By a Newsnet reporter
A new report which focuses on a Scotland without the presence of Trident has been applauded by the SNP, who say it demonstrates how the nuclear weapons programme “suppresses” the Scottish economy.
The pledge to scrap Trident, a replacement programme and the placement of nuclear weapons in Scotland altogether has been a key policy in promoting the SNP, the Scottish Greens and Yes Scotland’s vision for an independent country in the lead up to September’s referendum.
The White Paper labelled it “an affront to basic decency with its indiscriminate and inhumane destructive power” and called for its removal within the first term of an independent Scottish Parliament.
‘People Not Trident: The Economic Case Against Trident Replacement’ has been compiled by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) and puts forward an argument detailing how and in which policy areas £100bn – the cost of replacing the current Trident programme – could be better spent. It identifies seven zones: jobs, the NHS, homes, education, climate, aid and wellbeing, and is based on the premise that Scotland “cannot afford to waste £100bn on Trident”.
Several specific suggestions are contained in the report, including the creation of two million jobs, the insulation of 15 million homes and the ability to fully fund all Accident & Emergency services in hospitals for 40 years.
Angus Robertson, the SNP’s Westminster leader and defence spokesperson, embraced the report and suggested the existence of Trident in Scotland both damages the country’s financial system and adversely affects the job market.
“At a time of austerity, the UK government is about to commit to spending £100bn on a new nuclear weapons system,” said Robertson. “They have made damaging cuts which have hit the most disadvantaged in society hardest, but they keep their commitment to spending this colossal amount of money. Only a Yes vote can get rid of Trident from Scotland and ensure that the billions of pounds the Westminster parties want to waste on weapons of mass destruction can be invested instead in building a fairer society and stronger economy.”
Robertson, the MP for Moray, also relayed a message to Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne on the eve of his budget speech on Wednesday. “He should remember that in the most recent financial year the underlying deficit was £110bn and the replacement of Trident is £100bn – almost exactly equivalent,” said Robertson, echoing the introduction of the CND report, which was written by economic consultant Michael Burke. “Because of its obscene cost to the public purse, spending on Trident suppresses the Scottish economy. It is a jobs-destroyer.”
Former GCHQ director, Sir David Omand, recently criticised the SNP’s stance on Trident, insisting that scrapping it could potentially mean an independent Scotland’s future in NATO could be thrown into jeopardy.
He added: “It [scrapping Trident] would get an independent Scotland off to the worst possible start. I can’t imagine that the United States would be very happy about a new member joining NATO with such a profound anti-nuclear stance.”
However the SNP has pointed out their stance on nuclear weapons is shared by twenty five of the twenty eight NATO members, and the removal of Trident will not affect membership of the organisation.