destroyers at over a billion a pop each. Now given that they’ve already paid £3-4 billion of the £6 billion cost of the carriers the MoD would be well out of pocket.

  29. fergie35 says:

    … Norway builds her own rigs and oil vessels instead of getting the Spanish, Chinese or Koreans to do it. 

  30. Jiggsbro says:

    Maybe the planes in that image are French?
    They might be Mirages?

  31. pmcrek says:

    Vincent MacDee,
    Aye thats a very good point, outside of joint NATO task forces the MoD dont have anywhere near  enough assets to protect two heavy carriers, they would be much better off building two light carriers instead based on the US Tarawa class designs. Doubly so since they retired the Harriers as HMS Illustrious has been operating like a fucking Landing Platform Helicopter Light Carrier anyway.
    The new carriers are being built simply to increase the UKs Defence-peen, they cant handle the fact that the second rank like Italy, Turkey & France can afford to operate more carriers than the UK.

  32. wee 162 says:

    And there is absolutely no reason why Scotland shouldn’t be doing that exact same thing following independence. Build ships. Build oil rigs. Build support vessels. And if there isn’t a private company willing to do so create a nationalised one that is focused on providing value for money to the country, that is innovative, and that provides good jobs with good wages. When it’s capable of winning orders internationally  then you can part privatise it if you absolutely insist (I personally like the German model of the state retaining a “golden share” of 51% of strategicallly important privatised companies).
    That’s something which is never going to happen in the UK with it’s addiction to the big lie of private companies being the most efficient in delivering anything. It’s a possibility in an independent Scotland.

  33. les wilson says:

    This has to be exposed kudos again “Wings”,this is another fact that must be spoken about in “debates”,squeeze them if needed.
    However, in truth all we can expect from the “Unionists” are mishandling of contracts,over inflated figure, mis representation of the truth, what else do they have?
    NIX !

  34. rabb says:

    However, in truth all we can expect from the “Unionists” are mishandling of contracts,over inflated figure, mis representation of the truth, what else do they have?

    Well said les. HS2 is a prime example. The cost looks like it’s now going to be upwards of £80billion!
    Another £8bn cost to Scots for something we will never see. Union dividend my arse!

  35. James Morton says:

    The aircraft carriers were built to take the new F35 JSF – but its quickly unravelling in the states atm as it is chock full of bugs and engineering faults. The UK atm is only able to take a couple or so a year, as they are a tad pricey and to date we only have 3. At this rate we won’t be able to put a sqd on one of the carriers until 2020. The other will have to stay in mothballs. Not so long ago the Tories approached the French & wondered if they’d like to use our carriers for their aircraft, this was politely rejected. The UK is increasingly becoming a joke, in pure military terms we look like old mutton trying to pass itself off as lamb.

  36. X_Sticks says:

    @ Scott Minto (Aka Sneekyboy) says:
    “There would appear to be 24 mistakes in that image…. amazing it got past quality control…”
    Perhaps its all part of operation “Fortitude South”. It worked the last time….

  37. Murray McCallum says:

    HS2 is a prime example. The cost looks like it’s now going to be upwards of £80billion!
    In the context of England’s policy of automatic inflation +1% annual fare hikes (or profit for private companies if you are so inclined), HS2 has got to be the most unbelievably stupid allocation of negative resources (UK deficit / national debt).

  38. MajorBloodnok says:

    @Murray McCallum
    But think what it will do for house prices in Birmingham!

  39. dmw42 says:

    Another example of how britannia waves the rules.

  40. Scott Minto (Aka Sneekyboy) says:

    I heard on the news (BBC) that the reason the price is skyrocketing is because:
    1) They had to re-route around parts of sheffield so as not to demolish a foundry in Nick Cleggs turf…
    2) They are now going to tunnel more in the more affluent areas of Middle England so as not to spoil the view…
    (I wonder if that news report will still be playing today???)
    As you can see, the Scots voters are getting value for money.

  41. Scott Minto (Aka Sneekyboy) says:

    Of course I’m on about HS2… not the carriers…. that would just be silly…

  42. Murray McCallum says:

    MajorBloodnok sir
    But think what it will do for house prices in Birmingham!
    And think what it will do for the balance sheets of UK banks that accept remortgages on the increased value of said houses. This is starting to sound vaguely familiar?

  43. gordoz says:

    Come on maybe we are being unfair – theres still the Empire to protect !

  44. MajorBloodnok says:

    When someone mentions the Empire it always reminds of something from Pliny the Elder.
    “How stands the Empire?!”
    “Where it’s always stood.  In Leicester Square.”

  45. pmcrek says:

    I seriously wouldn’t put it past MoD competence to accidentally build an aircraft carrier underground that cannae move

  46. Seanair says:

    Scott Minto and others
    Not to mention Crossrail 1 currently being built (£16 billion) going from Maidenhead to THE CITY, with a Crossrail 2 being mooted as well (£15 billion)
    Where are the Barnet consequentials for all this? No doubt the Treasury has found a way of getting round this.
    We could do the Glasgow Crossrail link, dual the A9, build the Aberdeen by-pass etc,etc with our due share of this expenditure. Alternatively Scotlland can vote YES and not be dependent on handouts from a bunch of cheats.

