This week’s staggering revelation over the SNP’s floundering ferry-building programme lays bare the lack of a co-ordinated industrial strategy that could stop millions of pounds of public money from being spent to merely keep things ticking.

It’s not just the ferries that have put the Scottish Government’s public finances under strain and cost them politically; there’s the BiFab factory in Fife, the sale of Prestwick Airport and a failure to meet greens jobs targets that put the economic case for an independent Scotland at risk of becoming a laughing stock.

But the latest chapter in the ferries fiasco saw poor wellbeing economy minister Neil Gray being handed the unenviable task of announcing it would be cheaper to bin off one of the ferries being built on the Clyde and start again somewhere else.

Regardless of this astonishing fact, the Scottish Government will carry on with unnamed vessel 802 (eventually) being built at Ferguson’s Marine shipyard on the Clyde.

Mr Gray said that if the work does not continue at the nationalised site, “the very future of the yard and hundreds of jobs it supports would be in jeopardy”.

Both Humza Yousaf and his predecessor have leaped to the defence of the ferries shambles based on the fact the Scottish Government saved hundreds of jobs by taking over the shipyard.

This is true and well-intentioned, but it is clearly not a measure of a sustainable business, nationalised or not, given the money that has been pumped into the yard to keep it afloat and the Government is still yet to get its desperately-needed ferries.

Many big questions remain over the future of the yard including over the total costs for the projects.

But crucial questions will need to be answered over the viability of the government-run shipyard once the ferries have been completed.

Mr Gray confirmed this week there is an intention for Ferguson Marine to be placed back into private ownership, but the Scottish Government stresses this will be "when the time is right and when there is the right offer".

SNP ministers have already had one offer. Former yard owner Jim McColl said he’d take it on again for £1 – and he would also need “two years worth of costs so we could keep the workforce there while we built up new orders”.

HeraldScotland: Jim McColl, former owner of Ferguson Marine, said the Scottish Government were unlikely to accept his proposalJim McColl, former owner of Ferguson Marine, said the Scottish Government were unlikely to accept his proposal (Image: Newsquest)

The Scottish Government has not given off a beaming confidence of being able to attract sustainable industrial jobs.

Green jobs targets are way off being on track, with many roles in constructing wind turbines, for example, going overseas.

Under Alex Salmond’s administration in 2010, the Scottish Government pledged to create 130,000 green jobs by 2020.

But statistics from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has found that just 20,500 had been produced. By 2021, that number had reached 28,300 – still way off the ambition.

New contracts now stipulate that jobs and supply chains must remain at home, but history does not paint a particularly rosy picture of the SNP Government being able to attract sustainable jobs to Scotland.

The Scottish Government is also set to lose the majority of the £52.4m it put into the part state-owned manufacturing company, Burtisland Fabrication (BiFab).

The company, once heralded as a key part of Scotland’s renewables future, fell into administration in December 2020.

Similarly, the Scottish Government has failed to sell Prestwick Airport, after insisting the bids it received were not good enough.

The next industrial headache for SNP ministers will be the transition from the North Sea oil and gas sector to renewables industries.

Whatever your view is on the speed of that transition, it will be happening by the middle of the century at the latest.

Fears have been raised that it is not feasible to simply move each fossil fuels worker into renewables jobs – the green industry simply isn’t as jobs-intensive as the North Sea’s traditional energy sector.

And despite the First Minister insisting workers will not end up “on the scrapheap”, it is clear he needs to do more to reassure workers that they have a future.

In a stinging response to the Scottish Government’s draft energy strategy and just transition plan, the STUC pointed to...

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