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What IS Labour’s policy on Trident?

Posted on August 30, 2012 by

Nationalists like to taunt Scottish Labour “leader” Johann Lamont for her reluctance to reveal her position on nuclear weapons. But in fairness to the little-seen notional chief, she’s hardly alone in her ambiguity. Despite the UK’s nuclear force being a huge issue, costing taxpayers tens of billions of pounds and being central to Britain’s permanent seat on the UN Security Council, one of the country’s two biggest political parties simply doesn’t seem to know – and hasn’t known for years, despite being in government on both sides of the border – whether it’s in favour of it or not.

As we noted earlier today, a Labour government resolved as recently as 2010 to replace the ageing weapon system with an upgraded version. But the overwhelming majority of over 230 with which that resolution passed was achieved thanks to the uniform support of Conservative MPs. Close to a third of Labour MPs – 94 out of a total of around 350 – opposed the motion along with all 55 Lib Dems and all six SNP members, and a narrow majority (31) of all Scottish MPs were against.

In the Scottish Parliament, meanwhile, renewal was overwhelmingly rejected despite (or perhaps because of) Labour refusing to take any position at all. A June 2007 vote conducted just after the SNP’s historic victory saw the Trident replacement scheme voted against by a comprehensive majority of 71-16, with all but four of Labour’s MSPs abstaining while the SNP, Lib Dems and Greens (along with the four Labour rebels) all voted No, and only the Tories backing the policy that the UK Labour government had chosen and voted to impose on Scotland.

It’s extraordinary that Labour has managed to maintain such a startlingly contradictory position for so long. Just two months ago the party’s shadow defence spokesman, Scottish MP Jim Murphy, blogged a statement from his fellow shadow defence minister Alison Seabeck reiterating that Labour’s official policy was to back Trident renewal. Yet in the country where the weapon system is sited, 37% of its Westminster MPs (15 from 41) voted against the proposal and not a single one of its Holyrood MSPs was prepared to vote in favour.

It’s difficult to overstate what a bizarre situation that is. That 37% is the very same percentage of Lib Dem MPs (21 from 56) who voted against the tuition-fees increase in England, having signed a conspicuous public pledge months earlier promising to do so. Yet the Scottish Labour MPs had made no such pledge.

An official Labour Party policy which chiefly affects Scotland, then, is backed by barely 60% of its Westminster Scottish MPs, and by 0% of its Holyrood MSPs. Of the six people who stood for the Scottish leadership in 2011 just 33% support renewal, while the successful candidate refuses to tell us what her oft-changed personal view is.

(Or indeed the Scottish party’s position, given its supposed policy independence from London. The 2011 Scottish Labour election manifesto makes no mention of Trident, or nuclear weapons in general, anywhere in its 98 pages.)

It’s incredible, in the literal sense of the word, that Labour feels able to make dramatic and strident pronouncements on the subject while cynically looking both ways at once. Poor old Ian Davidson is apparently so confused he rages against disarmament as a dire consequence of independence, despite not just opposing renewal but wanting the existing system scrapped.

Johann Lamont constantly angrily demands that the SNP detail every last possible consequence of a Yes vote in the referendum. Perhaps it’s time she set an example and started telling us what a No vote will mean. If, that is, she has any idea.

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    7 to “What IS Labour’s policy on Trident?”

    1. Arbroath 1320 says:

      Aha the nuclear Trident question.
      I have it on good authority 😆 that Scottish Labour policy is that if they, Labour, don’t mention Trident then it can’t possibly exist! 😆
      The only things that exist in the alternate universe inhabited by Labour are things that Labour want to speak about. Nothing else exists! :LOL:

    2. Cuphook says:

      I thought a thought but the thought I thought wasn’t the thought I thought I thought.

      Mind you – this could be applied to any of their policies.   

    3. Arbroath 1320 says:

      Labour have POLICIES!
      Will wonders NEVER cease?
      Does the Lamentable one know that Labour have policies I wonder.
      Naw, she disnae know about any Labour policy, if she did she’d be the first to be seen shouting from the roof tops. Wouldn’t she?

    4. Doug Daniel says:

      Perhaps someone in the mainstream media would like to take them to task about this, and find out their position once and for all? After all, if someone is trying to tell us that Scottish independence leading to nuclear disarmament for the UK is a bad thing, the very first question that would pop into my head would be “so you’re against nuclear disarmament, then?”

      Meanwhile, the SNP tries to debate a nuanced change on their position on NATO, and it’s talked about as if they’re just blithely changing their anti-nuke stance. The level of hypocrisy is stunning, absolutely stunning.

    5. James McLaren says:

      Their policy is to have as many policies as is necessary by the circumstance and time of the need.
      In Scotland, they have a compliant MSM who never ask questions of them and their cognitive dissonances.
      The word, any word today, is the message, if it can been repeated authoritively ad nauseum.

    6. Arbroath 1320 says:

      I know I’m O/T here, but I’ve just watched this video of Ryan, no NOT the guy with sausage rolls and wee dugs but the Republican V.P. candidate. Having listened to it I reached a point where I was uncertain about who he was ACTUALLY talking about. Was he REALLY talking about Obama and the Democrats? I felt for sure he was talking about the Tories, RED, BLUE and YELLOW, as well as the Bitter Together campaign. 😆

    7. Arbroath 1320 says:

      Sorry folks, I’ve just read this over on NNS.
      Are we worried folks?
      Well I don’t think WE are worried but Westminster sure as hell are! 😆

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