The SNP is questioning how much people can trust the LibDems to keep true to their word on Trident following comments from Danny Alexander, who has been newly-appointed to review Trident alternatives, saying he knew before the election that his party’s tuition fee pledge wasn’t affordable. Mr Alexander admitted that “under the current financial circumstances it wasn’t affordable. We made a pledge that we couldn’t keep.”
Speaking to the BBC, Mr Alexander admitted that he and other senior figures within the Lib Dems knew when making the pledge that the party would be unable to maintain the policy, saying:
“I don’t remember the details of the conversations that took place two years ago, but what I am saying is it was clear that this was a very expensive policy and given the financial circumstances facing the country, it was difficult to afford.”
The comments came after it was revealed Mr Alexander was being put in charge of the review of the alternatives to the Trident nuclear missiles system.
Mr Alexander made the admission after party leader Nick Clegg published a video apology last week about the party’s pre-election pledge not to support student fees. However the Lib Dem leader stopped short of admitting that his party had deliberately misled the public.
Mr Clegg’s attempt to apologise and move on from the issue has backfired, and instead left him hostage to public mockery. A remixed version of the Lib Dem leader’s apology, with the words set to an autotune, entered the charts on Monday night at nº 143.
Mr Clegg’s apology and the admission by Mr Alexander will raise questions as to whether the party’s senior figures can be trusted on their pledge to resist the “like-for-like replacement of Trident”.
The Coalition parties disagree on the future of Trident. The Conservatives are strongly in favour of renewing the nuclear weapons system. Opposition parties have decried the Trident review as a “sham”, intended to give the Lib Dems a fig-leaf to cover themselves if the Conservative led government decides to press ahead with Trident renewal.
SNP MSP Sandra White questioned how Mr Alexander expects people to believe the Lib Dems following his admission on tuition fees.
The Glasgow Kelvin SNP MSP said:
“The LibDems have previously said they are firmly against the renewal of Trident – but how can people believe they will stick to this promise, given the fact Mr Alexander has admitted they lied over tuition fees?
“The fact that a review of Trident alternatives is being led from outside the Ministry of Defence simply demonstrates the Lib Dems’ lack of priority for the issue.
“How can Mr Alexander honestly expect people to trust a word he says on Trident?
“People in Scotland do not want Trident. Church leaders, the Scottish Trades Union Council, the Scottish government and Scotland’s parliament are all against weapons of mass destruction being in our waters.
“While Mr Alexander conducts his sham review, the Tory plans for Trident replacement roll on with the MoD having already agreed to spend £5 billion on a new system.
“What Scotland needs is a government close to home making decisions based on what the people of Scotland actually wants. Only an independent Scotland can deliver this.”