Corbyn’s re-election disarms high street traders in Barrow-in-Furness

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The Labour leader’s restoration is already ruffling feathers in the Cumbrian town of Barrow-in-Furness, whose local businesses depend upon the nuclear deterrent that Corbyn so despises.


With the news that Labour’s pacifist leader, Jeremy Corbyn, has secured an even larger mandate than he did a year ago, many Conservatives will be quietly applauding what they see as another nine years at the helm.

Frankie Bailey agrees; himself a Conservative voter and owner of an AGC in Barrow’s centre, that Corbyn the man is not an immediate threat. His views however will only be given more publicity in the wake of his reelection – Corbyn is already talking about a ‘Minister for Disarmament’. Such views could spell disaster for Barrow if they permeate mainstream opinion.

“Without the Trident programme, Barrow would really suffer,” said Bailey. “It’s a vital stimulus for the town; the whole area depends on it.”

The BAE Systems submarine shipyard in Barrow, home to the Trident nuclear programme, is the largest in the UK, and the town’s number one employer. Some 20 percent of Barrow’s population works there, with an additional 2,000 high-skilled jobs promised over the next 12 months.

“Obviously without the yard, Barrow would be on its knees,” he added. “They have got security up until 2020, and then we’re waiting to see whether the next tranche of money comes through for the Trident replacement.

“But if Labour were to get through, or if Corbyn’s anti-Trident ideas get through, it would be an incredibly big issue for the town.”

Another 2,000 high-skilled in a small town is expected to provide a huge stimulus, not only directly in the form of new customers, but by inflating wages and consumption in the area, making room for additional employment elsewhere.

“We would hope to attract some of that custom,” Bailey said, “and if families are moving in they’ll hopefully be spending money in the town and everyone with have a little more to play with.”

The inverse reality, if BAE were pushed to downsize, would have the mirror negative effect on Bailey’s clientele, and his arcade.

“A fair few people are employed in the yard, but many more indirectly,” said Bailey. “So Corbyn doesn’t go down too well round here. When you talk to people in the pub, they’re very concerned about him and what might happen – they’re just pleased the Conservatives are still in.”

With the divisive character polling so low, Bailey himself sees no direct threat on the horizon, but regrets he will now be able to continue promoting his anti-nuclear stance.

“Labour are in disarray,” he concluded. “We’ve got this lot now for four years, but at the moment they’ve got no strategy. I can’t see them getting elected, so I can’t see decisions coming directly from him. But he does have a voice, so I’d prefer it if he didn’t win the leadership and doesn’t get his anti-nuclear views across to more people.

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