CAMPAIGNERS angered at Ferguson's failure to make the frame for new CalMac ferries have accused Nicola Sturgeon of 'betraying' the shipyard her government nationalised.

Pro-union organisation Scotland Matters have expressed their disquiet at foreign yards being favoured for the lucrative work via a billboard campaign within a stone's throw of the shipyard.

The First Minister and her former mentor Alex Salmond are depicted in Titanic movie pose at the bow of a ferry called 'Glen Alba', beside the banner 'SNP — STRONGER FOR FOREIGN SHIPYARDS'.

The electronic message is being constantly flashed up on the billboard space in Port Glasgow as Scotland Matters continues to campaign against another independence referendum.

Former Inverclyde MP Iain McKenzie said: "In 2019 the First Minister stood outside the yard and announced, 'Ferguson's is living proof of how the SNP government stands up for Scotland and for Scottish jobs'.

"If this is how the SNP stands up for Scotland and Scottish jobs it's no wonder our industries and jobs in Inverclyde are on the decline."

The billboard comes following the bombshell news that the Scottish Government has overlooked its own shipyard and will award contracts for two lifeline Islay ferries to yards in either Romania, Poland or Turkey.

Labour man Mr McKenzie — who was joined by fellow campaigners at the billboard launch yesterday — said: "The first minister stood outside the yard and announced nationalisation and assured the workforce they had a future in building ships for the Scottish ferry fleet.

"Now this dedicated proud and skilled workforce has been betrayed by the SNP, with orders for more ferries to be fulfilled by foreign shipyards.

"Ferguson's is living proof that the SNP is not stronger for Scotland but stronger for foreign shipyards."

Inverclyde's SNP MSP Stuart McMillan today dismissed the attack by the unionist group.

He said: "Ferguson Marine is living proof that this SNP Scottish Government stands up for Scotland and Scottish jobs.

"By taking it into public ownership we saved 300 local jobs, and since then more have been created.

"It's interesting how Scotland Matters seem to be so nationalistic while wanting to keep us part of a union that left Ferguson's as the last commercial shipyard on the lower Clyde.

"Maybe if Scotland Matters' matriarch, Mrs Thatcher, hadn't targeted heavy industry and cost hundreds of thousands of hard-working men and women their jobs across the UK, their message wouldn't look so muddled."

Mr McMillan also criticised the group's lack of a positive case on the constitutional question and launched an attack on Mr McKenzie.

He added: "Scotland Matters' website claims they promote the benefits of being in the UK — but I've yet to see them offer any sound argument in support of their position.

"Clearly they are struggling to find anything positive to say about the union.

"I'd struggle with that as well.

"Instead of spending time working on billboards, the failed ex-Labour MP at the heart of Scotland Matters would be better spending his time trying to distance himself from the right-wing, pro-Brexit, morally bankrupt Tory government he seems to be so fond of.

"Let's remember, Scotland Matters supports a Westminster government who once employed a company that didn't own any ferries, to deliver a ferry service.

"I eagerly await Scotland Matters' next billboard talking Scotland and Inverclyde down, instead of attempting to make a positive case for this broken, lopsided union of unequals."