‘WHY is betrayal the only truth that sticks?” Arthur Miller once asked. It’s a good question. From Judas to Brutus to Stalin, the villains we remember are those who betray friends and comrades, because we’ve all met disloyalty and we know that, when it comes to focusing the mind, there’s nothing quite like a stab in the back. Poverty, death, and shame all hurt, but nothing sticks like betrayal.

David Cameron should remember this before pressing ahead with plans that will dismantle Govan’s shipbuilding industry, plans that could cost 800 jobs, plans their union calls not just “betrayal” but “total betrayal”. Alistair Darling, Alistair Carmichael and others who put their name to Better Together should be screaming bloody murder down the phone. Now more than ever before, their historical reputations are jeopardised.

Two years ago, Govan’s shipyard workers became a key prop in the independence referendum. Better Together made threats about the currency, threats about big financial companies leaving, threats (funnily enough) about losing access to the EU. But arguably their most direct and acidic threat was that independence would cost military-related jobs.

This threat stung because it clearly involved real people. Currency and trade alliances are abstract things; unlike welders or crane operators, they don’t have homes to go to, families who love them, a scruffy mutt they walk in the morning or pals they drink with on a Friday night. That’s why Better Together enlisted Clydeside workers to give their campaign a human, working-class edge that they otherwise lacked. Without these workers, it would have been easier to expose an alliance fronted by tarnished politicians and financed by hedge fund managers.

Better Together produced a leaflet for Govan, signed by a Clydeside Shipyard Worker, warning, “We need to send a strong message to the SNP that we will not see our future put at risk just so that they can achieve their goal of independence.” With the industry generally vulnerable as it has been since the war, the UK Government promised new orders should Scotland vote No. With new investment would come secure jobs and apprenticeships; David Cameron ratified these promises a year later.

Last week, though, shop stewards were told to brace themselves for job losses. This wasn’t some far-flung foreign investor getting cold feet, the sort of “redundancies” that are supposedly beyond government control, but an investment rethink by the UK Government themselves – the same people who two years ago used Clydeside futures as blackmail to shore up wavering working-class voters.

This isn’t a first in Scottish history. Before the 1979 referendum on devolution, the Daily Express warned, “How much of Scotland’s economy will be left intact if a Scottish Assembly gets the go-ahead on March 1? Will our coal mines go gaily on? Will Ravenscraig or Linwood thrive? Will Bathgate flourish and Dounreay prosper?” For many people – not a majority, but many – the threat of risk was too great. And, of course, without a parliament to buffer Thatcher’s deindustrialisation project, all these jobs disappeared over the following two decades.

Crucially, when Westminster betrayed Scottish industries they promised to protect, devolution became a foregone conclusion. A reluctant Scottish Labour Party forced themselves to embrace “Scottish solutions to Scottish problems” and led the march themselves.

Two years ago, David Cameron and Labour highlighted the risks independence posed to military jobs, oil investment, EU membership, and Scotland’s financial sector. By implication, they promised that Westminster would use its muscle to protect related Scottish industries.

Workers in Scotland are entitled to feel betrayed if oil investment dries up without a new plan for Scottish energy, if the EU spat among the Tories causes an economic crash, if our big banks are incompetently privatised and disappear as Scottish interests. Every industry threatened by “separation” was, by implication, guaranteed a future under the continued Union. After all, Westminster is responsible for regulating them in the combined “UK interest”.

But it’s increasingly clear that voting No in 2014 has not secured a New Deal for Scottish industry. Instead, if there’s a plan at all, the Tories see Scotland as a low-wage barbarian outpost of a civilisation revolving around property and financial services in London.

In that plan, shipyard workers, so often the victim of Scottish history, have been once again chewed up and spat out. Put aside your own loyalties during the referendum. Instead, ask yourself, if I was one of those workers who voted “no”, how would I feel right now? Betrayal is a pretty universal human experience, as its inevitable counterpoint: revenge.

If David Cameron pushes ahead with his new plans, revenge is precisely what shipyard workers are entitled to.

Nicola Sturgeon warns UK Government's vow to shipbuilders 'must not be broken'