Scottish Labour leader candidate, Neil Findlay, has been caught red-handed over the renewal of Trident.
Speaking on the Andrew Marr Show yesterday morning, Mr Findlay stated that he agreed with Nicola Sturgeon’s remarks in her first speech as leader of the Scottish Nationalist Party, saying: “I don’t think we should be renewing Trident nuclear weapons”.
However, this blog has found that Findlay has so far never voted in favour of of Scottish Parliamentary vote on the removal of Trident from Scottish waters, under any circumstances.
Keith Brown MSP, Minister for Transport and Veterans, tabled a motion that contained the following:
That the Parliament supports the speediest safe withdrawal of nuclear weapons from Scotland; opposes the renewal of Trident nuclear weapons; believes that the predicted cost of around £4 billion a year in the mid-2020s for Trident renewal is totally unjustifiable; calls on the UK Government to set out which major defence procurement projects, or other areas of public spending, will have to be cut to pay for Trident renewal.”
Further on down the motion, Mr Brown does note that “only a Yes vote in the independence referendum will guarantee the withdrawal” of Trident, which may indicate why Mr Findlay voted “No” to the motion.
However, an earlier vote, again tabled by Mr Brown, asked:
That the Parliament acknowledges the devastating humanitarian impacts of nuclear weapons; endorses the Secretary-General of the United Nations’s five-point plan for nuclear disarmament; calls on the UK Government to acknowledge the opposition of the Scottish Parliament to nuclear weapons and to the presence of Trident in Scotland, and further calls on the UK Government to explore options for the removal of Trident ahead of the so-called main gate decision in 2016.”
Again to this, Mr Findlay voted “No”.
Indeed, any motion or amendment to the above motions, Neil Findlay voted “No”, “Abstain”, or did not vote. Thus his claim that he has always been opposed to Trident nuclear weapons in Scotland is somewhat undermined by his voting history.
Furthermore, his argument that “…It’s [the removal of Trident from Scotland] already Labour Party policy in Scotland to oppose the renewal of Trident…has been for some time”, is also undermined by his candidate opponent Jim Murphy.
In March 2013, Murphy gave an interview to the New Statesman, in which he stated that he and Ed Miliband were “working through” options relating to defence, and concluded that “land and air are more expensive than boat [submarine] and that ship is potentially cheaper than boat. But the boat is the only one that gives you the ability to retain secrecy – with certainty – about the location of your deterrent.”
In other words, until evidence said otherwise, Labour was sticking with Trident.
Thus far, Trident has neither been condemned nor wildly supported by Murphy or Ed Miliband, but as already noted, Murphy has supported Trident for a long time.
Indeed, the only indication we have about Labour’s continuing support of Trident nuclear weapons is the SNP’s argument that they would go into coalition with anyone except the Tories (if they held the balance of power after next May’s General Election) and that, if there was a Labour-SNP coalition, Labour concessions would include scrapping Trident.
New SNP Deputy Leader, Stewart Hosie said, however, that it would be very difficult for the SNP to remove Trident, should the Tories and Labour agree to keep the submarines on the Clyde.
Once again, we are seeing the Scottish Labour Party “hamstrung” over policy, where Scottish Labour plans (under Neil Findlay) may be sunk by UK Labour missiles. Fractures are becoming commonplace in the Labour party, with their leader Ed Miliband beginning to recover following a bout of in-fighting over his competence.
Despite Labour MPs denying such a “coup” was ever likely to take place, I say: there is no smoke without fire, and right now, the Labour Party still look like they should keep the fire extinguisher handy for the next six months.