No, prime minister – you won’t ignore
our jobs plea

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The silence has been deafening, downright rude and shocking. It is an insult to the thousands of people whose livelihoods depend on shipbuilding in Portsmouth.

These workers go into 2014 with the proverbial sword of Damocles hanging over their futures.

And prime minister David Cameron cannot be bothered to reply to a letter let alone deign to be driven to the city to hear our case.

As we report today, it has been 50 days since we devoted the front page of this newspaper to an open letter to Mr Cameron demanding he suspend the decision to end shipbuilding in the city.

It was a well-reasoned plea for help from the premier and his defence secretary Philip Hammond.

The letter, not only from The News but also signed by union representatives, the city council’s group leaders and Portsmouth’s two MPs, also suggested other ways of guaranteeing shipbuilding work in the naval base to tide us over until work on the new Type 26 frigates becomes available.

The announcement knocked the stuffing out of the city and sparked a furious reaction both nationally and internationally in support of dear old Pompey.

We have to agree with Prospect union negotiator John Ferrett, who was also one of the letter’s signatories, when he says today: ‘I think the failure to answer the letter is symptomatic of the coalition government’s indifference to the plight of workers in Portsmouth facing redundancy.’

And we also echo Portsmouth South MP Mike Hancock’s view when he says: ‘I hope Mr Cameron’s new year resolution is to reply to Portsmouth’s plea for help and that he could show some compassion to the city by coming down.’

Portsmouth people have long memories and bear grudges.

If Mr Cameron and Mr Hammond think they can sweep this issue under the carpet and that it will somehow evaporate over time, they should think again. Hard.

They should also take another look at their diaries for 2015.

This is a cruel snub to a fiercely proud city.

It is one that will not be forgotten at the ballot box on May 7 next year.

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