Scottish independence referendum, plus jokes.

Wings Over Scotland


Guest post: No more silence

Posted on July 20, 2013 by

It has long been clear that, if they remain in government, the Tories intend to replace Trident, and this week’s Lib Dem Trident Alternatives Review shows that they are also committed to maintaining the UK as a nuclear state in the face of public opposition. But what of the Labour Party?

The Blair government imposed a three-line whip on a Westminster vote on the issue back in 14 March 2007, and Jim Murphy, currently the Shadow Secretary of State for Defence, stated earlier this year on BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland that, “We’re in favour of the UK retaining a nuclear capability”.

However, we also recall that when Ed Miliband was elected leader of the Labour party in 2010 he said that the UK needs “to look very carefully at whether renewing Trident is the necessary or the right thing to do”. On that much, he is right. The UK coalition government’s austerity measures are nothing more than an attack on the poorest and most vulnerable in our society. Welfare and health budgets are being slashed whilst politicians of all hues rush to tell us that we need a £100 billion nuclear ‘deterrent’ to give us ‘security’ and a ‘seat at the top table’.

Here in Scotland, the trade unions, the churches, and civic society all stand against nuclear weapons. Anyone who does not live in a political ivory tower can tell you exactly what the priorities are in our communities – and it is not for the renewal of a massively expensive, Cold War relic that can never be used.

NOW is the time for Ed to spell out exactly what the Labour Party policy is on Trident. There are voices within the Labour Party who still claim to support disarmament. However, the truth is that these people are increasingly looking like no more than a progressive fig-leaf, and history shows that successive Labour governments have been happy to retain nuclear weapons.

For too long, elements in the Labour party have been running with the nuclear fox and hunting with the disarmament hounds. It’s time for them to come clean. In 2014, the people of Scotland will vote in an independence referendum that gives them an opportunity to make Scotland a nuclear free country.

Arthur West, Chair of Scottish CND, is on record as saying,

“Trident is emerging as a key issue in the referendum campaign, but the leader of the Scottish Labour party has refused to say anything about it. Does Johann Lamont want Weapons of Mass Destruction to stay on the Clyde for the next 50 years? Does she think that this is the best way to spend £100 billion? Does she support the twelve Scottish Labour MPs who want to scrap the plans to replace Trident? The Scottish people have a right to know where she and the Scottish Labour Party stand.”

Back in 2011, the Scottish Labour Party held a leadership election. Johann Lamont was duly elected as leader, and Anas Sarwar as deputy leader. During the leadership campaign, Scottish CND asked each of the leadership candidates to complete a survey to find out their respective views on the issue of Trident renewal.

The results make for interesting, and confusing, reading with no clear consensus amongst the candidates, as this summary of the responses illustrates;

Summary

Ken Macintosh and Tom Harris both thought that the UK should retain nuclear weapons

Ian Davidson thought Trident should be scrapped

Anas Sarwar thought the UK should be should be actively seeking multi-lateral nuclear disarmament but also looking at alternatives to Trident, including a non-nuclear defence policy.

Ian Davidson and Anas Sarwar both thought the Scottish Labour conference should look at Trident

Lewis Macdonald thought the UK should keep Trident as a bargaining counter for disarmament and the issue should be dealt with at the UK Policy Forum.

Johann Lamont did not respond to the survey which was sent by post then by email (twice). Nor did she reply to a message left on the answering machine in her office.

Scottish CND wrote to Ms Lamont again on 7 September 2012, asking for her views on Trident. No reply was ever received.

Time To Come Clean

It is a widely recognised that Johann Lamont has a disappointing record on the issue of Trident. On numerous occasions she has abstained or voted against motions in the Scottish parliament opposing Trident replacement.

In fact, as recently as March 20 this year she abstained from voting on Scottish Parliament Motion S4M-05988, calling on the UK Government to acknowledge the opposition of the Scottish Parliament to nuclear weapons and to the presence of Trident in Scotland, and further calling on the UK Government to explore options for the removal of Trident ahead of the so-called main gate decision in 2016.

The vote was carried regardless, despite not a single Scottish Labour MSP voting in favour (if you’re interested in how your own MSP voted on the day, search here using ‘Trident’ as you key word).

Labour’s mixed messages and Lamont’s continued silence on this issue simply isn’t good enough. They are our elected representatives – we deserve to know what they think on such a major issue. A failure to communicate, a failure to disclose, a failure of transparency is a failure of democracy. It is for that reason that, yesterday, the Scrap Trident coalition sent a letter to every individual Scottish Labour MP and MSP whose views are in doubt asking them to clarify their position on Trident.

