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FISHING: A sudden friendship

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In a recent column, MP Alan Campbell seemed to be attributing blame for the decimation of the fishing industry to the Conservative government taking us into Europe.

However, history shows that the Labour Party was complicit in that decision. As Prime Minister, Harold Wilson favoured Common Market entry whereas as opposition leader he opposed the terms.

Mr Campbell informs us that Labour has formed a Friends of Fishing group to “make sure the voices of our fishing communities are heard”.

No doubt the fishing industry will be thrilled. However, where was the Labour Party when one of our most prosperous industries was suffering?

The Common Fisheries Policy has been a disaster not only for those who make their living from the seas, but for the coastal communities built on the back of the fishing industry. Signing away control over our national waters and permitting Brussels to hand out quotas has allowed foreign fishing fleets to take over. 

I could find no speeches or questions asked in Parliament regarding the fishing industry from Mr Campbell over the 20 years he has been an MP so why the sudden interest?

I believe the Labour Party intends to engage more closely with the industry to equip itself to be an effective official opposition in fisheries. As a baseline for its policies, it needs a sound understanding of the issues confronting all parts of the industry – playing catch-up, in other words.

This comes at a time when critically important fisheries legislation associated with the UK’s departure from the EU passes through Parliament.

Alan Campbell campaigned to remain in the EU. The UK fishing industry he now wants to be a friend of campaigned to leave. Mr Campbell’s constituents overwhelmingly voted to leave. In the Commons he has generally voted for more EU integration. Mr Campbell and his Labour colleague Mary Glindon voted against the second reading of the Repeal Bill.

I wish him all the best in making up for lost time as a ‘Friend of the Fishing Industry’. I suggest his group should be more aptly named Long Lost Friends of Fishing.

Jean McLaughlin

Tynemouth