Trident poll shows “huge opportunity” for independence campaign

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  By a Newsnet reporter

An opinion poll carried out by TNS BMRB for Scottish CND has shown massive opposition to Trident renewal amongst Scots, with the vast majority of those polled being against the renewal of the nuclear weapons system.

The Scottish National Party has pointed to the “huge opportunity” for the independence campaign which the poll represents, saying only a Yes vote in the referendum will get rid of Trident.

The Scottish CND commissioned poll asking if people supported the UK government’s renewal of Trident showed that 80% of people are opposed – including 87% of people planning to vote Yes in the independence referendum, and 75% of those currently planning to vote No.

The poll asked 1001 Scots across the country in face-to-face interviews about their attitude to Trident renewal.  Only 14% of those polled supported the determination of Labour and the Tories to press ahead with renewal.

The poll also asked how respondents would vote if there was a referendum on Scottish independence tomorrow.  In response to the question “Should Scotland be an independent country”, 33% were in favour, 52% against, with 15% don’t no.  The poll found that opposition to Trident was almost as great amongst those intending to vote No as it was amongst those intending to vote Yes.

The SNP believes that these figures show that the issue of nuclear missiles in Scotland could prove a major factor in swinging opinion in the run up to 2014’s referendum.   

Arthur West, Chair of Scottish CND said:

“Trident is emerging as a key issue in the referendum campaign. This poll shows that a clear majority of Scots don’t want to waste billions of pounds on new nuclear weapons. It also shows that there is very little support for Trident replacement among those who have not yet decided how to vote in 2014.”

However, despite the overwhelming opposition to Trident amongst the Scottish electorate, Labour’s defence spokesman, East Renfrewshire MP Jim Murphy, ruled out scrapping the controversial nuclear weapons and vowed to press ahead with their renewal.  

In an interview with the New Statesman magazine earlier this month, Mr Murphy said:

“Ed [Miliband] and I have spoken about this quite a bit and we’re in the same place, which is that we’re not a unilateralist party and we’re not about to become a unilateralist party.”

Welcoming the poll from Scottish CND, SNP MSP Bill Kidd – a Co-President of the international organisation Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament – said:

“Regardless of which side of the referendum debate people are currently on, the overwhelming majority are firmly against the renewal of Trident. The poll underlines the huge opportunity for the Yes campaign, because only a Yes vote for an independent Scotland in next year’s referendum will remove these obscene nuclear weapons from our shores.

“We know that Labour is joined at the hip with the Tories – just like they were on the Iraq war 10 years ago – in imposing Trident on Scotland, after their shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy confirmed they fully support a new generation of Trident on the Clyde for another 50 years. Only a Yes vote can get rid of Trident, and invest the money saved helping to build a fair society and strong economy.”

MEANWHILE, it has emerged that all three Unionist parties at Holyrood united in an attempt at preventing a planned debate into Trident taking place.  Yesterday in a vote in the Scottish Parliament on the Business Motion, the ‘No campaign’ parties ganged up in a failed attempt to block next week’s debate into the nuclear weapons system and also a debate into the invasion of Iraq.

The failed bid follows the tenth anniversary of the Holyrood debate into Tony Blair’s decision to invade Iraq after claims were made that WMDs could strike the UK within minutes.  The debate witnessed Johann Lamont, now leader of Labour in Scotland, come out in support of the invasion.  The SNP has called for Ms Lamont to publicly acknowledge she was wrong.

Commenting on the failed bid to prevent debate into both issues, SNP MSP James Dornan said:

“This shows the ‘No campaign’ parties up in their true colours – trying to stifle debate, and thinking that Scotland’s Parliament has no right to debate major issues such as nuclear weapons and war.  The ‘No’ parties would rather leave discussion of Trident and Iraq to Westminster – the very place that dragged us into an illegal war ten years ago, and wants to dump a new generation of Trident nuclear weapons on the Clyde for another 50 years.

“Next week brings the 10th anniversary of the Iraq War, so it is both pertinent and right that we reflect on the illegal invasion of Iraq – which was proven to be a fraud and massive deception by Tony Blair and the then UK Labour government – the impact on our veterans, and learn lessons for the future.

“It is equally vital that the Scottish Parliament considers the type of Scotland we want to live in – and debate the position supported by the overwhelming majority of people in Scotland, who want to get rid of Trident so that we can invest instead in improving vital public services such as schools, hospitals and more appropriate conventional forces.

“Scotland’s Parliament is fully entitled to debate all of the issues – indeed that was made clear as the Scotland Act was passed at Westminster all these years ago in 1998 – and it is a big blunder by the ‘No campaign’ parties that they want to reverse the rights and responsibilities of Scotland’s national Parliament.

“While the ‘No’ parties want to stop Scotland’s Parliament even discussing Trident and Iraq, the real debate that is happening in the country is the need for our parliament to have the powers of independence – so that never again can we be dragged into an illegal war by Westminster, and we can get rid of nuclear weapons from Scotland.”

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