Its been announced today that Michael Fallon is now the Minister for Portsmouth.
Obviously living in the area and working in Portsmouth (not at the dockyard I might add) as well as having links to the yachting fraternity I'm a bit concerned at his appointment.
He seem s to be put into "difficult" political situations in order to calm stormy waters and keep a lid on unpalatable political policies. His previous appointment being at that hot potato, Royal Mail.
So what can we expect from him? Well, I'm pretty sure a bit of political stalling first of all, while the Scots vote on independence. Once they have made a decision, then the future of Portsmouth will be set.
If the Scots vote to go independent, then Navy shipbuilding will come back to Portsmouth as the only facility able to produce large ships. I expect the politicians to put on a good show, but nothing will happen until the vote. If they did move to close Portsmouth down prematurely, we will have no warship building capability in what's left of the UK and future builds will have to go out to tender across the EU as per EU regulations. I expect no-one in government wants the embarrassment of getting get ships built outside the UK.
Of course while the stalling goes on, ship workers will move away and get jobs elsewhere. The money promised to Portsmouth may go towards creating non-jobs to hold people here or help with the increased benefits bill in order to temporarily hold people in the area.
If the Scots vote to stay in the UK, then Portsmouth is doomed. Strategically important Naval military jobs will be traded for jobs in the retail or hospitality sector.
Michael Fallon is especially well placed for the second option with his links to the city. I'm sure he will be able to guide developers to chose the best pickings for waterfront housing and retail developments. That's where Portsmouth harbour is bound: yet another set of apartment complexes for the privileged few around marinas housing their plastic gin palaces.
Of course all this development threatens the existing status quo for the skint sailor. Harbour fees and changes in policy will push out the small sailor from areas where currently he is welcome.
Its happened in countless cities where such "regeneration" has occurred. Time and time again blue collar jobs have been swept away and replaced by low-paid, low-skill jobs and the areas that supported the blue-collar leisure industry are swept away and fanciefied leaving higher prices in order to cover the cost of the fanciefying, only affordable by the middle-class.
And so the "have" and the "have not" gap increases.
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