PARLIAMENT: Ferry deal shortlist failure condemned as ‘international humiliation’

Anas Sarwar challenges Nicola Sturgeon on the issue during First Minister’ Questions

Ferry: Travels down the slipway at Ferguson Marine in Port Glasgow.
The Glen Sannox travels down the slipway at Ferguson Marine in Port Glasgow. Top the Glen Sannox with the considerably more successful PS Waverley in the background.

By Harry Bell

The failure of the state-owned shipyard on the Firth of Clyde to compete for a Scottish boat building contract is an “international humiliation”, Labour leader Anas Sarwar told MSPs today.

Mr Sarwar accused Nicola Sturgeon of presiding over “complacency and ineptitude” after Ferguson Marine failed to make the shortlist to build ferries serving Scottish islands.

The Scottish Government took the shipbuilder, based at Port Glasgow, into public ownership in 2019 to avoid its collapse.

It had previously been in the ownership of former Dumbarton millionaire Jim McColl, left, who ran a kitchen manufacturing business on the Broadmeadow industrial estate.

But last week it confirmed Ferguson Marine had failed to make the shortlist to build two ferries that will serve Islay and Jura, with firms from Turkey, Romania and Poland in contention for the contracts instead.

Speaking during First Minister’s Questions at Holyrood on Thursday, Sarwar challenged Sturgeon to explain “how a Scottish yard, supporting Scottish jobs and owned by the Scottish Government failed to even make the shortlist to build Scotland’s ferries”.

Sturgeon argued that Ferguson “is on a journey back to recovery” and its focus is on the two heavily delayed ferries still being built.

She added: “This Government has protected shipbuilding jobs here in Scotland because without the intervention of this Government, Ferguson’s would not still be open, it would not still be operational, and there are hundreds of people currently employed at Ferguson’s who would not be employed.

“We will continue to support the shipyards, we will continue to support the workers there and we will continue to do everything to make sure that it is in a position to compete for and win contracts in the future.”

Anas Sarwar and Nicola Sturgeon clashed in Holyrood.

Mr Sarwar replied said: “The First Minister says the company she owns is on a journey; people want ferry journeys, and that’s what this Government needs to address.

“Saving the yard is one thing but sustaining the yard is another.

“Launching a ferry with painted-on windows. Really, is that the best we can hope for from this Government?

“The truth is that the failure to deliver these ferries are the result of complacency and ineptitude on the part of this SNP Government.

“That this Scottish Government-owned company can’t win a Scottish Government contract to build ships is a national scandal that is now an international humiliation.

“The only thing the SNP are good at manufacturing is grievance.”



There was a man who built a boat to sail away and it sank – JP Donleavy in the Ginger Man



  1. Ah we can at least build a museum to our past greatness.

    But otherwise the world has moved on and we’ve moved back. And by the way, this didn’t just happen over night as ya boo cheap shot cat call Anas Sarwar calls out.

    The Scots shipyards and the rig yards which built oil rigs now don’t even build the huge off shore wind jackets. Ah well there is thankfully a career flipping burgers at McDonalds or being a chamber maid at the new proposed Flamingo Land. Our aspirations are high now that traditional industry has moved elsewhere.

    And Anas and Labour have the answer – its all the SNP’s fault! Oh really!

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