Westminster parties ‘not serious’ on nuclear disarmament

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   By a Newsnet reporter

The SNP has called on the anti-independence parties to end their ‘doublespeak’ on nuclear disarmament and use a key Holyrood debate this week to commit to removing nuclear weapons from Scotland.

Recent statements from Labour and the Liberal Democrats have made clear that, despite their warm words about building a nuclear free world, they are both joining the Tories in being committed to the renewal of the UK’s arsenal of nuclear weapons.

Scottish Labour’s Deputy Leader Anas Sarwar claim last year that Labour wanted “to obliterate nuclear weapons not just in Scotland but right across the UK and right across the world”.  This has been Labour policy since 1989 when its previous policy of unilateral disarmament was abandoned at the insistence of many on the right of the party.  

While in power Labour has been as resolute as the Conservatives in their insistence that the UK must remain a nuclear power, and took no steps to remove or reduce the nuclear weaponary based in Scotland.  Recently, Shadow Defence Secretary Jim Murphy confirmed that Labour would renew Trident.  On conservative estimates, the renewal of Trident is likely to cost £100 billion, however this does not take into account the propensity of the Ministry of Defence to exceed the estimated budgets on large projects by many billions.

Meanwhile, the Lib Dems’ long-awaited review of Trident is widely expected to simply call for another nuclear option, completely ignoring the overwhelming moral argument against nuclear weapons.

The UK government’s lack of interest in nuclear disarmament was highlighted last week by their refusal to attend an international peace conference in Oslo, which discussed the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons.

The reason for the snub was given in a parliamentary answer by Alistair Burt MP, the UK parliamentary under-secretary of state. He said: “it could divert discussion and focus away from the practical steps required to create the conditions for further nuclear weapons reductions.”

On his recent visit to Scotland, Conservative defence secretary Philip Hammond asserted that the UK required Trident as a “deterrence” against rogue states such as North Korea.

These comments come at the end of a week where a TNS BMRB poll published in The Herald revealed that 80% of people in Scotland oppose replacing Trident nuclear weapons.

Mr Kidd – a Co-President of the international organisation Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament who attended the Conference in Oslo – has called on MSPs to make their voice heard in the Scottish Parliament and send a strong message that nuclear weapons are not wanted in Scotland.

He said:

“It is becoming increasingly clear that the warm words coming from Westminster politicians about working for a nuclear-free world are nothing more than doublespeak. Make no mistake – Westminster is committed to keeping weapons of mass destruction on the Clyde for decades to come, against the wishes of the people of Scotland.

“Just last week, we’ve seen the UK government snub a key international conference discussing the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons – because they thought discussing the humanitarian impact would be a distraction!

“At a time when the UK government are hell-bent on cutting welfare and hurting the most vulnerable in society, it is outrageous that they want to spend up to £100 billion on a new Trident nuclear weapons system.

“This week’s Scottish Parliament debate is a crucial one – it gives all MSPs a chance to stand up and be counted, and send a clear message that weapons of mass destruction are not wanted in Scotland.

“Some 80% of people in Scotland want rid of Trident – the one point that has become clear in recent weeks is that only a Yes vote in next year’s independence referendum can deliver that, allowing us to invest the billions saved in helping to build a fair society and strong economy.”