September 18, 2014. It’s a date which would have meant little if anything to few people in this area. Until yesterday.
What about 1314? Ring any bells? Probably not.
The former is the date on which the people of Scotland will vote to decide whether the nation should become an independent country.
The latter represents a tiny but typical part of the political cynicism which today means 940 Portsmouth shipbuilders are facing the dole.
Scottish First Minister and Scottish National Party leader Alex Salmond is a wily old bird. When he chose next year for the independence poll he knew full well it would be the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn which saw the English army defeated by the forces of Robert the Bruce in 1314. Oh, and the Commonwealth Games and Ryder Cup both happen in Scotland shortly before the vote. He’s banking on winning on a wave of tartan patriotism.
David Cameron does not want Scotland to become a foreign country and seems to be prepared to do anything to curry favour north of the border – like save thousands of jobs in Glasgow’s shipyards.
As a result, 800 years of Portsmouth’s fine heritage goes down the Solent and up the Clyde.
We should have been dancing for joy in Portsmouth today, for after announcing the end of shipbuilding here, the government sneakily revealed orders for three Royal Navy offshore patrol vessels.
The News, along with Portsmouth MPs Mike Hancock and Penny Mordaunt, have been campaigning for nearly two years to bring those orders to Portsmouth to fill the gap between building the new aircraft carriers and Type-26 frigates. And save all those jobs.
Of course, they won’t now because, conveniently, there will be no more shipbuilding in the home of the Royal Navy. It will have to be done in Scotland. And don’t be fooled by government pledges of millions to help the area. It’s a red herring, money already promised.
Overnight the heart of Portsmouth has been ripped out in the filthy game called politics.
The whole thing stinks and the stench stretches all 450 miles from Commercial Road to Sauchiehall Street.