Silent Lamont undermined by backbencher on nuclear weapons

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  By a Newsnet reporter

Johann Lamont has been urged to clarify her position on the presence of nuclear weapons in Scottish waters after a Labour MP claimed the party was now pro-nuclear.

While Ms Lamont has attempted to assert her authority by removing senior staff at party headquarters, the Labour leader has failed to demonstrate any leadership over key policy issues.

In 1999 Ms Lamont publicly backed decommissioning of Trident, and later gave an interview to Holyrood magazine in which she claimed the campaign against nuclear weapons was one of the factors which first motivated her to get involved in politics.  

However, at a meeting of the Westminster Scottish Affairs Committee Labour MP Jim McGovern claimed that the party – at Scottish and UK level – is pro-nuclear.

When giving evidence to the Committee, retired Lt Col Stuart Crawford remarked that every party in Scotland bar the Conservatives was opposed to nuclear weapons in Scotland.

Mr McGovern interjected to ask: “I want to clarify something that Stuart just said. Did I pick you up correctly when you said that every party is in favour of a nuclear-free Scotland?”

Lt Col Crawford: “I think that is correct, with the possible exception of the Conservative party.”

Mr McGovern: “I think you are wrong.”

Lt Col Crawford: “The SNP is. The Scottish Labour party definitely is. The Green party is.”

Mr McGovern: “But there is the UK Labour party.”

Lt Col Crawford: “Yes, I know. I think the Labour party’s position is at variance in Scotland and Westminster, but that is not really for me to comment on.”

Mr McGovern: “You said you were going to try and avoid political subjects, but you just drifted into one there, I think.”

Lt Col Crawford: “That is my perception of it. If I am wrong, then I stand corrected.”

Jim McGovern: “You are corrected.”

Commenting, SNP MSP Bill Kidd – a member of the Council of Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament – said:

“Johann Lamont has attempted to assert her authority by removing senior staff at Labour headquarters but, so far, she has failed to demonstrate any leadership over key policy issues.

“With a backbench MP now claiming that Labour is pro-nuclear, Ms Lamont must now clarify Labour’s position on the presence of nuclear weapons in Scottish waters.

“In 1999 she claimed to back decommissioning, but her refusal to answer questions from Scottish CND leaves people in Scotland wondering where the Labour leader now stands on this important issue.

“The majority of Scottish voters oppose Trident. The majority of Scots MPs and MSPs have not voted for Trident renewal. Our Churches and STUC do not want Trident.

“It is the SNP’s cast iron position that Trident should be removed from Scotland as quickly as is safely possible.

“At a time of Westminster cuts committing billions to weapons of mass destruction is a decision that shows the UK government’s priorities are completely twisted.

“A normal country with the power to decide its own defence and security policy would never be pushed into this crazy situation. With independence Scotland can determine its own priorities, rather than have other parties’ imposed upon it.”