The replies may take some time to return, especially now that both parliaments are on their long summer holidays. Nevertheless, we are patient and we can be persistent, and we intend to make sure that we get a clear statement from every single Scottish Labour parliamentarian. As we receive those replies we will post them here so that the public can judge them for themselves.

Here is the full text of our letter to Scottish Labour leader, Johann Lamont MSP:

Dear Ms. Lamont,

The recent letter by 36 representatives of the Labour Party to the Guardian newspaper, on Thursday 20 June, regarding replacing the UK’s Trident nuclear weapons system has reignited the nuclear weapons debate within the Labour Party.

A decision on the replacement of Trident is due to be taken in 2016. The cost to do so has been estimated at £100 billion. Many people in the UK would choose to prioritise this level of spending on health, welfare or education, particularly during a period of government imposed austerity.

As an organisation established in explicit opposition to nuclear weapons in Scotland, the Scrap Trident coalition would be interested in hearing your own views on this matter. We realise that this may well be a judgement for your party’s conference, but we’d like to know your opinion. Do you personally support a debate on Trident replacement at your party conference?

We note that on Scottish Parliament Motion S4M-05988, debated in the Scottish Parliament on 20 March 2013, calling on the UK Government to acknowledge the opposition of the Scottish Parliament to nuclear weapons and to the presence of Trident in Scotland, and further calling on the UK Government to explore options for the removal of Trident ahead of the so-called main gate decision in 2016 that you abstained

An opinion poll by TNS BMRB for Scottish CND, published in March, indicated widespread opposition to nuclear weapons in Scotland. As an elected representative in the Scottish Parliament, we believe that, on such an important issue, it is incumbent upon you to clarify your own opinion.

We look forward to receiving your reply.

Below is the full text of our letter to Deputy Leader of the Scottish Labour Party, Anas Sarwar MP:

Dear Mr. Sarwar,

The recent letter by 36 representatives of the Labour Party to the Guardian newspaper, on Thursday 20 June, regarding replacing the UK’s Trident nuclear weapons system has reignited the nuclear weapons debate within the Labour Party.

A decision on the replacement of Trident is due to be taken in 2016. The cost to do so has been estimated at £100 billion. Many people in the UK would choose to prioritise this level of spending on health, welfare or education, particularly during a period of government imposed austerity.

As an organisation established in explicit opposition to nuclear weapons in Scotland, the Scrap Trident coalition would be interested in hearing your own views on this matter. We realise that this may well be a judgement for your party’s conference, but we’d like to know your opinion. Do you personally support a debate on Trident replacement at your party conference?

In addition to this, Early day motion 150, tabled 21 May, for the 2013/14 session states:

That this House notes the findings of the National Security Strategy that a nuclear weapon threat from another state is of low likelihood; further notes a procurement cost of £25 billion and an estimated lifetime cost of over £100 billion for the replacement of the Trident nuclear weapon system; believes that there are greater spending priorities both at the Ministry of Defence and across other departments; and urges the Government to cancel plans to replace Trident.”

Do you intend to support this motion?

An opinion poll by TNS BMRB for Scottish CND, published in March, indicated widespread opposition to nuclear weapons in Scotland. As an elected representative to Parliament for a Scottish constituency, we believe that, on such an important issue, it is incumbent upon you to clarify your own opinion.

We look forward to receiving your reply.

Johann Lamont and the Scottish Labour party cannot stay mute indefinitely. At some point before 2014 they need to voice an opinion – for or against. If they refuse to give an answer on this major issue, which could hardly be higher on the political agenda, then they will lose all political credibility. Perhaps they already have? Nevertheless, the future of Scottish Labour is not our concern. Our only concern is to Scrap Trident and our message could not be clearer: No More Silence – We Demand Answers!

31 to “Guest post: No more silence”

  1. Marian says:

    The only thing to be got from sitting on the fence is splinters in the posterior.

  2. Juteman says:

    Wouldn’t you be better sending a letter to Ed Milliband, asking what Lamonts opinion is?

  3. Doug Daniel says:

    “Johann Lamont and the Scottish Labour party cannot stay mute indefinitely.”
     
    I wouldn’t go betting any money on that…

  4. Iain says:

    ‘Johann Lamont and the Scottish Labour party cannot stay mute indefinitely. At some point before 2014 they need to voice an opinion – for or against. If they refuse to give an answer on this major issue, which could hardly be higher on the political agenda, then they will lose all political credibility.’

