‘Scrapping Trident – a ‘red line’ issue!
Some thoughts by Kenneth Wardrop, Chair of Stirling CND and Member of the SNP City of Stirling Branch
The 2015 General Election campaign and the manifesto commitment by the SNP to scrap Trident, put the issue of the UK’s nuclear weapons system centre stage in the election debate and became a red line issue for the SNP. It also represented a bold position from a mainstream political party in the UK with the Tories, Labour and Lib Dems all committing to renew Trident in the life span of this new Westminster Parliament.
At the heart of the SNP manifesto commitment is the overwhelming moral and economic argument for the scrapping of the Trident Weapons system – with opinion polls continuing to show that the majority of Scots agree that the UK should give up nuclear weapons. In January 2015 a YouGov poll for the Times showed, that when ‘Don’t Knows’ were removed, 53 per cent of people in Scotland want to see an end to nuclear weapons, with only 20% saying they want to see the UK replace Trident with an equally powerful nuclear missile system.
The resounding success of the SNP campaign means that 56 out of 59 of Scotland’s new MP’s are unequivocally committed to the scrapping of Trident. John Ainslie, Coordinator of Scottish CND stated in March 2015 that: “We are disappointed that the Labour party will commit to renewing Trident in their election manifesto. This goes against the views of many of their own candidates as well as the majority of people in Scotland. In a time of austerity the last thing we should be doing is spending £100 billion on more weapons of mass destruction. Nuclear weapons only make the world more dangerous, they do nothing to make us any safer.” The argument by many of these Labour MP’s is that they believe in Multi-lateralism rather than Unilateralism and you will hear them say that effort should be put in to non – proliferation negotiations yet successive Government’s record on this is poor. Many Labour MP’s state that Trident is: “the ‘minimal-cost’ credible nuclear deterrent” – this while we have food banks in our country! In April 2015 however, it was widely reported in the UK press that 75% of Labour Party candidates were opposed to renewing Trident. Ian Murray MP (Labour) and Scotland’s only Labour MP has made public statements regarding his opposition to the renewal of Trident. So there may be opportunities for the new block of SNP MP’s to sway their Westminster colleagues in the Labour Party?