‘Fighting like rats in a sack’ SNP tension over removing Trident in independent Scotland

SNP to discuss nuclear weapons if independent says host

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A motion was lodged by SNP members from the party’s Glasgow Maryhill, Anniesland and Southside Branches to remove nuclear weapons from Scotland within three years of independence. However, a counter amendment was filed by the Castle Douglas branch calling for a longer timescale.

They urge the party to “start the practical work to remove nuclear weapons from Scotland within three years”.

But the amendment was withdrawn ahead of the debate this afternoon – and no representation was made by the branch with the Glasgow motion being passed. 

The SNP has pledged weapons will leave the Faslane submarine base and Coulport warhead depot on the Clyde after a ‘Yes’ vote.

Although its 2014 White Paper expressed a desire to see this done within the first term of the Scottish Parliament after independence, it does not give a definitive timescale.

Introducing the motion by Glasgow branches, SNP MSP Bill Kidd said: “The path and timescale is an achievable one.

“We understand the urgency of this issue.

“Scotland is poised with a unique opportunity to advance international security and today we can commit to ridding Scotland of illegal weapons of mass destruction.”

Branding nuclear arsenal weapons of “mass murder”, the Glasgow Anniesland MSP added: “In the SNP, we stand agreed that the use of nuclear weapons is abhorrent as is holding them is a threat to world peace.”

Mr Kidd also said he met with the Kazakhstan ambassador to learn more about its disarmament after independence from the USSR in 1991.

Bill Ramsay, Chairman of the SNP Campaign for Disarmament (CND) Group, said: “I want to thank Castle Douglas branch for withdrawing their amendment.

“At some point if Castle Douglas would like a speaker to attend the branch virtually or in the flesh then we at the SNP CND would be happy to do so.”

Alba members also voted to back the removal of Trident, but immediately upon separation.

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A resolution introduced by Aberdeenshire councillor Leigh Wilson – with former Scottish Socialist Party leader Tommy Sheridan speaking in favour – passed by an “overwhelming majority” at the party’s first conference.

An effort to delay the decision – known as “remitting back” – was defeated, despite speakers claiming the weapons could be used as “leverage” during independence negotiations, or that dismissal of the system on the first day was not realistic.

The motion went on to say the Scottish Government should create “Europe’s largest renewable energy wind farm” on the site of Faslane naval base.

Mr Sheridan, who is a member of Alba, praised the standard of debate and those who spoke in favour of remitting back, but said the first party conference was the opportunity for members to set out their “principles”.

“I would argue that this conference, this inaugural conference, is about laying down our principles, laying down what you believe in, laying down what is and isn’t non-negotiable,” he said.

He added: “The principle is that no way will nuclear weapons be acceptable in an independent Scotland, not from year one, not from year two, not from day one.”

But Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP Willie Rennie said: “That our future defence could be in the hands of this squabbling group of nationalists is a frightening prospect.

“I happen to think that the nuclear defence system has helped to keep us safe but whatever your view there is little doubt that the SNP don’t have a coherent and sensible defence policy.”

A UK Government source said: “The SNP and Alba seem to fight like rats in a sack on this ridiculous policy.

“The UK’s nuclear deterrent contributes to Scotland’s and the wider UK’s security and economy.

“We are committed to maintaining a credible and independent nuclear deterrent at HM Naval Base Clyde to deter the most extreme threats to the UK and our Nato allies.”

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