    It’s possible that they will keep up the obfuscation, fudge or outright silence right up till the referendum – SLAB probably calculate that’s preferable to the only other option, coming out as full blown, punching-above-our-weight, Westminster Tridentines. As for political credibility, I think SLAB believe that their core vote will take any amount of bollocks as long as those voters aren’t directly confronted with the sort of policies and politicians they’re voting for.

    edit: @Doug Daniel – beat me to it!

  5. Macart says:

    Wait now, I’m seeing a pattern form here. Nothing on Trident, AAA downgrading, expense scandals, Westminster’s EU referendum, the income tax farrago, apologies for parliamentary misconduct from herself or Ms Baillie, general policy commitments…… etc
     
    Say nothing, do nothing and you can’t be challenged on an issue. Its a plan of a sort I suppose. :)

  6. Doug Daniel says:

    It’s quite simple with politicians. If they’re in favour of something that the public are in favour of, they won’t shut up about it. If they’re in favour of something the public oppose, they’ll never admit it.
     
    As a result, Bammy Lammy’s silence is all the admission anyone needs.

  7. Juteman says:

    Did anyone read the terminally confused Hothersalls latest blog on this issue?
    Talk about mental gymnastics!
    http://dhothersall.blogspot.co.uk/

  8. CameronB says:

    I posted this on the “Down the Plughole” thread, but I think it deserves a re-post.
     
    Trident review ignores credible option – a non-nuclear Britain
    15 July 2013
    http://www.defencemanagement.com/feature_story.asp?id=23005

  9. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “Did anyone read the terminally confused Hothersalls latest blog on this issue?
    Talk about mental gymnastics!”

    The most telling line is this: “My country is the UK.”

    A straight answer at last.

  10. Tattie-boggle says:

    There is only two ways trident is going
    1 vote yes
    2 us poor folk in Glasgow get Mushroomed

  11. Andy-B says:

    Does anyone really care what Johann Lamont thinks, about anything anymore, we all know shes a Westminster, puppet, does anyone actually think her opinion carries any weight whatsoever, and as for her deputy Anas, who speaks in riddles and confessed that he’d have been a dentist, if the political arena hadnt came calling.
     
    As for SLAB, they have absolutely no credibility whatsoever, theyve relied on the common mans/woman..(Dont want to upset Alex) vote for far to long without giving anything back in return.
     
    SLAB, a party who’s forgotten what they initially stood for, but they hope the masses still remember, come election time.

  12. seoc says:

    Could the whole trident matter be a variation of the age-old ‘enemy at the gate scam? We hand multi billions to…whom?
    We have no concrete verification that any weapons are ever purchased, but the money is used.
    When it is all used …for what… it’s time to renew the illusory WMD.
    A deterrent or scam of the Millennium?

  13. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    Couldn’t help myself – have posted a reply to Dunc’s piece. Will be fun to see if it gets a reply, or if he’ll concoct some reason to dodge it in a sulk because I’ve blocked him on Twitter or something.

  14. Juteman says:

    I don’t see the point, Rev. He would argue black was white if it was Labour policy.

  15. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    Oh, I know. But I wasn’t doing anything else right now and sometimes it’s just fun to make him twist and wriggle.

  16. Juteman says:

    Good reply though. :-)

  17. Dcanmore says:

    “My country is the UK.”  DH
     
    Yup, you have to remember that many in Labour in Scotland don’t believe Scotland is a country or nation of any sort, not even a culture or an identity, only North Britain. Scotland is a region and is only good for a breeding ground for future apparatchiks. To them Scotland has no influence, but London has all the influence because it is a centralised entity, that is where the rewards are and so the moths are attracted to that particular flame. They see Scotland out of the UK as an end, not a beginning. There is one thing for sure that many in Labour, such as Duncan Hothersall, will be thinking in private, that the re-establishement of the Scottish Parliament (or Assembly as they would have it), through devolution, was probably the worst mistake they ever made. And that begs the question: What would they do to rectify that mistake?
     
    What Labour secretly wants is the Tories to make the Trident decision for them so they don’t have to put anything into policy. Since 1945 Labour have won seven general elections and none of these governments have gotten rid of WMDs. True to that form why think that a future Labour government would be any different, I don’t expect so.
     
    VOYE YES AND FUCK EM’ ALL!

