This month the Scottish Parliament confirmed its opposition to nuclear weapons even as an SCND commissioned survey confirmed that 80% of people in Scotland oppose Trident replacement. The Parliamentary motion, which went largely unreported, carried, with the whole SNP bloc voting for it. The motion rightly expressed the “opposition of the Scottish Parliament to nuclear weapons and to the presence of Trident in Scotland…”. But this majority SNP Parliament had the opportunity to go further than it did in 2007 when it called upon the UK not to replace Trident. Instead, in wishy washy language, designed, but failing, to attract the LibDem vote, it pathetically only called on the UK “to explore options for the removal of Trident”.
Jean Urquhart MSP put in an amendment straightforwardly calling on the UK “to disarm Trident and not replace it with any other nuclear weapons system”. Unfortunately she stood alone. A handful of Green – Independent group and other MSPs would would have supported her. But the vote was scheduled, against their objections on the day of the PCS Budget strike. They had made clear they would not would not cross the picket line though, as Patrick Harvie spelled out in The Evening Times (http://tinyurl.com/bagmu2c) “Opposing Trident and opposing the UK Government’s economic policy are ….connected, as we see the waste of vast amounts of taxpayers’ money on nuclear weapons.” The SNP did not support Jean’s amendment because it included opposition to the nuclear armed NATO alliance, an issue which divided SNP Conference last year and which they did not want to rehash. But we were told by an SNP MSP that the bold language calling on the UK to disarm Trident, by itself, would have gained SNP support.
The EPJC and Trident Ploughshares have been jointly lobbying the SNP government to forthrightly call on the UK to disarm Trident since 2007. We fully expected this Scottish government’s motion to do that. The call instead for the UK to “explore options for removal” also raised the question of removal to where? Some Labour MSPs rightly understood that to mean removal to England. We don’t believe anybody in the SNP wants that. But political considerations led the SNP to take this compromised position. Thus, an historic opportunity for Scotland to truly lead the way to a world free of nuclear weapons was missed.
In putting forward an agenda for self determination Scotland should not hesitate to call on its neighbours to do the right thing. The Scottish Parliament should express the will of the people and call upon the UK and other powers to disarm their nuclear weapons. But it is not be likely to take up this issue again before the independence referendum. So now it is time for the people to speak. We will have the chance to do that on the Scrap Trident weekend of protest and action 13 – 15 April. We are calling for Scotland to lead the way to a truly nuclear free world and for the £100 Billion currently allocated to Trident to be directed to human needs. Please go to scraptrident.org to sign the petition and register. Call the Centre to book your place on a bus & help make a people’s history of peace and freedom.
Brian Larkin and Jane Tallents