  47. Jimbo says:

    “Come on maybe we are being unfair – theres still the Empire to protect !”
    …and in typical Westminster fashion they’ll do it sloppily:
    The fighter planes the MoD have in mind for the Brit carriers are inferior to older Russian and Chinese fighters. In tests they found that the F35 can’t keep pace with other planes. It has a lower top speed, can’t turn, can’t climb and can’t run.  In effect, it is useless in combat. However, it is what we’ve come to expect from the Westminster dunce’s club – blow billions on useless weaponry.
    F35 fighter would be clubbed like baby seals in combat

  48. David McEwan Hill says:

    Correct, fergie
    Norway has a navy of 70 vessels, all built in Norway. In fact the British Antarctic vessels were built in Norway.

  49. Juteman says:

    HS2 woould be a good example for the next poll.
    If Scotland was an independent country, should we give England a gift of 8 billion to spend on a new rail line between London and Birmingham, or should we spend it on upgrading the A9 in Scotland?

  50. Andy-B says:

    As youve already stated Rev.
    The aircraft carrier will be mothballed, as no planes exist yet, that are compatable, how much will these planes cost Scotland in revenue as opposed to contract work obtained, the figures would make interesting reading.

  51. CameronB says:

    Where are the Barnet consequentials for all this? No doubt the Treasury has found a way of getting round this.
    Projects such as HS2 and Crossrail are considered to have ‘national’ benefit, so we all pay. 🙁

    P.S. They started planning Crossrail in the ’60s, so we will almost certainly be shot of the Union before Crossrail2 is even on the drawing board.

    P.P.S. How can aircraft carriers defend us from terrorists? The bad kind that is, not the ones on our side.

  52. starlaw says:

    has anyone worked out if these carriers will pass under the forth bridge , the last but one Arkroyal could not , as it was to high

  53. Dcanmore says:

    Good question! The drop from the rail tracks to the water is 151ft. New carriers are 184ft from keel to top of mast with a 36ft draught.

  54. Seanair says:

    I don’t think even the MOD would be stupid enough to assemble the carriers at Rosyth which is west of the 2 bridges (soon to be 3) if they couldn’t sail out of the Forth!
    However……if they are confined to the area west of the bridges they could do wee excursions up and down to Longannet, charging a fiver a trip and paying back the cost of constructing them in a million years.

  55. handclapping says:

    Rosyth’s no that stupid! As long as they dont have their antennae fixed they’ll pass at low tide, if the Navy can get the navigation right. What’s the going rate for the destruction of a UNESCO World Heritage site?

  56. Dramfineday says:

    How topical! I’m just back from a wander along the latest section of the Fife Costal Path with an old chum. As we strolled passed Rosyth, there was the bridge and bow section of one of the said carriers under construction. More interestingly, when seen from a nearby hill, there were the hulks of the old nuclear subs quietly rusting in the gently lapping waters of the harbour. So memo to MOD, if you decide to close the shipyard at some point in the future, don’t forget to take your rubbish with you – I’m sure you’ll be able to recycle it.

  57. Norrie says:

    So both major Scottish cities are at risk.

  58. starlaw says:

    If Yes Minister is to be believed …. they would , Daltons have been notified 

  59. Dramfineday says:

    Indeed Norrie and wouldn’t it be nice if, as some people think we are “better together”, that this risk is shared. How about taking the hulks to Chatham or some such and parking them there? Cue “outraged of Kent” (not that I would blame them) but come independence, they’ll have to do something about them. 

  60. Dave McEwan Hill says:

    I’ve sent this piece off to Margaret. She might be amused

  61. gordoz says:

    Warning UK Nukes indeed all Nukes // open to hacking infiltration & destruction
    After watching Horizon / Hackers tonight and the gobsmacking capabilities of modern state hackers targeting Nuke Facilities in Iran; just  how deep in the systems the sleeping malware can go and stay dormant. Its  very very disturbing.
    Get the nukes out of Scotland Now – seriously watch the show.

  62. David McCann says:

    What use aircraft carriers in a stair heid rammy Magrit?

  63. G H Graham says:

    Two pointless & useless symbols financed with borrowed money that British Labour misappropriated so that the general public would vote for them at the next general election.  Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on the colour of your rosette) they didn’t quite borrow enough to put any planes on them. But it didn’t really matter.
    New Labour’s dream turned sour; Tony Blair was considered by many to be an alleged war criminal. Gordon Brown had the charisma of a migraine & Alistair Darling was accused of flipping houses for personal gain.
    Yet despite losing to a dysfunctional coalition, Labour never let irony prevent the faithful like Margaret Curran from puffing about the wonderful investments it made on behalf of the Scottish electorate.

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