  18. Vronsky says:

    Labour in Scotland are pretty much down to their bedrock vote, the people who would continue to vote for them if they said they were going to invade Poland. What have they got to lose by admitting that they will retain Trident?

  19. Geoff Huijer says:

    The only response the Rev will get on that blogspot
    is a ‘LA LA LA I can’t hear you’-type one.

  20. Tattie-boggle says:

    Labour are so scared of Independence because when the books get opened up some folk will lose their liberty and no easy open prison doon sooth will be available to them.

  21. muttley79 says:

    @Rev Stu
     
    The most telling line is this: “My country is the UK.”
    A straight answer at last.
     
    Does Duncan H not know the difference between a nation-state and a nation?  Also, are not Scottish Unionists and the MSM not always telling us that Scotland is an equal partner in the Union?  :D :D Either Scotland is not a nation/country, or we are a nation that is part of a Union?  Which is it Unionists?  Be honest now…. :D
     

  22. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “Good reply though.”

    And a truly pathetic response from Duncan – “You haven’t convinced me”, no attempt to address any of the points. The man’s got the intellectual backbone of a slug.

  23. HandandShrimp says:

    So this Duncan chap is a UKanian and not Scottish?
     
    That is a relief.

  24. Tattie-boggle says:

    Duncan is raging because his leg up the greasy poll has resigned
    no more heroes any more no more herris anymore no more harris anymore
    so what has dunc to do now

  25. Rev. Stuart Campbell says:

    “So this Duncan chap is a UKanian and not Scottish?
    That is a relief.”

    It’s a surprisingly unguarded comment. By his accent he appears to have been born and/or brought up in England, but of course with Scottish nationalism being a civic movement that’s no bar to him considering himself Scottish. Curious that he chooses to explicitly acknowledge what most of them pathologically avoid.

  26. HandandShrimp says:

    I wouldn’t know Duncan if you dropped him on me. I’ve only just placed Kezia (I had thought she was an Eastenders character)

  27. Tattie-boggle says:

    check out Duncan’s avatar on twitter it looks like he has a labour red rose behind his ear
    https://twitter.com/dhothersall

  28. Xander says:

    Can’t help but think how mightily fine it would be if the letter to Ms Lamont was published on the front cover of the Sunday Herald. Yours hopefully…..

  29. Patrick Roden says:

    Just posted this response to Duncans blog and noticed another comment that said very similar.
    I think this is something that needs addressing, as it’s simply the Labour Party deceiving people.
     
    Duncan seems to be at the forefront of this type of campaign.
     
    I think we need a name for it, maybe ‘Project Deceive’ or something.
     
    Duncan, is it your intention to deceive the people of Scotland?
    If the answer is ‘No’ then why do you go along with this Scottish Labour campaigning strategy, in which individuals such as yourself, set up stalls or make comments under a Labour Party banner, then campaign on popular issues, such as repealing the bedroom tax, but knowing this is not Labour Party policy.
    This is deception pure and simple.
    If you genuinely want the bedroom tax repealed lobby the Labour party leaders to make public statements saying they will repeal it, if they get into power.
    Alex Salmond has already done this, so it shouldn’t be too difficult for Johann Lamont, unless she doesn’t want to repeal it.
    If she doesn’t, then please stop campaigning for it under her parties banner and deceiving people into believing that this is labour party policy.

  30. Geoff Huijer says:

    Patrick Roden: that’s a very good point actually.
     
    ‘They’ always seem to be campaigning for what the ‘people’
    want even though it is not their Party’s policy.
     
    Ian Davidson at the Bedroom Tax rally was a good example for me.
    Deception.

  31. Patrick Roden says:

    It’s definitely a strategy Geoff.
    I seem to recall Margaret Curran was also at some anti-austerity march recently, when she did not herself vote against it.
     
    Ian Davidson was challenged at one anti-bedroom tax march, as to why he was at the march yet abstained in the vote, he said he didn’t and had voted against the government, then when it went viral, he claimed he was being misrepresented and he had meant he had voted against the government in another vote.
     
    Some of us have been asking ‘Why do people keep voting Labour, when they have abandoned all Labour policies’
     
    Is this the answer? can it be that a lot of people in Scotland think that Labour are fighting against the bedroom tax? or austerity? or nuclear weapons?
     
    I think they are and this is why Johann Lamont will not answer questions…
    ..
    She will say nothing, so not rock Eds South of England boat, but at the same time her activists and party members will get busy with local campaigns, waving labours banner, while deceiving the people with pledges to fight the good fight.



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