Government should find ideas, not 
rubbish them

Daffodils in the sunshine

VERITY LUSH: Unrealistic to think we can blanket cover moral issues

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We will do everything we 
can to protect the future of Portsmouth’s shipyard and the livelihoods of the people who work there.’

Those aren’t our words, they’re David Cameron’s.

‘We are going to go all out to make sure it remains strong, successful and respected around the world.’

Again, a call to action from the prime minister himself.

Less than a month ago, Mr Cameron wrote to this newspaper pledging the government would do its utmost to help the Portsmouth area recover from the loss of naval shipbuilding.

The government, he said, had a big role to play in sending out the message that Portsmouth was ‘clearly and unambiguously’ open for business.

But if you’ve read our page seven report today, you would be forgiven for finding a different message there.

In fact, the tone from government is a little more defeatist.

Earlier this month, union leaders met with defence minister Philip Dunne to put forward some ideas which they hoped would buy the city some time to find more work for the skilled staff of the naval base.

Mr Dunne has now written to the unions to outline reasons why each of the ideas would not work.

The minister argues the points well and, to his credit, he has looked into the proposals to establish their potential before replying.

But what the letter glaringly lacks is a better idea, or an alternative. It’s one thing to dismiss the options, but in the spirit of helpfulness, some suggestions as to what the city is capable of would be welcomed in their place.

Mr Dunne says: ‘The government is committed to working with the people of Portsmouth to mitigate the impact.’

That itself is a different approach from a man who originally refused to meet with the unions at all.

Mr Dunne has now recommended the minister for Portsmouth, Michael Fallon, meets with union leaders on his next visit here.

Perhaps he will be able to unravel this mutilated message and give Portsmouth the solutions it was promised.

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