Johann Lamont urged to end silence on Trident after Thatcher revelations


By a Newsnet reporter 
New Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont is facing calls to end her silence on nuclear weapons after it emerged former PM Margaret Thatcher ignored the wishes of her Cabinet when backing the Trident weapons system in the eighties.
On Friday secret documents released under the thirty year rule revealed that two-thirds of Margaret Thatcher’s Cabinet opposed her decision to bring the Trident nuclear deterrent to Scotland.

The SNP is now calling on the new Scottish Labour leader to end her silence on the presence of the nuclear weapons system  in Scottish waters.

Bill Kidd, the SNP MSP for Glasgow Anniesland, who is involved in the campaign against nuclear weapons, called on Ms Lamont to set out her position on Trident in the Clyde.

The demands follow her reluctance to respond to questions from Scottish CND prior to her successful campaign to become Labour leader in Scotland.

Mr Kidd said:

“Johann Lamont owes it to the people of Scotland to tell them her position on Trident.

“On the day it emerged that Margaret Thatcher defied her own Cabinet over Trident, Johann Lamont is dodging the question by trying to hide behind the excuse that defence and foreign affairs are reserved, but this is completely unacceptable, and she needs to come clean and be completely honest about her position.

“The presence of these weapons of mass destruction in Scotland is abhorrent.   Trident nuclear missiles are stored just miles from Glasgow – Johann Lamont must tell us whether she is happy to have these so close to Scotland’s biggest city.”

Scottish CND wrote to all of the candidates in the Scottish Labour leadership election during the campaign to ask them for their views on the Trident warheads based on the Clyde.  Of the six leadership and deputy leadership candidates, all but front runner Lamont replied setting out their position.

A statement by Scottish CND said that despite emailing the set of questions twice to Ms Lamont, sending a copy by post, and leaving messages on her office answer machine, the MSP for Glasgow Pollok failed to give a response.

Mr Kidd added:

“We know a majority of people in Scotland, a majority of Scottish MPs and a majority of the Scottish Parliament are opposed to new nuclear weapons and want an end to Trident on the Clyde but we do not know the view of Labour’s new leader in Scotland.

“Scotland doesn’t need or want nuclear weapons and I hope Ms Lamont will recognise the folly of spending billions on Trident – and on a new generation of these weapons of mass destruction.

“Trident and new nuclear weapons are unwanted, unneeded and at a time of public sector cuts are a waste of valuable cash that should be used to help boost our economy, create jobs and build a fairer society.”

Ms Lamont has previously spoken out about her opposition to nuclear weapons. 

During an interview with Holyrood magazine in 2009, the Labour MSP was asked about the issues that first got her engaged with politics.  Ms Lamont replied:

“Of course as a child of the sixties, I was also aware of the huge debates on nuclear weapons and apartheid.  My friend the former MP Maria Fyfe is a role model for sticking to your principles and giving practical expression to your beliefs.”

In 1999 during the first election campaign for Holyrood, Scottish CND wrote to all the candidates of the main parties asking how they would vote if there was a motion before the Scottish Parliament saying that Trident should be decommissioned.  Ms Lamont was one of six newly elected Labour MSPs who replied that they would vote to decommission the missiles.

However in June 2006 she opposed two SNP motions condemning the renewal of Trident, and instead voted for Labour amendments which noted that defence was a matter reserved to Westminster. 

In June 2007 she abstained during the vote on a further motion condemning the renewal of the weapons.