IT is just over 50 years since President Salvador Allende, democratically elected president of Chile, was murdered in a violent, vicious right-wing coup.

The plot had been hatched, from the moment he'd been elected in 1970 by a disparate, motley bunch of malcontents which contained right wing business men, senior military officers, CIA and ergo American Government.

The success of this now all-but forgotten episode/coup was in no small part due to the four British made Hawker Hunter jets destroying the presidential palace and the staff within.

It also loosely coincided with the launch of an Oberon class submarine, (Hyatt) in Scotts Shipyard, Cartsburn, Greenock for the Chilean Navy.

This third year, naive, empty-headed, shallow, superficial sheet metalworker apprentice was at the launch.

The potentes and dignitaries made their way to a lunch for it, while the unwashed and in particular the sheet metalworkers retired to Fred Flynn's public house and took the decision to have absolutely nothing else to do with Pinochet's' regime and confined our labours to the two other Oberon class submarines being built for Australia.

I won't bore with how we were assuaged and a sop given to get us back unto the subs, but the then-leader of The Transport & General Workers Union, Jack Jones went over to the football stadium in Valparaiso, where human right abuses were ubiquitous, and secured the release of four prisoners of conscience, two of whom were to reside in Renfrew and the other two in Greenock.

The apocryphal denouement went as follows. The Daily Mirror sent a reporter to interview the four prisoners of conscience six months after Jack Jones' intervention. The landlord from Greenock, who considered himself a bit of a wag, claimed that when the new residents of Renfrew were asked, 'What do you think of it so far?' their reply was: "I wish to God I'd stayed in the football stadium in Valparaiso and taken my chances with Pinochet'."

I cite the above not as some whimsical reminiscence, or as the resident curmudgeon at Govan Shipyard who refuses to retire, or the irrepressible self-deprecating humour which is almost as much of an integral element of shipbuilding as the steel itself, but as a lament to the fallen few.

Despite the above, and the yards on a three day week, they delivered the submarines on time and to budget (eighteen months from drawing board to launch - Ms Sturgeon take note).

Not only has the romance been taken out shipbuilding but politicians and politics. What is laughingly referred to as the Scottish Parliament has demonstrably and perniciously displayed its inability to run a shipyard. The 129 members confine themselves to self-enrichment and have completely abandoned that old-fashioned Calvinist work ethic. To use that old chestnut much beloved of examination boards, 'compare and contrast'.

Consider the calibre and gravitas of the likes of Jack Jones, Barbara Castle, Shirley Williams, Tony Benn, Michael Foot? What to we have now? Nicola Sturgeon and Patrick Harvie.

I literally would cry if I were to dwell on this too long.

Scots Wae Hae.

Paul Mack

Address supplied