The News today reports that David Cameron has pledged £4 million pounds for a new maritime defence research base on Portsdown Hill. The paper printed a typically vapid puff piece by Cameron himself referencing Portsmouth’s role in a string of highlights of British seaborne militarism as well as the usual dross about how his policy has led to an economic recovery (probably true but eliding the fact that its almost all to the benefit of the wealthiest 10%).
Conservative council leader Donna Jones was unsursprisingly estastic at the announcement, while her predecessor Liberal Democrat Gerald Vernon-Jackson, last seen crossing picket lines on the 10th July, engaged in the usual point scoring about whether this will make up for the BAE systems shedding close to 1000 jobs in the dockyard. Whether scientists, engineers and very skilled workers talents are best used in this way at a time massive social need appears to not have even crossed their minds.
The proposed base will be a research hub for unmanned boats and submarines for defence purposes. The government suggests that this can bring in an extra £72bn in exports by 2021. Presumably these drones of the sea will be primarily retailed to such cut-throats as the Saudi monarchy and the other imperial petrol stations that Hilsea-based BAE systems supply, penniless Somali’s engaged in a much less profitable kind of heist better watch out. Poor oppressed oil workers and Southern and South- East Asian labour that keep the sheikhs in gold and guns have but cold comfort. BAE will no doubt will have first dibs on any ‘innovations’ and with their contracts unwritten by the treasury (but their profits for them to keep) must be licking their lips.
This £4 million is from a larger pot of £1.1bn some of which, according to the Portsmouth daily, could come this way as part of money pledged towards the development of British unmanned aircrafts and fighter jet radar systems. It seems austerity doesn’t apply to the masters of war. Capitalism has always been reliant on the state to clear the way to its super profits. In a century where climate catastrophe seriously risks ongoing habitation of large parts of the globe our ruling class are still playing the great game with millions of peoples lives.
The loss of jobs in Portsmouth dockyard was a tragedy for the city but using workers with the skills to harness amazing technology to build death machines instead of solar and wind technology, clean public transport and decent housing is a farce. Humanity only has a future if we stop the rich exploiting us and killing each other.