Outlook: Kvaerner Govan

SO YOU thought New Labour was business-friendly, modern, free market-orientated and pro-competition - that it believes in the power of competition to deliver the best possible economic benefit for all, and that it would construct public policy to that end. Think again. When it comes to votes, this now not so new Government seems as prone to its old Labour ways as ever.

Largely unnoticed, the Ministry of Defence earlier this week published a gem of an announcement, telling us that the Kvaerner Group has been shortlisted to build six RoRo ferries. If successful, the press release adds helpfully, they would be constructed at Govan on the Clyde.

But there's more. George Robertson, the Defence Secretary (and Scottish MP) intends to award the order before the Norwegian owners of Govan have finished reviewing whether to close the yard.

"We hope they [Govan] will produce a convincing and competitive bid, and we aim to choose the preferred bidder by the autumn of this year," Mr Robertson adds helpfully.

If this doesn't amount to the strongest possible hint that Kvaerner has actually got the order, even though the formal tender process has yet to take place, the Government could have fooled every other yard desperately seeking this scarce work. Nothing, you understand, to do with the imminent Scottish Assembly elections. Och noo.

Strangely, there has been not a murmur of protest about this blatant piece of gerrymandering, either from the Scottish Nationalists, or indeed the Scottish Tories and Liberal Democrats. An embarrassed conspiracy of silence reigns supreme.

Because this is a defence order, the Government is immune from European rules which require a fair and proper competitive tender for the work.

No one can begrudge the Govan workers their jobs, and if this decision throws them a lifeline, good luck to them. But a Government that preaches business competition on the one hand and hands out business favours on the other can hardly be surprised if it is accused of hypocrisy.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive

£23000 - £26000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive...

Recruitment Genius: Technical Report Writer

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Technical Report Writer is re...

MBDA UK Ltd: Indirect Procurement Category Manager

Competitive salary & benefits!: MBDA UK Ltd: MBDA UK LTD Indirect Procurement...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - PHP

£16500 - £16640 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing Finance compa...

Day In a Page

Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness
Homeless Veterans appeal: Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story

Homeless Veterans appeal

Homeless in Wales can find inspiration from Daniel’s story
Front National family feud? Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks

Front National family feud?

Marine Le Pen and her relatives clash over French far-right party's response to Paris terror attacks
Pot of gold: tasting the world’s most expensive tea

Pot of gold

Tasting the world’s most expensive tea
10 best wildlife-watching experiences: From hen harriers to porpoises

From hen harriers to porpoises: 10 best wildlife-watching experiences

While many of Britain's birds have flown south for the winter, it's still a great time to get outside for a spot of twitching
Nick Easter: 'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

'I don’t want just to hold tackle bags, I want to be out there'

Nick Easter targeting World Cup place after England recall
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore