Defence Secretary offers support for Barrow

On Thursday 17 January, the Defence Secretary the Rt Hon Gavin Williamson MP visited Barrow and Furness to speak to party activists.

Over the course of a well-attended dinner at the Olde Mill, the Defence Secretary chatted with activists new and old, and shared stories of his time in government - from being David Cameron’s PPS, to becoming Chief Whip and then Defence Secretary under Theresa May.

Gavin Williamson praised the ‘world class’ workforce in Barrow, calling them the ‘envy of the world’ and promised that a Conservative government would never let its commitment to the Yard, or to Barrow, slide. Highlighting Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn’s affiliation with the campaign for nuclear disarmament, the Defence Secretary made it clear that Labour could offer no such assurances and were a ‘real risk’ to the future success of the area.

It was fantastic to have the Defence Secretary join us for a relaxed meal and discussion. He gave an excellent speech and provided a commitment to this area that was warmly welcomed. It was especially heartening to hear the Defence Secretary praise Barrow and its workforce. He was right to say that the skill base here is second-to-none, and to commit continued support to the Yard.

It was only in December that the Defence Secretary opened the £25million Submarine Academy in Barrow and provided a £400million funding boost to the Dreadnought programme, securing over 8,000 jobs.

Labour’s not-so-secret plan to scrap Trident

At Labour Party Conference in Liverpool on Monday, Senior Labour MP Fabian Hamilton laid bare his plans for the Dreadnought programme and Barrow’s shipyard.

Speaking at a CND fringe meeting, Jeremy Corbyn’s ‘Minister for Peace’ said that he and Jeremy Corbyn want to scrap Trident and begin a ‘defence diversification’ programme that would see shipyard workers retrained to work in other sectors.

Simon Fell, the Conservative Party Spokesman for Barrow and Furness said:

“This deeply worrying and entirely naive policy would decimate Barrow and the surrounding areas.

“Labour have gone back to the 70s. This pie-in-the-sky idea would lead to highly-skilled workers leaving our area and a generation of talent lost.

“It’s not just the Yard that would be hit, but also the wider supply chain, apprenticeship programmes, and retailers. It would also be harder still to make the case for further investment in our schools, Furness General, roads and rail network with such a major employer brought to its knees by Jeremy Corbyn’s reckless Labour Party.

“It’s time for Jeremy Corbyn and his ‘Minister for Peace’ to think again so that these dangerous ideas are never allowed to rip the heart out of our town.”

Labour is Torpedoed

An article for Cumbria Pink following the announcement that there is to be - yet another - Labour leadership election... one that Jeremy Corbyn seems sure to win.

Less than a month ago we were dragged through a thoroughly miserable EU referendum campaign, all of us hoping that come June 23rd, that would be it for a while. 

But it wasn’t. 

The news that Britain voted to leave the EU quickly became a side-note to the political earthquake that followed.

But while the Conservatives united at breakneck speed behind Theresa May, Labour have taken the opportunity to wash their dirty linen in public.

The upcoming Labour leadership election is a battle for the party’s soul. But the fight is not just taking place in the gilded corridors of Westminster - it is just as real in Labour branches across Cumbria.

Just this month, Barrow’s MP John Woodcock overwhelmingly lost a vote of no confidence from the Ulverston Labour branch due to his continued attacks on Jeremy Corbyn. Alongside this, a ‘Red Labour’ group has sprouted in Barrow, and a number of Labour stalwarts and councillors have signed a petition for him to stand down, citing the fact that he has neglected his constituents in pursuit of a ‘crusade’ against his democratically elected leader.

Up and down the country, we’ve seen Labour MPs challenged in a similar way. 

You might ask why this matters to Barrow. 

It matters because the future of Labour and the future of Trident are intertwined.

Next Monday, the Conservatives have called a vote in parliament to approve the next stage of the Trident Successor programme. The vote will pass as the Conservatives have a majority at Westminster. 

But if Jeremy Corbyn wins the leadership election - and most pundits believe he will - he will have a refreshed mandate to change the party in his image. That means a harder left party that wants unilateral disarmament and for the Trident programme to be scrapped. 

What seemed impossible under Blair and Brown will become Labour party policy by 2020.

It will be suicide for Labour to fight the next general election in Barrow on a policy which will hurt up to 1 in 5 jobs in the area. 

Labour MPs who fought Mr Corbyn tooth and nail since his appointment may face deselection. As we’ve seen in Ulverston, there are already moves being made to soften the ground for this. 

MPs like John Woodcock had an opportunity to work with Jeremy Corbyn in good faith and find a compromise on important issues like this. Instead, they ran a guerrilla war against him and have used the Brexit vote to engineer a coup. It looks like they will lose.

John Woodcock has spent the last year fighting Mr Corbyn rather than speaking for Barrow. He protests that he did this to ‘save’ Labour. Instead he is now looking at the prospect of a split party, scrapping Trident being party policy, and deselection by his own party members. 

Bad judgement has torpedoed Labour and it looks set to sink John Woodcock in Barrow.

A letter from the Secretary of State for Defence

Michael Fallon, the Secretary of State for Defence, has written to people across Barrow and Furness about the very real threat posed by Labour doing a deal with the SNP in order to gain power following the election.

The letter is clear.

There is a choice at this election between a strong Conservative government and Ed Miliband, propped up by the SNP. The same SNP who have called scrapping Trident a 'red line' issue for them.

From our 2015 General Election Manifesto

From our 2015 General Election Manifesto

We have put our commitment to Trident in black and white in our manifesto: we support a four boat solution and are committed to the jobs, investment and opportunity which that will bring to our area. 

Ed Miliband's Labour Party has made no such commitment, mentioning only a 'minimum' capability in their manifesto. They are already paving the way for a deal.

The choice couldn't be clearer: whether to support a Conservative party which backs Barrow, or a Labour party which needs the SNP for power.

The SNP have been absolutely open about what they will do - they will haggle, bully and bend arms to get what they want from the Labour party. That means scrapping Trident, raising taxes and borrowing more. And who will pay for it? All of us.

We cannot afford to risk our security by letting Ed Miliband's Labour do a deal with a party which only exists to break up the UK. To secure Trident we need a strong Conservative government and every vote counts to help make that happen.

You can read Michael Fallon's letter below.

A letter from Michael Fallon to all Barrovians.

A letter from Michael Fallon to all Barrovians.

Simon welcomes Boris’ pledge to keep Barrow jobs

Boris Johnson’s backing to Barrow’s submarine programme has been welcomed as great news for the region, guaranteeing work for thousands of local residents.

Simon Fell, the Conservative parliamentary candidate for Barrow and Furness said he was delighted the new Prime Minister has already pledged his support for the Dreadnought programme, which he called a ‘vital national asset’.

Simon said:

“I’m delighted that the Prime Minister has recognised how important it is to maintain a Continuous at Sea Deterrent and the vital important role every single worker at Barrow’s famous shipyards play in this.

“As he said in the Commons, the real threat to this deterrent and these livelihoods would be a Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour party in charge at Number 10. All Barrovians know that lifelong CND member Jeremy Corbyn does not support Barrow’s proud history of boat-building. He is a threat to livelihoods across Furness.

“Mr Johnson has only been in place for a few days, but he has already pledged a host of measures to get our country back on the road to a brighter future, including getting Brexit done by 31 October , with a great new deal for Britain.

 “He has also promised to hire 20,000 new police officers across the country, more investment in the NHS and schools, all pledges which I believe will benefit and will be welcomed by everyone across Barrow and Furness and the whole of Cumbria, as well as the country.”